Why I always put cross stitch on my CV

As a marketer, I’ve always wanted to stand out from the droves of CVs an employer gets. Eventually I tried out putting cross stitch on there. I never looked back. Since it went on my CV I’ve had 200% more interviews; its come up in every interview, and frankly, I think I owe my job to it.
But why did it work?

The CV

In short; I stand out.
As a professional I’ve gone through the employment process from both sides, and I’ve seen hundreds of colleagues go through the same. As I want to be clear here; its always the same.
The CV’s either come flooding in, or they trickle at a rate which makes you want to give up. Regardless of the situation, the need to stand out against the crowd.
As much as I don’t want to admit it, not that many people know what cross stitch is. It sounds simple, but they just don’t know. The likelihood is whoever is reading it will look it up online straight afterwards. And whilst going away from your CV might sound bad; they will now always associate cross stitch with you.
Well done, you stood out from the crowd, your future employer read the whole of your CV instead of skimming it. You just massively increased your chances of getting an interview.


CVs are roughly split into two camps; the visual (normally marketeers) and the written. In both situations you’re likely to have a quick 2 sentence bio at the top. That’s the place to put it.
But you need to make it obvious. As people skim past the page it needs to stand out. Put it on a new line, and make it snappy “My main hobby is cross stitch”. That’s enough. Interest has been peaked.

Additional Skills

I’m of the personal believe that cross stitch can show proof of any skill. I’ll go into more detail on how in a moment, but lets first talk about additions to your CV you can make without directly referencing your hobby.
Do you have a website? Etsy? Maybe you write for a blog? Put it on there. Put it under voluntary work (otherwise it looks like you have two jobs at once), and you can push a whole new set skills.

The Interview

So you got the interview. Well done.
But cross stitch doesn’t stop there. Firstly, if brought up, I can guarantee they will ask what is it. You can find a good description here, but if you don’t take my advice, at least have an answer up your sleeve.
So now you have a choice. And I would personally play this by ear. Do you bring it up, or should they?

Bring It Up

The first choice is you being it up.
They’re likely to ask you to go through your CV. This is opportunity number 1. Mention it towards the end, and, if its part of volunteering in your CV, you can tack it on the end “And I also volunteer blogging for a cross stitch website”. Instant engagement. This is where they’ll ask you what it is.
The second opportunity is the safer bet. Every interview contains competency based questions. I said earlier that cross stitch backs up every skill; well I wasn’t joking. Detail oriented, logical, creative, devoted, understands a small impact can change the end product, the list really goes on. This is where I usually bring it up, you can’t go wrong…

Let Them Bring It Up

So maybe you’re a little unsure about bring it up; that’s OK. They’re also likely to bring it up. Once again, you need to know what to say once they do, but remember; back up your skills with it, you are still in an interview after all.

And that’s it. why I bring up cross stitch. It makes me stand out from the crowd, it increases likelihood of an interview, it increases engagement in the interview…
But there is one last piece of advice I would give you: bring a business card. I can guarantee that at one point in the process, they’ll check your website out.

A Definative History of Cross Stitch

Cross-Stitch has been a staple of embroidery for nearly 2000 years, and in that time has gone through multiple dips and resurgences through the last two millennia.
However, the story starts back in Egypt.
You can view this post as an infographic by scrolling down!


The first known embroidery
In around 1860 a dig in a remote corner of Egypt found 3 tombs. Inside one, of what is believed to be a wealthy slave owner, was a series of well-preserved linens with embroidery of coins and wall paintings. In addition there were frescos detailing tapestries and other embroideries; proof that this was not a one off.
You can read the official journal paper here.

618 – 900AD

The first record of the movement of embroidery
Oddly, the first known evidence of embroidery is unknown, however during the 6th to 8th century’s records from both the Chinese and the Russians began to detail a vast movement of embroidery in both directions. Ledgers of the time detail that tea was often traded for produce, including embroidery.


The Bayeux tapestry
Unlike most tapestries of the past, the first western embroidery known is the Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the events of 1066AD in Britain. Whilst in Britain this tapestry is highly regarded, it featured many new forms of stitch, including the over under, or cross stitch.


Invention of counted cross stitch
Whilst up to this point crossed stitches had been used, there was no specific reason to use them. However, in the Islamic states, on traditionally made hemp cloth cross stitches were used to create a small repeating pattern in a grid.
This quickly moved across into Europe and the Baltic States. You can follow a timeline of pieces in the Victoria & Albert museum on their website.


Cross Stitch brought to Britain
Whilst counted cross stitch had grown in popularity in Europe over the last few hundred years, England had stayed out of it, focusing on other embroidery.
However, Catherine of Aragon brought black work, and cross stitch to England where she stitched on Henry VIII’s shirts. As the height of style at the time, this launched England’s love affair with cross stitch.


Counted Cross Stitch Books started to be published
The first known counted cross stitch was published in England. Whilst there is no surviving copy of this book, we do have many references to its existence.


Printing presses working overtime
Cross stitch books started to become one of the first mainstream publications within England, with many books such as this one from the Smithsonian Library being released and distributed.
DMC and Anchor were also founded.


German wool imports
Whilst embroidery was incredibly popular up until this time, the German wool trade was suffering from lack of internal demand, and so started exporting. The English market was flooded with cheaper threads, which in turn lowered the desirability.


Invention of domestic sewing machines
Struggling to overcome mass imports, cross stitch suffered another blow as domestic sewing machines lowered the desirability for cross stitch even further.
During this time, the arts and crafts movement developed within England, however cross stitch was never taken up within this movement.


First World War
The breakout of the First World War caused cotton prices to soar worldwide, and thread was classed as a luxury item, not to be used by the mass public.


Women given the vote
In Britain women were finally given freedoms, including the vote. However, with this came an increase in working hours, and less time spend on leisure activities. Cross stitch at this time had a small resurgence, but prices meant access for the mass public was limited.


Second World War
WWII brought strict rationing in England, limiting cotton once again. In addition women moved into the land army, where hobbies were not in the national interest.
Interestingly, during this time prisoners of war were often finding themselves with nothing to do. Cross stitch and embroidery became a pass time in PoW camps.
A very interesting example of a cross stitch made from threads of his bedding was made by an English PoW. It featured pro-Nazi imagery, and as a result was taken to other PoW camps as proof of obedience. Little did the Nazi’s know, but stitched within the boarder were pro-English, and anti-Hitler sentiments.

Sampler by Major Alexis Casdagli (source: V&A website)
Sampler by Major Alexis Casdagli (source: V&A website)

A fantastic in-depth article can be found on Make, with an interview by the PoW; Major Alexis Casdagli.


The 60’s resurgence
For 300 years cross stitch had been battered in Britain, and popularity wavered, however in the post war 60s, time saving tools came to average households, allowing women more free time. Cross stitch saw its largest ever resurgence.


New fabric invented – aida
Plastic canvas and waste canvas were invented as desires for new products launched within the hobby sewing market.


Rise of the counter tradition
An increase in sub-cultures prior and during the millennium allowed a new, modern cross stitch to form. Video games, pop culture, and subversive samplers were in stark contrast to tradition. The counter tradition once again brought cross stitch to a male hobby with a subculture known as the manbroiderer In addition the increase in home PCs allowed for home pattern making software to be developed. You can find out how to make a cross stitch pattern here.


The great recession
In early 2009, I developed Lord Libidan’s Video Game and Pop Culture Cross Stitch.
The great recession hit, and although this brought a strain on personal finances for some, it also brought with it a renewed interest in home craft, with retailer John Lewis reporting a 17% increase in craft sales over a year.

cross stitch history infographic

So, What is Cross Stitch?

As every cross stitcher knows, that question is all too common amongst your friends, family and colleagues, and I’ve never been able to answer in a simple, succinct way. I usually palm it off as a bit of a granny hobby (which is usually followed by a really weird look). I then try and palm out a rough idea of what it is, whilst also trying to show how I do it differently from everyone else, and it just leaves people confused and grabbing for the conversational parachute. I finally relent and show them a picture; which always sparks the obligatory request for a piece just for them (if only they knew how long it took).

But truly, what is cross stitch?
I plan to answer that question in a way that a cross stitcher would find interesting, a friend might understand, and a way that doesn’t confuse the person being told.

Confused Mark Wahlberg
We’ve all seen that face before…

The Definition

Dictionary.com kinda calls it like it is:
“a stitch in which pairs of diagonal stitches of the same length cross each other in the middle to form an X”
Well, yeh, that’s it, right on the head. But you tell someone that, and all they can think of is diagonals, and they have to mentally (or possibly physically) draw out what you mean. Try doing that in an interview and then going back to quadratic quantitative analysis in a hurry…

So maybe the beloved wikipedia has the answer?
“Cross-stitch is a popular form of counted-thread embroidery in which X-shaped stitches in a tiled, raster-like pattern are used to form a picture.”
Great, so now you have to tell someone what a raster image is first.

And don’t get me started on the history. Unless you have 30 minutes to talk through nearly 2000 years of embroidery?

The Real World Definition

The true definitions clearly aren’t able to clear anything up for the layperson, and so you struggle to explain yourself. Maybe you make images in the air, explain in detail how you spend countless hours sat in front of a bit of cloth and then file it away in a draw somewhere when you’re done. Maybe you get a little annoyed that they belittle that slightly… regardless, they just don’t get it.
Using references, quoting it as a grandma hobby, giving them an impromptu and a little too detailed history lesson, being too brief, or maybe just avoiding the question all together. I’ve heard all of these being attempted, and honestly, sometimes people get it; but most of the time they nod along and then google it when there’s a quiet moment (normally falling upon one of the aforementioned definitions).
Cut it however you want, you still aren’t making yourself clear. But you want to. You need to. After all you spend all this time, effort, and a little too much geekiness; you want the world to know. And let’s face it; it’s more addictive than crack cocaine.

The Answer

“I create art using thread and needle.” Simple. They don’t NEED to know how its little squares, or how you make little Xs, and they definitely don’t need to know that the material you stitch it on has a whole sub wiki.
If you have more time, or they genuinely want to know more, add to it “It usually takes 10-100 hours to finish a piece, and you can make it 3D, flat, basically anything form of art, but its tactile”. They think ‘wow, they’re devoted’, or detail oriented, or have a creative edge. With this as a basis, you can add and embellish as you want. Once they’ve got the IDEA you can tell them anything and they’ll be able to make sense of it.
I mentioned earlier that cross stitch has come up in an interview before, in reality, I bring it up in every interview. It engages, it brings a bit of difference, and you can use it to your advantage to back up almost any skill. But you need to be able to tell them what it is first.

The Image

Or, if you’re in a hurry; just show them exactly what you make. But expect them to want one… But you can’t blame them…

Miniature 3D Joust Arcade Cabinet Cross Stitch

joust arcade cabinet
Title: Joust Cabinet
Date Completed: April 2016
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Plastic
Colours: 7
Video Game: Joust

While researching a different 3D project I came across a Joust arcade cabinet by SunQueen1 on imgur. She’s done a few others before, but this was a perfect rendition of the Joust game, and I knew in cross stitch it would be a third of the size, which would challenge my miniature plastic canvas ability. How could I say no?

I won the stitchingpirates Gamers Delight cross stitch competition!

Journey Robe Cross Stitch

Title: Journey Robe
Date Completed: January 2016
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: Burgundy
Colours: 3
Video Game: Journey

During the re-release of journey on the PS4, I finally got my hands on the game, and it blew me away. No words, no talking, but a super immersive multiplayer game. I knew I had to celebrate it somehow in cross stitch, so I’ve created both a golden robe and a red robe with the end game and start game robe designs respectively.

Journey Golden Robe Cross Stitch

Title: Journey Golden Robe
Date Completed: December 2015
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: White
Colours: 3
Video Game: Journey

During the re-release of journey on the PS4, I finally got my hands on the game, and it blew me away. No words, no talking, but a super immersive multiplayer game. I knew I had to celebrate it somehow in cross stitch, so I’ve created both a golden robe and a red robe with the end game and start game robe designs respectively.

I’m in the Cross Stitcher! Again!

I’ve once again been featured in The Cross Stitcher magazine! And once again it was my transforming piece. Time for an improved piece maybe?

The Cross Stitcher 300th Edition

If you want to find yourself a copy, you can buy it on Wednesday! Or you can buy it online too!
I’ve now been published quite a few times. I’ve been the author and contributor to the Hello Kitty Cross Stitch Kit, the Star Wars Cross Stitch Kit, the Star Trek Cross-Stitch: Explore Strange New Worlds of Crafting book, the Disney Classic Cross Stitch Kit, and the Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch book. I’ve also been involved a series of magazines such as the CrossStitcher twice, the CrossStitcher Designer Stitches magazine, CrossStitchCrazy, and the XStitch Mag.

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