Found whilst looking for embroidery stuff in Google News... this article about embroidery artist and former convict Ray Materson, who creates amazingly intricate embroideries using thread from unravelled socks. His story is pretty amazing too - told in detail in this article from Raw Vision:
"'Prison's a really horrible place, let me tell you. I deserved to go to prison, and it really helped me. When you're at the bottom of the barrel there's really no one to turn to except God, and I did, after about my first year. I turned to God, and I said please, help me to deal with this.The Raw Vision article includes many examples of Materson's work, more of which can be seen in this gallery. Materson has written a book about his work and life, fittingly titled Sins and Needles: A Story of Spiritual Mending.
And one day I was sitting on my bunk in my cell. It was right around Christmas of 1988 and they were showing all the commercials for the Bowl Games. Michigan was scheduled to play USC in the Rose Bowl. I didn't go to University of Michigan but I had been to games at Michigan Stadium lots of times...
I was remembering those times and I decided I'm going to make something for myself to identify with being in Pasadena. And this plastic bowl with a lid was sitting out on the footlocker in my cell. I looked at it and it reminded me of my grandmother's sewing hoop. I remembered how she could sit in that rocker for hours and hours and hours and make designs. I thought, I could try that.
'I took the lid off the bowl and cut it out as best I could with a pair of nail clippers. Then I took a handkerchief and drew the Michigan 'M' as best I could. And then I noticed there was a pair of yellow and blue striped tube socks hanging on the bar outside my cell. They belonged to the guy in the cell next to me, so I bought them for a pack of cigarettes and I taught myself how to take the colored thread out of the socks. 'I stitched the 'M' emblem, and I put it on a visor I made out of the plastic from inside an old cap, the elastic from a pair of underwear, and a pair of blue shoelaces."
This story reminded me of Fernando Marques Penteado, a Portuguese/Brazilian artist who has run embroidery classes with male inmates at Wandsworth Prison in London. I saw this work on display at the Crafts Council's Boys Who Sew show last year:
"Marques Penteado explained that 'Around the textile gatherings there were always talks and laughs with sparkles of tenderness.' This is reflected in the humanity and poignancy of the work exhibited here. 'I really did get a great feeling of release from doing it,' said John Carpenter, one of the participants in the project."
Crafts Council website