Catching Up With…..Cherry Parker, Cross Stitch Designer….the awesome lady behind some beautiful work. Who is she? What is her story? Lets find out!
Cherry is an artist who has produced an amazing body of work over the years. She has been published in Just Cross Stitch Magazine (USA), Handmade (Australia) and New Zealand Women’s Weekly, so there is a good chance you have seen her work. She also has a design in the recent edition of XStitch Magazine, the “Munchies” edition. She has self-published books and designs felted patterns as well. She lives and creates in Auckland, New Zealand. We caught up with this busy and talented lady to find out more about her and her work.
Hi Cherry! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. First of all, can you tell us how and when you became interested in cross stitching and then in the design aspect of it?
I taught myself to stitch from the late Jo Verso’s book, ‘Picture it in Cross Stitch’. When I couldn’t find a pattern of a pair of hands stitching a design I drew it myself onto graph paper, worked out the colours and stitched it. The design was published by Just Cross Stitch magazine and so began a stitching career that has spanned twenty five years.
I realised that if I was happy with the initial sketch, the design would stitch up well. Today I still stitch from a pencil sketch drawn directly onto graph paper. I audition the threads against the fabric in daylight and when I am happy they will work, I begin to stitch.
Your work is so diverse not only in the designs but also in the fact you use three dimensional work in some of your patterns. Where do you get your inspiration or ideas from?
My inspiration can come from something someone says or a request that conjures up ideas. Often it is my brain wondering what ’that’ would look like cross stitched. With every project I do, I am always thinking of the next pattern and can’t wait to finish the current project to start on the next.
My first three dimensional design came when I saw a door with a canopy above and a welcome mat by the steps. Why couldn’t I stitch that scene, stiffen the stitching, cut it out and assemble it into a three dimensional image. It turns out I could!
The three cows with bells around their necks was also a fun piece to make. The small 3-D pansies are quick to stitch and are an example of how to display a small finished piece of stitching without frames.
You incorporate imagery from New Zealand in some of your work. What do you want readers to know about your country, what captivates you there?
A local patchwork shop owner greets her staff each morning with, “Another great day in paradise”, although she says sometimes responses vary! In New Zealand we do have a little piece of paradise down here in the southern hemisphere.
Bustling cities, quiet idyllic sandy beaches, unique native birds and flowers, snowy mountain ranges, deep lakes, geothermal areas with active geysers, large sheep and cattle farms, rolling green hills and picturesque native bush.
New Zealand’s furthest point inland is 119.44 kilometres (74.22 mi) from the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean, so the nearly 5 million of us are not far from the sea. Because of this all water sports, as well as sea and lake fishing, are popular with locals and tourists.
Christmas celebrated in the summer months is also a plus and my next book, due out in August, features several designs that epitomize the ‘Kiwi’ summer. The favourite camping spot, rustic holiday homes, ice creams, cherries, strawberries, BBQs and our bright Christmassy red native pohutukawa trees that line the coast each year, heralding the beginning of summer. Paradise indeed.
With the wealth of natural beauty and ideas that pop into my head inspiration is never far away.
How has counted cross stitch changed since you started it and what do you see, and hope, for its future?
When I began, large complicated pieces seemed to be popular but they took so long to stitch! Some are indeed beautiful and need to be kept as family heirlooms. However, in the modern day we need to be able to change the displayed stitching to match a new décor or even a quick change of mind.
Years ago, everything seemed to be put in a frame. I am trying in my newsletters and recent designs to get completely away from frames. To use foam core to back a stitched piece, add it to crazy patchwork, pin it on a cork board, double side tape the stitching to a stretched canvas board, plate, baking tin or just keep it in the hoop that it is stitched in. Boundaries are being pushed far more with modern stitching which is wonderful to see.
Tell us a bit about your design process and area. Do you have a regular routine for designing and stitching and where do you do it?
I regularly have four legged help when stitching or drawing! I have bursts of drawing designs or doing several rough sketches. Sometimes I use them sometimes not, but I always keep the good sketches as you never know when someone may want a tractor or a tiger. They go into the ‘Maybe One Day’ folder. Several sketches get put on the drawing board and then I wait for a while. One nearly always stands out from the rest asking to be stitched. If I keep hesitating that design never gets done. I don’t have a set routine to design or stitch, although deadlines mean more time is dedicated to that particular project.
The evening is my time to stitch or maybe on a wet winter’s day. The computer graphing, emails, newsletters, etc., are done during the day.
All stitchers have a tool box with items they often use, what is currently in yours?
My tool box always has pencil, graph paper, sketch pad, my favourite sharp scissors and my very old bamboo hoop. A new project just begun this month is my ‘Cross Stitch Doodling’ strip of fabric where I am playing with threads and colour. We all have those deliciously wonderful, coloured skeins of cotton that we really don’t know what to do with. My new Doodling project will answer that problem. Each month, in my newsletter and website, I will add free stitchy ideas to my strip of fabric. Letting the colour do the talking.
Lastly, do you have any advice or tips for our stitchers?
The biggest thing I have learned is that you really have to want to stitch the project. Unless your fingers are itching to pick up the stitching you might as well give it away. Give it to the nearest thrift shop with all its instructions and let someone else who wants to complete it, get a bargain.
The whole idea is to enjoy the process. Mix up the colours, make an oops – it doesn’t matter if it is not perfect. Most of all relax and have fun.
Many thanks again Cherry for sharing this information with us and our readers. To see more of Cherry’s work as a cross stitch designer, please go to her Etsy shop or her website. There is loads to view!