Creative Genius: Stephanie Rohr, Author of Feminist Cross-Stitch
Meet the feminist crafter herself and show off your skills with free downloadable patterns.
Stephanie Rohr, known as stephXstitch in the crafting world, is empowering women everywhere, one stitch at a time. Stephanie has been cross stitching since she was 7 years old, but it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that she started a business to sell her pieces. More recently, she began crafting feminist, subversive designs that landed her a book deal.
Feminist Cross-Stitch is her first book, filled with 40 patterns ranging from easy to expert, polite to full-on rage. If you’re a first-time cross stitcher, don’t fret. An introduction to the basics greets you within the first few pages, like an encouraging best friend, cheering you on.
We asked Stephanie a few questions about herself and cross stitching.
When did you start cross stitching?
I learned to cross stitch as a kid, watching my mom stitch traditional baby patterns. When I was about 7, she bought me a cross stitch for kids kit. I think I was always meant to cross stitch because when I was younger, I would color on graph paper instead of coloring books. And I kept doing it throughout my teen years, but I kind of fell off from doing it as a teen because the designs didn’t really apply to me.
You’ve been designing cross-stitch patterns for 10 years, what inspired you to create feminist ones?
I started my online business in 2010 and it was more in line with traditional cross-stitch designs and patterns. But it was really the 2016 presidential election that inspired my feminist patterns. They would sell more and people would request more of those patterns. At the first women’s march of 2016, I blew up my design “A Woman’s Place is in the Revolution” and put it on a poster and people really liked it.
What do you want someone trying cross stitch for the first time to know?
I want them to know that cross stitching is for everyone. The needlework art is probably more accessible. I teach classes in Chicago and I have yet to find someone not able to do it. People find it very relaxing, it’s a great break from screen time. So just jump right in. Think by numbers with thread and unleash your own creativity. Draw patterns on graph paper and start from there.
It started with Julie Jackson (of Subversive Cross Stitch) and it’s more accessible now. And it’s one of the more affordable arts besides the time you put into it. They also make great handmade gifts because you can decorate your own.
Of all your patterns, which is your favorite?
Oh, wow. That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. I’d have to pick my “A Woman’s Place is in the Revolution” design. It’s on the front page of my book and I like the story behind it. I’m proud of it.
Have you received any backlash for some of your slogans?
Not really… Actually yes. Whenever you put curses on art, people will react. As long as I am aware that art is a niche thing, I’m okay. It’s a part of being a designer or an artist. I’ll get occasional messages, but overall, people are super supportive. And it is so meaningful for the people that enjoy it.
Your Instagram just hit 10K followers. How important is it to you that you have a strong social media presence?
Social media is very important to me because that’s how I interact with other stitchers, artists and fans. It is less of a number game for me and more of a platform to give back to people and hear ideas from others. I wouldn’t have gotten a book deal without it. That’s how my editor found my Etsy — through my Instagram!
Some may think that crafting is a hobby for an older crowd. Do you think your influence could change that?
Many don’t know that there is no set type of crafter or cross stitcher. It’s an affordable hobby and many find it an escape from the constant stream of interactions we find ourselves in today. It’s very meditative and shouldn’t be lost in the past.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
My other job is performing, directing and singing. So, I’m not a complete introvert. I stitch while watching TV all day and then at night I perform and direct large groups of people. It’s a fun balance.
I also haven’t stitched anything for myself in about 8 years. So my 2019 goal is to do more for myself.