The cross stitch industry is in good hands, thanks in part to to the stitchers on Twitch, the online video game platform and community. Yes, video gamers who cross stitch is a thing, a trend, a movement, a world. This isn’t news to you, avid mrstitch.com readers, but it is important information to people living the industry’s ups and downs. In fact, stitch-and-Twitch is as monumental to Cross Stitch as Ginny Thompson was to the hobby in the 1970s (trust me, she was important).
One such Twitch-and-more stitcher is Kari Warning, aka 8 Bit Stitching and one of my new friends (thanks to Siri). We are working together on kitting Kari’s designs with Kreinik threads to reach more stitchers and have some thread play. Her creative spirit energizes others. I want you to meet her. Connect with Kari in this Q-and-A; see similarities to your own life, or, if you’re unfamiliar with this part of the needlework world, discover one of the growing Next Generation of stitchers.
Question-And-Answer with Twitch stitcher Kari Warning
QUESTION: How long have you been cross stitching? What got you started?
KARI: My mother and I discussed this as I can’t remember the exact year I started. She said middle school and then later said she thinks I started when I was 8, so about 20 years. My aunt taught me. We use to go visit my grandparents and my aunt in Kentucky every year. They lived in Paintsville, Kentucky, in a holler so there was literally nothing to do but hike the mountain, do some fishing, and cross stitch. [Side note: she also crochets.]
QUESTION:How did the blend of video games and cross stitching come about?
KARI: Cross stitch is just a combination of pixels grouped together to make a picture, so cross stitching and video games clicked together for me very early. It was easy for me to look at a video game character and recreate is as a cross stitch.
QUESTION: What made you decide to start designing patterns?
KARI: I actually began making patterns for the video game characters on pic2pat.com. Little did I know at the time that there were much better programs out there. I now use a program called WinStitch from Ursa Software to make all my patterns. I highly recommend it [any stitchers interested in purchasing: use code kwarning at checkout to get 5% off]. My husband (he was my boyfriend at the time) was the one who convinced me that what I was doing was interesting and that people may want to purchase them. I started getting back into cross stitching “hard core” around the time my husband began streaming on Twitch. I would make cross stitch gifts for his moderators and he would show them off to his viewers. They got such a great response that I decided to make an Etsy shop. Two years later the Creative section of Twitch was announced and I began streaming cross stitch live on Twitch.
QUESTION: Is cross stitch growing?
KARI: I definitely see a growth in cross stitching popularity. Chances are it may have always been so popular and maybe I just wasn’t surrounded by others who cross stitched. Now that I have been involved with the cross stitch community on Twitch I feel my entire world has expanded. It so amazing to see how many people stream it and also how many of our viewers are stitchers as well. I also feel that by bringing cross stitch to Twitch we have opened this hobby up to new stitchers. Many of my viewers are beginners or have been inspired to start cross stitching for the first time thanks to watching streamers Twitch.
QUESTION: How can we encourage more people to start stitching?
KARI: Again, thanks to Twitch I feel I have no barriers. I am able to answer my viewers questions live and even show them examples in real time. I have a discord room for when my channel is offline. In that 24/7 chat we have an entire room dedicated to cross stitch questions where, not only myself, but others can also answer questions. I also make kits available for almost all of my patterns. Kits are a great tool to get someone started in cross stitching. My Etsy kits include: the pattern, the Aida, the needle, and floss (everything but the scissors). I do a giveaway every year where I give kits to my Twitch viewers to help encourage new stitchers.
QUESTION: Where can stitchers get your patterns?
KARI: My patterns can be found on my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/8bitstitching. I have a few free patterns on my Craftsy (search 8 Bit Stitch). And I have a kit available on Kreinik’s website (hopefully more coming soon!): http://www.kreinik.com/shops/Kari-Warning-Kits/
Twitch, Stitch and Beyond
Hundreds if not thousands of cross stitch businesses (shops, designers, publications) closed in the last 10 years when the economy sank and the market changed (hello internet). Remaining businesses—most of whom started because they love needlework—limp along, barely making enough sales to stay around. So I want to assure these industry veterans that stitching is not dead; just look at the cross stitch community on Twitch. Stitching gamers like Kari Warning are some of the many exciting forces driving the cross stitch revival: connecting, meeting, teaching stitchers all over the world. Thank you to every one out there stitching and keeping one of our favorite hobbies visible, accessible, and fun.