We have previously featured some embroideries from designs by Nicole of Follow the White Bunny so I thought it was time we got to know who is behind those cute designs. Psst, Nicole has a shop too.
Who/what inspires you?
I draw inspiration from lots of things. Fairy tales, European folk tales, history and literature are important sources of inspiration. As are vintage Children’s book illustrations. Sometimes everyday stuff around me can inspire me in my embroidery work. Like my grandmothers Danish tea cup. A perfect way of transport for a hedgehog, don’t you think? Or, when I lived in Norway in a house made of wood it inspired me to use a wood grain effect in my embroideries.
I adore Jenny Hart, as she is practically the Godmother of alternative and hip embroidery, very successful too and the Sublime Stitching Patterns are awesome. Emily Martin (the Black Apple) makes things so odd and cute it makes me want to squeal! Recently I discovered Rob Ryan’s paper cutting designs, fantastic.
How long have you been stitching? What got you started?
I haven’t been stitching for very long at all. First of all I started sewing about two years ago. That got me involved in Flickr where I spotted Georgia Mc Donald's wonderful embroidery work. Soon after that I bought some Wee Wonderful Patterns and the book ‘Doodle Stitching’ by Aimee Ray. From that moment on I was seriously hooked on embroidery.
What perceptions of embroidery do you meet?
Well often it’s regarded as an old ladies thing isn’t it? And let’s be honest the majority of the patterns out there contribute to that perception. Luckily embroiderers nowadays can choose from a wide variety of patterns to suit their own style, anything from sweet vintage patterns to subversive patterns.
Tell us about your subject matter...
It seems I want to tell a little story with each embroidery design. I also like to add something ‘extra’ or ‘different’ to my designs. Take the Princess and the Pea for example. Everyone knows that in the story of the Princess and the Pea, she sleeps (or rather doesn’t sleep) on 20 mattresses (and a pea). Not 5, not 10 (as I saw in other embroidery patterns) but 20 mattresses. While I was drawing all those 20 mattresses I got the idea that it would make an excellent sampler piece, each mattress a different stitch. I have not finished mine yet by the way. Every couple of months or so I add a few more mattresses. I also like to play with texture. Apart from the fact that embroidering a wood grain pattern is totally relaxing it also gives a texture that is soft and luscious to touch.
Do you have a favourite stitch? Why?
For a long time I used the split stitch as my main weapon of choice so to say. Now I often use the back stitch or stem stitch for the more basic shapes. I’m also a total fan of fill stitches of all sorts: satin, long short, a normal straight stitch and the split stitch makes an excellent fill stitch too by the way. Ooh and I adore the French knot. I found it almost impossible to master at first and now I think it’s a joy to make them. I try to incorporate them in most of my projects! I always want to learn more stitches but I must admit that I’m not a very quick learner, maybe because I am left handed. Recently I purchased Jacqueline Enthoven’s ‘Creative Embroidery’. A book from the sixties with a wealth of interesting stitches to learn from.
Why is embroidery worthwhile?
It’s so enjoyable to do! For me personally it’s less about the finished product than the process itself. I enjoy the whole process from thinking about a pattern to choosing the colours and stitches to actually sitting down and do the embroidering. I have lots of embroideries I did that aren’t on display or anything, tucked away in a cupboard but that’s ok too. On the other hand I love ‘embroidering with a purpose’ too, like the pillowcases I did. And while I found it hard to embroider on a t-shirt, I’m very happy with the result and proud to be wearing my own embroidery work. :-)
Any advice for "newbie" embroiderers?
Start on simple patterns, learn the most basic stitches and try to build on that. Don’t start on t-shirts or difficult fabrics either. Do not try to embroider too hastily, it will show in your work and most of all enjoy yourself! As I did not know anyone who embroidered (except my mum but she does cross stitch) when I started out, I found many answers to even the most basic questions and lots of support on Flickr. There are several groups dedicated to Embroidery with many very helpful members!
Are there any other embroiderers in the group/pool that you have noticed?
Oh there are so many, so I hope no one feels left out here. I have to mention my online-buddy Georgia McDonald of course, she always brings out the best of any pattern and her stitches are perfect. Same goes for Amy Bindel (EarlyBirdSpecial). I love Amanda Panda Pants embroidery work, as bubbly and fun as I’m sure she is herself. And Penny Nickels work is great too. Really too many awesome stitchers to mention!