Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The Man, The Myth, The Legend,,,,Mr. XStitch
You know him, you love him, you can't get enough of him...that's right, this interview is for the ladies in the house. Can I get a "Aw yeah". Okay, enough of the sexist comments-geez Pam! Jamie Chalmers is not only an excellent stitcher but also a really sweet and incredible witty guy. I'm sure just reading this introduction is making him blush. I'm proud to call him my friend and love it when he tells me to give OMP a hug or a smooch. Ladies and gentlemen, without hesitation, I give you, the man, the myth, the legend-Mr. XStitch.
Who is the real "Mr. X Stitch"
It is rumoured that there is no real Mr X Stitch and that he is merely a collection of urban myths gathered together in the guise of a man who stitched. However, the truth is that he is a 34 year old male by the name of Jamie Chalmers, who lives in Milton Keynes, England. It is also (possibly)true that he prowls the streets at night, protecting innocent citizens from ne’er-do-wells armed only with John James twin pointed quick stitch needles and several skeins of glow in the dark thread.
How long have you been stitching and what inspired you to start?
I’ve been stitching for about six years now. It all began with a vacation to Canada – I wanted something to do on the plane journey and ended up getting a cross stitch kit of an art nouveau head. I found it surprisingly enjoyable and once I’d finished it, framed it and given it to my Mum (as all good sons do) I just carried on.
My frustration at the lack of funk in the cross stitch field led me to create my own graffiti cross stitch pattern, which I’ve nearly finished (after two years) and it all went from there really.
Finding Craftster was a big deal for me, as it opened my eyes to a whole community of stitching that was new and fresh and edgy. Which was a terrific boost and probably the one thing that stopped me from giving up on the whole thing.
Define the term "manbroidery"
Manbroidery – it’s a lifestyle, it’s an ethos, it’s a political movement, it’s an important part of the Nu Craft Revolution, it’s a great opportunity for soundbites.
I think there’s a few different aspects to the concept of manbroidery:
- First of all it’s about men being proud of doing stitching, and overcoming any perceptions that it’s just for girls. Stitching is relaxing and it’s the act of creation, and these are both important facets of a healthy lifestyle. You can spend an afternoon in the garden stitching, and not only will you have gotten nicely chilled out, but also you’ve created something that you can share with others. So that’s pretty groovy.
- It’s also about changing the content of stitching to make it more manly. I’m fascinated by the difference between male and female graffiti artists, and how they explore the same medium in different ways. And the same thing is happening with stitchery. Manbroidery buddies of mine like Johnny Murder, Kid Missile, Whatever James and Benjibot are all transforming the genre in ways that only men could. There’s a distinct sense of humour to their works that is a breath of fresh air in many ways, and it’s always great to see how these talented stitchers evolve their works. And then there’s legends like Jerry Lee Types, William Schaff and Bascom Hogue who have been manbroiderers for a long time and are having a well deserved renaissance.
- And somewhere there’s the combination of these two things, and the fact that the concept of manbroidery gives us a chance to make the wider world realise that stitching for men is cool, and it’s okay to stitch your favourite swear words and put them on your wall, and that you can get as much enjoyment (if not more) from an x-stitch than from an x-Box. I’m taking this on as a bit of a personal mission and using whatever influence I might have to promote stitching far and wide, and use the experiences of me and my fellow Manbroiderers as examples of how good it can be.
So, you have this awesome website, tell me about it.
Yeah, it’s all about people, like me, who like to dress up like ponies from time to time…
You meant Mr X Stitch? D’oh!
The success of Mr X Stitch blows my mind, particularly that it’s only been going since August 2008. It started out as a normal blog about me and the patterns I make and stuff, but somewhere down the line I started posting about people who were doing really cool things with needles and threads. And somehow that aspect of the blog has overtaken everything else and become the focus of the site.
I will confess to having done a bunch of research about professional blogs and learned a few top tips on how to do things, which helped me focus on themed posts and putting in a structure.
But I mostly blame Beefranck for the success. And for that I have to blame Joss Whedon, because it was his Dr Horrible stuff that inspired Bridget (my sista from an American mista) to do the classic “All the birds are singing that you’re gonna die” pattern, which I liked and asked for a copy of. Somewhere down the line, and possibly influenced by listening to Emergency Pants, we became good friends and I asked her to help me with the blog. She said yes, and the rest is history.
We’ve got a brilliant relationship for two people that have never actually met, and we’re always bouncing ideas off one another.
That’s why the site’s awesome. I started it, Bridget took it to the next level.
I feel blessed that the site has turned out the way it has. It’s given me a great opportunity to learn a lot about the craft, and to showcase new talent, but most of all it’s given me the chance to get to know loads of amazing people. The community of regular posters on the site and at our Flickr group, the Phat Quarter, is terrific, and that’s the thing that makes the process worthwhile.
In fact, Giddy Girlie’s comment in response to Bridget’s post on here typifies this, and was one of the loveliest things I’d heard in a long time. Stuff like that, where the stuff we’ve posted about has inspired people and made them happier, that’s the best bit.
Are there other sites you contribute to?
I was blown away to be invited to be the first guest blogger on Craftster, given the significance of the site in the whole Nu Craft movement. Every Wednesday you can check out a new Cutting (& Stitching) Edge post from me on there. It’s such a wonderful site that to become a part of that family was a big deal and a massive honour for me. I still haven’t quite got over that one.
I also do blog posts for Cross Stitcher Magazine’s website, which is the biggest cross stitch magazine in the UK, and that’s a big honour as well. I’ve had great feedback from the readers, who are your more traditional type of stitcher, and I’m hoping that the relationship between the magazine and I will develop.
Any good advice for people just starting out?
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Take inspiration from wherever you see it and if you want to stitch something just do it!
While I like the security of cross stitching and the safety of those tiny little crosses, it’s a bit much for some people. But with this stuff you can really do whatever you want these days, and with sites like Craftster, there’s plenty of people who will give you great feedback and inspire you to do new things.
Modern embroidery is only as limited as your imagination, so if you feel like doing something, and it’s not gonna hurt anyone, go for it!
Okay,,,now for the totally embarrassing question. How do you feel about being a sex symbol in the embroidery world? Are you aware that thousands of girls have your picture on their wall right next to Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson? YES! You have to answer this!
The best thing about being considered a sex symbol in the embroidery world is that it leads to a redefinition of the concept of sex symbol in the widest sense, and will provide scope for many other traditionally unattractive people to also be considered the same.
Honestly? It’s not something I’ve ever really thought about. It goes to show that there aren’t many of us in the field, and while it’s very flattering (if it is at all true) I’ll try not to let it go to my head. And I’m sure my wife will help me. Possibly by using violence..!
I’ve got a lot of love for my stitchy friends, and I know there’s a lot of love out there. And that’s something I cherish.
There you have it ladies and gents. Jamie is a real stand up guy with mad skills. If you have a chance, drop by the website and the flickr group and say "Hello". I'm sure he will give you a friendly wave back and make you feel like you are long lost friends.