This Cross Stitch Is the Ultimate Ultima Homage

Art & Sculpture Craft & Design
This Cross Stitch Is the Ultimate Ultima Homage

While, scrolling through Twitter recently, I glimpsed the image you see below. At first glance, I thought it was a screenshot from the game Ultima on the Apple II. However, as my eyes moved on, I noticed the word “stitch” in the tweet!

Glenda Adams‘ cross-stitch project perfectly captures the look of Ultima on the Apple II, including the tell-tale pixel bleed from that computer. For comparison, here’s the original screenshot she used as reference for her project.

The pixel color issues aren’t easily viewable here, but in the close up shots of her work you can see them clearly.

Why Ultima?

I had done some #nerdstitch of old Mac inspired black & white pixel art, and wanted to do some more retro stuff, but with color. I’d played a lot of Apple II games way back in the day, so I though something classic would be fun. Ultima was so iconic, and had a great recognizable art style.

What inspired you?

I first got an Apple II emulator on my Mac so I could run old games, and then I played Ultima until I got a screenshot with some action that I liked.

What was the process for creating the pattern?

It took me a while to figure out the right video settings to get an exact pixel perfect screen shot of the Apple II screen, including the little fringe color artifacts.

Once I had a clear screenshot, I found 6 matching colors from DMC floss (the cross-stitch thread) that looked close to the Apple II’s blue, orange, green, purple (+ black & white). Then I took the 280×192 pixel screenshot and used an online cross-stitch pattern maker to covert it to a printed out chart that was a bit easier to follow while stitching.

A shot of the back of the cross-stitch

One of the hardest thing was to find a high stitch count black Aida cloth to use to stitch onto. Black cloth is hard to work with (you can’t see the holes to stitch through very well), so mostly it comes in 11 or 14 stitches per inch. But 280 pixels at 11/inch would be 25 inches wide, much bigger than I wanted to make it. I finally found an online store that sold 18 count black Aida, so that gave me a size of about 15 by 11 inches, still fairly large, but manageable.

How long have you been working on this project?

After I had the chart, colors, and background cloth, it was just a matter of stitching. I spent about 3 months on it, working a couple hours most nights. Some of the repetitive bits like the water or the big blue borders were tough going, but it was still a fun project.

I was really happy how it turned out.

What’s next?

I’m thinking of doing some smaller Apple II or Mac projects next, not a full screenshot again so soon.


I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. You can find me on twitter at @calebkraft

View more articles by Caleb Kraft