The maths cross-stitch that hangs behind me

A thumbnail of me on a video call. Behind me is a featureless grey wall, a white door, and a wooden-framed picture with indistinct coloured squares. I was chatting to a new colleague last week, and she asked about the picture that hangs behind me when I’m on video calls – which made me realise I’ve never posted about it here. It’s a rather nice piece that I’m quite pleased with, and it’s worth sharing.

A thumbnail of me on a video call. Behind me is a featureless grey wall, a white door, and a wooden-framed picture with indistinct coloured squares.

Most of my backdrop is pretty dull: a closed white door and some grey walls. I want to paint this room and add some colour, but disassembling my desk so I can redecorate is a challenge I have yet to tackle. In the meantime, I added a small piece of art.

I deliberately picked something small but colourful. I wanted to make my backdrop a bit more interesting than a grey wall, but I didn’t want something too big. I still want to be the main focus of my video, especially if I’m a post-it note sized tile in a large conference call.

This is what it looks like up close:

A wodden frame around a cross-stitch picture. The picture is sixteen brightly-coloured squares, arranged in a four-by-four grid. Each square has a different mathematically-related symbol, including a Klein bottle, the digits of pi, a chalkboard, and a sine wave.

It’s a piece of cross-stitch I made at the end of 2020. People are often surprised – when we’re on a video call, they think it’s a painting!

The pattern is a maths sampler I bought from Mathysphere, who makes some gorgeous designs. I did have to adjust a couple of the colours (in particular the hypercube and dodecahedron, which I’m still not 100% happy with), but mostly it’s straight from the pattern. Like a lot of my other pieces, it was framed by Landseer Picture Framing.

There are explanations (and close-up photos) of what’s in each square on Mathysphere’s Tumblr. I’m a big fan of their work: the designs are lovely, the colours are great, and the patterns are easy to follow. I’m also working my way through the Pride Planets series, and I’ve bought their patterns for several people. I suspect I’ll do another sampler soon, but I’m not sure which.

It took about two months from start to finish (and then another few weeks to frame). If you’re looking for a project, this was fun to make, not too long, and I love the final result.