I have always been drawn to old things. It is as if they whisper a story to me of the past. As a creative I am particularly fascinated with made items and the instruments used to create them. It matters little if I knew the maker or not.
Recently I was thinking on why it is I am so drawn to these things. I have not fully answered that question but what I have arrived at for now has more to do with my own work than I originally thought. I believe we are created with purpose. Part of my purpose is to create things. These things that I create are little love songs from my soul. I know one day I will pass but likely my work will remain and the pain of thinking of it ending up in a dumpster or the back dirty corner of a goodwill hurts. So, when I run across the needlework of those that have gone before me, I take the time to admire what they have done and wonder a little bit about them, whoever they were and why they made what they made. I connect with these strangers and they become part of my work. Sometimes I bring their work back to my home.
The above sewing machine was pulled out of a dumpster. The bobbin was full and the needle threaded. I wonder what it sewed last? Below are a few of the rescues that have been distributed around my home. What have you rescued lately and why?
I have a treat for you this Monday. This month I had the opportunity to interview Hannah Bass, a new needlepoint/ tapestry designer. She just launched her contemporary tapestry business with a line of city map needlepoint kits at the end of 2014 and already has rocked the needlework scene. Her work is fresh, great quality and well priced. Why don’t we take the time to get to know Hannah a little bit better.
Jenny: What is your earliest memory involving needlework?
Hannah: Stitching in the countryside around a log fire with my cousins during the holidays. It’s pretty much a bit of a Jane Austin picture! I have a very big family – we have to hire a restaurant on Christmas day to fit us all in one room for Christmas dinner – so stitching was a way to keep us quiet for a bit as children.
Jenny: What was the main motive in starting Hannah Bass Contemporary Tapestry?
Hannah: I have always loved making things. As a child I was always making new homes for my Sylvanian Families. Coming from an Interior Design background, I wanted to make / stitch something that I could proudly show off in my home. I was struggling to find a contemporary tapestry to buy, which planted a seed in my mind. I made a London map as a hobby, and friends seemed to love it. It grew from there.
Jenny: What are some challenges that you face as a new designer?
Hannah: Time! There are so many factors involved in starting a company. Being a creative person, I have a lot of ideas – but I never have anytime to make them a reality. I have a long ‘to-do’ list and am learning to be patient. I have found that starting a company is ‘trial and error’, making mistakes is part of the learning curve. I have learnt not to be too hard on myself & grow broad shoulders. The biggest challenge for me is spreading the word of mouth. I would much rather spend my time designing a new tapestry than ‘marketing’ my product – I must make more time for this and do better!
Jenny: How do you view the industry as a whole in the UK? . . .internationally?
Hannah: I find the people involved within the industry are lovely. They are happy to give me time to share their experience and advice. I think this says a lot about the industry. However, I do feel that the industry could be ‘freshened – up’ & made more relevant to today’s trends to entice the next generation into stitching. I love selling my tapestries at fairs, to see my customers face to face. It’s so interesting, all age groups seem to be attracted to my tapestries – which I love!
Jenny: Who are some of your favorite artists/ designers?
Hannah: Has to be Emily Peacock, she got me back into stitching as an adult. I bought her large ‘Hug’ and ‘Kiss’ tapestries, took them both on holiday with me to Spain and stitched for 2 weeks solid by the pool. I have them framed in my hallway and they make me smile everytime I see them.
Jenny: What is your take on the “slow movement?
Hannah: I think it’s incredibly important to take a moment and reflect once in a while. It puts thing into perspective. There are so many technological distractions, sometimes I find it hard to sit there and just enjoy the moment doing nothing. I think it’s very healthy for the brain to slow down every so often. Stitching creates this meditative calm inside me, my can brain drift off to a different place even though Im still stitching.
Jenny: What is your favorite color composition?
Hannah: I like change, so I don’t have a favourite. But Im attracted to the bright hues in nature. You can’t beat bright contrasting wild flowers growing in a field. I love bright colours they affect my mood, they make the world seem a more happy place.
Jenny: Can you describe a typical day at work?
Hannah: Tea in bed at 8.30 where I answer my emails & get a fresh piece of paper to write the day’s to-do list. I get tremendous satisfaction crossing the list off one by one as the day goes by. I tend to work on my latest designs in the morning in my pyjamas. As I work from home it’s important to get out the house and break the day up, so I go for jog at 12. After this I get the days orders together and walk to the Post Office to dispatch them. I always stop at my local coffee shop on the way back and work remotely from there for a good hour sending out the days emails. This involves marketing, tweaking the website, working with suppliers, costings etc. The rest of the afternoon is spent on designing. Dinner is about 8. After this I’ll watch a couple of hours TV whilst stitching a new prototype.
Jenny: What is the best part of your job / work?
Hannah: Designing. I love it. It’s wonderful to spend time creating something and then see it come to reality.
Jenny: Who are your kits intended for?
Hannah: For anyone. I like the meditation of stitching rather than the challenge of it. So it was important to be that my designs were simple. That’s why the design is printed on the canvas, to take the strain away. You stitch the text first, then put the roads in. After this, it’s just a matter of filling in blocks of colour – easy peasy! Having done a number of fairs now, I have no idea who my demographic is, all ages seem to buy it, as does men, as well as women.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me! xo Jenny
While I was at Target stocking up on last minute doo dads to stuff into eggs for our backyard Easter egg hunt I ran into these beauties put together by Todd Oldham’s Hand Made Modern for Target stores. This Embroidery box and this Embroidery Board were begging to come home with me. I quickly scooped them up and then returned to the egg filling challenge. The needlepoint kit pictured below didn’t make it into my cart, but at $19.99 , I hope some beginners give it a go. The falling blocks pattern is lovely.
The embroidery box set included a tapestry needle and black and white chart with lettering options. I decided to do my own pattern using some vintage bucilla crewel wool in grapefruit along with anchor tapesty wool in black and white. The gold accents are done with Kreinik Metallic 1/8 ribbon in gold. With an improvised tent stitch and a viewing of Skyfall, the box was quickly stitched.
I think that this will make a nice box for Mummy’s Mothers Day present. I made a chart for you here : embroidery box , so you can make one too.
For the little ones these sweet Charlotte Bucilla Stitchables will surely keep there hands busy for at least some of their Christmas break. Choose from a series of wooden charms that are packaged into an inexpensive kit. You can buy yours at Plaid Online.
For the hard to buy for men in your life try this Fly Tying Kit from Krienik.
And last but not least for the women consider my latest DIY Needlepoint Jewelry Kit series. This series was created especially for the modern stitcher. The project requires a low time commitment of approximately four hours or rather 4 Downton Abbey episodes and is completely self finishing. You can find the full line in my Etsy shop here. Mention this blog post in a convo and I will give you a second kit of your choice at 1/2 off. Offer good until Friday 12/19/14.
As we push the boundaries of our craft it seems only natural that we look to unlikely surface to display our stitches. Any surface with holes or mesh is fair game and if it lacks holes we can always poke some in.
As part of my design process I often look to the designs of the past for inspiration. It is not uncommon for me to “rescue” a bit of unloved needlepoint from time to time and find it a new home. Today I wanted to share some of my top picks with my readers for needlepoint rescue. They are all listed on Etsy and you can click on the image should you like to purchase them.
Vintage floral needlepoint canvas, $7.50
Beautiful vintage needlepoint handbag. $55
Vintage needlepoint pillbox. $28
Vintage needlepoint brooch. $5.77
The Pink Samurai
It is on! Becky from The Pink Samurai kicks the hop off with these sweet cat coasters. Check out www.craftypod.com for details. And stay tuned for my project. It is the last one (which is good because I haven’t finished it yet!) Gotta go and stitch!
Kasia, a self declared “minimalist rebel embroider” has created an incredible line of finished needlepoint pillows, bags, and accessories. Her modern take on an ancient technique sets her apart from her needlework predecessors. Kasia chooses simple ordinary objects like scissors, sink pipes and bottles and immortalizes them stitch by stich into a needlepoint time capsule She then sews them up into beautiful everyday objects like pillows and tote bags. “Who said needlepoint needs to be serious?!
” Kasia explains. Her wares can be purchased here .
When I ran across Kasia’s etsy shop I felt sheer joy. The whimsey and thoughtfulness that went into her creations filled up my creative soul. It is easy to find good design in needlepoint (something that will look nice on your couch). But it is not often that you find a resounding statement piece or a design that sets you still for a moment to think and ask yourself questions. What is it about this ordinary object, simplified then reinvented into another ordinary object through a process that takes a very very long time, that I find so pleasing? It is just a clean and clever statement. Slow down . . .find the beauty that is in today. Find the beauty in the ordinary.
Kasia, recently added a wonderful line of kits to her collection so that others can stich up her designs. These kits can also be found in her etsy shop.
If you happen to find yourself in Krakow, Poland then you can sign up for her workshop in this cosy gallery space. These workshops are intended to be not only an opportunity to learn a new craft but a time for communing and slowing down life’s busy pace while throwing down a few stitches with new friends.
Best wishes to you Kasia! xo