Stitch Clubs are Having a Moment
By: TNNA Editor
In case you missed it, what started as an Instagram conversation among friends in late January, quickly developed into a mass movement of stitch clubs worldwide. We sat down with co-founder of the movement and needlepointer Alexandra Martin to learn more about Stitch Club Official and how she and her friends are helping needlepointers worldwide organize communities around the craft.
TNNA: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you are involved with the @stitchclubofficial crew.
Alexandra Martin (AM): I have been needlepointing since I was 16. Growing up in St. Louis, the “cool” thing to do — really — was to needlepoint a monogrammed keychain for your best friend when they got their driver’s license. Even though most of my friends started and ended their needlepointing ventures with a single keychain, I became addicted! After running out of friends, family members and random acquaintances to stitch keychains for, I expanded my range to include belts and ornaments, and finally upgraded to stockings and larger projects by the time I moved to Chicago in my late 20s.
I started my needlepoint Instagram account, @millennial_needlepointer, when I realized that asking my husband repeatedly for fiber and stitch suggestions wasn’t really getting me anywhere. I was delighted to find a vibrant and supportive needlepoint community on Instagram, and, after being inspired by a fabulous group in Boston, I posted a request (read: plea) for other needlepointers in Chicago to see if anyone wanted to meet up and do the same. Bonding over cocktails and needlepoint… what could be better? I was delighted when a few of my friends wanted to start needlepointing, and even more delighted that a few fellow stitchers, who had found [me through Instagram] actually showed up! We had such a great time that we all decided to make it a monthly meetup. By the third “stitch and bitch,” I had met at least 10 new, amazing friends from all walks of life living in Chicago.
As I posted about our gatherings, I started receiving messages from other followers, asking if I knew of groups in other cities and how to join or start one. After mentioning this to the group I had organized in Chicago, we decided to create an account for our stitch club with an easily replicable format to encourage others to join or start similar groups. It can be intimidating to reach out to “internet strangers” and find fellow needlepointers, so I wanted to make it less intimidating for people find each other.
I then messaged a couple needlepointers in a few cities to see if they would be interested in doing the same for their groups. Anna of @needlepointjunkie in Charleston, SC was the first to recognize the potential of stitch clubs and signed on to become a second chapter and to help spread the word. It quickly caught fire from there, and Stitch Club Official was born. Kate of @kateneedlepoints and Stephanie of @snelsonstitches, both in our local Chicago chapter, joined in to help field the incredible volume of inquiries and create custom logos for each chapter. As a group, we worked to define some basic guidelines (no association with a single LNS/designer, no age limit, etc.) that would promote our message of inclusivity and fun. Stitch Club just grew from there overnight!
TNNA: By our last count, there were around 80 total groups that the Stitch Club Official founders have helped brand, and set up, with a custom logo. Can you share a bit more about how Stitch Clubs are organized and where people can go to learn more about each chapter?
AM: We are now an organization with more than 80 local chapters all over the world (in four countries and counting!), striving to elevate the needlepoint community as a whole. By creating a structured network of chapters that support, welcome and encourage each other, we believe this is a fun way to spread the joy of needlepoint in individual communities and bring people together. We have several exciting things in the works, but for now, the best way to see if there is a Stitch Club in your area is to visit Stitch Club Official on Instagram, then find and follow your local Stitch Club account. Each Stitch Club schedules meetups at different times and locations that are convenient for its members.
TNNA: The most recent Stitch Club Chicago (@stitchclubchicago) chapter meeting was March 3, can you tell us a bit about what these monthly meetings entail? How are they organized? How are locations determined?
AM: Each Stitch Club meeting, frequency, location and time is determined by the individual chapters to allow each chapter to fit its group’s personality! For example, Stitch Club Chicago meets monthly in various locations around the city with good lighting and tasty cocktails: two essentials for us! In the past, we have chosen 3 Arts Club Café inside Restoration Hardware and the Soho House Chicago lobby and bar. We select dates/times for future meetups during each meeting, and try to choose times that are convenient for the group. We like to meet on weekday evenings or weekend afternoons so that those who work full-time can join in on the fun! We then share the meeting details on Instagram — one of the few requirements for each Stitch Club chapter — so that any new or potential members can stay up to date with our meetups.
When the day arrives, the group gets together with their works-in-progress to chat, sip and stitch for a few hours. We have so much fun and have loved meeting so many fabulous, diverse people from around the city. The best part is: We all have something in common — our love of needlepoint!
TNNA: Coming off of the overnight success Stitch Club, how do you see it evolving in the future?
AM: We have been blown away by the response around the world to this idea and we hope that they result in more young people getting into needlepoint and spreading the craft far and wide. We know that each Stitch Club is different, and we are excited to see the diversity of the groups' meetings all over — we know we can all learn from each other as we spread needlepoint love.
We hope that by creating an all-inclusive community, all will benefit in the long run. There’s room for all of us at the stitching table!
TNNA: Can you expand a bit on what inspired you and the Chicago stitchers to organize the needlepoint community through supportive Stitch Clubs? Also, we have to ask: How did the the #StitchClubIsTheNewBookClub hashtag come to be?
AM: We love needlepointing, but sometimes it can be a solitary hobby. We wanted to get out, meet new people, learn from each other and inspire new stitchers. We were just so grateful for the opportunity to meet such incredible people so quickly, and we wanted others to be able to have the same experience.
During a recent Chicago Stitch Club, we were talking about how, when we first moved to the city, book clubs were such a fun way to meet new people around our age. Friends would invite friends, and they would invite their friends, and, thus, created a chain of new connections shared over wine! In fact, I met Stephanie (of @snelsonstitches) through my own book club, and convinced/coerced her to learn to needlepoint. Then, she joined Stitch Club Chicago and helped found Stitch Club Official only a few months after falling in love with the hobby. Now, a few members of Stitch Club Chicago have joined my book club where I originally met Stephanie! We were joking about how this came full circle, and the hashtag was born.
Interested in launching a Stitch Club in your area? Email email@example.com for questions on how to start an official chapter, then follow @stitchclubofficial on Instagram to keep up with the latest announcements. The best way to find out about existing chapters’ individual meetups is to follow the account in your city!