‘Being creative is the best thing ever!’ — meet Mr X Stitch, Jamie Chalmers

Some people seem to hold an endless supply of creative energy. Mr X Stitch, sometimes known as Jamie Chalmers, is one of these people. The talented embroiderer and needlecraft expert is a renaissance man with confident control over his craft. Obviously, we needed to know more about this fascinating fellow…

Tell us, how did you get into embroidery and needlecraft? Where did it all begin for you?

It began back in 2004 when I went on holiday to Canada. I wanted something to occupy my time on the flight and, while in a haberdashery shop, saw a cross stitch kit. ‘That’ll be funny,’ I thought, ‘imagine what people will think when they see a man of my size doing some cross stitch..!’ That was the sponsoring thought that encouraged me to buy the kit and have a go, and when I did, I fell in love with it. After a while, I became a bit frustrated at the lack of cross stitch designs that reflected my needs, so I bought some software and started making my own.

MR X Stitch 2

When did you begin your business, Mr X Stitch, and what’s it all about?

I started the Mr X Stitch blog in 2008, to add a narrative to the cross stitch designs I was trying to sell. However, after a short while, it became apparent that there were a lot of people doing groovy things with embroidery and not a lot of sites featuring their work, so I began sharing the work of others and it kinda went from there. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a range of talented people come and write columns for me and the site now has over 4000 posts about embroidery and needlecraft. We don’t do clothes and we don’t do knitting, but we cover all other forms of needlework, from quilts to lace, from machine stitch to millinery, and from cross stitch to needle felting. Oh, and we take it seriously, but not too seriously.

What are some of the works you’re most proud of to date?

I’ve recently finished a book – The Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch – that will be coming out in the middle of 2017. I’m proud of the book as it’s my first pattern book and I’ve created 22 designs that I’m pleased with. The book covers all aspects of cross stitch, not just teaching you how to stitch, so I hope people will like it!

Did you always think you’d be going following the crafting path career-wise?

I had no idea, as I’ve not got any formal art/craft background. So it’s pretty awesome to be slowly but surely paving a solid path within this world, and I’m continually grateful for the opportunities that present themselves.

What do you love most about what you do? What makes this activity so exciting for you?

My single biggest pleasure is teaching other people to stitch. It’s great to see them discover the joy of craft and to feel how it can soothe their souls in ways that you can’t really explain. I’m fortunate that cross stitch is really quick to learn, but there’s a tonne of possibilities with that stitch, let alone the myriad of other embroidery stitches that exist.

But it’s also fantastic to be part of a world that is so creative and inspiring. Every day I get to see new needleworks that amaze me, from all corners of the world. I’m active on Instagram as well as other social media, and that’s turning into a great place to discover new talent as well as share awesome embroideries with thousands of other people. There’s never a dull moment.

How did the TEDx talk come about? What was it like sharing your passion with the audience?

The TEDx talk came about thanks to my connections with the creative scene in Bedford, my home town. It was a great opportunity and I think I rose to the occasion with a memorised talk that explained why most people’s preconceptions about embroidery are slightly askew. It’s not their fault that they think cross stitch is what your granny does. But I do cross stitch, and with all due respect, I’m not your granny!

What’s your advice for those wanting to get into the art of needlecraft and embroidery?

Start simple with cross stitch. Get yourself a magazine with a kit that you can try and have a go – don’t worry about the back, don’t worry if it goes wrong, it matters not. But with a bit of practice, you can gain confidence with a needle and thread and then decide if you want to try other modes of embroidery. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for a daily dose of inspiration, as well as visiting my website and if you see something you like, have a go! I think people should try all the things at least once so that they know what they like. And be sure to relax and enjoy it – being creative is the best thing ever!

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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