Hey people, sorry to have disappeared for a while. Life sorta got in the way. Y'all know what that's like, eh? ;-)
Well, a little while ago I stumbled upon the embroidery (manbroidery!) of one Mr. Xstitch (on Flickr) and he just ticks all the boxes for deserving being in the Feeling Stitchy spotlight: he's a dude, he embroiders, he makes his own patterns of cars, pop culture figures and graffiti (yeah, baby!) I had to know some more so I asked him a few questions. Thank you, Mr Xstitch!
Why did you start doing cross stitch?
It all began with a trip to Canada - I wanted something to do and found myself in a haberdashery shop. I bought a pattern of an art nouveau head, and found it surprisingly enjoyable to do. After I finished that piece I wanted something different to do, but found it hard to source patterns that really tickled my fancy. In the end I settled for the Kiss by Klimt from the Cross Stitch Collectables site. But it sparked off a desire in me to make patterns that I wanted to stitch.
Can you tell us about your subject matter?
I've always been a fan of graffiti and street art, but have never been brave enough or artistic enough to actually do any myself. However, within the pixellated world of cross stitch, things make more sense for me, and having spent some time researching different graffiti pieces I decided to turn some into patterns and have a go at stitching them. The only flaw in my plan is that each of my patterns is about twelve inches wide and takes several months to complete. So periodically I’ll do some smaller pieces – ironic samplers or blackwork – as a way of making things interesting.
What reactions do you get from other people? (being a dude embroidering and all)
People are kinda surprised that I do stitchery, especially as I’m six feet tall with a bald head and look like I should a doorman rather than an embroiderer. But I extol the virtues of needlecraft, how relaxing and contemplative it is, and before long they can understand where I’m coming from. I do like to take small samplers onto the train when I go to work sometimes, just to provoke reactions in people.
This whole “manbroidery” thing is part of the inspiration for my patterns – I want to make patterns with subjects that men can feel comfortable doing. From supercars to superheroes, I want to make cross stitch more palatable for men, so that they can appreciate it as a more relaxing alternative to Gears of War or Halo3. That’s my main aim, and I’m feeling confident!
Where do you find your inspiration?
I spend a lot of time wading through RSS feeds from graffiti and contemporary craft blogs. There’s so much brilliant stuff happening out there, it’s terrific to see. I’m really interested in the political aspect of crafts and how they empower people to fend for themselves – I feel inclined towards more political work as time passes. But there are so many inspirational artists out there, I am humbled. I’m just a pattern maker really, I feel guilty considering myself as anything resembling an artist. I’m just glad to be a part of the craft revolution.