July 30, 2015

Thimblenest Thursdays: Summer/Winter Stitchalong, Week 5

And here we are at Week 5 of the Summer/Winter Stitchalong and the letter M! I don't think that mushrooms are necessarily an autumn thing, but I thought they would look cute on the finished banner, so there you go!

Grab this week's pattern for the letter M and let's get started!

I took a quick look back at all of the letters so far, trying to balance the colors and stitch styles so that everything will be cohesive in the final banner. 

Some of my thread skeins are starting to dwindle down, but there are plenty of colors left. Here's what I did:

The M was outlined in chain stitch using DMC 721. The inside of the letter was stitched using the herringbone stitch in DMC 3852. This was the first time I'd tried herringbone, and this video from Nancy Corbett was especially helpful.

The mushrooms were all embroidered in stem stitch using different combinations of DMC 721, 3852, 327, and 350. These little fungi could be stitched in many different ways using a variety of fill stitches. 

I'll be back with the final letter in A-U-T-U-M-N in two weeks. And remember, we're always glad to see your embroidery work on Instagram #feelingstitchy or in the Flickr Group!

Hi, I'm Wendy - I've been embroidering since age 9 when my grandma gave me some blank tea towels and a set of Aunt Martha’s transfers. I blog at ThimbleNest and create embroidery patterns for my shop.

You can also find me on: Flickr and Pinterest.

July 28, 2015

Stitchy Snippets: Art in Action

Roanna Wells - Obama Inauguration

Recently I had the pleasure to attend the annual Art in Action event in Oxford. Yes, the quaint old city that is known for, amongst a whole manner of English things, its ancient university dating back to the start of the 11th Century. Set in the lush grounds of Waterperry House, Art in Action is a hub of crafts people from all sorts of backgrounds who gather once a year to exhibit work, demonstrate and teach visitors in an array of disciplines.

I was invited by world-class embroiderer Diana Springall, to assist with her display of part of her 40 year old embroidery collection. The first pieces were bought from fellow students whilst Diana Springall was studying at university and from there she continued to expand her collection, which has a broad range of stunning work. What I found particularly fascinating, is how the collection records an evolution of British embroidery over the last four decades; how styles and materials have altered over the years. Here are some of my favourite pieces.

Prinkie Roberts

Margaret Nicholson - May Queen

Laura McCafferty - Bingo Women

During the event I had the chance to meet lots of amazing artists and crafts people. All of whom took time out for a chat. Carol Naylor is a textile artist who creates mesmerising landscapes using her own style and approach to machine embroidery; painting with the needle.

Carol Naylor - Lavender Panorama

Roanna Wells has developed her personal style of mark making predominantly using the seed stitch. Her work is often influenced by the visual effect of crowd formations found at large social gatherings. It is amazing how one stitch can be so effective.

Roanna Wells - Obama Inauguration

Another hand embroiderer who was demonstrating at the event was Amanda Wright. Her illustrative embroideries are all delicately stitched by hand. Amanda Wright expresses her enjoyment behind the process of hand embroidery. 'Hand stitched embroidery is a slow and linear process, but it allows time to reflect as the work progresses.'

Amanda Wright

A reoccurring theme emerging in different textile pieces was maps, all with a differing approach. Here are some examples.

Ekta Kaul - London Map

Janet Browne - Skipton Castle to Bolton Abbey 

Wendy Dolan - London on the Map

I found the whole experience to be extremely inspiring. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming, the work was outstanding and we even had some sunshine. If you are passing through those neck of the woods next summer or fancy planning a trip then I would recommend making a detour to Art in Action, it is special.

"I believe that the purpose of art is to uplift people.” Bernard Saunders - Founder of Art in Action 

Hi, I'm Julia - an embroidery enthusiast based in Amsterdam with a lifelong passion for textiles. I like to mix things up by combining different techniques and mediums - my origami styled dress won the Hand & Lock embroidery prize. Join me on my exploration of embroidery with mixed media and fibre art.

July 25, 2015

Interview with Katya

Today, I have the pleasure to introduce you to Katya, a Ukrainian artist whose beautiful embroidery projects I stumbled onto on Flickr. Her lovely "sketchbooks" are filled with embroidery sketches as detailed and lovely as drawings or paintings. Let's meet Katya!

The Raven in progress

How did you learn to embroider? Are you self-taught?

My Grandma loved to sew and mend things. Her name was Evdokia. She tried to engage me in different crafty activities but I was hopeless as a kid, and lazy :). Though I guess I was always surrounded by people who loved creating handmade things and about 4 years ago I started my first project (it was a simple cross stitch kit).

Antique Scissors II

Is there a particular style of embroidery or embroiderers that appeal to you most?

My dream is to master gold work and luneville (or tambour) embroidery. This autumn I’m planning on a visiting a local school of embroidery that offers these courses.

I am a big fan of embroidery done by Michele Carragher. She is creating amazing pieces for different TV series. She always inspires to learn more and apply different techniques. Right now I’m working on the project "The Raven" that was inspired by Michele’s works and by Game of Thrones. Honestly, I do not know when I will finish it. Ideas keep coming during the work :).

What inspires you to embroider?

Inspiration comes from different places. It can be a creepy TV series like Hannibal, or wallpaper prints with an interesting design of the forest. Lately, I’m into birds and everything related to birds :).


Do you do your work in a studio or special place? Do you think your surroundings are important to your process?

I do not have a studio. But of course as any craft person I wish I had one. I work at home. It’s a sunny place (that’s very important to me since I like working with lots of daylight). I have lots of cases, chests and boxes to store threads, needles, beads, fabric. The surroundings are important but I can embroider anywhere :) (while waiting for the train or when I have a break at work).

I followed my heart and it led me to the fridge

Do you sketch, paint, or do any other artistic pursuit?

Sometimes I sketch but usually I work with the illustrations and photographs I find on the web. I love creating collages. The latest project: fairy-tale characters living in a modern city.

If you could meet any other artist, embroiderer, or crafter, who would you like to meet?

I would really love to meet Michele Carragher :). Also, it will be fun to visit Royal School of Needlework in the UK.

Hannibal Lecter.  Eat the rude.

Do you enjoy any other “crafty” pursuits like knitting, quilting, etc.?

I like sewing little things like pouches and textile brooches. Though many of them are not finished yet. That’s the problem – I jump from one project to another :).

Do you exhibit your work, have a shop, or sell your work in any way?

In a week I’m planning to participate in a charity fair dedicated to helping people with HIV. And I don’t have problems with choosing presents for my friends’ birthdays. I do not have a shop but I’m thinking about opening an online shop.


For more on Katya, visit her Flickr stream.

Thank you for this view into your world and art, Katya!

July 24, 2015

Friday Instagram Finds No. 14

Hi there! This week I'm featuring @cut_and_rum on Friday Instagram Finds. I have not been able to figure out the name of the person behind the stitching, but I have figured out that the language I read in the posts is Portuguese :) I absolutely adore the designs @cut_and_rum creates! They are old school tattoo designs, which are my favorite and what most of my tattoos are. Old school tattoos are often simplistic without being childish, they feature clean lines, they're colorful, and poignant. I urge you to head over to her Instagram account and check her work out!


The black panther is a staple of tattooers, and like tattoos, this panther will last forever. Cut and Rum's stitching is flawless - just look at that satin stitching!!

This envelope in a hand is Cut and Rum's latest piece. I don't know if she's going to fill in with colors, but either way, it does and will look amazing.

Is this a merbunny? Or a bunnymaid? Or would it be called something else? Once again, the satin stitching is beautiful. I especially like the shading on the bunny.

Cacti are really hot in fashion and home decor right now, and this flowered cactus is no exception! I also like the hints of tattoo flash we can see in the backgrounds of many of the pictures.

I showed my husband Cut and Rum's Instagram account, and this Death's Head Moth tattoo was his favorite. I can't say enough about her beautiful satin stitching. As is so often the case with tattoos, moth tattoos have interesting meaning. They're similar to the symbolism of butterfly tattoos in that they're a symbol of our souls and their transformative nature. But moth tattoos represent our dark subconscious.

That's it for this week's edition of Friday Instagram Finds! Join in the conversation by commenting below. While you're on Instagram checking out Cut and Rum's work, make sure you follow Feeling Stitchy! We'd love for you to stop by and say hello. You can find Feeling Stitchy on Instagram at the handle @feelingstitchyish. You can find Amy @randomactsofamy on Instagram.

Want to be featured in Friday Instagram Find? Tag your best stitch-related photos with #feelingstitchyig!

Hi, I'm Amy - I feature interesting embroidery and stitch-related photos I find on Instagram. Use #feelingstitchyig on Instagram for pictures you want me to find.

Find me on: Instagram | Random Acts of Amy | Etsy

July 21, 2015

Fabric Pictures giveaway winner!

We have a winner in the Janet Bolton book giveaway!
feeling stitchy: Interview with Janet Bolton

My favourite artist is Kandinsky with franz Marc being a close second. Thank you

Enjoy your book, LUGIRL! Thank you again to Karen Thiesen from www.womanwithaneedle.com for sharing the inspiring interview of Janet Bolton with us, and sharing the book for our giveaway.

July 18, 2015

Interview with Janet Bolton and giveaway!

Today I have the pleasure to bring you another guest interview done by Karen Thiesen. Karen interviewed Janet Bolton, who will be teaching a workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico in September 2016. For more information on Janet's upcoming class, go to www.womanwithaneedle.com. Karen will also be giving away one copy of Janet's latest book to one lucky Feeling Stitchy reader!

Without further ado, let's meet Janet Bolton!

“The Kite Festival” by Janet Bolton

Who are your favorite artists?
This is a difficult question to answer but one that I am often asked. Recently I went to see a new exhibition of Eric Ravilious, an artist whose work I have loved for many years. His use of pattern and disregard of naturalistic perspective pleases me very much; maybe of course, because it relates to the way I compose my own pieces. But it is much more than this. There is a calmness and an Englishness that pleases me immensely, and I can remember seeing his work from my childhood. Another artist, not very well known, is Mary Newcomb. Mary lived in Norfolk and painted her surroundings in an idiosyncratic way. Often her starting point was a particular range of colours, for example, the colours of a misty morning. Painting a canvas to explore these observations, she would often keep them and decide what to place on them at a later date, another working method that I often use myself.

Winifred Nicholson is another favourite, her joy was to paint light. She often used flowers as her subjects to enable her to do this. I appreciate the way she worked in and appreciated a domestic setting.

Alfred Wallis, a retired sailor, painted, he said, in later life to keep himself company. I love the way he places the different elements of his images and his uncomplicated direct approach, painting with household paint on anything he had to hand.

I could go on and on but must mention Elizabeth Allen, a retired seamstress who also worked with the materials she had to hand. In this case fabric, and it was seeing her work, by chance, that confirmed my decision to work with fabric rather than paint. (Janet talks a bit more about Elizabeth Allen in her new book... see below).

Bits and pieces in the studio

Janet Bolton in her studio

What is the best part about working in your studio?

The best aspect of working in my studio is that I am surrounded by all the inspirational bits and pieces, not to mention the fabrics, that I have collected (knowing that I would use them sometime) over the years, Everything is to hand and sometimes chance 'sightings' and juxtapositions can change the direction of a piece that I am working on completely, very exciting. The room is light and airy so pleasant to be in. Having said this, I do use the whole house as a studio but love the knowledge that I am never far away from “the mother ship”.

Objects as starting points. “The Strange Plant” by Janet Bolton

Do you like working in other mediums besides needle and thread?
Drawing, sketching, making small watercolour and crayon studies, and making small objects from bits and pieces go hand in hand with my needlework. Very rarely do I relate these to my fabric compositions; just occasionally an object has become a starting point for a textile piece.

Janet’s latest work, “Cool Waters”

What is inspiring your current work?
This is another difficult question as I never know from day to day what will inspire me or how a piece of work will develop. I work around themes but these subject matters can be returned to years apart, some I think will go on for as long as I do. At this very moment it is very warm here and I am working on a very pale cool abstract piece. Maybe I am doing what the Japanese do, work on, or wear, cool colours when it is hot, and use a warmer palette when it is cool. Who knows, I have only just thought of this, and maybe it is just because the weather is unusually hot here at the moment.

Janet’s favorite work, “Barn on the Moors” by Janet Bolton

Do you have a favorite piece of work that you made?

My favourite piece is one I made many years ago, a landscape depicting a moorland scene. The fabrics used were dyed using plants from the area, and it brings back so many happy memories. (Janet talks about this piece in more detail in her new book... see below) I do have other favourites and one of the characteristics that they have in common is that they bring back good memories.

“Three Sheep Above the Mill” by Janet Bolton

You’ve taught and exhibited all over the world. What are your favorite places to visit?

It is a strange thing but having taught all over the world it becomes more and more obvious to me that is the people you meet in very diverse situations that are the important factor. As people travel all over the world from one venue to another, the groups are often made up of people from many different countries. It seems to me that textile enthusiasts are a great group of people and we often find that we have many things in common, no matter where we come from or what our personal backgrounds and circumstances are. This makes the world seem quite a small place. The venues that I go to are so diverse that it is impossible to select a particular one. I have been going for many years to Cowslip Workshops in Cornwall, a favourite destination; a beautiful venue, but also the owners have become firm friends of mine. West Dean College is another favourite place and yet quite different from Cowslip, so as you can imagine I find it almost impossible to compare places.

“Looking Up the Valley” by Janet Bolton

Thank you, Karen, for your wonderful interview with Janet Bolton! Janet will be teaching a workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico in September 2016. For more information visit www.womanwithaneedle.com For more information on Janet, go to www.JanetBolton.com.

In honor of Janet's upcoming workshop, Karen is giving away one copy of Janet's new book, Fabric Pictures: A Workshop with Janet Bolton - Creating a Textile Story today on Feeling Stitchy!

Karen says about Janet's book:
It’s the next best thing to being in a workshop with Janet. It’s full of beautiful pictures of her work. My favorite one is “Catherine and Ali’s Wedding Day” made by Janet for her son and daughter-in-law. She used a piece of fabric from her daughter-in-law’s wedding dress as well as fabric from her mother’s wedding headdress. It’s just gorgeous.

Janet walks you through where to begin, how to do it, and how to finish your work. Looking at all the pictures is inspiration enough for me to want to get started. If you don’t have any of Janet’s books, or if you have them all (like me!) you will love this book.

To win, leave a comment on this post by July 20, 9 PM US CST, and answer this simple (or difficult) question - who is YOUR favorite artist? They can be any artist - embroiderer, seamstress, designer, etc! This giveaway is open to all of our readers - including our international ones!

July 17, 2015

Friday Instagram Finds No. 13

In today's edition of Friday Instagram Finds I'm introducing you to Andrea of @pipiandtoto_stitch in Amsterdam! I discovered @pipiandtoto_stitch because she used #feelingstitchyig. She incorporates a variety of needle arts into her work including ribbon embroidery, cross stitch, and hand embroidery. Take a look!


This monogram A is so pretty! Andrea seamlessly blended hand embroidery with ribbon embroidery in this piece. Her stitches are so precise and tidy, and the colors she chose give this hoop a dreamy and romantic look.

This Dr. Seuss saying is a classic! I especially like the depth she created on the mountains with the satin stitching.

I like this cross stitch family portrait Andrea created. It's the kind of hoop that will be a keepsake. Andrea has a close up picture on Instagram where you can see the detail of the gold metallic stitching on the dress.

I love everything about this hoop!! It's a baby birth announcement, and it is so sweet! Like all of Andrea's hoops we've seen, her stitch work is so precise. I love the way she changed direction in the satin stitch on the animals. Oh! And the satin stitching on the branches is so pretty!

That's it for this week's edition of Friday Instagram Finds! Join in the conversation by commenting below. While you're on Instagram checking out Andrea's work, make sure you follow Feeling Stitchy! We'd love for you to stop by and say hello. You can find Feeling Stitchy on Instagram at the handle @feelingstitchyish

Hi, I'm Amy - I feature interesting embroidery and stitch-related photos I find on Instagram. Use #feelingstitchyig on Instagram for pictures you want me to find.

Find me on: Instagram | Random Acts of Amy | Etsy

July 16, 2015

Thimblenest Thursdays: Summer/Winter Stitchalong, Week 4

Welcome back to our Summer/Winter Stitchalong. Letter #4 is our second U in the word A-U-T-U-M-N. I've been trying to keep the fall motifs more unique, but I went ahead and included leaves this week, because what's autumn without a few colorful leaves?

As with all of the other letters, this U is outlined with chain stitch. The fill stitch (grouped running stitch) took some concentration and sometimes my eyes went a little buggy. To make the letter look more balanced I opted to add just two rows of the running stitch to the right hand sides of both legs of the U. Getting the curves to look balanced was a little tricky, too.

Here are the pattern, color, and stitch details all in one spot:

Embroidery Design for U #2
U Outline: DMC 728 (yellow), chain stitch
U fill: DMC 779  (brown), grouped running stitch (according to pg. 5 of Anchor Needlework Book #1)
Leaves: DMC 350 (peach/pink), 327 (purple), 721 (orange), back stitch

Just two more letters to embroider! In the meantime, if you're stitching along share your photos in the Flickr Group or on Instagram with #feelingstitchy!

Hi, I'm Wendy - I've been embroidering since age 9 when my grandma gave me some blank tea towels and a set of Aunt Martha’s transfers. I blog at ThimbleNest and create embroidery patterns for my shop.

You can also find me on: Flickr and Pinterest.

July 14, 2015

Diary of an Intern: Julia at Hand and Lock

Some weeks have passed since I completed my internship at Hand & Lock. Now I am back to my old routine in cosy Amsterdam and the hustle and bustle of central London feels a million miles away. The exceptional experience I had during the last few months at Hand & Lock has given me a far greater understanding of the industry of couture embellishment and in particular the various items that embroidery is applied to. Of course, with great effort I managed to pick up new techniques and am at a stage where the more you learn, the more you realise how much you don't know. It is the skill and mastery of craftspeople that I admire so much.

Embroidery belongs to a rich and diverse history which spans across the globe. The spirit of cultures expressed through distinct motifs, designs and even the technique applied leaves traces of a geographical location and tradition. Threads of a memory weave through the fabric, the material worked with the hand, each piece unique, telling a silent story. Perhaps this is an aspect of the handwork which makes it so appealing to both creator and observer alike; the human interaction in creating beauty and art. It is interesting to map how an ageing art form such as embroidery remains fresh and relevant today. Contemporary embroidery reflects and interprets modern day culture and society through themes and style.

German philosopher Immanuel Kant stated that 'the hand is the window on to the mind'. In his book The Craftsman, Richard Sennett discusses this theory that 'making is thinking'. Sennett explains that because hands are our most versatile and dexterous limbs that we can acquire vast and detailed knowledge by using them directly to learn a new skill. The process has a string of steps from initial exploration led by natural inclination, followed by repetition to a point of understanding and confidence in the technique which can then be developed and mastered. Sennett believes that we are all intrinsically Craftsmen or Craftspeople and that it is inherent in us to take pride in doing something well, whether it's baking brownies or developing an app for the smart phone.

This mastery of technique occasionally conflicts with today's fast paced world as it requires a more meditative approach, one of patience and perseverance. Centuries ago Hand & Lock was one of the many ateliers where students would embark in an apprenticeship. Often it could be years before the apprentices were considered competent and on course to becoming a master. 

Continuing with tradition with a modern twist Hand & Lock are currently holding their annual Festival of Embroidery which is a celebration of all things embellished. Industry professionals are lecturing about lots of topical subjects and a variety of specialised workshops are held at the historical atelier.

With communities across the world interacting through the ease of the web, as here on Feeling Stitchy, a new kind of learning is possible. People passing on skills, discussing technique, giving feedback and talking about their experience helps us all become the craftsperson that we are at heart.

Hi, I'm Julia - an embroidery enthusiast based in Amsterdam with a lifelong passion for textiles. I like to mix things up by combining different techniques and mediums - my origami styled dress won the Hand & Lock embroidery prize. Join me on my exploration of embroidery with mixed media and fibre art.