I’m sure we are all aware that knitting is undergoing a huge resurgence. Even crochet, knitting’s often under-appreciated and much maligned cousin, is seeing a surge in interest. On the other hand, it seems like interest in cross stitch, needlepoint and related crafts (obsessions?) is wanning. I’ve been thinking about this and I wonder if it doesn’t have something to do with one of societies other obsessions: celebrity.
In the knitting world there are a few levels of celebrity: famous people who knit (Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep); designers (Norah Gaughan, Cookie A.); and knitters who stand out for some reason, usually writing (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee the Yarn Harlot). There is also a whole host of well-loved knitting authors of the past who’s work is still considered required reading for any knitter worth her yarn (Elizabeth Zimmermann).
(As an aside, I was tickled to find out that the fabulous Barbara Walker of knitting fame is the same Barbara Walker who has published books on women’s spirituality and Tarot. I so wish I could go see her speak at the Sock Summit.)
In the cross stitch world we don’t really seem to have this phenomenon. There are many well-loved and prolific designers, but where are the celebrity stitchers or the writers who regularly have standing-room-only book tours?
Toronto has four yarns shops that I know of, but no needlework shops. And when was the last time you saw a character on TV or in a movie do any needlework? Knitting, though, isn’t unusual to see. And quilting, well, that seems to be a great favourite of Hollywood.
I do love to knit. It is quick, fairly easy, and provides me with a garment or decor item when I’m done. Cross stitch, though, is my favourite handicraft. The result may “only” give me a decor item, but it is always something of great beauty well worth the long hours spent creating it.
I don’t think that cross stitch will ever see the heights of popularity that knitting has. It is too time consuming for our instant gratification society. And, really, it can be fairly expensive even at the most simple levels. Compare $1.69 for a ball of kitchen cotton to $10 for a small cross stitch kit. (Although, it is true that a large sweater with fancy yarn can run into the hundreds, but so can a Châtelaine cross stitch design.) I would love to see more cross stitch celebrities of all stripes, though. Imagine if Angelina said she loves stitching Teresa Wentzler designs, or if we had our own Floss Harlot to sign the praise of making little Xs over and over again. What we really need is a Cross Stitch Public Awareness League.