It's a newsflash! Embroidery And Textile Art News From Mr X Stitch

This is exciting news!

Mr X Stitch has been shortlisted in the Arts and Culture category for the UK Blog Awards 2015! It’s a great competition that recognises the best blogs out there, and it’s pretty darn competitive, so we’re gonna need your help!

You will be able to vote for Mr X Stitch from 10th November until 1st December and I’m going to be sending lots of reminders, so I hope you’ll take a moment to cast your vote. If you can spread the word and ask your stitchy friends to cast their votes as well, that would be awesome. Use the #UKBA15 hashtag while you’re at it and the organisers will know we’re on the case!

UK Blog Awards  2015 Banner

From there, if we get through to the short-shortlist, then we’ll be judged against various criteria – Design, Style, Content, Marketing and Usability – and I guess we’ll see what happens!

It would be great if you can find the time to cast your vote. Think of it not just as a vote for Mr X Stitch, but also a vote for embroidery in the artistic context. I have no idea who the other shortlisted sites are, but in the world of Arts & Culture, we all know that stitchery doesn’t get taken seriously, so let’s do our bit to change it!

We’ve been running Mr X Stitch for six years, bringing you the best embroidery and needlecraft we can find, and it’s about time the world paid attention! So let’s try and win some awards!

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Colorful Stitchery by Kristin Nicholas

We’ve featured Kristin Nicholas on Mr X Stitch before, in connection with her book on Crewel Embroidery. Now she’s back with a new book Colorful Stitchery: 65 Embroidery Projects to Personalize Your Home. Kristin’s always up for an interview and so I fired some questions at her and she batted them right back!

Kristen Nicholas - Crewel Pillows on Bed

Tell us about your new book, Colorful Stitchery!

Colorful Stitchery is one of my most favorite book projects to date. (My professional background is in the knitwear and knitting yarn industry.) I learned to embroider as a kid and it is a craft/art that I have come back to year after year. Colorful Stitchery is a “learn to embroider” book but it is much more.

What was your goal with the book?
I have been working with textiles all my life, even having gone on university and grad school for textiles here in the US. When I was in school, I had the great fortune to be able study historic costume samples in the different collections each school had. In this book, I wanted to pass on some of the amazing knowledge I have been lucky enough to learn to the lay stitcher.

I included 21 different stitches in Colorful Stitchery. These are my favorites that I work with over and over again in my designs. There are very clear hand-painted illustrations of how to work each stitch. I also include info about different fibers and fabrics, about how to test the fiber content by burning an unknown fabric or thread, how to dye fabrics, how to felt fabrics and how to re-purpose thrifted fabrics.

Kristen Nicholas - Cashmere Blanket

I think of embroidery as painting with a needle and thread. Although it is more labor intensive the result is layered and beautiful and nuanced by history and time. What I wanted to present to modern embroiderers is that they have their ability to design their own embroidery – bringing into their work their own likes and dislikes, their favorites colors, fabrics, and their life. I included a beginners guide to working with colors, including many photos illustrating how colors work together. I also included a step-by-step guide to designing your first embroidery from a photo.

The book is centered around projects for the home – pillows and throws (including a gorgeous embroidered cashmere throw), the kitchen (all kinds of things like dishtowels, napkins, tablecloths, – even a coffee cozy), the bedroom (pillowcases with a modern take, curtains, a wedding blanket, even hot water bottle cozies – I think you call them hotties in the UK). In the final chapter, I stitched on alternative things like boxes, paper, and shoes. My goal was to show the possibilities in embroidery with products that can be used in life vs only hung on the wall.

Kristen Nicholas - Dishcloth Pillows

I’m enjoying the vibrant colours in your projects…

I am a fabric junkie and have been for all my life. I have collected odds and ends, remnants, all kinds of plaids, prints, checks, tweeds and velvets. As far as I am concerned every fabric is game for adding embroidery to it. As long as my needle and thread can go through it easily, I’ll stitch on it.

I actually think it is more fun to transform an alternative fabric with embroidery that might mostly be used for apparel or maybe an interior decorating fabric – even corduroy and velvet. One of my favorite projects in Colorful Stitchery is stitched on a piece of MacGregor tartan that I picked up at a flea market many years ago. I layered a floral design on top of it.

Kristen Nicholas - Plaid Embroidered Pillows

Where do you get your inspiration?

All the regular suspects most people look to – antique embroideries, folk embroideries, current interior decorating trends but not so much pop culture like many other stitchery designers. Sometimes it is just the fabric that speaks to me to be decorated. I stitched on striped dishtowels and turned them into huge pillows. It is great fun to take a patterned fabric and just go wild with decoration.

One of the nicest thing about embroidery is it is so reasonable financially to get into as a craft. You don’t need all kinds of supplies like fancy machines, computers, looms and what not. Just a needle, some thread and a base fabric and you are off.

In years past, so many people embroidered. It kind of lost its fashion for a good forty years but now it is back and better than ever. I’m so happy to be able to share my love with all of those who are just beginning to stitch or picking it up again.

I love the William Morris quote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I think that is why all kinds of household objects are better and prettier when decorated with hand embroidery.

Kristen Nicholas - Hot Water Cozies

There’s a good dose of crewel in the book – are you still smitten with it?

I love it. I like working with the wool thread on linen fabric because it is so easy to make it look good. I included a bunch of crewel projects in Colorful Stitchery because I am so in love with the materials. I would say I much prefer embroidering with wool threads and yarns because of the way they can fill in a space and are much more forgiving than cotton floss.

Thanks Kristin, it’s always good chatting with you – see you for the next book!

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Kristin’s book is playful and vibrant and has some great ideas for you to try in your home. If you fancy a spot of upcycling, Colorful Stitchery: 65 Embroidery Projects to Personalize Your Home is a good place to start. Why not buy your copy from our Amazon stores?

But wait, we can do better than that! Why not win yourself a copy of Colorful Stitchery!

All you have to do is leave a comment below sharing your favourite song! It might seem a bit random, but hey, let’s see what groovy tunes we can find. The competition runs until midnight on Sunday 9th November and a winner will be chosen at random thereafter. Good luck!

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Weave – Collective Creativity

by Mr X on 31 October 2014

Weave - A Social Network for Stitchers

 

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Mette Holtet Skov Olesen in Weave, who had a great idea about collaborative creativity and working with groups as an integral part of the production process. Here’s Mette to explain things a bit better…

“I’m the kind of person, who can never decide. I don’t have a favorite band, time of year or colour. In a couple of months however, I finish my education and I have to make some decisions on what I want to do. Not only like a couple of weeks for this project or a month for that exam. I mean, this is for real, looooong termed!

“During the last past years I’ve been working in different ways and tried of myself, both alone, in duos and bigger groups. I mostly prefer working alone – great flexibility and of course no compromises! However, I also love what happens when two or more people’s minds and qualifications come together and create, what in the best cases feels like, an explosion of ideas! Now who can blame me for not wanting to make a decision between these options?

Mette Holtet Skov Olesen

“So, I started thinking about how I could have both and this was what came to my mind:

“An online community with the possibility for exchanging and developing ideas and inspiration. Where members open up their creative processes and in return benefit from each other’s different competences with the result of even more ideas of higher quality. Just as it is the case normally when we work in teams, only here we are not obligated to share our entire creative processes, but only the phases that, each member feel, can advantage from this. Still in the end, on the other side of the screen you are the only one to make the final decisions and the format is very flexible. 

 

Mette Holtet Skov Olesen

“To find out if this is even possible I’ve decided to investigate it in my bachelor project, by using ‘Weave’ – the social network for stitchers. By having people reviewing, reworking, de- and reconstructing, and turning each other’s ideas upside down, I hope to break down the boundaries we normally work within and provoke to a new perspective of one’s creative process and expressions.”

So there you have it folks. We’ve got the Collective Creativity Group set up on Weave, where you can help develop and drive the construction and creation of ideas and projects. It’ll change the way you work and might just broaden your creative horizons. Come on board – I think it’ll be a fascinating experiment!

Mette Holtet Skov Olesen

 

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Hilary Pullen is one of my Crafty Avengers chums, part of the #imapiece group that visited Indonesia in 2012, and founder of the UK Craft Blog. Her new book, Online Marketing for Your Craft Business, is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to make the most of social media platforms to grow their business.

Online Marketing for your Craft Business - Contents

The book covers all of the main social media platforms that are relevant to craft businesses, including Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn, as well as the classics. It’s a comprehensive run through of everything you need to know to get a grip on these online spaces.

Online Marketing for your Craft Business - Instagram

There’s so much in-depth advice on important topics like Google Analytics and Search Engine Optimisation, to name but two, that this book is definitely worth a purchase. As well as Hilary’s advice, she’s got ideas and hints from a great range of crafters who have experience in the online space (including some wiseacre called Mr X Stitch!).

Online Marketing for your Craft Business - Newsletter

Hilary has a great ability to de-mystify these topics, and through clever design and simple illustration, the book is a terrific tool for helping you get on top of this important aspect of  your business. It’s thorough, yet accessible, and is a great snapshot of the current state of social media in 2014.

Online Marketing for your Craft Business - ABC

This is a must-have for anyone with a craft business and a recommended read for anyone who wants to conquer social media. Online Marketing for Your Craft Business is published by David & Charles and is available from all good retailers. Why not buy your copy from our Amazon stores?

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Mr X