The Wonders of Cross Stitch by Mr X Stitch
Cross Stitch | 3 min read time
The Kingpin of Contemporary Embroidery talks about his love of cross stitch, and shares his top tips for needlepoint newcomers.
A beginner’s guide to cross stitch with Mr X Stitch
Hey everyone, my name is Mr X Stitch and I'm the Kingpin of Contemporary Embroidery. Since 2008, I've been on a mission to change the way the world thinks about needlecraft, and when my homies at Stitch & Story asked me to talk about why cross stitch is the best thing since sliced bread*, and how to get started, I jumped at the chance!
*Sliced bread was invented in 1928 and cross stitch has been found on items dated back to the 6th century BC, so technically, sliced bread is the best thing since cross stitch!
X marks the spot
It was cross stitch that got me started on the road towards my position as founder of XStitch, a modern cross stitch magazine, and it's fair to say that humble stitch has changed my life! It all started when I was due to go on a long-haul flight and I wanted something to pass the time. I saw an Art Nouveau cross stitch kit in a shop and thought it would be funny to try it - imagine what people on the plane would think if they saw a man of my size doing cross stitch!
So, I bought the kit and although I waited until I was abroad to unpack it, within about an hour I was hooked! It seemed a bit overwhelming at first with all the symbols and different threads, and it took time to find a good technique, but I persevered, and before long I was in this amazing groove of stitching and feeling really good about it!
3 reasons you’ll love cross stitch
Now, here's the first thing I want to impress on you: cross stitch is the absolute best mindfulness tool out there! You might like the idea of mindfulness: being in the present moment and not thinking about the past or the future, just being creative without your worries hovering around your mind. All creative activities have this mindful element, but cross stitch supercharges this idea because:
- It's a simple stitch to do - you go from one hole to another, and you don’t have to think much about where to stitch next.
- It slows you down - you can only stitch as fast as you can stitch, so it's not actually possible to rush it.
- It constantly brings you back to centre, so if your mind drifts and you start thinking about other things, you must look at the work to see where the needle is going, and that recentres your attention.
All these things combine to create this soul-soothing effect that’s hard to explain, but when you feel it, it’s amazing. It can really help you relax, while you make something nice for a friend or loved one. Just trust me; you’re going to love it.
Mr X Stitch’s top tips for cross stitch success
As I said, I found the design a bit daunting at first, but if you spend a bit of time preparing your kit before you start, you’ll be okay. Here are some reassuring tips that will help you get going:
- Check which symbols on the chart relate to which thread colours, and feel free to use a felt tip pen to mark off your stitching as you go so you don’t lose track.
- Take your time when stitching, making sure the needle goes through the hole properly, and that you don’t pull the stitches too tight.
- Don’t worry about what the back looks like! It doesn’t matter if it’s neat or messy, as your skills will improve over time, and if the back looks like a hot mess of threads, you can always cover it.
- Check out my YouTube video on the Loop Technique as a really simple way to start stitching!
- But most of all: take your time, count carefully, and enjoy stitching. It’s a wonderful, creative pastime that can bring you inner joy, and lovely gifts to share with people you care about. There’s a tonne of fresh designs out there, and so you’ll find something that you can make and be proud of!