How often do you start a new project? In my head, I start a new project every day! I do sometimes have to consciously put my personal stitching projects aside while I concentrate on a new Studio Stitches design, but generally I am juggling four or five projects at any one time in various states of completion.
Do you have the new design completely formulated in your head before committing it to paper and fabric? It rarely happens like that for me. There is quite a gap between these initial ideas and a good design for needlepoint. When I design my needlepoint kits, I think about the experience of stitching, so I make sure every stitch is defined and that there is a good balance of big shapes and detail to keep you interested. I stitch at least one prototype to make sure the design works. If necessary, I make the last adjustments to the design and this time send it to my trusted stitcher and friend, Yvonne, who often does the final prototype.
What is your least favourite part of designing and making a project? After finishing a new needlepoint design, I need to turn it into the finished project, which always includes some sewing. It is important to have a high quality finished product as this is photographed and used online and for publications so it needs it look as good as possible. I have taught myself the basic skills and am now quite happy to show off my zipper, piping and trims, but it remains my least favourite part.
Did you have professional training in stitching crafts? A couple of years ago, I was in the UK and attended the Bath Textile Summer School, which was a wonderful experience and it got me enthused to learn more about embroidery. The next year, I attended Beating Around the Bush Embroidery Convention here in Adelaide and I was hooked. I’ve recently started a Monday morning class with a group of very talented, skilled stitchers, which has been very rewarding. I’m amazed how humble these women are about their stitching achievements and skills as I’m still such a novice. I’m in awe of their work and yet the first thing they do is point out their ‘mistakes’.
What products can’t you resist buying in patchwork and haberdashery stores? Beautiful fabrics are always hard to resist and I often don’t. I have a pile of unfinished embroidered tablecloths, which I have picked up over the years. I’m at last using them to practise my embroidery. I change the colours so that I acknowledge the previous stitcher while adding my own touch to the project. I love little tins and baskets for storage, although recently I’ve discovered the joy of the stackable plastic storage box. Not so pretty but very practical. You can see what’s inside and have one for each project. And you don’t waste time being diverted from the task at hand by searching through tins and baskets.Barbara Reinfeld, Studio Stitches