March 8, 2009

Craftster March Feature Project and New Challenge

Hi all! This month the featured artist and project comes to you from Mr. XStitch. He is insanely talented and just an all around nice guy. You've seen him featured here before-let's find out about the man, the myth-an enigma wrapped in a paradox all wrapped up in a sweater, Mr. XStitch.
1. Tell me a little bit about the project.
I got the idea for this piece when I bought a load of picture frames from a charity shop. Quite a few of them already had cross-stitch in them, and I didn't want to just throw them away. Clearly someone had spent time and energy making them and I thought they deserved a second chance.
With this Victorian couple the idea came to me fairly early on, but it took a while for me to work out exactly how I was going to execute the piece. I knew how I wanted the disco floor to look, having watched Saturday Night Fever a few too many times in the past, and I knew I wanted a glitter ball, and the rest just happened. I sort of cheated with the background, although the "bar" at the back kinda worked. I achieved the depth perception I was after, and the glitter ball came out okay, despite the struggle of using light effects threads!

2. Tell me a little about yourself.
I'm Jamie, I live in Milton Keynes, England with my wife and three chickens. I manage an IT training team for a national children's charity for the day job, and then spend the rest of my time either a) campaigning on local political issues, b) running the town's farmer's market that my wife and I began five years ago or c) running the Mr X Stitch blog and pattern making empire.

3. What/who inspires you?
I get a lot of inspiration from the Needlecrafters on here, to be honest. Finding Craftster was like a revelation to me, finding lots of other people who wanted to make new and funky things. I was always dissatisfied with the content of the mainstream cross stitch patterns - I'm not into flowers and kittens playing with wool - and that was what drove me to start making my own patterns. Coming on Craftster opened my eyes to what else you could do, and I've also met some terrific people on here. Big love to all of ya!
I'm also fascinated by the politics of crafting, and the very principle that if you can make your own things, you are less reliant on the system. Growing your own food is a very powerful thing, as is making things for yourself, and I think these are important skills that we need to continue using. I know there's a craft revolution happening and I'm glad I'm on board.

4. How long have you been stitching and how did you get started?
I've been stitching for about five years now. It started with a trip to Canada to visit the family of my wife - I wanted something to do on the plane and the justaposition between me (6 foot tall with a bald head) doing cross stitch was too good to miss. So I bought a pattern of an Art Nouveau woman and went from there. That piece is now framed and up in my Mum's house.
The thing that surprised me was how much I actually enjoyed stitching. I hadn't expected it to become such an important part of my life, but it is and I'm happy about that. I have an aspiration to do a degree in Hand Embroidery one day - possibly when the mortgage has been paid off - the thought of doing some high end Goldwork that says "Bastard" or something similar is really tickling my fancy!

5. What would you tell others who are just getting started?
Things I've learned over time - Make sure you're well lit (save your eyes!): use a frame if you can (for the tension); don't use shiny or light effects threads until you've had a bit of practice; and if it becomes a chore, put it down and do something else!

Bonus question: One quote that describes your life. Lots of people thoughout my life have told me: "You're so laid back you'll fall over" so I'll have that.

Thanks Mr. XStitch for the great piece and the awesome interview. Now on to stuff you can win! The new needlework challenge is up. The theme is one pattern, many stitches. You can find out more about it here. I know we will have some great entries!


  1. wow I didn't know you lived in England. My hubby is from there. I love your piecxe and enjoyed learning about you!

  2. I always enjoy Mr. XStitch. Great feature! I haven't made it to Craftster in a while, so I'm glad I caught this here.

  3. I love what you did with that picture. I love the idea that you took the orginial and made it your own by adding the disco floor and mirror light and bar.

  4. Great article on a great stitcher! I seriously love that disco floor piece.