Monday, 30 May 2011

10 Minutes on the Couch with Mr X Stitch

We got a little bit excited in the office when it was confirmed that we were going to, 1) interview a cross stitcher (we’ve not interview a cross stitcher before) and 2) The cross stitcher in question is Male. Mr X Stitch attracts an ever growing following and is bringing a refreshed and welcomed edgy-ness to cross stitching.

How did you get into cross Stitch?
My first stitchery was an Alphonse Mucha art nouveau head, which I bought to take on a holiday to Canada. I liked the content matter, but I liked the juxtaposition of a big bloke like me doing something refined like cross stitch. It took me a year to complete the piece, but in that time I realised how much I enjoyed stitching, and so once I had finished it (framed it and given it to my Mum) I sought out another pattern. This one was Klimt’s the Kiss, and to this day it is my number one WIP, soon to be celebrating its sixth birthday!
My desire to stitch subjects a little closer to my heart led me to purchase some pattern making software, and I created Panika, my first graffiti cross stitch pattern. And it went from there!

Do you do any other craft as well as Cross Stitch?
I’m a bit of a geek so spend my time doing crafty online things – to be honest I consider blogging a bit of a craft, and running the various strands of the Mr X Stitch empire keeps me plenty busy. I have a day job as an IT trainer for a national children’s charity, so I spend a lot of time learning how to use new software, from desktop publishing to sound editing and all kinds of geekery in between!

If there were 3 things you could wish for in the needle craft world, what 3 things would they be?
That embroidery is taken seriously as an art form; that men feel comfortable doing stitching, and that textiles were taught more thoroughly in schools, along with those other practical subjects that seem to have fallen by the wayside. Oh, and that people understood the value of handmade items, therein paying a sustainable price for goods made using traditional handicraft methods.

Sometimes your designs can be a bit provocative, have you ever got into trouble for them?
Not particularly, as you can get away with quite a lot on the internet. I do find that the stuff I produce and the kind of stitching we feature on our NSFW Saturday posts at the website ( are unlikely to make it into mainstream media any time soon. However we live in the 21st century, and these themes are ever-present in popular culture, so I anticipate things will change eventually.

What exciting project are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a series of stitcheries based on the content of spam emails that I’ve received. I’m doing twelve of them to be included in an exhibition in Milton Keynes Gallery that runs from July to September. It’s a bit of fun, but there’s nothing like stitching for a deadline to test your commitment to the craft!

Do you sell your designs? if so where can we get our hands on them?
I have a range of downloadable cross stitch patterns that can be bought from the Mr X Stitch etsy store:

What resources do you have on your website to help people with their projects?
To be honest, that’s an area that I need to improve. We have heaps and heaps of inspiration for people and our patterns point people in the direction of useful stitchy resources, like Mary Corbet’s series of needlework videos ( I have plans to develop the educational side of the Mr X Stitch experience – it’s on my ever increasing to-do list!

Men are into craft in the states, if you had to encourage a man to take up needle craft in the UK, what would you say to them?
“It’s okay. No one’s going to think you’re strange, particularly once they see you’re making something cool.” I’d also look forward to the point where they find the rhythm of stitching and learn how the meditative quality of stitchery combines with the creative side of it to transport them to a very nice place. It’s hard to explain but you know it when you get there.

If someone wanted to take up cross stitch, where online would you recommend they go as a starting point?
You could do worse than visiting Connie Barwick is the cross stitch guru, she’s lovely and has developed loads of resources to help people get started.

Who is your inspiration?
I get inspired on a daily basis by the different people I see that produce fantastic works with a needle and thread. There are simply too many people to mention. For a taster of some of the people that inspire me you could check out my new book PUSH: Stitchery, which comes out on 6th September. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon and contains interviews with 30 of the best contemporary needlecraft artists on the planet. Push Stitchery Artists  Boundaries Stitched

Describe your work in 3 words?
Kick Ass Cross-stitch.

Finally, we want to see you and your work, when are you coming to London?
I’m running some cross stitch workshops at the Science Museum on the 25th and 26th June, so you can come and hang out with me there. I’ve got lots of other plans, particularly once the book comes out. So you’ll definitely be seeing more of me!

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