We Shall Be Monsters
Gothic literature meets wholesome craft
Bonnijo brings gothic horror literature to life with her creative cross-stitch designs. Now you can stitch your very own classic quote in our pattern giveaway!
Win a free pattern of your choice from the GothicLitStitch shop.
How to enter:
Suggest a quote! Which gothic literature quote would you most like to see in cross stitch? Leave a comment below to enter.
(Competition closes: 31/12/18)
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I grew up in a small town about 100 miles north of Seattle, almost in Canada. Got degrees in History and Archaeology, then spent two years in England for grad school (textile conservation MA), which was amazing. Husband and I now live in Seattle with three cats. I do a lot of reading, a lot of gaming (mostly computer – World of Warcraft, Skyrim, Civilization 5), and just to round things out, in the last few years we’ve gotten really into football (go Seahawks!) and playing fantasy football – it’s like D&D for jocks!
Can you tell me how you came up with the idea to sell gothic novel quote cross stitch?
For several years, I’d been making people cross-stitched samplers based on quotes that I thought they’d like (from The Office, White Christmas, all over the place, really). People would often tell me I should sell them, but I thought 1: No one would pay me anything that would make this cost-effective (some of them have more than 20 hours of work on them, but are still pretty small) 2: I feel weird selling things with other peoples’ intellectual property on them – not just the quotes, but the designs and fonts came from pattern books, too. Then it occurred to me I could just design and sell patterns, and if I used old enough source material, it was public domain! I create my own fonts and embellishments as well. I chose gothic novel quotes as a theme because it seemed less represented than other genres, and, as a bit of a goth myself, I am often frustrated at how, well, cute most pre-made kits and patterns are. So much pastel! So many bunnies and flowers! Sometimes you just want to stitch some bats!
How do you choose your quotes?
Basically, I read through a gothic novel and, whenever I see a really awesome quote, or something I think would make a good sampler (particularly if the idea for the design also comes to me), I write it down. I transfer all these to a document on the computer – there tend to be a lot – and then go through and pick out the best ones. The ones I focus on tend to be shorter, or things that I figured out how to do right away – for example, the “Are we to have nothing tonight?” line from Dracula, I thought, “That should look like it’s written in blood, with, like, blood pooling underneath it!” So that was an easy one. I often focus on quotes that have a bit more of that “inspirational saying” quality to them, as those are quite popular right now – things like, “To them who dare, nothing is impossible.”
What are your favourite gothic novels?
I really enjoy Dracula, by Bram Stoker. It’s one that I’ll read just for the fun of it, still. The Monk, by Matthew Lewis, was a bit more of a slog, but it was interesting to read, especially knowing how very controversial it was in its day. And The Castle of Otranto, by Harold Walpole, which is considered by many to be the first gothic novel, is fun, and quite short – a good introduction to the genre! Sad to say, as much as I love the fact that Mary Shelley was such a young woman when she wrote Frankenstein, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the others – it’s a lot more philosophical than I was expecting going in. Not to say everyone shouldn’t read it at least once! And The Mysteries of Udolpho, by Ann Radcliffe, is a wonderful example of the genre, but quite long and occasionally, I’ll admit, tedious.
Are there any quotes you'd love to do, but maybe aren't as well known?
If anything, I’m torn on doing the ones that ARE popular and well-known! There are several quotes from Frankenstein and Dracula that I see on etsy in other forms (pictures, jewelry) and on the one hand, I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon, but on the other hand, if people like these quotes in that form, maybe I SHOULD add another version! Otherwise, I feel that most of the quotes I do are pretty unfamiliar, if nothing else because I reference a couple of lesser-known gothic novels.
Would you consider yourself a goth (or to have gothic influences)?
Definitely, though I don’t always look like it! I’ve had friends tell me they were surprised by hearing me describe myself as a goth, since they would so often see me in jeans and t-shirt, or since my interests include watching football. I did grow up sort of drawn to the spooky aesthetic – lots of skulls and spiders in my décor, lots of black in my wardrobe. All my prom dresses came from Hot Topic. These days, I continue that, and do still tend to buy things that are spookier – Halloween is the best time to shop for home goods! I got tons of towels last year with spider webs and skulls on them! If I wasn’t so lazy, I would dress a little more gothy in my day-to-day life, but it’s just so much easier to pull on jeans and sneakers.
How often do you cross stitch and is it mostly for fun or business?
It tends to come in waves. When I’m working on a new design, I always stitch it out first, to look for mistakes and to have a finished sample. In that case, I’ll usually work on the project a little bit every day. Otherwise, I tend to like to work on very large, complicated designs (like Teresa Wentzler) that literally take me years to finish. Those pieces will sometimes sit un-worked for months before I pick them up again, and then I’ll stitch on them for all my free time for another couple months.
Do you do any other crafts?
Most other crafts I do are needlework-related: crewel and Hardanger embroidery, needlepoint. I’ve dabbled in sewing, quilting, collage-making, and crochet as well. The problem is always time and space! Do you get to see the finished results when the patterns are done and hanging in peoples' homes? I haven’t so far, but would love to!
Pick up your own from cross-stitch pattern now from GothicLitStitch.