Hand Embroidery

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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It's the Craftster Pick of the Week - brought to you by Mr X Stitch!

Time for another look at some of the great work featured in the forums at Craftster. Note: Although they’re the pick of this week, they may have appeared before this week.

Lindyv321 stitched up this Urban Threads design for a Halloween swap and we think it’s ace!

Lindyv321's Halloween Hoop!

 

See the original Craftster post here, and be sure to come back next time for another great pick from the forums!

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Exploring Etsy with loadofolbobbins!

With the nights drawing in over here in the UK and the wintery nip chilling the air, I hope you’ll all agree that a trip to sunny Australia is most welcome – even if just a virtual one. Today’s featured seller and her wares have helped inspire a whole army of stitchers, (myself included), and hopefully now you too my lovely readers. So without further ado let me introduce you to Sonia Lyne, aka Dandelyne, and the wonderful world of her mini-hoops.

Mini Hoop Kits by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery)

Mini Hoop Kits by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery)

 

Mini Hoop Kits by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery)

Mini Hoop Kits by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery)

Before creating her amazing mini-hoop empire, (if it isn’t one yet it certainly should be!), Sonia began a varied career in the fashion industry, attending the London College of Fashion to become a pattern maker/grader. She has also worked as an Assistant Stylist in Europe, as a buyer for a leading clothing brand, created and managed her own children’s clothing line until taking up a needle and hoop again in 2011 to stitch her first family portrait, where in her own words: ‘my heart-for-materials and thread rediscovered what felt like home.’ Soon she found herself daydreaming not only about small and simple embroidery projects but also about teeny, tiny embroidery hoops and like the very smart cookie she is she figured there must be others out there who wanted exactly the same thing, and thus the fabulous world of Dandelyne was created.

Mountain Peaks Mini Hoop Collection by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery)

Mountain Peaks Mini Hoop Collection by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery)

 

Bunting Mini Hoop Collection by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery)

Bunting Mini Hoop Collection by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery)

Myself being one such stitcher, longing for the teeniest hoop I could lay my hands on, was over the moon when the stitch gods guided me to Dandelyne’s door. So with the help of her delightful mini hoops I’ve managed to create an ever increasing range of necklaces inspired by my love of silhouettes. Dandelyne has helped create an inspiring family of stitchers brought together by the wonders of the mini-hoop and all with their own very unique style, many of them shared on Dandelyne’s instagram, so be sure to take a peek and why not become one yourself…….come join us!

Silhouette Necklace Collection by Loadofolbobbins aka me (Hand Embroidery)

Silhouette Necklace Collection by Loadofolbobbins aka me (Hand Embroidery)

 

Mini Hoop Selection by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery)

Mini Hoop Selection by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery)

What is your earliest stitching memory?

When did I first fall in love with this art? We all remember our first time. I learnt to sew under the expertise of a beautiful woman named Mrs Mulrooney, when I was 7. I attended a small rural school and on a Friday afternoon all of the girls would head to the library to master the basics of embroidery on gingham squares. And thus a flame was ignited.

Custom Portrait by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery) available again in 2016

Custom Portrait by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery) available again in 2016

What fires your imagination?

My imagination is ignited by colour: and lots of it, sweet miniature bits and bobs, family adventures, the unexpected moments (when I slow down) and seeing the work of other stitchers, especially in my little hoops. All of these things also remind me why I do what I do … simply because I. LOVE. IT!

Animal Mini Hoop Collection by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery)

Animal Mini Hoop Collection by Dandelyne (Hand Embroidery)

I can think of nothing better than finishing this edition of ‘Exploring Etsy’ with some final inspiring words from the awesome Sonia. ‘Dandelyne is about small scale embroidery projects that are satisfying, rewarding, soul-boosting and frankly, just look so damn cute. Using the miniature embroidery hoop to frame your designs, you can choose to capture precious things and stitch them as a keepsake of that moment – stitch an initial, stitch a drawing, stitch a line, stitch a face. The options are endless and so are the stitches. It is my hope that you celebrate your embroidery awesomeness and frame it, wear it, enjoy it and be proud of your handiwork.’ You can do just that by visiting her shop, so why not!

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Jessica Taylor aka Loadofolbobbins is a Textile Artist and Illustrator based by the sea in Portsmouth. At her happiest with a needle and thread, with a passion for genealogy she often explores old photographs in her textile art. With her fingers in many creative pies she loves to experiment with new techniques, creating illustrated and stitched goodies for her new Etsy shop.

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Kate Blandford's Deviant Discoveries

This Friday’s eye candy is brought to you by artist Jacob W Dillow and his hand embroidered piece ‘Don’t Be So Dramatic’ which is awesomely stitched onto linen. Kudos to Jacob, I am useless when it comes to working with that material (I’m an aida girl at heart!). I love his use of contrasting colours and patterns in his embroidered work. You can catch more over on his dA page.

jacobwdillowdontbesodramatic

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It's Kate BlandfordKate Blandford is a craft and doodle enthusiast currently working in Bristol. With a penchant for cross stitch and pixels, Kate produces work dabbling in both the handmade and the digital. Her work was once described as ‘shabby chic for Satanists’ due to her love of embroidery, twee skulls and Slayer. You can visit her website here: www.kateblandford.com

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