Men Who Stitch #3: Robert Luhrsen

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hello all! This week I’d like you to meet Robert Luhrsen, another accomplished stitcher in our Men Who Stitch series. I hope you all enjoy reading about him, what he admires and what inspires him, and seeing some of his (and my) favorite projects.

How long have you been stitching?
Celtic Cross stitched by RobertI’m not real positive, but I think I started somewhere in the late 80’s or early 90’s. At the time, I was heavy into crochet (love DMC Cordonnet crochet cotton) and my mom got a kit in the mail. She thought it was stamped cross stitch, and it turned out to be counted cross stitch, so she asked me if I would do it for her. It was a fairly simple kit, a scripture phrase with a border, and I found it rather fun and easy, so I decided I wanted to try more of it. So I guess I’ve been stitching for 23 years at least.

What is your favorite aspect of stitching – collecting materials, planning, starting, finishing, etc?
I always used to think collecting materials was a bore, until I got a DMC 6 drawer floss chest. Now I have it right at hand at my stitching station and just pull my flosses from there instead of trying to find them all first and put them in bags or on a ring. I don’t do a whole lot of planning unless I’m designing my own piece. Then I find getting it all charted out on graph paper and picking the colors I want to be really involved, fascinating, exciting and/or any combination of those.

Starting is always a lot of fun, it’s like taking off on the first day of a new adventure or vacation trip. Finishing is a real thrill, since I tend to do a lot of very large projects (or as we say in my stitching groups BAPs) and putting in that last stitch after working on a piece for a long, long, time (sometimes years) is akin to a major event like a birth or a wedding. I think finishing is probably my favorite part, because then the exhibitionist in me can come out and show off what I’ve accomplished and brag a bit.

And Just Where Have You Been, stitched by RobertWhat is your favorite project that you have stitched?
This is a toughie. I’d like to say all of them. I think it’s going to be a toss-up among Radio City Christmas from Mystic Stitch (which is still a WIP), Enchantment of Winter from Terrance Nolan (also a WIP) and “White Tiger” from HAED (not yet started).

I think the favorite that I’ve finished would have to be And Just Where Have You Been by Mary Ellen Yanich. That one is almost the spitting image of my Marti who crossed over the Rainbow Bridge back in 2008.

What kind of reactions do you get when people see you stitching?

Stormy Weather, stitched by RobertI’m not sure about the ones I don’t see, but from the people who come up to me and say something, it’s always been positive and/or amazement/surprise. I get a lot of “I’ve never seen a man embroider before” and quite a bit of “How do you have the patience for that?”. Most people think it’s great than I can and do do it. I take my needlework with me everywhere. I think I’ve gotten almost as much accomplished sitting in waiting rooms as I have working on things at home.

I had a job as weekend manager at a hotel. I had to be there straight through from 11 pm on Friday to 3 pm on Sunday, and my boss said it was okay to bring my stitching with me (she’s a knitter.) I had one lady who said she used to cross stitch, but her eyes couldn’t take it anymore, and she had a half finished piece of a Hummel figurine (Stormy Weather). She asked me how much I’d charge to finish it for her and I said 2 cents a stitch. She didn’t bat any eye, and brought it in. It didn’t take that long to finish, and I got almost $90 out of it.

What would your dream project be?
Just off the top of my head, I’d say The Sistine Chapel from HAED, not that I’d live long enough to finish it. There are a couple of others. One would be to do all of the Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum Celtic Seasons. Another would be Theresa Wentzler’s “Millenium.”

I’m thinking the best answer for my dream project would be to live long enough to stitch everything in my stash. Can you say Methuselah?

How many hours a week do you spend stitching?
It all depends on what else I have going on that week. Since I can’t work or do much in the way of physical activity due to disability, I’d say anywhere from 20-30 hours a week average.

Do you have any other creative hobbies?
Oh my yes! I am a frustrated wannabe “Next Food Network Star” and I also love baking and candymaking. On top of which, in addition to cross stitch I knit, crochet, do needlepoint, crewel embroidery and sew.

Ernest Hemingway quote stitched by RobertDo you stitch from patterns or do you create your own?
Mostly I stitch from patterns. There is one piece I created on my own, which is a quote from Hemingway that I got from a greeting card.

Do you have any favorite DMC colors? What is your favorite DMC thread?
That’s one of those questions like asking me what’s my favorite food. To which I usually respond “anything that isn’t going to try and eat me first”. I like all of them. It’s like having this giant rainbow in front of you with every color of the spectrum to choose from. As plebian as it sounds, my favorite DMC thread is good old 6 strand cotton embroidery floss.

Do you ever meet and share your work with other stitchers? What is your favorite way to do that?
Yes I do. I belong to a number of cross stitch groups on Yahoo, and we share pictures and ideas and problems and solutions. I’ve met some of the stitchers from one of my groups in New York on a number of occasions. And we’re planning a stitch-in later this summer with another one of my groups. I’d really like to join our local EGA chapter, but unfortunately I’m on a very limited, fixed income and I can’t afford the dues.

Thanks, Robert for sharing so much with us and allowing us to give our readers a glimpse of your stitching talent!

To see more of Robert’s stitching, visit:


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4 Responses to “Men Who Stitch #3: Robert LuhrsenComment RSS feed

  • Kim C
    June 21st, 2013 10:27 am

    Congrats Robert on a great story on your stitching history, work, passion, and beautiful work keep up the phenomenal work!

  • Faith
    June 21st, 2013 11:56 am

    Thanks for sharing Robert! Love your stitching.

  • Shanda
    June 22nd, 2013 11:09 am

    I so love this article and really relate! Congrats!

  • Susan
    June 23rd, 2013 9:52 am

    wonderful Robert !!! My dad did a lot of stitching after he retired , he also did beautiful work and so enjoyed working with thread…

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