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.
Lorelei, I love my Jacqueline Enthoven book ! I first found this book in my local library (over 25 years ago) when I was doing a correspondence course in creative embroidery. We had to use "fly" stitch, and as I had never heard of it I went hunting. I kept renewing this book, taking back & re-borrowing for over 7 months. When I went to borrow it again it was not on the shelf, that's when I bought my own copy. Very well loved & stating to fall to pieces from being so well used.
I've made 2 separate samplers from her book, one in 1965 when I first got the book, and another about 1975. I do occasionally find stitches she doesn't describe, but she's got it all covered. I bought my own when I started paying overdue fines.
I definately fall into the sitching first category, I was completly captivated by Japanese embroidery when I saw it for the first time. Until then I had no interest or ideas to develop into my own ideas although I'd done embroidery on and off over the years.
It seems that I have discovered my medium and also my artistic side - as my embroidery skills have progressed over the last few years I've started to develop my own designs and am looking forward to a whole new journey.
I get the 'zen' aspect as well, my stitching is always better when I'm 'in the zone'.
I was an embroiderer when it was call fancy work then became a painter. after having to go back to work full tome I took up stitching again and then thought I could combine them both and have done many pieces with painted backgrounds and stitching for texture. I love it
With me it was the stitching. Then I found I could make my own designs by stencilling onto canvas with acrylic art paints and I was away -- I could stitch whatever I liked! But it is the wonderfully relaxing rhythm of stitching that really got me in the beginning and that was taught to me by my mother. Reading the contributions to this discussion, mothers and grandmothers have probably passed on a love of needlework to most of us and we must make sure we do the same. I have tried but my two boys so far have been unimpressed.
You ask how people got into needlework mine was through my mum she did wonderful work smocking on all my dresses when i was small and her embroidery was beautiful so delicate and fine she also did knitting and dress making i remember her teaching me how to do darning and and all the things that are not done today
I still have a table cloth that she worked on it must be forty years old she also made my daughters dresses and shoes bags for school i think they still have them
There for awhile I thought you were talking about me and my Mum! All my dresses were smocked until after I started school and a sisiter arrived, and my only bought jumper was my last one for high school.
Good question. Which came first – stitching or art?
I think both came to me at the same time. I started doing cross stitch in my early teens but I was into art as well (painting). Its only just recently that I have had a real interest in designing my own cross stitch. I am now currently a graphic designer professionally and I think it is quite easy for me to transition from designing for print to designing for embroidery. I still do paintings but not as often as stitching. Stitching is easier because I can just pick my project up and start stitching anywhere. Lately I have been thinking a lot about combining painting with embroidery. I just never get around to it yet.
I definitely found the stitch first. At the age of four, my Aunty who was visiting, asked my mother for a needle and thread to sew a row of buttons on her newly made dress. I wanted the needle and thread, but was told I would have to wait until I was older. When six years old I received a very basic little embroidery kit with a stamped doiley, needle, thread, hoop and thimble. I still have the finished doiley, thimble and hoop (a little rusty) today. Then that followed with basic dress making and embroidery skills at primary school. I was always encouraged by my mother and my Aunty Vida.
Then in high school things really took off, with Mrs. Mahony, the most wonderful needlework teacher, that I was lucky enough to have for the advanced needlework class I was in. Then I taught my self tapestry, embroidered tablecloths, doiley's, towels, baby clothes etc. and then taught myself cross stitch from a kit given to me by a friend. My interest was then expanded more by joining our local embroidery group almost twelve years ago.
So I would say for myself, first the stitch and now definitely the art and design side as well.
I never thought of it like that...I'm a stitcher due to a friend introducing me to it, I found it one of the few things I can do that really unwinds me (not when you drop white petite beads on a white shag rug though...) and it helped me give up smoking as well. Turned out to be more expensive though :-). I'm a "I dont know art but I know what I like grrl" so dont consider myself very "artistic" at all. Thank you for the thought provoking question, anyway!
As a child--a LONG time ago----I used to take little scraps and a needle and make doll clothes. Next came stamped embroidery, then needlepoint. Now cross stitch is my love. I love the threads, fabric and patterns. And I do enjoy putting things together like ornies and framing my own pieces. It's the greatest form of relaxation and a wonderful stress reliever.
I would have to say the stitching came first. Each book I read or class I took was to learn the technique of whatever it was. I was always inspired by the examples (still am), but never thought of it as art, even if I recognized it as having artistic qualities. And everything I learned eventually bored me at some point. (I'm also ADD, so that was part of the reason.) I would do it for a while, then take up something new. Usually I get back to things, eventually. Then I started to see art quilts in the quilt magazines and I read my mom's magazines like Cloth, Paper & Scissors. After that I started to look things up on the internet and Voila! Here I am. Such inspiration!! That really broke down some of the constraints I felt. Now I'm just starting to do needlework as art. I don't have to "color in the lines." I plan to mix things up and break the rules -- at least, the rules I was taught. Only time will tell if I'm actually an Artist, but I am stitching and having fun with creating.