I am really interested to hear how people got started in needlwork. It seems that there are two groups, some who are interested in art and design and come to embroidery/needlework as a medium of expression, and others who were captured by the stitching itself. Which one are you?
Personally, I was 7 when my teacher gave us all some Aida and stranded cotton and taught us how to do cross and running stitch. I went home and Mum showed me her embroidery books and soon I was doing couching, chains and my favourite - sheaf stitch. I never looked back, soon I was creating my own designs and learning new techniques.
Hello Nicola, what a nice question you asked yourself. When I look back to my history of needlework, I remember that my grandmother (who now would be some120 years old) was always busy with needle and thread and I was looking to her working hands with a lot of interest. She was a member of a "ladies'circle" who came together every thursday afternoon. They made all sorts of things from puppets to embroidered sheets and so on. They sold those products once a year on a fair for a good purpose. And I think this was the beginning of my interest in needleworks. Like you, when I was at primary school, we had lessons how to knit babysocks or to make an embroidered bag for socks.(I still have it after 50 years!).
And nowadays I am still busy with needle and therad and I like creating my own designs most of all!
For me it was definitely the stitch and then the design. I started embroidering when I was about 5 from my grandmother(I'm 10 times that 5 year old now). Did kits for years and years, then learned cross stich and made my own simple designs. A few years ago I made a tree with a heart full of symbols as a tribute to my loved ones(hand embroidery) somehow got accepted into an artists coop based on that tree and they created a monster or shall I say I found my inner monster. Now I can't do kits, can't do other people's work and am looking for a way to ditch the hundreds of magazines I've acquired in my previous lifetime and express myself.
Hi, Your comment about kits made me giggle - I acutally bought a needlepoint kit because it was such a pretty design, but before long I was changing stitches, colours and rejigging the design. I think that I'd go mad if I had to sit down and do a cross stitch kit!
Have you thought about selling your magazines on eBay, I am sure that there are people out there who are missing an issue.
I came to embroidery late but it is now my career! I have never done a kit in my life and probably never will. The appeal of it for me is the design process and making it really personal to me. I appreciate however, that not everyone likes this aspect of it and there are many different reasons for doing embroidery. I think purging your life of magazines you no longer require could be a good thing in your case Debra Ann, perhaps to a sewing group or on line as suggested. There will be someone who wants them and who will benefit from you passing them on. And don't forget, Ideas can generate other ideas, many famous artists borrowed ideas off other artists!
Wow, do you make original designs, or restoration?
I've been looking into various courses from the RSN to City and Guilds to challenge my embroidery skills learn new techniques and it seems that a lot of it is aimed at people who are art/design then stitch - if that makes sense. For example I went to a City and Guilds Level 3 Embroidery open evening and in this group a lot of time was spent on the design - mood boards, etc, with very little on the technique - in fact, I think I counted five stitches used in all.
As I am in the stitch, then design with no 'art' background at all seeing what that group produced as 'hand embroidery' made me feel very old fashioned!
I teach my own designs, help students make their own designs and I have done some commissions. I'm afraid restoration just doesn't do it for me, I have spent hours filling in holes and clock watching! I thought about your question and tried to think how I got into embroidery and I found it difficult to answer! I didn't start to study embroidery until I was 29. I am now 34 and teach it, so I would say to anyone not to underestimate their abilities. I started out my working life as an engineer and apart from the odd sample in first school I had done hardly any embroidery. I guess a change of circumstances and a job I hated spurred me on to find something more fulfilling to do.
The combination of design versus technique is a difficult one. The two are inextricably linked, one is no use without the other! I find RSN very much technique and C&G very much design. I would say learn the techniques first then you have the tools to be creative and experiment, although I find I am now tied to technique and have just completed an 8 month art course to help me loosen up a bit!
I've just looked at your website - I love your knot garden game, such a clever idea - what did you use for the walls? Do you specialise in a certain area?
I totally agree about technique - I didn't understand how goldwork could be reduced down to just couching in the C&G - I don't think that it is for me, as a perfectionist I like to really master techniques and base designs around that rather than the other way around!
It never ceases to amaze me how talented embroiderers' can be.... looking through the archives on this website and the incredible achievements that have been made one does wonder whether this beautiful work comes from an artistic gift, intense dedication or perhaps merely inherent in the genes.
Personally, I am an insomniac, I used this vehicle of artistic expression to deflate the stress from my day-to-day work and provided an ideal way of concentrating the mind on something creative and rewarding.
My mother always stitched (Swedes normally do), but it wasn't until middle age hit that I took up that childhood hobby again and found it a stunningly wonderful way to fritter away trillions of hours :)
My opinion? Stitching is painting with threads and other media, it is pure art, and we each express this by the design we create, the colour we choose, the stitch (texture) we opt for. It is a 3 dimensional passion of which once hooked, I am afraid it is not curable!
I couldn't resist answering your lovely question!
I'm a bit like you Nichola, I was given a crewel kit in my Christmas stocking when I was 4. A small picture of a lion in a plastic frame (to act as a hoop!) I was so proud! I gradually progressed to drawing my own designs, which I loved doing and picked up other forms of needlework and craft activities on the way. My mum was a wonderful seamstress, but to her despair, growing up, I had absolutely no interest in the practical side of needlework, however we did make a good team later, as she would make and I would embroider and decorate!
I would say I am now a member of both groups. I recently went through a major upheaval in my life and spent a long while where I did not create or stitch, I did not realise how detrimental that was to me. I'm very glad to say it's over, and my creativity has now had a huge boost.
What an interesting question. My own interest in needlework came about through my love of making things. I learnt to knit (with my mum and her own mother's help) when I was 7, and made lots of clothing for dolls. At around the same time I was given a small sewing machine - a child's machine which was hand cranked. I used this again to clothe my dolls.
I was given a small canvas work project as a present when I was about 9. This was a tabby cat on a green ground. I loved making this so much that from then on my pocket money bought threads and canvas for more pieces. At that time I was using printed canvases. My parents very sweetly mounted my cat and put it on the wall. Some years later I designed and made a reverse image of the same design. This hangs next to the original picture in my mother's house.
I think it was the acceptance of my love of making things and a family which encouraged me that really set me going. At the age of 55 I still love making things as much as I did when I was young. However, these days I find it impossible to follow anyone else's pattern (unless it is a knitting pattern).
Found this forum a little late but what the heck. I am definately a stitcher fist. I remember knitting & crocheting before I started school. The knitting was the French knitting on those old wooden cotton reels & the crochet was long chains. At school I was introduced to embroidery in 1st grade, while my crocheting & knitting progressed to the pont that I was having races with my Mum as to who could knit to the end of a row fastest. I loved all textiles, & remember pouring over my Grandmothers pattern catelogues when I was really little, we used to use the old ones as colouring in books. I was allowed to play on my Mum's old sewing machine from when I was 9 and was making my own clothes from the age of 11. It was many years later that I found out that my Grandmother was a dressmaker. My passion for textiles is definately in the family genes.
Just found this discussion today. I also am a stitch first then design type. Back in the 60s I joined an ecclesiastical embroidery group but found it too much like work. So I got Jacqueline Enthoven's book from the library and decided to work my way through it page by page. She encouraged her readers to do their own designing, so I decided that I would. At first I used a few counted cross stitch patterns by others, but ever since I work only my own designs. Some of my work is purely traditional, table linens and such, but recently I've been trying to make my pieces more artistic. I love the actual stitching part (that's why I do it) so I design things with stitches I love to do. But I want to go a little beyond pure tradition. I do think that embroidery always was an art form but since the Victorian era it has been disrespected by many. Their loss.
I don't start with an idea and then think about what fiber technique to use to execute it. I start with a category like "pulled thread" and think " what new way is there to organize a stitchery using this technique". I'm constantly trying to figure out new ways to design a pulled thread piece. But the whole point is the stitching, the art part is to make it as beautiful as I can. ( Not always successful).