Hello! I’m Susan Fitzgerald, the needlework designer and cross stitch addict behind Red Gate Stitchery. I live in Massachusetts with my husband and our 8-year-old daughter.
I have been drawn to fiber-based crafts for as long as I can remember. I learned to knit and crochet as a child; in college, I took up weaving. Then, while living in the Pacific Northwest in my early twenties, I taught myself how to cross stitch. I was pursuing a career in tech at the time, and craft was a way to busy my hands and calm my mind after a long day. Cross stitch appealed to me because I loved feeling the tug of thread through linen and watching a pattern bloom into being.
My husband and I returned to New England for the birth of our daughter, and I eventually left my career in technology to immerse myself in the joys and trials of motherhood. At that point, cross stitch became even more important as a creative outlet, but my time was limited. And so I sought out quick projects that could be stitched in the snippets of time during naps and toddler dance classes.
Around that time, I began experimenting with new materials and techniques. While I loved stitching on linen, I didn’t know what to do with a piece when it was finished. My sewing skills are limited, at best, so I never trusted myself to transform my stitched pieces into the fabulous pillows and bags I pictured in my head. Instead, most pieces were tucked wistfully away in a drawer. Then suddenly I got the idea to stitch on leather. The inspiration came from a leather bracelet I purchased at the Boy Scout shop in my town – I punched holes in the leather and then stitched. It was a revelation. I loved the way the embroidery floss looked on the leather, and there was no fussy finishing.
Eventually, I discovered laser cutting and was able to make more intricate designs and work with new materials like wood, acrylic, and industrial felt. I also discovered Etsy. Etsy connected me to a community of makers and gave me an easy way to put my designs out there. Today, you can find my cross stitch kits in yarn and fabric shops throughout the US and internationally, but it all began with Etsy. As I sit here writing this — almost four years after launching my Etsy shop — I am listing new products to the sounds of hammering and sawing: the makings of a bigger studio space for Red Gate Stitchery. The future is bright, and I am brimming with ideas for more modern cross stitch. I can’t wait to share them!
Maker photographs by Nancy Gould Photography; product photos by Susan Fitzgerald.