Interview with Maya Mathew of Million Little Stitches

This week I have an interview with Maya Mathew of Million Little Stitches who many people know because she wrote a very useful tutorial on how she makes fabric books. This tutorial is pinned all over Pinterest and I admit to pointing people to her site on numerous occasions. Maya has not only done the TAST challenge but also other challenges I have run such as the Take it Further challenge. If you check out her blog you will find it is written by an interesting and creative woman who always takes her embroidery in an interesting direction. For instance she is currently taking the “Year in stitches” challenge and her stitched journalling through the year has me fascinated.

Image for Interview with Maya Mathew of Million Little Stitches 3Interview with Maya Mathew of Million Little Stitches

Anyway without further ado let me introduce  Maya Mathew of Million Little Stitches

Why do you like hand embroidery and handwork? How has it influenced your life?

I’ve been doing hand embroidery and handwork from the time I was a very young child. It’s become the means of earning a livelihood. I embroider one of a kind scarves and make fabric books in which I use a great deal of hand embroidery and other handwork techniques. I also teach courses related to textiles, traditional Indian embroidery and embroidery techniques.

How do you start? Were you taught by your mother, school or taught yourself online? If you taught yourself what attracted you to embroidery?

I learnt from my mother to begin with and then there was handwork and embroidery at school. Later on it was books which I learnt from and now I turn to the internet, blogs and the likes of YouTube to keep learning and discovering.

Image for Interview with Maya Mathew of Million Little Stitches 6Do you use TAST to make samplers or incorporate the stitches into projects as you go? Or what sort of projects most attract you?

I took up the TAST challenge in 2010 and it was a two volume sampler book which I made with the stitch samples. It was the second set of fiber books which I made. I now incorporate stitches from the pages of my sampler books into my projects. Those sampler books are my teaching aids when I teach embroidery.

Can you talk about your last project and/or your current project? 

This year I’m participating in 1 year of Stitches. The idea is to fill a twelve inch circle with a bit of stitching each day. There are some gaps in my stitching. My progress I share on Instagram and on my blog. It’s an interesting project like a diary of sorts because I’m incorporating words, logos and images, besides trying out new stitches.I hope I’ll have the circle filled with embroidery by the end of the year.

Image for Interview with Maya Mathew of Million Little Stitches 2What is the project you are most proud of?

My one of a kind embroidered scarves and my fiber books.

Image for Interview with Maya Mathew of Million Little Stitches 1Do you have any UFO’s? If so fess up to how many.

I do have UFO’s. I started on a fiber book last year which would have two pages contributed each month from the two challenges I was participating in – The Crazy Quilt Journal Project 2016 and the Snowflake Diaries Stitch along. I’ve got as far as July. I really must get the rest of the pages done because it promises to be a nice little book.

Do you work purchased designs or do you design your own projects? Or do you do both?

I design my own projects.

Image for Interview with Maya Mathew of Million Little Stitches 5Do you have a creative design process? If so what is it? Or do you work intuitively?

There must be a creative process which I’ve formulated for myself but I guess it’s been internalized to such an extent that it appears to be intuitive now. So I’ll go with intuitive as far as my creative process is concerned.

What stimulates your creative design process? What inspires and sparks ideas for you?

A whole number of things but I must say blogs and social media have been a source of inspiration and interaction.

Lots of people have trouble starting a project. What makes you start a project? Do you have any tips to get you from blank fabric to stitching?

I’m always on the lookout for challenges and stitch-alongs which various people start on their blogs or facebook pages. I usually look for one big challenge at the beginning of the year and then during the course of the year should something grab my attention which is quick and small in terms of size and commitment I get involved in a couple of such projects.

Do you have stall points? If so how do you get past them? Do you have any tips to share about this.

I definitely do. That’s the reason I have UFO’s. I just feel when the time is right I’ll work tirelessly to complete the project so I don’t force anything. I do keep the projects within sight so I don’t forget them.

Image for Interview with Maya Mathew of Million Little Stitches 4Do you have “go to” stitches? In other words stitches you use frequently that you return to using over and over. If so what are they and why do you think they are so successful for you?

My “go to” stitches are running stitch, blanket stitch and feather stitch. I think they are all extremely versatile and great for creating composite stitches.

Do you have a favourite embroidery thread, or something you use all the time? If so what is it?

I use Anchor embroidery thread because of the variety of colours available, they are all colour fast and each colour has a number so they are easily sourced. It’s widely available in India.

What advise would you give to new hands?

The world of embroidery is vast and fascinating. I’m sure there will be a particular style, motif or technique which will intrigue you. Start a blog, share your work, engage with people who also use embroidery in their work. I have discovered people are extremely generous with their knowledge, time and other resources. There’s so much one can do with a needle and thread and thanks to the internet one can view interesting work by people who are pushing the boundaries of embroidery. Get involved. Embroidery for activism, embroidery as livelihood for displaced people, fundraising and so much more to be done with embroidery. It’s all out there waiting to be taken further.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

It was my decision to participate in the ‘Take it Further Challenge” which Sharon ran in 2008 which introduced me to blogging. One had to have a blog to participate and share ones progress in the challenge. I can’t tell you the number of wonderful interactions I have had with people I met in blogland. I have challenged myself to explore, experiment and push the boundaries of embroidery which I was familiar with.

Sharon is one of those generous people I have had the pleasure of interacting with via the internet. The Stitch Dictionary on her blog Pintangle is a marvelous resource which I refer to frequently.

Thank you Maya that was a lovely paragraph for me to read. I hope readers have enjoyed this interview with Maya Mathew of Million Little Stitches. Compliments aside I have really enjoyed discovering more about Maya’s approach to embroidery. If you want to read and see more of her embroidery pop over to a Million Little Stitches but make a cuppa as you will need it to enjoy a good blog!

This interview is part of series that will run during 2017 as the Take a Stitch Tuesday Challenge has been running for a decade. Throughout the year I will interview stitchers about their hand embroidery and feature their work.

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4 Responses to Interview with Maya Mathew of Million Little Stitches

  1. Maureen Bond says:

    I have enjoyed Maya’s interview right through. I found, by visiting her blog, why a cup of coffee is necessary. So much wonderful work to see and read about.
    This morning I commented on FB ‘testing the waters’, that I saw work by a couple of ladies who made TAST stitch books but forgot to add Maya’s name and tutorial which I had saved earlier.
    I hope the family of stitches will take off next year.
    Thanks for sharing, Maya and Sharon

  2. Lesley says:

    Thank you for the interview……..it was great and inspiring…….to step outside the box.

  3. Melody says:

    Million little ideas from this very inspiring embroiderer! Thanks for sharing Maya.

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