An Interview with Makoto Oozu the Japanese Cross Stitch Master

Makoto Oozu

It’s super rare that the cross stitch master Makoto Oozu does an interview outside of Japan, however, we were able to speak to him one on one to get a glimps into his world.
 
A lot of people outside of Japan already know who you are, but the story on how you became a cross stitch master is an interesting one. Can you tell us how you came across cross stitch and how it changed your life?
In my early twenties, when I was working at a liquor store, my friend give me a book of cross stitch. It was my first encounter to cross stitch too. Normally, cross stitch books are written for women, with designs like flowers or pretty things. But I thought cross stitch is close to 8bit, which I have loved from childhood. Then I started to design original ones. Then a publisher asked me for some books to be published. However, there were two things they wanted. One; it was made for men who like embroidery. Two; mothers who have little boys liked my design. If I had not come across cross stitch, I would be a liquor shop manager.
 
How and where did you learn you learn how to stitch or sew?
I’ve learned embroidery in a beginner’s book such as ‘Cross stitch A to Z.’ It was completely self-study, so I can have a kind of inferiority complex, but that also works to my advantage allowing me to do anything.
 
What does cross stitch mean to you?
Both a hobby and job. I work for clients on most of my work recently, but I always want to create something new in embroidery.
 
Where do you like to work?
I like to work in my empty studio after everyone has gone home with the radio on.
 
As a fellow manbroiderer (male embroiderer) how do you look at the market, and what changes are you trying to bring in?
The embroidery market has grown due to internet. The internet gave us the ability to show, buy, or sell products. I wonder if I just had interested in cross stitch a little bit earlier than other manbroiderers.
 
How do people respond to you as a male embroiderer?
I’m tall and big guy, so people assume I’m not into embroidery. Everyone usually surprised.
 
Over the years you’ve created a lot of cross stitch. What’s your favorite piece and why?
A bracelet shaped like a ROLEX, which is called “OLEX”. (“OLE” stands for “me” or “I” in Japanese, so it has meaning like my ROLEX). When KAWS came to Japan, he bought it! I could believe my products and the way I have walked is right at that time.
OLEX by Makoto Oozu
 
As one of the only well-known Japanese cross stitchers outside of Japan, how do you think traditional Japanese culture influences your work?
I had no idea that I was well-known outside of Japan lol.
 
I’m 37 years old now. Video games, that I have played when I was a child, influenced my work a lot. And my assistants are methodical, but that may kind of unique to Japan(?).
 
When you design patterns do you try to create patterns for Japan, everyone, or do you create things you like to stitch?
These days, I work with clients, so themes (patterns) are decided due in meetings with them. I used to create patterns that I liked such as insects, dinosaurs, and cars, kind of boyish patterns.
 
With that in mind, where does most of your inspiration for patterns come from?
I have no idea. But, when I am travelling, or shopping, sometimes I think “what if I made these things as cross stitch patterns?” those things become great.
 
What are or were some of the strongest trends and influences you had to absorb before you understood your own work?
Japanese casual fashion between from the middle of 90s to 2000s, when I was around 18 years old. I like Nike Air Jordans, Air Max, G-Shock, Ape, etc… even now.
Makoto Oozu
In 2016 you opened TOKYO PiXEL, and moved slightly away from cross stitch. May I ask why you decided to move away from cross stitch and focus on pixel art?
Cross stitch is one of “pixel art”. And I’ve been a fan of video games. The difference is only one thing; using needles or mice.
 
Do you intend to open up more stores, and make a Oozu empire? I know many people would be interested in a store in Europe or America…
Taking about TOKYO PiXEL, I really hope that our products are sold overseas from bottom of my heart. That’s why a shop is near Asakusa where many tourists come.
I hope some company will help us to sell our products overseas as a partner. There are two reasons. One; as a designer, there are many things you can create. Two; I’m not talented enough to sell or manage it lol.
 
Finally, let’s talk about your new book. After a series of successful books, most of which are super hard to get outside of Japan, you’ve decided to come out with a compendium of your patterns. Can you tell us what makes “Fun Cross Stitch Book” different, and tell us why you were so strongly devoted to making it full color?
Three books that I have published became out of print. I’ve got many requests for reissue. So I add some new designs to these three books as one new book.
I think full color is easy to view. There was a hard problem of costs printing in full color, but the publisher cooperated with me.
 
We reviewed Makoto’s new book Fun Cross Stitch!
fun cross stitch book cover by makoto oozu
Any future projects you’re especially looking forward to?
Some big projects are in progress. I think we would release them in 2017. Please look forward to it. I would love to hold an exhibition overseas sometime, please come there at that time and when you come to Japan, Please visit our shop.
 
Do you have any secrets in your work you will tell us?
I designed 3D embroidery where you wear red and blue 3D glasses, but actually it doesn’t work. lol.
 
You can find Makoto’s work on his website, or you can purchase his kits, porcelins and geekery on his TOKYOPiXEL store.
3-14-13 Kotobuki, Taito, Tokyo, Japan.
Open on every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Japanese national holidays.
12:00 – 19:00 TEL 03-6802-7870

Fun Cross Stitch Book by Makoto Oozu Reviewed

fun cross stitch book cover by makoto oozu

The Japanese cross stitch master, Makoto Oozu has produced a series of books in the past, such as “Makato’s Cross-Stitch Super Collection” which is found on the shelves of most cross stitchers worldwide. That’s why, when he released a new book in Japan, I had to get myself a copy!
fun cross stitch book cover by makoto oozu
This super compendium of miniature cross stitch patterns is 200 pages thick, with new content from 2017 such as an A4 world map, and country specific stitches, as well as the reprints of three of Makoto’s previous books; the Japanese only out of print “My Stitch Book”, “Makato’s Cross-Stitch Super Collection” and “Mega Mini Cross Stitch: 900 Super Awesome Cross Stitch Motifs“.
Makoto decided to put together this new book as he’d been requested by hundreds of people for copies of his out of print books. This means that the book contains over 2000 patterns! Many of which you would have seen before in his previous books, but he’s put together 100 new patterns and there are 300 from his Japanese only book too, meaning this is still a fantastic book to pick up.
fun cross stitch book by makoto oozu
For Makoto, one of the biggest issues with his previous books was the lack of color, and frankly I agree. For a beginner in particular, patterns need to be easy to read, and the dizzying array of icons on a black and white pattern are super confusing. In this new book, not only is every pattern printed in full color glory, but the patterns are too, meaning an easy to follow pattern for beginners.
However, the book is mostly in Japanese, meaning reading the instructions for beginners might be a bit complicated. However there are pictures, and in a book of 200 pages there are a total of 9 in Japanese, so it really isn’t a problem for most people, and is still a great collection of patterns.
fun cross stitch book full color preview by makoto oozu
If you fancy picking up the book, you can currently get a copy on the Japanese Amazon for about $20 (as of September 2017). I’m afraid to say we’ve got confirmation from Makoto that it won’t be published outside of Japan, so this is currently the only way you can pick one up.
In fact, we spoke to Makoto about a few things, such as the Japanese cross stitch trends, you should check out my interview with Makoto Oozu.
 
And finally, I leave you with a quote from the author himself about his new book:

If you compare it to rice, it’s like a book with raw egg, red ginger and miso soup in a special rice bowl.

Makoto Oozu

DMCs 35 New Threads

DMC new threads

For the first time in 14 years, DMC threads are launching new colors. We were able to get a preview set, and so we’re decided to help out and go into detail with the 35 new colors.
Firstly, the new colors range from code 01 to 35, and no colors are being replaced; these are all additional only. This brings the total range up to 500. They’re out in late October/early November (dependent on where you live).
Based of the new colors is clear that DMC have really listened to what customers wanted. Without further ado, lets look at each of the new colors.
 
New DMC Thread range 01 to 35
 
01 to 04 – Greys
DMC threads color 01DMC threads color 02DMC threads color 03DMC threads color 04
The first set is numbers 01 to 04, all grey. The current grey selection is a bit lack luster, with very popular colors such as 415, 318 and 414 being slightly purple hued. The new set effectively replaces these colors by removing the purple, making a fantastic run of 762, 01, 02, 03, 04, 317, 413, 3799, 310. We’ve made up this color swatch up below. Honestly, of all the new threads, we think these four will be the most popular by far, and will stop that weird purple hue on grey scale projects like our Canabalt piece.
dmc greys

 
05 to 09 – Browns
DMC threads color 05DMC threads color 06DMC threads color 07DMC threads color 08DMC threads color 09
The second set, 05 to 09, are all brown. At first glance they’ve very similar to the 453, 452, 451, 3861, 3860, 779 line, however that has historically been muddled and lacking in a progressive shading. Instead, the new line makes a pure brown, something that’s been missing for a while from the traditional line.
 
10 to 18 – Greens
DMC threads color 10DMC threads color 11DMC threads color 12DMC threads color 13DMC threads color 14DMC threads color 15DMC threads color 16DMC threads color 17DMC threads color 18
Initially it seems a little odd to have so many greens in the new threads, especially considering green has always been a strong point of DMC. However, if you think about the greens available, they either transition into blue, or brown. Hardly any move into yellow. This is where the new green threads come in, offering fairly pale greens that transition into yellow. In addition color 13 sits as a lighter 3849 to allow blue to green blending a little easier at pale ends of the spectrum.
 
19 – Orange
DMC threads color 19
We then have the solitary 19, a peachy orange. This is clearly made to fit within existing 3823, 3855, 19, 3854, 3853 line. I must admit, I’ve never really seen much use of these colours, however unlike most other color ranges featuring at least 5 colors, it shows DMC are devoted to making their existing line perfect. (The images don’t do it justice.)
dmc peachy oranges
In addition this orange could be included within the next set of colors; flesh tones.
 
20 to 22 – Flesh tones
DMC threads color 20DMC threads color 21DMC threads color 22
Skin tones have ALWAYS been an issue with threads, and whilst there are some good shades out there, the darker white skin colors have been missing for a while. Colors 20 to 22 solve that issue.
 
23 to 35 – Purples
DMC threads color 23DMC threads color 24DMC threads color 25DMC threads color 26DMC threads color 27DMC threads color 28DMC threads color 29DMC threads color 30DMC threads color 31DMC threads color 32DMC threads color 33DMC threads color 34DMC threads color 35
Finally, we look upon the final section of new threads, colors 23 to 35. These compromise a series of purples, mostly light hued, without any runs of progressively darker threads. For a long time purple has been a big issue, with only darker purples being an use, as lighter ones were just way too pink. The new threads offer both lighter purples, but also a series of purples that merge into other colors, such as 28 and 29 which blend into a grey line 415, 318 and 414, which now feels a little orphaned with the new greys. 30, 31 and 32 blend into blue. And 33, 34 and 35 blend into red well, something there currently isn’t any of.
 
A word on compatibility
It’s worth noting that with all new threads, pick up is a little slow going at first. Most pattern makers will updated yearly, meaning the next update using these threads could be some time in mid 2018. We reached out to WinStitch/MacStitch which will send an update in the coming week. No update on when PCStitch will update, we’ll update this when we hear back.
In addition the DMC shade card, something we’re big fans of here is not being updated for the moment. We’ve heard rumors is not as easy to get your hands on one at the moment, so we do expect an upgrade, but we’re estimating it to be announced in the new year.
 
Where and when can you get them?
Officially the new threads go on open sale in November, with a few select retailers getting their hands on them early. One of these is SewAndSo.com where you can buy each thread with 25% off, or get a collectors tin with all of them included, in the middle of October. We expect this will be the only place you can pick them up this early, with the DMC website, Hobbycraft and Michaels to carry the line once they’re officially out in November. We’ve got confirmation that Walmart will NOT be carrying the line at all.
New DMC threads collectors tin

The Tasty World Of Cross Stitch Cakes

awesome cross stitch cake by ana salinas

When you think cross stitch, you don’t normally think cakes. However the relationship has been out there a while. We’ve done the hard, tasty work for you, by finding those cross stitch cakes and cake cross stitch.

Cake: Ana Salinas

Originally showcased at the Americas Cake Fair Ana Salinas took the cross stitch world by storm with her fantastically realistic cross stitch cake.

awesome cross stitch cake by ana salinas
The original cross stitch cake by Ana Salinas

The thing that really made the world go crazy was the sheer detail. There’s realistic aida, with cross stitch perfectly spaced, and its just so awesome!

Cross Stitch: Sirinth

Cake don’t always have to be fancy to be tasty. Check this sweet Minecraft cake out by Sirinth who even made the pattern avalible for free on her website.
minecraft cake cross stitch by sirinth

Cake: Zoe Clark

Cross stitch cakes look hard, however once Ana Salinas took the world by storm, people started to emulate her. Most are poor emulations, however Zoe Clark has perfected a very simple method, which she even teaches on her website!

Cross Stitch: TinyLizard

These simplistic cupcakes are super sweet. What makes them even better, is you can pick yourself up a kit from EtsyStudio
cake cross stitch kit by tinylizardgifts

The Samurai Who Unknowing Brought Cross Stitch To Japan

I was once told a story of how a Samurai brought cross stitch to Japan without knowing it. Like many tales about cross stitch I firmly ignored it, however, as time has gone on, I found out the story was true. So, without further ado, here is the story of the Samurai that brought cross stitch to Japan by accident.

Edo Period (pre-1868)

Our story starts in the Edo period of Japan, a time of economic growth and strict social order. With a wealthy Imperial Court, it was a common practice for Ladies of the Court to have costumes decorated in a traditional Japanese embroidery (nihon shishu). However during these stages shishu was only available to a select group of the highest ranks of society due to high costs for its creation.
The Edo period continued with until its fall, which brought about mass social change.

Keiō Era (1865 – 1868)

One of the largest changes following the fall of Edo was the restructuring of the military. Gone were the days of samurai classes ruling over their territories. Many joined up the new military, whilst others set up businesses. One of these samurai, from Fukui in Echizen decided to bring in sanada string as a clothes accessory.
Taking many artistic cues from nihon shishu, sanada string was a more affordable option for many Japanese.
traditional Sanada string

Meiji Period (1868 – 1912)

Unlike nihon shishu however sanada string lacked artistic flair and left many Japanese wanting a more artistic clothing option. In this wake, the samurai changed his business model and instead focused on sashiko embroidery, a regimented embroidery featuring crossed stitches as part of its design, originally used to reinforce garments and as a means of repair.

Modern Sashiko Japanese Embroidery
Modern Sashiko Japanese Embroidery

Taishō Period (1912 – 1926)

As the popularity of sashiko increased its art form became more free, with regional differences resulting in a varied series of patterns and structures. One of these, was extremely similar to modern day cross stitch, Hitomezashi. However, still out of reach by the average Japanese person, the thread brand DMC entered Japan and offered a high quality, affordable thread.

Hitomezashi sashiko
Hitomezashi sashiko

Modern Japan (1926 – present)

Post war interest in Japan started a revolution of sorts, resulting in ‘handicraft’ or craft as westerns know it, becoming a national pass time, with speciality stores becoming well known all over the country. As time passed, handicraft stores became the largest stores in Japan.

samurai jack cross stitch
Samurai Jack cross stitch by reddit user Mrs_Hudson

My thanks to the Japanese store echizen-ya who not only corroborated this story, but was also the original store the samurai opened in 1867.

The Best Simpsons Cross Stitch

With 21 seasons under its belt and still going strong, The Simpsons has a massive following (even if some of them hate the newer episodes), however there isn’t a great deal of cross stitch out there devoted to it.
As I pointed out in my trends of 2017 post pop culture like The Simpsons is on the rise. Here are the best so far…

Springfield: Home Sweet Home

Before we begin, please be advised this post is sponsored by Hank Scorpio (evil genius) and the Globex Corporation.
the simpsons cross stitch home sweet home

The Almighty Donut

Talking of Homer, where’s my donut love?
the simpsons cross stitch do or donut there is no try
You can pick the pattern up of this awesome pattern on Etsy.

Old Man Yells At Cloud

But when it comes to the press, Grandpa Simpson has the record…
the simpsons cross stitch old man yells at cloud

That’s a Paddlin’

Talking out of turn? That’s a paddlin’. Lookin’ out the window? That’s a paddlin’. Staring at my sandals? That’s a paddlin’. Paddlin’ the school canoe? Oh, you better believe that’s a paddlin’.
― Jasper Beardly

the simpsons cross stitch thats a paddlin

Lisa Simpson

the simpsons cross stitch you are lisa simpson
Pretty sure I’m not…

Oh…

The Couch Gag

And finally, what kind of roundup would it be without a couch gag? Attempted a few times, PDX-stitch has got the furthest so far, with a 3 year stitch time…
the simpsons cross stitch couch gag

How To Cross Stitch Faster

I regularly get asked how I can cross stitch so fast, and whilst it probably has a lot to do with how many hours I stitch in, there are various ways to speed up your cross stitching. We’ll start off with some different techniques to try, before going into some tips for speeding up your cross stitch.

The Danish Technique

Traditionally there are two ways to cross stitch, the English technique and Danish technique. Generally people use the Danish technique, where you lay down a line of stitches in one direction, and then go back with the other direction. We use this technique in our how to cross stitch guide for a reason; it makes things far faster.
How to cross stitch animated gif
If you want to find out more about the differences between both, peacockandfig has a great guide.

Two Hand Technique

The two handed technique requires you to have a hands free frame. This means that instead of flipping the frame over to find the needle, you simple grab the needle with your otherhand and push it back up through the fabric. This means that you don’t have to put the needle far to straighten the thread, or take your eye off the fabric holes.

Double Sided Needle

One of the best ways to acheive the two hand technique is to change your needle to a twin pointed or double sided variety. Its basically a standard needle that you don’t have to swin around, cutting even more time off.

Double ended cross stitch needle
Source: reddit

You can pick some up at 123stitch.

“In Hand” Technique

Sometimes refered to as the ‘sewing’ method, this technique requires you to not use a frame. For smaller projects, this is fine, however just not workable for larger ones. The idea is to pucker the fabric so you place an in and out hole in one go. The below video explains this process very well:

General Tips:

Have the right equipment

Whlist you can change your stitching style, or using fancy needles, there is always a need to have the right equipment, and regularly, without realising it, many people don’t have what they need to stitch fast.

  • Needle
    • Should always be the correct size for the fabric
    • Consider using a petite needle or one size smaller
    • Should always be a blunt embroidery needle (there are sharp ones)
    • Use gold plated needles if possible (they slide through better)
  • Frame
    • Should always be as taught as possible (unless using the “in the hand” technique)
    • Should be appropriate the fabric size (no hoops on massive projects)
  • Scissors
  • Fabrics count

    There are loads of different fabric types you can use to cross stitch on, and due to their differences, some are easier to stitch on. If you want a fast project, use aida.
    In addition, the count can drastically change the speed of stitching. Try using a larger count for faster stitching.

    Stick with the same color

    Another great tip is stitching with one color as long as possible. Firstly, this means no awkward thread changes, but also means you havelots of nearby references for where to stitch next (so no pesky counting).

    Pre-thread needles

    One way to help yourself when sticking with a color is to prepare lots of needles. I regularly set up 8 needles with 8 threads ready to go, so I don’t have to keep start stopping to rethread. It saves far more time than you realise and makes use of all those needles you collect.

    Use the correct thread length

    Many new cross stitchers make the mistake of having a very large piece of thread hanging off the needle. In theory, the larger the thread, the less needle preperation. However, in reality, the larger the thread, the more tangles. Instead, you should have a smaller piece of thread. A good guide is measure from the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your elbow.

    Organise, organise, organise

    Finally, you have to organise. Whilst it can seem a bit tedious, this actually saves you massive amounts of time. I would suggest taking all of your skeins off and onto thread cards. By doing this your not only making it easier to grab the thread you need, but you’re untwisting the threads, making sure they don’t knot on the skein, and making selection easier. They also look super pretty.

    Full set of DMC threads
    My full set of DMC threads

    So there you have it. Now you have everything in your disposal to cross stitch faster. However, as a final note, I would say that sometimes taking your time can have added benefits, such as curbing stress.

    The Best Cross Stitch Forums

    Following our super popular post on how to show cross stitch offline we’ve received a few comments about the best forums to display your work on. On the last count there were about 30 forums, and so we’ve reviewed and ordered the list from most active community to least active community, based on a test every day for 28 days.

    Cross-Stitching.com

    cross-stitching.com forum
    Owner of a whole slew of cross stitch magazines its no surprise that cross-stitching.com has a massive following. Whilst the content of the website is a little hit and miss in my mind, the forums are epic. Not only are they massive but at any one time they have about 150-300 people logged in. The sheer size is a big draw, however, unlike a lot of other forums they don’t have any moderators, due to the community being so well behaved and helpful.
    I would say that there are two small negatives; the first is that there appear to only have a few true experts, with most posts being about how to cross stitch, and secondly, its very traditional.
     

    Reddit

    reddit /r/crossstitch
    In a stark contrast to cross-stitching.com’s forum, reddit’s /r/CrossStitch is far more contemporary (although there is a fair share of traditional in there), and MUCH more international. There are roughly 50 people logged into the forum at any time, and whilst that’s much smaller in size, the particiation is much greater, and often this is where the cross stitch masters hang their hat.
    There’s a bit of a learning curve needed though, as each time you post, you have to add a code to the start of your message, but once you’ve picked it up, its actually super easy to navigate.
     

    CrossStitchForum

    cross stitch forum
    Starting to get on the less busy side now, we have the CrossStitchForum, who’s whole purpose in life is a forum for cross stitchers. Whilst it was extreamly popular back in 2007, its suffered with low figures for a while, and I think we may see the end of it soon. However, in those archives are some of the best cross stitch question and answers you’ve ever seen. Whenever I have a question I look up the answer here first.
     

    Craftster

    craftster cross stitch
    A much larger forum, is craftster, which in itself is a massive beast, however the cross stitch and needlepoint section seems to have dwindled in the last 5 years. Whilst its a great place to show off your completed projects and WIPs, the community isn’t really there, and there isn’t much participation past the occassional “well done”.
     

    The Cross Stitch Guild

    cross stitch gold
    The Cross Stitch Guild, unlike all our other entries, has never been a busy forum. However, the one saving grace, is anyone posting is likely been stitching for decades. This means that any questions you have will not only be answered, but be answered by someone who has gone through the exact same things thousands of times before. Not too busy, but worth its weight in gold; pun intented.
     
    If you know of any good forums, even if they’re specific to certain parts of cross stitch, then drop me a line and I’ll review them!

    The Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch Book Review

    mr x stitch guide to cross stitch Cover
    It’s rare that I review a cross stitch book, and I know many of you want them, but there is rarely a reason. Most books are either mass patterns, which you will love or hate based on personal taste, or a historical tome, which either appeals or doesn’t. But this book review is different. Other than being written by my good pal Mr X Stitch (Jamie), the Mr X Stitch Guide To Cross Stitch book is not a normal cross stitch book. In my mind that should give you enough information to want to read it anyway, however, we got our hands on a pre-published copy, so onto the detailed review!
    mr x stitch guide to cross stitch inside page 58-59
    So the first thing to say is it has 20 patterns. These are all in the modern and contemporary style, such as small pixelated Mona Lisa, or a pineapple (actually three pineapples). The idea of the patterns, whilst being great projects, is to help explain the craft. And that’s because this book is about EVERYTHING cross stitch. It starts simple, instructions for basic patterns, and moves on to more and more complicated parts of the craft, including pattern making. But instead of stopping there Jamie goes from the very humble beginnings of cross stitch to some of the most extreme stitching around, with four key outliers of the craft (myself included), who push the boundaries of the craft. This is all backed with tips and tricks from decades of expert advice, add combined into one of the best looking cross stitch books around.
    mr x stitch guide to cross stitch inside page 8-9
    Jamie has always been someone to push cross stitch as an art form, and I’ve gone into some detail about is cross stitch is art or craft before (which includes a picture of Jamie stitching the Mona Lisa from the book), but instead of focusing on how people think about cross stitch, Jamie actively changes your mind. His tips of color blending and using materials such as glow in the dark threads shows you how being a little braver with your own stitches can bring a cutting edge twist to your art.
     

    For many, cross stitch conjures up images of cute kittens and country cottages, but this book shows people that there’s a different side to cross stitching that it’s an art in its own right, and will encourage them to be a little braver with their art.

    If at this point you’re not super excited, and convinced by the photos, then I don’t know what will get you excited. Frankly, I think this might be the best cross stitch book in existence.
     

    You can pick up a copy from the publisher searchpress or your local book store.

    The Rise Of The Manbroiderer

    Manbroidery
    [man-broi-duh-ree, -dree]

    noun

    1. A movement of men who cross-stitch or embroider. A subversion of a traditionally female art form.
    2. Any piece of embroidery or cross-stitch done by a guy

     
    We detailed in some depth about the role of women in the history of cross stitch, and its always been a female pursuit in popular culture. However that doesn’t mean men don’t stitch, as we discussed in our post about dudes who cross stitch , and it definitely doesn’t mean they haven’t stitched in the past. In fact male embroidery can thank cheap German wool, the industrial revolution and some prisoners.
     
    The modern manbroidery movement, has brought a lot of men into the cross stitching and embroidery world, however there’s a lot more to the movement than men just started to stitch one day. In fact, it starts back in German some 300 years ago, when thread in Britain became a comodity most people could afford. Up until this time cross stitch was firmly a female pursuit, with young ladies creating samplers to prove they could run a household. However when this cheap influx of thread came into Britain, suddely it fell out of fassion to create samplers. This all came, as at a time of economic change in Britain; the Industrial revolution.
    The first men recorded to move into embroidery were actually fishermen, used to knotting together fishing nets on mass. They realised that their skills weren’t transferable to the new industries, and so set up the Arts and Crafts movement.

    fine cell work prisoners cross stitching
    Fine Cell Work – A prisoner cross stitching in his cell

    We’ll fast forward over what was quite a termoil filled time, and start again in the 1960s with Lady Anne Tree who visited HMP Holloway women’s prison to help two female inmates. They started cross stitching and Lady Tree decided that the time spent in prison should be put to good use. She campaigned heavily for decades before the government allowed prisoners to earn money whilst in prison and finally in the late 1990s got exactly that. She created Fine Cell Work, which teaches male prisoners to cross stitch end embroider. These inmates were so good at stitching they have been featured in the Victoria and Albert, commissioned by English Heritage and been used by some of the worlds leading interior designers.
     
    Finally, we get to the modern age. The rise of MrXStitch did a massive part to help push the 2011 craft push (helped out by the recession) and now we have flickr groups, designers creating patterns just for men, and the likes of Mr X Stitch holding the flag for all the male embroiderers.
     
    This TEDx talk MrXStitch made actually features a lot of male embroidery, including my own stuff, it goes into detail on why cross stitch is important.
     

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