Cross Stitchers’ Public Awareness League

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.

  1. (Just found your site via a string of RT on twitter!)

    I agree, we need some stitching popstars. Or perhaps now so many man-broiderers are coming out of the woodwork, a calendar?

  2. Dear Silverlotus:

    I was recently explaining this same topic with a non-stitcher and an older cross-stitcher.

    I’m 38 years old. I don’t know anyone my age that cross-stitches, crochets, knits, or uses a sewing machine. I’ve taught myself how to cross-stitch in my teens; and since then I’ve learned to crochet (beginner level) and sew. I still haven’t learned to knit. But that is my next goal. I wish I could find an adoptive older Mom, Aunt, or Sister that could mentor me. But I also think that I need to become an ambassador to the those younger than me.

    I worry that sometimes that the above listed loves of mine and others will fade away. The supplies are getting more difficult to find; there’s one local chain store that has all of the DMC floss collection but their prices seem to reflect their monopoly. Sadly, it’s cheaper for me to buy curtains or clothing than to make it. I tend to buy material only if it’s on clearance.

    I’ve given handmade gifts to friends my age or younger, and they don’t seem to appreciate or understand the sentimentality or time invested in their gift. They think I’ve made a homemade gift becuase it was cheaper!!! Friends and family have asked me why I don’t sell cross-stitched gifts; I’m quick and could really crank them out. But the price of the supplies and the time taken, I would never be able to list the real product value price.
    I love cross-stitching. But as time goes by, cross-stitching is becoming that love that you try to explain to family and friends and they just shake their heads. Cross-stitching is becoming my unrequited love.

    Thanks for the great article! I wish that Oprah, Ellen, or Beyonce were cross-stitchers. LOL

    Take Care and Blessed Be,
    Kelli O’Neill

  3. I love that….cross stitch becoming your unrequited love. How true! LOL Other than other stitchers, no one ever gets it. I think one of things about stitching is that our BAP aren’t traveling projects. We aren’t going to bring our TWs or HAEDs to the doctor’s office where people might get interested in what we’re doing.

    I was at my local craft store this morning and I noticed that once again they had moved the cross stitch section further to the back of the store and had made it smaller still. I don’t know what it’ll take to get stitching more popular, but maybe it doesn’t need to be. Maybe we we’re fine being the exclusive bunch we are. LOL

  4. Fear not! There is a change coming. No longer is cross stitch going to be stuck at the back of shops. No more will people think of cross stitch as a hobby for losers.
    Cross stitch is funky, and I’m here to make sure that people realise that. Stitching is a craft and an art, and by the time I’m finished, people will know that.
    The Nu Craft Revolution is here. 🙂

  5. I like that idea, Autumn. We are exclusive. 🙂 I think that part of the reason I took up knitting was because it is portable and great to work on around the Baby Man and on the go. But when I have quiet time, it is nearly always my cross stitch I turn too.

  6. Thankyou so much for this article cause I cannot agree with you more. It’s worse in countries where cross stitch has never been popular as it is in the USA and getting access to so many of the amazing stitching resources is so difficult.

    The question is, what do we do to get the word out there!?

    p.s. blogrolled ya 🙂

  7. I was kind of amused when knitting made a resurgence and became so popular. I wonder if it is on the downturn yet since there are only so many scarves one can knit. I think as soon as the novelty of knitting a scarf, or even a pair of socks wears off, there are only a few knitters that will go on to more difficult and much more expensive projects. I knit on and off when I have the urge, but I am hesitant to tackle a garment. So many times I have ended up with an ill fitting, unwearable sweater. I actually think cross stitch is much less expensive, unless you spend a ton on framing.

    There are 2 specialty yarn shops in our town and no needlework shops. I had wanted to open a store, but the costs were prohibitive. I think probably the people who own the yarn stores don’t need to make a living off of their business. On line shopping has made a huge difference in how we shop for needlework supplies.