Tell us who you are!
I’m Jen Worick, the editorial director for Sasquatch Books. I’ve been working in publishing my entire adult life (soooo…a long time). I started out working in magazines, living in Washington DC and working as an editor for companies who produced a lot of magazines for associations and nonprofits, such as the National Association of Postmasters of the US (NAPUS). If you were ever curious about postmasters, hey, I’m your gal!
I then made the switch to book publishing, first working with a book packager and then landing at Running Press as editorial director. I dabbled in writing on the side, writing a book for RP on Nancy Drew and then co-authoring The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating and Sex for Quirk Books. That was a NYT best-seller so naturally I quit my job and jumped into the world of freelance writing, editing, and consulting, authoring more than 25 books on humor, pop culture, and crafts. Clearly that constellation of interests intersects with Julie and the Subversive Cross Stitch brand. I joined Sasquatch three years ago.
We hear that you got very into cross stitching during the pandemic, can you tell us more about how that happened and what inspired you?
Well, Julie was my inspo! When the possibility arose to acquire the next Subversive Cross Stitch book, I called dibs! I’m an omnicrafter and have written several craft books (knitting, gift crafts, prairie girl crafts, outdoor crafts) but I had never gone down the rabbit hole with cross stitch or needlepoint. I stuck mostly to knitting with just a skosh of embroidery threaded through my work (see what I did there?). So when I got ahold of Julie’s previous book and started a deep dive on her website, I immediately started flagging designs that spoke to me. I live for all things pie so my very first cross stitch project was “Shut Your Piehole.” And I was off to the races! I feel like I went through lockdown in a cross stitch fugue state. To paraphrase Alexa Rose, I loved that journey for me.
How many pieces have you stitched so far?
Between 25 and 30 is the best count I can do. I didn’t “Netflix and chill;” I “Netflixed and stitched.” I went on a lot of road trips over the past year and brought along a project so I could work on it each time I was drinking G&Ts or watching a dumb movie at an Airbnb.
What has cross stitching taught you?
Well, I already knew that I was a perfectionist and didn’t like making mistakes and starting over, but cross stitching forced me to confront these head on and be okay with pulling out stitches and reworking something. Who wants a framed phrase that is slightly off center? Not me! I embrace wabi-sabi to a point, but while I can live with a slight mistake in the border that no one but me would notice, I cannot deal with poor alignment, centering, or letterspacing. In addition, I gained a lot of confidence, trusting in my skills to quickly create these lovely works for myself and friends. I also realized that crafting soothes me in good times and bad, and it was a godsend to discover Julie and SCS during Covid and lean into feeling creative and productive when existential despair was knocking at my door.
What has been the more rewarding part of stitching?
I feel pretty fucking excited every time I finish, wash, and iron my piece. When a friend opens up one of my cross stitched gifts with a spot-on message, my heart takes flight.
Do you have a favorite piece you have made, if so which one and why?
Well, while I adore all of my SCS designs (“Fresh Out of Fucks” and “What Fresh Hell Is This” are two current faves), I have really enjoyed designing my own patterns with favorite phrases. Julie's patterns, instructions, and fonts gave me the confidence (or hubris) to try my hand at designing. My first customization was creating a tiny Tanqueray bottle (my gin of choice) on Julie’s “Let the Good Times Be Gin” design. As you can see from some of my photos, I designed a few fun ones, including one that paraphrases Fleabag (“I’m really good at sex”) and one that captures a dear friend’s favorite saying “The map is not the territory,” complete with a compass rose. But my favorite design was one that kept unfolding as I stitched it. As a writer, I have a few mottos and mantras that keep me going or make me chuckle, including one that is often mistakenly attributed to Hemingway: Write drunk, edit sober. While I don’t drink all that much, I like the spirit behind the quote. So I plotted it out and started stitching. And once the lettering was complete, I started thinking about how to embellish. I first considered a border but then struck upon the red pencil. So I added that. But then it looked a little imbalanced and weighted toward the editing part of the message. So I plotted out a pen and when I finished, I decided to add a little curly flourish at the tip. And I couldn’t be more pleased with it. It’s in my sightline as I work at my desk.
You were very recently a beginner to cross stitch, what do you recommend for other beginners who may be too intimidated to get started?
The beauty of Subversive Cross Stitch designs is that there is a lot of white space left around the sayings so they are very approachable, not to mention addictive. I’d pick a design that has a phrase that speaks to you. Seeing the snark appear under your fingers is sublime. And go rogue and choose your favorite colors for the border. And then let the magic happen. You’ll be hooked.
Tell us a little bit about Julie’s book and why you think people should read it?
Well, I’d say that people will use it more than read it. Julie is hilarious and the intro is super helpful. But the main appeal of the book and why crafters on both ends of the experience spectrum will want to sleep with the book under their pillow are the patterns. FIFTY of them. All in one place! They are organized by topic, such as Cocktail Corner and Self-Help. There are tons of giftable designs that you might decide to keep once you finish it. And if you’re like me and want to graduate to designing your own patterns, there are fonts, a blank grid, and motifs to kickstart your creative juices.
Any fun stories from working with Julie on the book?
Um, every e-mail exchange? All I want to do is go on a Thelma and Louise road trip with her, just without the whole “driving off the cliff” part. J Jack and I struck up a great rapport early on and I adore her and her dry, understated wit. We collaborated like the dream team, power couple that we are and I can’t wait to develop a whole publishing program with her!
Anything else you’d like to share?
Just that it’s a joy to hold the book in my hands and crack it open to start using it as a reference for my next wave of patterns. “Best Present Ever,” perhaps?