Why this particular craft? My mum is a textile artist, so I grew up with lots of inspiration around me. Even when I was much younger, before I'd started to make textile work myself, I remember finding it really exciting when she came home from quilt shows with new fabrics, threads and beads. When I finished my A levels and Art Foundation, I started to show and sell my work online as well as entering exhibitions.
At that time, I was working with mixed-media paper collage and textile pieces put together from painted and printed fabrics with added stitch. Then one day, I decided to make an embroidery pattern based on one of my collage designs and I knew then that embroidery was the craft for me. Now I work mostly on plain fabrics and really enjoy the way designs can be built up just using thread (and sometimes beads, too).
What does this craft mean to you? It means an awful lot to me. I can't imagine my life without embroidery. I’m always looking around me, picking up new ideas, gathering inspiration and thinking about what my next project or pattern will be.
Why this skill – and this style? There’s something very satisfying about embroidery, slowly building up stitches to form a design. Since it takes so long to put together a new piece of work, I feel I've really explored the subject matter (and hopefully done it justice). I also love the connection to the past, as embroidery is a craft that’s been practised for many years.
What are your favourite materials to work with? I love my threads. I probably have too many – but they are my weakness! I always like to pick up a few new colours when I visit a quilt or craft show or craft shop. I work mostly with DMC stranded cotton, as it's very versatile, but I have a selection of other threads, too, including variegated, rayon and metallic ones. Apart from being beautiful to look at and use, they quite often have special memories attached to them, since I’ve bought them from lots of different places over the years.
Obviously, my needles are important too, I use John James and Pony ones in size 9 and 10. As my fabric, I use cotton calico mostly, as I really like the natural colour of it. I've also been doing a bit of stitching on denim lately, which is lovely to work on. One of the things I love about embroidery is the fact that you don't need too many materials. Just some fabric, a few colours of thread, a needle, scissors and a hoop and you're ready to go.
What is your advice for beginners? Don't be afraid to just give embroidery a go. It's a great craft, as you don't need much to get started and there are no real rules. You can just start stitching into fabric and having fun. There are also lots of great patterns out there if you prefer to embroider a ready-made design. And if you do make a mistake, it's quite easy to just unpick your stitches.