The World Wide (Stitched) Web

I was in a pub a few weeks ago with a friend who was surprised to hear quite how violently the online embroidery community was flourishing! In fact, the internet is both building and revolutionising the embroidery (and wider craft) community.

The blog Mr X Stitch champions contemporary embroidery; the site's founder, Jamie Chalmers, recently published PUSH: Stitchery, a book which presents the cutting-edge needlework of thirty embroidery artists, most of whom had previously been featured on his blog.
Not only does Mr X Stitch introduce us to the length and breadth of contemporary needlework, but its Flickr group, the Phat Quarter, gives any embroiderer with a camera/scanner and internet access the chance to share their work with a community of like-minded people. In addition to this, the Phat Quarter is forging more personal links between embroiderers through its themed swaps, the most recent of which was based around the theme of food.

Death Paste by crafty and devious, for Riann's Pictures; a new take on Vegemite for the Phat Quarter food swap
The online handmade marketplace Etsy is allowing craftspeople to turn their passion into an (often thriving) business. One such needle artist is the very funny Stephanie Tillman; her What Party? embroideries feature wild animals in a variety of human predicaments. Tillman makes any one of the vast variety of her designs to order through Etsy.


Disturbed Fox Just Watched Antichrist, a What Party? embroidery by Stephanie Tillman, available to order on Etsy (and particularly relevant as I went to see the new Lars Von Trier, Melancholia, last night.)
The Embroidered Digital Commons Open Source Embroidery Project goes one step further in dispersing embroidery, virtually, through the internet; it is a series of embroideries about the internet, on the internet. The project "is based on the beautifully crafted language of the Concise Lexicon of/for the Digital Commons (Sarai, 2003) written by the Raqs Media Collective. The full lexicon is an A-Z of the interrelationship between social, digital and material space".

The Mr X Stitch community stitched the term Fractal:
Sewn by Alison Bancroft

Sewn by Renee King

The project is a perfect example of the collaborations the internet can facilitate. It was actually a post here on Blogger which led to one of my own collaborations; Emma Parker, aka Stitch Therapy, blogged about taking her hand-sewn hearts to the Pharmacy of Stories gallery. Intrigued, I went along to the private view of the exhibition Emma had sewn the hearts for, and there I met Tina, owner of the gallery. The exhibition, Here Is My Heart , fitted so perfectly with The Cure for Love it was unreal. We decided to collaborate, leading to an embroidered love potion-making workshop (and hopefully future collaborations!)

Emma has recently been involved in a swap of her own, with another stitching blogger, Annika, of All The Live Long Day. The pair have sent each other motivational, hand-stitched postcards:

Emma's postcard to Annika

Annika's postcard to Emma
In addition to leading to collaborations, the internet has also allowed me to contact textile artists whose work I particularly admire; both Iviva Olenick and Joetta Maue were kind enough to write insightful answers to the interview questions I sent them via email. I also conducted an email interview with Debbie of the East London Craft Guerilla on the relationship between Walthamstow and arts and crafts.

I hope that the internet will long continue to foster links and collaboration between needlework artists. Now, back to admiring the magnificent narwhals in Frozen Planet; I may or may not be stitching one up for my next piece!