My Embroidery Journey

February is National Embroidery Month, although in my world, every month is National Embroidery Month. I wanted to share my embroidery journey with you, from where it all began to how I became a freelance artist and tutor.

I want to start with the most frequently asked question, when did I start embroidering?

I started embroidering over 35 years ago, my grandma was teaching me how to knit and it became very clear that it wasn’t the craft for me. In her sewing box she had a copy of 100 Stitches, the Anchor book. She passed the book to me and said I should try embroidery.

My grandma could sew her knitting together and repair clothes but she didn’t really embroider. I really enjoyed working with hand stitch, creating clothes for my Sindy dolls and doing some cross stitch.

Who or what inspired you to be a textile artist?

There are a few points on the map of my embroidery journey and they have all played a huge part in my life.

I remember visiting my Auntie Elsie and Uncle Philip with my grandparents, Elsie was an accomplished crafter. In the hobby room in their bungalow I spotted an amazing fabric collage of the village fete. It was so colourful and detailed and I couldn’t believe it was made entirely from fabric and thread.

At high school, I spent lots of time in the library looking at the art and craft books. They were selling some books from the 60s and 70s and I picked up a book called Creative Embroidery. It had pictures of these beautifully textured pieces of textile art and I was so inspired.

Doing my degree in textile crafts showed me that I didn’t have to create traditional textiles. I explored mixed media work with combined machine knit, felt making, screen print and embroidery. My degree show was an installation about urban decay, a far cry from the flowers and samplers I created in the 80s.

When did you become a freelance artist?

In December 2012, I realised that if I wanted to make art my full time career I would have commit to a freelance life. I’m lucky to have a husband who gave me his support, helping me to look for creative opportunities and studying for my MA in textiles at Manchester School of Art.

What sort of work do you do?

My working week is so varied, I spend time in the studio planning workshops and making samples. There’s also a lot of admin to do like accounts, responding to emails and writing handouts and workshop descriptions.

Teaching is a huge part of my work, running workshops in hand embroidery and textile art. I also get to work with different communities on projects like The Hope Quilt and Unfolding Origins. Storytelling is such a big part of my own work and I love working with children and adults to share stories using fabric and thread.

Where can I find out more about your work?

You can follow me on social media, I have Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I also have a monthly newsletter where I share my work, inspiration and upcoming workshops. In June this year, I’m opening my studio doors as part of North Yorkshire Open Studios. You can see my work and have a go at some different textile techniques.