Sunday, March 17, 2019

Weekend Review: Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch

The Mr. X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch / Jamie Chalmers
Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Search Press, c2017
144 p.

And now for a different kind of stitching... I could not resist buying this book when it first came out. Partly because I don't know how to cross stitch -- I never learned, because the old fashioned pastel geese from my childhood never appealed to me. Plus I felt like it was a paint-by-numbers approach that was too rigid for my preferences.

But I found Mr X Stitch online a while back, and appreciate the efforts he's making to revitalize cross stitch as a contemporary art form, and one that can be very political and provocative. If you're interested in that side of things, check out his website and all of the info he has there.

As to this book, I was glad I bought it, as I have zero knowledge of cross stitch, and will likely never need to know more than the basics. I'm still not convinced that cross stitch for me. But I did learn quite a bit here: I didn't even know that there was more than the basic x and a backstitch used in cross stitch -- now I know that there is a half cross stitch to soften edges somewhat, and other tricks that stitchers can use. Perhaps there isn't enough in-depth info in here if you've already tried cross stitching or are more familiar with it than I was, but I was pleasantly surprised by how engaging I found it. And it's full of fun projects.

The projects are modern, bright, quirky, and fun. There are a couple of typography inspired projects, the colourful ones you can see on the cover, a couple inspired by art (like the Mona Lisa you can glimpse), and my favourites, some glow in the dark thread designs that reveal different images in light and dark settings. Then there's the coasters covered in a string of cartoon profanities (ie: &%$*@$)-- a project I want to try!

He also features ideas for stitching on alternative grounds -- metal, pegboards, fences etc -- and features "outliers", the kinds of public art and/or political stitchers featured on his blog, after each chapter.

Altogether it's a fun book and stands out from other cross stitch books for sure. I'm not much for the snarky/profane cross stitch trend, but I think I could see myself trying a project or two here. Will this be the book to push me over the edge into finally trying cross stitch? Only time will tell......


  1. Can you believe I am doing a cross stitch right now. I am currently travelling on a holiday and a small cross stitch takes no space. It is quite enjoyable although those quarter stitches can be tricky to get right.
    But can you believe ... this book is in my local library. I have put in a request.

    1. Wow, you have a great library :) Enjoy! I also find that stitching is a great travel project -- easy to pack and carry the supplies. Although I mostly do freestyle surface embroidery myself.

  2. Hi! Thanks for a lovely review. If you stitch up something, let me know and if you've got any other questions, you know where to find me. :)

    1. Glad you liked the review! Now I really feel like I must stitch something ;)

  3. Hi Melanie, My request for this book from the library was filled today! I picked it up and started reading .... and it is great. In the first chapter alone I learnt something, which I hadn't really expected - 'the loop technique'. How to start each thread without having to sew in the end. I was wondering if it mattered that the twist of the thread would be different when sewing with one thread doubled, but I doubt it. Obviously not or it wouldn't be in the book. I have shared this with very experienced embroiderers who were very surprised and interested. I like a lot of the patterns and can't wait to start one. Maybe I need to actually purchase this book .....
    A lovely review thank you Melanie.

    1. I'm so glad there was something new for you to learn with this book! I don't know what I don't know about cross stitch ;)


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