The Robots That Cross Stitch

cross stitch machine

I write for the XStitch Magazine, and in issue 4 I talk about the rise of Artificial Intelligence in art, and just how close we are to a robot creating a masterpiece. I mention the rise of a series of robots capable of creating something close to art, but there is one robot in particular that is making waves in cross stitch, and not the good kind.

How close are we to a robot cross stitch artist?

Really close. Really really really close.
 
Sewing machines have been around a long time, and the fact that they can complete a whole slew of stitches makes the art of patch embroidery possible, such as the awesome work of NAME.
However in the last 5 years sewing machines have been able to cross stitch too.

Last week we looked at the iconic IKEA cross stitch mail out. The point of the marketing campaign was to appear handmade, however they produced 40,000 of the letters, on machines. It kind of missed the point in my eye, however it just goes to show, that cross stitch isn’t just a handmade craft anymore.
cross stitch machine
The one good side? The cost. These machines are at the lowest $1000 and you just don’t see that many around. Thankfully, for now at least, cross stitch will remain wholly in the handmade.
And for any of those who want to know if it’s handmade or not, the machines can’t stitch on aida properly, so they normally stitch on linen.
 
Interested in more companion pieces? Check out my blog on the time cross stitch almost made it to space or why glow-in-the-dark thread is green.

The Story Of The Iconic IKEA Cross Stitch

Ikea Lida cross stitched email close up

The IKEA cross stitch mailout is fairly well known in our community, however whilst researching another story, this old chestnut came back with an rather interesting video, as seen below, and I wondered just how many of you knew the story of the mailout in the first place.

It all starts with a brief, and in this instance IKEA wanted to collect email addresses of high purchase buyers that hadn’t yet given it. The marketing agency LIDA took up the call, and looked into IKEAs brand promises. The one that stood out the most? Handmade. The second? Craft.

Ikea Lida cross stitched email
Source: Lida

To all of you reading this, that should scream cross stitch, and with good reason too. Cross stitch has always been a craft that uses the hand, and for a very long time, something that only the hand could do, machines just weren’t able. However as the above video shows, new embroidery machines can match the cross stitch action, and whilst they can’t hit the holes in aida very well, they can make a very good facsimile.
Machined and sent out to 40,000 IKEA family members, the marketing campaign was the best the company had ever produced, and sparked a follow up campaign using a printed cross stitch postcode, which won a whole slew of awards.
Ikea Lida cross stitched email close up
Source: Lida

Jonathan Goodman, Managing Director at LIDA says “The Handcrafted campaign is IKEA through and through. It engages their customers by showing them appreciation and the message is delivered with craft and care. It was a pleasure to be given the brief to ‘send an email without an email address’ and to be given the freedom to create a something that will demonstrate both the effectiveness of high value DM, as well as the relevance of email communications.”
 
Whilst for most the IKEA mailout was a fun marketing idea, for us cross stitchers I think we need to look at just what our craft represents. We are handmade.
 
If you want to know more about how robots can cross stitch, we’ve looked at that.

Book Review: Criss Crossing Paris

Criss Crossing Paris by Fiona Sinclair and Sally-Anne Hayes Book Cover

I’ve done a few cross stitch book reviews in the past, however I tend to stay away from them, and there is a very simple reason for this; they’re all the same. Cross stitch books stitch to a hard and fast formula. The reason is that for the vast majority; it works.
 
There are exceptions though, such as the Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch which put cross stitch in a new light. However for the first time ever (as far as I could tell), Fiona Sinclair and Sally-Anne Hayes have created a cross stitch book that goes totally off the ‘golden rules’ of cross stitch books and they’ve made something truly amazing.
 
Criss Crossing Paris by Fiona Sinclair and Sally-Anne Hayes Book Cover
We’ll start with what the book does have; the normal instructiions which are slightly more in depth than normal featuring things that aren’t in the book but help embelish, such as the dreaded french knot or beads, a fanastic selection of stitched up patterns, a guide on making things out of your finished cross stitch and a whole raft of standard thread lists and methods to accompany each pattern. That’s where things start getting special. The first thing you see when opening the book is an introduction to the authors, something that I normally flip past, however if you read on it gives you hints on how this book came to be, and where the ideas came from.
Criss Crossing Paris Inside Page 1
Pulling across the page you see Paris in all its stitched glory; or a map of it anyway. See, the special thing about this book is that is about Paris, and stitching the sights Paris is famous for. I don’t mean the Eiffel Tower and other iconic sights; I mean the real Paris. Pictures include art being sold on the street, adorned windows above a shop, a fancy Parisian door, and other unusual sights that make up Paris. This in itself is a great idea for a book, to take something slightly less well known, but still truly Parisian and making a cross stitch about it.
Criss Crossing Paris Inside Page 2
They really could have stopped there. But they didn’t. Instead, they took a step I’ve never seen before in a cross stitch book; a loose pattern. OK, it’s still a pattern at the end of the day, but they have fun with it, and want you to as well. The grid sits over an image of cross stitches of random sizes and placements, allowing you to pick your own destiny in stitching it. You can follow the blocks, you can free hand it, you can even drop some points all together; this book is about cross stitch creativity. They then take this idea and show you just what you can do with it. I’ve attached images of their Eiffel Tower stitch, their most typically Parisian, and they’ve shown how you can chop the pattern up, stitch only a section, stitch it freehand or copy the pattern stitch for stitch.
 

In more geometric designs, the charts are easy to follow as the grids are carefully aligned with the illustrations. For designs with more organic elements – curves, foliage, sky – the design doesn’t adhere to a grid line. This is where you need to become creative.

Everything about this cross stitch book screams creativity; the choice you the stitcher make when stitching, and how every time you pick this book up and stitch a pattern, regardless of how many times you’ve stitched it before, it will always be different. Is it for the beginner? Well, I don’t see why not; this is a book for people who want to create, to make something truly unique, and Fiona and Sally-Anne give you a helping hand to get there.
Criss Crossing Paris Inside Page 3
 

You can pick up a copy from amazon or your local book store.

A pdf copy of the book was supplied free of charge by the authors for this review. The opinions are totally my own and no effort was made to appease or appeal to the authors or publishers of this book.

Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Moon Light in Yasaka Pagoda Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Moon Light in Yasaka Pagoda Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Title: Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda
Date Completed: August 2017
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 18
Canvas: Cream
Colours: 15
Pop Culture: Japan
 
After the success of my Pokemon Great Wave cross stitch I knew I had to create another. Looking back on my previous works, its clear that Japanese art inspires me, and I’ve attempted many Japanese woodblock print style pieces before, such as my Japanese Gengar cross stitch. I wanted to continue this theme of adding a Pokemon addition into a traditional print, so went looking at famous Japanese woodblock prints.
 
This is when I came across the work of Asano Takeji. Whilst many of his later prints were humorous or risqué his earlier pieces blew my mind. His approach was to take urban landscapes in Kyoto (a city with traditional architecture) and create prints using interesting angles. Arguably one of his most famous works is Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda, where he uses an angle which cannot be met in real life. Having been to this Kyoto landmark I felt a real connection to it. In fact, the Yasaka Pagoda was a primary inspiration for my Minature Ecruteak City cross stitch.

moon light in yasaka pagoda inspiration
Inspiration: Asano Takeji’s Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda (left), Pokemon Tin Tower (middle top), Ho-Oh in Pokemon anime (top right), Tin Tower over Ecruteak City (bottom right)

In the same way as I created the great wave cross stitch pattern, I recreated the print using the style of the artist (which unlike the Great Wave does not have black lines seperating the different colours) in the same size as the original in 1951 was. I then took this and added a Pokemon element.
 
As I mentioned earlier, I always thought Yasaka Pagoda looked very similar to the Ecruteak City Tin/Bell Tower. The Pokemon fable is that the legendary Ho-oh sat on top of the golden tower. In addition to this in the Pokemon anime, Ash, the main character, searches out for Ho-Oh, convinced of his existance (when the rest of the world doubts him). I remember watching the very first epidode and seeing Ho-Oh, and telling all my friends about it, to also be shot down. I felt it would be a perfect connection to add in Ho-Oh in the same way Ash sees him in the first episode.
 
However, as I stitched what was the largest project I’ve undertaken (in size and stitches) I fell in love with the original print, and just couldn’t bring myself to add Ho-oh. Instead, I went for a faithful recreation.
Moon Light In Yasaka Pagoda cross stitch by Lord Libidan comparison

When Cross Stitch And Technology Collide

Technology and cross stitch by Wei Chieh Shih

Cross stitch has been around for more than 2500 years and whilst it has a rich history the advent of new technology into a fairly historical hobby is few and far between. However, with a recent push in the fashion industry for e-textiles, cross stitch has had its world turned upside down. Now, its future tech.
 
I initially heard about lights and PCBs being used in cross stitch back in 2013 when I was about to speak to Wei Chieh Shih about his work, and an upcoming project, “Adelita”. He’s a fashion designer that focuses on technology, but to work out if something is possible, he turns to cross stitch. There are a whole series of conductive thread kits you can now buy, allowing you to install tech into your clothing, but Wei takes it 10 steps ahead, by intergrating programable tech into complex circuits.

He can then take these ideas, simplfy them and create fantastic works of art, like his 2013 “Adelita” project, combining folk wooden toys from Mexico with high tech clothing.

Adelita by Wei Chieh Shih
Adelita by Wei Chieh Shih

But technology and cross stitch isn’t just for the fancy high end artists. It’s not only possible to make clever art using tech, but you can do it really easily.
Cross stitched circuit by Jade Jenkins
Cross stitched circuit by Jade Jenkins

With more and more cross stitch artists showing their work to the world, it’s clear that kits such as Kitronik or LilyPad, we’re not only going to see more tech cross stitch, but also helping push the e-textile world.
Stranger Things light up cross stitch by raleblanc05
Stranger Things light up cross stitch by raleblanc05

Technology and cross stitch by Wei Chieh Shih
Technology and cross stitch by Wei Chieh Shih

Nintendo Switch Micro Console Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Nintendo Switch Micro Console Date Completed: June 2018 Design: Lord Libidan Count: 14 Canvas: Plastic Colours: 3 Game: Nintendo Switch, Joycon Controllers
Title: Nintendo Switch Micro Console
Date Completed: June 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Plastic
Colours: 3
Game: Nintendo Switch, Joycon Controllers
 
With my Gameboy Color Micro Console Cross Stitch done, I set about starting creating the pattern for my other Xstitch Mag project, a Micro Cassette Keychain Cross Stitch, however as I tried to get to sleep, all I could think about is how I could stitch the other Gameboys. I ignored it for a while, but as E3 graced us, I started to think; could I create Joy-Con controlers? And how would they work together, and as part of the Switch?
 
Fixed by the size limitations of my Nintendo N64 Micro Console Cross Stitch, I knew the rough size had to be small, smaller than my Gameboy Color even. I created a rough scale of the screen, and set about creating a small Joy-Con. Stitching the sections together I realised that not only would they work, but I could get them to fit into the side of the Switch screen, just like in real life. To finish it off, I added in a spacer so the Joy-Cons could be removed and held like a standard controller. In future I think I would also create a kickstand for the screen, which I can think of how to do easily now. Sadly, I think a game slot would just be too hard at this scale.
 
This project grew in size and before I submitted the idea to the Xstitch Mag, I had created the classic Gameboy, Gameboy Color Micro Console Cross Stitch, Gameboy Advance, and the Nintendo DS, all in micro form.
Micro Gameboy Cross Stitches by Lord Libidan

Nintendo DS Micro Console Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Nintendo DS Micro Console Date Completed: June 2018 Design: Lord Libidan Count: 14 Canvas: Plastic Colours: 3 Game: Nintendo Gameboy DS
Title: Nintendo DS Micro Console
Date Completed: June 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Plastic
Colours: 3
Game: Nintendo Gameboy DS
 
Having created every handheld by Nintendo since the Gameboy, I figured it was time to finish the job, and create a Nintendo DS. Creating the design initially wasn’t hard, as the scale was set by my Nintendo N64 Micro Console Cross Stitch and previous Gameboys, however up to this point all Gameboys used the same cartridges. The Gameboy cartridge and the Gameboy Advanced cartridge, which was a shorter version. The Nintendo DS however had a slot for both of these, AND a DS game, which was very small.
 
I created the game to start, which was a simple 2×2 black square (which shows how tiny these things are), where I could then make the cut out on the inside pieces. What became quickly obvious was the insides had to be made of 4 seperate peices, with a fifth to plug the ‘hole’ created by the Gameboy game socket, like the original. Once that hurdle was over, I then had to work out how to get the joint working, so it opened and closed. In the end, it came together well, with a small Nintendo DS game, the ability to use Gameboy and Gameboy Advance games, a small ‘filler’ slot, and a working open close mechanism.
 
This project grew in size and before I submitted the idea to the Xstitch Mag, I had created the classic Gameboy, Gameboy Color Micro Console Cross Stitch, Gameboy Advance and the Nintendo Switch, all in micro form.
Micro Gameboy Cross Stitches by Lord Libidan

Gameboy Advance Micro Console Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Gameboy Advance Micro Console Date Completed: June 2018 Design: Lord Libidan Count: 14 Canvas: Plastic Colours: 4 Game: Nintendo Gameboy Advance

Title: Gameboy Advance Micro Console Date Completed: June 2018 Design: Lord Libidan Count: 14 Canvas: Plastic Colours: 4 Game: Nintendo Gameboy Advance
Title: Gameboy Advance Micro Console
Date Completed: June 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Plastic
Colours: 4
Game: Nintendo Gameboy Advance
 
The best place to start with this project is how it came about. I had created a Nintendo N64 Micro Console Cross Stitch and had intended to create a classic Gameboy in the same scale (which I later did), however instead created the Gameboy Color Micro Console Cross Stitch as it was more visually interesting. However my memory of the Gameboy was firmly set on the Gameboy Advance.
 
This new challenge was actually more interesting that it sounds, as along with creating a smaller Gameboy, a Gameboy on a different orientation, and a Gameboy with shoulder buttons, I also had to create smaller games that would still play the larger variants. Choosing the launch purple, I created something that works well, but not perfectly. In future I think an additional ‘step’ on the back will allow you to get Gameboy Advance games out easier.
 
This project grew in size and before I submitted the idea to the Xstitch Mag, I had created the classic Gameboy, Gameboy Color Micro Console Cross Stitch, Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Switch, all in micro form.
Micro Gameboy Cross Stitches by Lord Libidan

Gameboy Color Micro Console Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Gameboy Color Micro Console Date Completed: June 2018 Design: Lord Libidan Count: 14 Canvas: Plastic Colours: 8 Game: Nintendo Gameboy, Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Yellow, Harvest Moon

Title: Gameboy Color Micro Console Date Completed: June 2018 Design: Lord Libidan Count: 14 Canvas: Plastic Colours: 8 Game: Nintendo Gameboy, Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Yellow, Harvest Moon
Title: Gameboy Color Micro Console
Date Completed: June 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Plastic
Colours: 8
Game: Nintendo Gameboy, Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Yellow, Harvest Moon
 
I had this project on the back burner since my Nintendo N64 Micro Console Cross Stitch back in June of 2017. In that time I’ve been working on my largest ever project, but also stitching some secret projects. By now I can say that I create cross stitch patterns for the Xstitch Mag, which has taken up some time, but also two books, and a third and fourth book proposal, which I can say a little more about in the coming weeks. However, with the newest Xstitch Mag project done, it was announced that the next issue was goign to be a ‘mixtape’ issue. In short, this meant I could stitch anythign I wanted, so long as it fit in the mag. I threw this idea back in the mix along with a Micro Cassette Keychain Cross Stitch.
 
My initial idea was to copy the size requirements of the micro Nintendo N64 console I stitched, but make a classic gameboy. Whilst I did go onto make a Classic Gameboy Micro Console Cross Stitch as part of the project, I initially shelved the idea, instead going for a Gameboy Color, as it looked a little more interesting.
 
Picking the launch color, lime green, I created a micro Gameboy color, with a slot at the back for games to go in and out. In addition I created a cartridge of Harvest Moon 2 (my favorite Gameboy game) and Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Red and Pokemon Yellow.
 
This project grew in size and before I submitted the idea to the Xstitch Mag, I had created the classic Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Switch, all in micro form.
Micro Gameboy Cross Stitches by Lord Libidan

Gameboy Micro Console Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Gameboy Micro Console Date Completed: June 2018 Design: Lord Libidan Count: 14 Canvas: Plastic Colours: 3 Game: Nintendo Gameboy

Title: Gameboy Micro Console Date Completed: June 2018 Design: Lord Libidan Count: 14 Canvas: Plastic Colours: 3 Game: Nintendo Gameboy
Title: Gameboy Micro Console
Date Completed: June 2018
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Plastic
Colours: 3
Game: Nintendo Gameboy
 
I had originally set out to create a classic Gameboy in the scale of my Nintendo N64 Micro Console Cross Stitch a year ago, and although I had ditched the idea in order to create the Gameboy Color Micro Console Cross Stitch at the start of this project, it just didn’t seem right to leave the classic Gameboy out. This design is actually the same as the Gameboy color, with a wider and longer body, and as a result is still able to play the Gameboy games I created.
 
This project grew in size and before I submitted the idea to the Xstitch Mag, I had created the Gameboy Color Micro Console Cross Stitch, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Switch, all in micro form.
Micro Gameboy Cross Stitches by Lord Libidan