Interview with Nell Loops of Artisanloops

This interview is part of series to mark that the Take a Stitch Tuesday Challenge has been running for a decade.

Nell runs a facebook page called Artisanloops  and I first noticed her interesting samples when she shared them on facebook in the TAST group. Nell also is a designer on Ravelry and I often see interesting freeform crochet and knitting on her Artisanloops  page. So with further fuss I would like to introduce Nell Loops.

Interview with Nell Loops sample

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

I love the rhythm and meditative quality of hand embroidery. When life becomes hectic, handwork can ground me and caIm my mind, whilst providing a wonderful creative outlet. And the pieces we produce with needle and thread are amazing!

sample from Nell loopsHow did you start? Were you taught by your mother, school or taught yourself online? If you taught yourself what attracted you to embroidery?

I think the first embroidery I did was in first grade at school when I was about six years old. We did Huckaback embroidery, and I remember loving it, catching on really quickly, and my teacher being very encouraging – that positive feedback was very special to me, and probably inspired my love of embroidery. I used to make all my own (interesting!) clothes as a teen, and I explored embroidery to embellish these…this was the time when we had floral embroidered jeans.

I did lots of longstitch kits, then moved on to other styles too, and learnt a huge amount from these. And I borrowed library books, and studied others’ work. I especially loved the more ‘out there’ embroidery and textile work, especially combining painting and freeform embroidery.

Interview with Nell Loops sample(One of my first kits, still not made into a pillow yet, and over 25years old!)

Do you use TAST to make samplers or incorporate the stitches into projects as you go. Or what sort of projects most attract you ?

I started a stitch sampler book a few weeks ago, and I’ve also gone back to the beginning of the TAST stitches to catch up with everyone else.  I started TAST this year to refresh my skills, and have found myself incorporating the stitches into my other work also. Freeform work most attracts me, and textural work. Blackwork and stumpwork are two of my favourite styles, but really I love all handwork.

Can you talk about your last project and/or your current project? (Can be any textile project)

My last finished project which included embroidery was a shawl I knitted, then embroidered some song lyrics upon. This is something I want to explore more – combining embroidery/knitting/crochet/calligraphy/painting together.

Interview with Nell Loops sample
The other recent project was my Rose, which I adore.

Interview with Nell Loops sampleWhat is the project you are most proud of?

Interview with Nell Loops sampleHmmm…this is too hard. I have a blackwork piece which I’m proud of, but it’s still a wip. There was a blackwork glasses case I made as a gift which I really love, and also a cutwork piece.

Interview with Nell Loops sampleDo you have any UFO’s ? If so, fess up to how many?

2, 3, 7, 12 ….. too many to count! But I don’t mind, sometimes I feel like doing  freeform stitching, other times I’m able to concentrate on a more tricky piece, so it’s good to have different wips to choose from…a bit like having a closet full of clothes for different occasions.

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

Now, I only ever work my own designs, unless I’m learning a new technique. However, kits are a fabulous way to learn, and use until you feel more confident, or simply to relax and enjoy the stitching.

Do you have a creative design process? If so what is it? Or do you work intuitively?

Both. I usually make sketches, which include notes about size, threads and stitches. And I also try to label and date these, as I may want to use a design again.

Interview with Nell Loops sampleWhat stimulates your creative process? What inspires and sparks ideas for you?

Definitely other people’s beautiful work inspires me, and that’s why groups like TAST are great. Other inspiration comes from historical embroidery and artworks, fabrics, threads, textures, colour, nature, and more recently, my own life.

Interview with Nell Loops sampleLots 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?

My trouble is starting too many projects! If I am stuck, I find a doodle cloth valuable – try some of the stitches on some spare fabric, and this usually fires up your creative self (a bit like having a nibble of chocolate, who can stop at one bite?!).

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

Yes. Sometimes life gets in the way, or sometimes there’s some really repetitive and boring sections. When this happens I try to remind myself that these sections are an important element to juxtapose against the more creative areas. On the rose, there were so many tiny french knots, and the fine stitching was affecting my hands, so I remember doing lots of positive self-talk, and also deciding to do a manageable area each day, and intersperse this with other projects. Having my sketch of the rose pinned in front of my work area also inspired me to continue. It’s also worth checking your technique (perhaps on YouTube), as sometimes there’s a different way to do a stitch that makes a world of difference.

Do 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.

I often use French knot, split st, blanket, and satin stitches, and get infatuated with other stitches for a few months too, till another one comes along.

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

DMC cotton, usually two strands, or Perlé 8, but I love exploring different threads and fabrics.

Interview with Nell Loops sampleEmbroidery on gum leaves

Interview with Nell Loops sampleEmbroidery on balsa wood

What advice would you give to new hands?

Do TAST! It’s great for newbies or old stitchers to practice their stitches, and a great place to ask for help. Take photos – I did lots of work before easy digital photography was invented, gave most of it away, and now I have no record. Don’t be daunted by stitching and styles, give it a go, you will surprise yourself – just take your time. Packaged kits are a great way to learn, as are books, blogs and videos. And use colours, threads and fabrics that really appeal to you, spoil yourself, you deserve it.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for the interview Sharon, TAST has really reinvigorated my hand embroidery.

Interview with Nell Loops sample


I hope you have enjoyed this interview with with Nell Loops. Don’t forget to visit Artisanloops to see more of her work

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Take a Stitch Tuesday Stitch 89

This week Stitch 89 in the Take a Stitch Tuesday ( TAST) is Wrapped Coral Stitch I know it looks a modest unassuming stitch but trust me it more useful than it first appears.

wrapped coral stitch step 5

Wrapped Coral stitch is an interesting variety that is handy to know because it is a quick way to create a bobbly line that follows a curve well. Worked closely enough it can be mistaken for a line of French knots and people will ask how you lined them up so straight! It a stitch that is great along edges.

As usual follow the link to the Wrapped Coral Stitch  tutorial page and try it out, stitch a sample, photograph it, put in online.  Leave a comment on the Wrapped Coral Stitch page with your full web address if you have it on blog or Flickr etc. Feel free to join the  TAST facebook group and leave your photo there.  Hashtags are #TASTembroidery and #PintangleTAST on places like Instagram etc.

If you need more information the challenge guidelines are on the TAST FAQ page.

Crazy quilt template set 2 Have you seen my Stitchers Templates?

As someone who loves crazy quilting and embroidery I designed these templates with other stitchers in mind. With my templates you can create hundreds of different patterns to apply to your stitching and crazy quilting projects. They are easy to use, totally clear so you can position them easily and they are compact in your sewing box.

Templates set 1 you will find here 
Templates set 2 you will find here 
a tangle of pinsFollow Pintangle and have it delivered to your inbox

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2020 crazy quilt block 1 It all starts here!

2020 crazy quilt block 1 I said the other day that hopefully this week I will have the first block of my 2020 quilt done and here I am waving enthusiastically. The hexagon when finished and bound has 4 inch sides and is 8 inches from point to point across. I thought today I would share with you the pattern and information about how this crazy quilt hexagon was made and embellished.

First up this is my starting point, here is the block unembellished. When I pieced the block I included the lace and ribbon.

2020 crazy quilt block 1 unembellished

Here I have the pattern. People are free to use it in their own personal project, just let people know where you got it via a link and credit.

2020 crazy quilt block 1 patternThe seam between piece 1 and 2 is a line that consists of 4 scallops. Using my templates I traced around the edge with a quilters pencils. Once the line was marked I worked the line using Threaded chain stitch (I have yet to have it in the stitch dictionary but it has just gone on my To do list) The chain stitch is worked in cotton perle #5 thread and the gold thread is a metallic knitting yarn which I found in a discount bargain bin. It is called Excel and was made in Taiwan. To be honest I cant imagine anyone knitting with the stuff but its great for using in any of the embroidery stitches that involve lacing and threading.

In the dips of the scallops I arranged a small flower motif made of French Knots. At their base I added a aqua bead that was secured by seed bead.

2020 crazy quilt block 1 seam 3The seam that runs down piece 5 is covered with a ribbon. Using my templates again I traced the same scallops in a line down the side of the ribbon. I used Stem Stitch to cover the line. Three bullion knots were arranged in fan worked in the dips of the scallops. The thread I used was hand dyed silk which I did myself. It is the same thickness as #8 perle cotton. I then added some straight stitches using a aqua metallic thread, topped off with a seed bead.

2020 crazy quilt block 1 seam 4

The lace that buts against the seam of piece 1 and piece 3 I secured to the block with tiny stitches before adding seed beads. Along the edge of this lace is I worked little arrangements of detached chain stitch and straight stitches. These are finished off with a small glass bicone bead at the base and seed beads at the top of straight stitches. The threads I used are #5 cotton perle for the detached stitches and aqua metallic thread and #8 cotton perle for the straight stitches.

The bow shaped lace motif was first secured to the block with very tiny stitches worked using regular sewing machine cotton and then I added the three seed beads.

2020 crazy quilt block 1 seam 1The next seam I want to talk about runs along the edge of piece 4. It has a foundation of herringbone stitch worked in #5  cotton perle. These foundation stitches are also threaded with the same metallic knitting yarn I used on the Threaded Chain stitch (I can see I have another variety I need to add to my stitch dictionary. The to-do list is growing!)

Spaced between the herringbone stitches using a #5 cotton perle that was hand dyed, I worked detached chain wrapped bullion knots.(Oops there is another variety to add to my stitch dictionary)  These I arranged in a fan and stitched a little gold novelty bead at the base of each fan.

2020 crazy quilt block 1 seam 2One of my ideas for this quilt is to have a garden type them where there are little things to discover on each block. In the tradition of Victorian crazy quilts I added a spider – just peeking from behind a button. He is watching the butterfly. Spiders mean good luck so I wanted to start this project on a good footing. The Spiders web is made of a couched metalic gold thread. I found the thread in estate sale and I dont know what it is but its good to stitch with which is rare for metallic threads!

The idea behind a 2020 crazy quilt challenge is make a crazy quilt using 2020 different items by the end of the year 2020. So what am I counting on this block?

Count for 2020 crazy quilt block 1

  • Fabric 5
  • Ribbon and lace 2
  • Charms 2
  • Buttons 5
  • Novelty beads 4
  • Lace bow motif  1
  • Specialty threads 3 (gold metallic for spider web, metallic aqua, metallic knitting yarn)
  • Stitches 8 (French Knot, Stem Stitch, Threaded Chain stitch, Threaded Herringbone, Detached Chain, Straight stitch, Couching, Wrapped Bullion Knots, )

Total on Block 30

CORRECTIONS and EDITS! I have changed the total because I forgot count the lace bow and the fact I had not counted specialty threads and stitches confused people so I added them and revised the total.

I am tracking what I do in studio journal so hopefully I wont duplicate, next time around if people are interested I will share the page spread too.

I hope you have found this article about my 2020 crazy quilt block 1 interesting.

Do you want to join the 2020 Crazy Quilt challenge?

The aim is make a crazy quilt using 2020 different items by the end of the year 2020. You will find the guidelines and list of resources here 

Admins on the big Facebook groups Crazy Quilt Divas and Crazy Quilt International  are happy to see people share there work there. So follow the links and join the groups if you are Facebook person.  For those who have blogs you can leave your web address in the comments – each week as you progress. Instagram people can use #2020crazyquilt to share progress photos.

Have you seen my book?

holding my book in front of quilt

My book The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design: Simple Stitches, Stunning Results  shares detailed practical methods about how to design and make a crazy quilt. From fabric choice, to balancing colour, texture and pattern, in order to balance and direct the eye around the block.  I cover how to stitch, build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim was to be practical and inspiring.

My Crazy quilters templates

My templates for crazy quilters aim to help you take your stitching to the next level.With my templates you are able to create hundreds of different hand embroidery patterns to embellish your seams  with flair. These templates are easy to use, made of clear plastic so you can position them easily and are compact in your sewing box.

using my Crazy Quilt Templates set 2These are simple to use. You simply position the template in place and use a quilter’s pencil to trace along the edge of the template. Stitch along this line to decorate the seam. I have a free ebook of patterns to accompany each set which illustrates how they can be used.

TO ORDER your Crazy Quilt Templates

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 
Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here