Snarkilily cross-stitch crafts find audience with Albertans

What started as a relaxing hobby has turned into an "accidental" thriving side-business for an Edmonton woman with a deft hand at cross stitching.

Cutesy crafts are paired with cutting comedy and curse words

What started as a relaxing hobby has turned into an "accidental" thriving side-business for an Edmonton woman with a deft hand at cross stitching. 

Also available: "McJesus is my Saviour" and "No Regretzkies." (Lily Tsui)

Lily Tsui, AKA Snarkilily, first learned to cross stitch when she was a child. But she only crafted sporadically, usually nature scenes and "cute bunnies," she said Friday. 

As she grew older, Tsui, who suffers from depression and anxiety, found cross stitching was an effective way for her to practise mindfulness.

"It allows me to work on something that I can do at my own pace, there's really no pressure to produce," she said. "It lets me take time to be with my own thoughts while working with my hands."

As she began to get a little more serious about her crafting, Tsui says she kept some of the "cutesy" stuff from her earlier efforts, but started pairing it with different messages.

Think emoji poops with speech bubbles reading "Holy Crap," Snoopy next to the words "Miley, what's good?" and, of course, an adorable little tractor yelling "Kudatah!!!"

"For every one of these sold I will donate $10 to our premier's re-election campaign. #kudatah," Tsui wrote on this post on her Facebook page. (Lily Tsui)
Many of the designs include messages of hope and resilience. (Lily Tsui)

"I think that's part of what appeals to people: the combination of the unexpected."

Not for sensitive eyes

Last fall, Tsui started posting pictures of her finished products to her Facebook page. Very quickly, she started receiving requests for her designs, as well as custom orders. 

By the middle of November, she had enough orders to keep her busy through to the end of the year.

Her pieces range in price from about $30 to $150, depending on size and complexity. When it comes to what she sews for custom orders, Tsui says she's open to suggestions — and doesn't shy from hard topics or certain four-letter-words not found on your grandmother's cross-stitch patterns.

"I kind of have a personal reputation for being sarcastic and snarky," Tsui said with a laugh.

This penguin's got "hangry" eyes, Tsui wrote on Facebook. (Lily Tsui)

When it comes to her crafting, Tsui says she asks herself one key question: " Is this something I'd want to hang in my own house?"

In the future, she hopes to expand her cottage crafting industry, and is planning a website and a line of greeting cards. She's also considering putting out a calendar in 2017.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.