Cross Stitch and Men – Crossing the Gender Barrier

Cross-stitch is not just an activity for women. Plenty of men love to pull out those needles and flosses to cross-stitch projects that they enjoy. For most men who cross-stitch it is about creating “art” or having a special interest in the design… and of course Cross Stitch is wonderfully therapeutic when it comes to de-stressing.

For some it is just not “manly” to call it a “craft”. While men do not make up a large percentage of cross-stitchers, they most certainly do exist. Yet, many people wonder about men who like to cross-stitch, and it brings up a number of interesting questions:

Are Men Better than Women… at Cross-Stitch?

The simple answer to this question is that of course men are not better than women, just as women are no better than men either. Cross-stitching is a learned skill, and any person who cross-stitches is only as good as they allow themselves to be. Practice, practice, and more practice make a person a better cross-stitcher, not their gender.

Do Male Cross-Stitch Designers Exist?

Yes! Of course there are male designers. Why ever not? Cross-stitch design is an art form and certainly not restricted to the female gender. There are many men involved in creating their own cross-stitch patterns. For some it is a direct offshoot of their art – like Thomas Kinkade. For others, they are part of a design business, like the husband and wife team at Heartland House. Men are involved in designing and bringing you some of the great cross-stitch patterns. Some cross-stitch designers are also fashion designers and use their thread and floss to create patterns on the attire that they create.

Which Patterns are Popular with Men?

Men tend to choose more art-like patterns than women. They may not be as open to you choosing a teddy bear pattern for a pillow.

Often men are drawn to the things they like. If a man likes sports, he may choose a kit that represents his sports team. If a man is into architecture, then he may choose to cross-stitch a pattern based on Frank Lloyd Wright. There are even some gamers that have cross-stitched their favorite video game characters.

Other men use cross-stitch to create designs on their clothing, too. If you are choosing a pattern to give to a man, then you should take a look at what they like. Go with their interests.

How Do Men Get Into Cross-Stitch?

This question really depends on the man. Some men get involved simply because someone they love does it. A little boy may have wanted to do what his mother was doing. A man may help his wife finish a project only to find he liked it. Other men need something to do, and it is a craft just lying around. Often men do not find that they seek out cross-stitching, but it finds them one way or another. Some men believe it makes them look attractive to women, so they use it as a way to “pick someone up”.

How Do I Handle a Man Who Wants to Cross-Stitch?

Embrace it. It takes a lot of courage for a man to put aside an image of masculinity to admit they want to try a “girly” craft. If the man is a significant other, then take pride in the fact that your man wants to share something with you. If it is a young man, then encourage the creativity that will come from the craft.

It is not often that men can put away the machismo to do something enjoyable like cross-stitch, so open up and be willing to teach and inspire. Who knows… the cross-stitching man in your life may find a way to inspire you too!

John Wigham has been a professional author and editor for 20 years and is a co-founder of an online cross stitch club dedicated to counted cross stitch. The website has a small team of writers who are devoted to our cross stitch club”> and enjoy writing about their hobby.

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Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Start Cross Stitching

If you are bored and feel that life is passing you by without you doing anything meaningful, it’s time to pick up a needle. Don’t worry it’s got nothing to do with acupuncture or scary injections. More or less, it’s a hobby with a wonderful list of therapeutic values.

Here are my top ten reasons why you should start cross stitching today!

1. It’s a great way to focus.

Have you ever seen a cross stitch fabric? Those squares are so small that if you don’t watch what you’re doing, your fingers are going to have some pretty neat holes in them. I’ve been doing cross stitching for years now and I still occasionally suffer from a stab but I do get better as time went by. You learn to know where your finger is at all times. And that my friends, lead to an increased level of focus.

2. It teaches you the art of patience.

Have you sewed a great many stitches on your Aida and after hours of it all, you realize something is off? Somehow this corner is supposed to be ten squares for this corner and strangely there’s only one square. Guess what? You’ve miscounted the squares! Then the process of undoing the crosses begins. I’ve undone so many stitches that sometimes I am tempted to bite those threads off but I breathe in breathe out and repeat the cross stitch mantra of “What can be stitched can be unstitched”. It takes a lot of strength and patience to undo a whole lot of mess and do them all over again.

3. You learn to cover up a mess.

Remember how your mother will scream at you to sweep the floor or clean up your room, and what you did instead was sweep the dust under the rug or cramp all your toys in your closet? Cross stitch is something like that. You see, you show your final piece to people and they go ooh aah what a beautiful design! But what you don’t show is the back side of your design. All that ugly knots and strands that are cut too short or long. Well, what people don’t know won’t hurt them right?

4. It teaches you the danger of misplacing sharp objects.

This is what happens to cross stitchers who cannot keep their needles at one place. This is also the reason why needles are sold six in a pack instead of one. The manufacturers know that within one cross stitch project you are most likely to forget where you stick that darn needle. Just try to remember not to stick it on the sofa that you sit on.

5. It teaches you Math.

How many strands are needed to do a cross stitch? Six or two? Yep, you have to count and you have to remember what is left. This is why we go to school. Math is all around us. If you want your kids to learn Math, tell them to cross stitch. Plus you have to count squares! Now that’s really hard Math.

6. It teaches you to be resourceful.

When the end is near, and you find that you are missing just one color thread to finish the job, what can you do? You only need so little. Forget about buying another skein. All you need to do is to take a look at all the threads you have collected from past projects and find the closest color to the missing thread. I’ve done this plenty of times and no one had been the wiser. This also involves having a good eye as you must be able to find the closest match. This does not work if you think pink is the new green.

7. It enhances your memory retention.

When you cross stitch, you have to look at the chart, remember how many squares and where to put them. This is called Memory Retention. If you don’t have this, you’ll be referring to the chart every 5 seconds and getting a neck cramp in the process. When I first started cross stitching, I had to highlight every few squares that I’ve done. Now I still do that but only after I’ve stitched a huge section. Your memory just keeps getting better and it’s amazing! Soon, all you see around you are squares. Sorry, got a little Matrix there.

8. It is something to look forward to.

When I’m in the middle of a project, I will do it whenever I have free time. I remember bringing it to work with me or doing it in the train. I even did it at the hospital once while waiting for a sick friend. It’s just an amazing hobby to fill the time. If I’m on the way home, just thinking of doing my stitching in front of the television is a cozy thought. It’s definitely something I always look forward to.

9. You save money on gifts.

Soon the number of completed cross stitches start piling up. What will you do with them? You can read my other article “Your Cross Stitch is done, Now What?” to get some ideas. You have pretty much made all your Christmas gifts! And it’s all super personal and sweet. Isn’t this better than getting a store bought card?

10. Overwhelming sense of achievement

This is how I feel every time I finished a cross stitch design. It doesn’t matter if it’s my first, second or twentieth cross stitch. Once I’ve knotted my last stitch, I take a deep breath, look at it and say Wow. It may not be the most perfect work, but it’s my work and that’s all that matters.

Hamidah Gul is a freelance published writer whose works in fiction have been published both in print and electronically.
She also runs The Art of Stitch an online needlecraft store with a Cross Stitch Writing Blog.

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