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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Interview with Melody Lord

Image for TAST Interview with Melody LordMelody Lord has to be one of the most interesting embroiderers I know,  as she uses her needle and thread to meld science and art. I first really paid attention to her work when in 2010 she worked an embroidery based on a NASA image of the far side of the moon and then as time went on she stitched images of what she saw in petri dishes. Melody Lord’s blog, Kingdom of the Blind was started when she was an artist in residence as part of the Culture at Work Project.

Melody’s creative eye is influenced by the whole range of textiles as she edits craft books and magazines. Melody Lord is also the author of a book on knitting called Knitting Basics. To track her many interests see her latest petri dish stitcheries based on the recent images of Pluto, and her TAST stitch challenge experiments visit Melody Lord’s instagram account but before heading off there, take a break,  make a cuppa and let me introduce Melody Lord.

Image for TAST Interview with Melody LordImage:  from Melody  Lord’s Flowers for Algernon Sequence which you can read about here, and the Fibonacci Flowers here

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

Embroidery is like meditation for me. The rhythmic repetition of the needle going in and out of the fabric is soothing and calming and a way to slow down a busy life. I like to listen to music or podcasts while I stitch. It’s my favourite way to relax.

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

My mother taught me the basic stitches using a little book that she had learned from at school. The first project I really worked on by myself was a crewel wool embroidery kit of a washerwoman in a spotted dress. The spots were satin stitch, the wash tub was long-and-short stitch and the outlines of the dress and the soap suds were back stitch. I remember being really frustrated getting the hang of making French knots for her hair! Now I use French knots all the time in my embroidery; they are one of my favourite stitches.

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 do a bit of both. TAST is a way of challenging myself to use different stitches. If they are appropriate to a project I am working on, I incorporate them. If not, I have a little sampler on the go that I can try them out on. I’m not very rigorous about doing the stitch each week when I am busy with work and other projects, but I do try to keep up!

Image for TAST Interview with Melody LordCan you talk about your last project and/or your current project?

My current project is a series of science-related embroidered artworks set into 5cm diameter Petri dishes. I’ve been planning it for a while and collecting a set of images for inspiration. So far the designs have been based on blue-green algae (a friend is researching its link to motor neurone disease); an electron microscope image of RNA; the New Horizons spacecraft’s view of Pluto and a ball of fish in the ocean. I’m currently stitching the Cassini spacecraft’s image of the storm at Saturn’s north pole, which is fascinating.

Image for TAST Interview with Melody Lord

Image Paths of Dreams which you can read about here

What is the project you are most proud of?

I’m most proud of my 2010 collaboration with my friend, neuroscientist Dr Adam Hamlin, for Culture at Work. Adam gave me access to amazing microscope images of rat and mouse brains from his research into Alzheimer’s disease at the Queensland Brain Institute and also his previous research into addiction (which he had done at UNSW). I turned these into embroidered artworks and we held a joint exhibition where Adam presented a public lecture about Alzheimer’s disease and I showed my embroidery works in the Accelerator gallery. I was also invited to exhibit the works as part of National Science Week at the Muse gallery in Ultimo.

Do you have any UFO’s ? If so, fess up to how many?

Too many to count! I’ve spent the last two years trying to “destash”; going through my UFOs and either completing them or turning them into something else. I recently changed tack and pulled everything out of my craft cupboard, only putting back materials and supplies that I will definitely use in the future. I ended up with three large shopping baskets full of UFOs which I intend to complete. This doesn’t prevent me starting a new project every few weeks, as well!

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

I used to purchase designs, but these days my brain is always bursting with inspiration from the wealth of blogs and images on the internet so I tend to design my own projects.

Do you have a creative design process? If so what is it? Or do you work intuitively? What stimulates your creative process? What inspires and sparks ideas for you?

Many years ago (should I say how many? It makes me feel old…) you [Sharon] ran a workshop on Visual Journals at the Southern Cross Crazies retreat in Canberra and the things I learned there from you and the other Crazy ladies changed my creative process. I use visual journalling to record images and materials and stitches and other things that inspire me. I tend to work intuitively once I start a project and it often turns out quite differently than I expected when I started.

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 don’t usually have trouble starting; it’s the finishing that can be a problem. The main obstacle to me is finding the time to get my thoughts in order about the project and pulling the materials and threads out of my stash. Once I’ve done that, I usually can’t wait to get the needle into the fabric. I suppose my tip would be to simply start stitching: don’t think about it too much, just thread the needle and go.

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

Yes… I have stall points all the time. That’s why I have so many UFOs! Depending on the project and how determined I am to finish it, sometimes I just force myself to keep going just to get to the end. Sometimes I put the project aside and work on something different for a while, then go back to it later with a fresh eye. I’m not afraid to unpick work that I don’t like or if that’s too difficult I simply stitch something new over the top of any unsatisfactory stitches.

Image for TAST Interview with Melody LordImage Axonal connections was based on an MRI image read about it here

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.

French knots are a big favourite. I love the way they add texture and you can use them for both positive and negative space. Plus there’s nothing more soothing to the mind than the meditative process of working a mass of French knots.

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

Different threads suit different stitches and purposes. If I had to choose one type of thread to take to a desert island, I suppose I would choose a hand-dyed variegated stranded silk or cotton. I’ve used a lot of Gumnut Yarns Stars and Kaalund Yarns stranded silk. I also use DMC stranded cotton and pearl cotton frequently, just because of the wide range of colours and the fact that they are readily available.

What advice would you give to new hands?

I’ve had the opportunity to teach a few children and adults how to embroider and I find the biggest hurdle is just getting the needle and thread into their hands. Start with a scrap of fabric and some simple stitches and lines. You might never want to show anyone your first project but it doesn’t matter: just knowing you’ve done it is the important thing. You will get better with practice! I taught my sister-in-law how to do cross stitch using a miniature kit of a tiny pineapple and now her house is full of embroidery and quilts. She’s won prizes for her work at the Adelaide Royal Show and now she teaches me things.

Image for TAST Interview with Melody Lord

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I have been really fortunate in that I’ve been able to incorporate my love of embroidery and other crafts into my work in book and magazine publishing. Between editing craft magazines and beautiful craft books, I’ve also written a knitting book, and lately I’ve contributed projects to Country Style magazine as well. Last year I was asked to created some embroidered vegetable designs as illustrations for a book (Wholefood by Jude Blereau). It makes work fun! It’s also enabled me to meet some amazing creative people (like you, Sharon) who inspire me all the time, including the people who contribute to TAST. I love seeing all the different ways that people use each stitch.

I hope you have enjoyed this TAST Interview with Melody Lord. I certainly enjoyed discovering more about her approach to embroidery. If you want to read and see more of her embroidery pop over to Melody Lord’s blog, Kingdom of the Blind and catch her on Melody’s instagram account

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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TAST Interview with Barbara B of Spiel mit Textil

Image for TAST Interview with Barbara B I first noticed Barbara B’s (Belle Bear) work in the TAST facebook group as her samples are very attractive. Barbara lives in Germany and is very active online and writes a number of blogs. For English speakers I use google translate to switch from German to English and spent a good few hours browsing her archives. Barbara B’s blogs are full of creative projects and ideas and well worth taking some time out,  making a cuppa and reading.

Here is a list of blogs written by Barbara B:

  • Spiel mit Textil (Playing with Textiles) where you will find Barbaras TAST samples
  • Sternengefunkel (mixed media) interesting and well worth browsing
  • Stickamazonen – Stick Amazons ( Embroidery) Google translates this as Stick but I think it is supposed to be Stitch
  • Papierspiel  (Playing with Paper)

Now on with the interview!

Image for TAST Interview with Barbara B TAST Interview with Barbara B of Spiel mit Textil

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

Hand embroidery is a way for me to let my phantasie flow and I can express myself freely and creatively. It enriched my life even in dark years.

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

My mother was a studied artisan with embroidery as her personal favourite and she taught me the basics early in my life. I was embroidering even before I went to school in 1943. At school I loved the needlework lessons most. We learned the basic stitches and were allowed to design own patterns with them.
In 2004 I got to know the german Internet group Die Crazyquilter and found Pintangle. I saw many new stitches and tried them out. Sharon’s dictionary was a goldmine and helped me a lot.
The crazyquilters started a challenge and we showed the results on our blog Stickamazonen. Many active embroiderers paticipated with enthusiasm.

Image for TAST Interview with Barbara B 3. Do you use TAST to make samplers or incorporate the stitches into projects as you go? Or what sort of projects most attract you?

In 2009 I attended TAST for the first time, realized the exercises on four 12x12cm small clothes and played with different variations. 2016 I designed four samplers, 40x40cm each. I was inspired to work with circles because I had just finished a series of Mandalas as a free textile work. In 2016 I also used the TAST exercises to finish an unfinished crazy.

Image for TAST Interview with Barbara B 4. Can you talk about your last project and/or your current project? 

I am a member of the internet group Alküns – Textilkunst alternativ (alternative textile art). Every year we choose themes for our projects of the year. In 2017 one of our themes is Foto-Tex (photography and textile). We work with or directly on photos. My focus: Fashion Magazines . I use old magazines from my mother out of the 1950s. She used magazine patterns to sew for me. I made a series of six works for that project.

Image for TAST Interview with Barbara B 5. What is the project you are most proud of?

That is hard to say, because I love so many of my works, if I had to pick it would be my Kesa (2006) or the wallhanging Very Personal or my first crazy Lepatrium.

6. Do you have any UFO`s ? If so, fess up to how many?

Oh yes! Unfortunately there are many, for example parts of roundrobins made by the Crazyquilters. But there are also unfinished traditional quilts, for example a double wedding ring.
And so on…

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

I love to design my own projects most, freely and without specific guidelines.

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

The planning of a project always starts on my mind. I collect ideas until I can actually imagine the outcome. During the working process I am improvising and changing a lot till I am satisfied.

Image for TAST Interview with Barbara B 9. What stimulates your creative process? What inspires and sparks ideas for you?

Often it is only a keyword or an exercise theme that inspires me. It is not only the embroidery I love to play with but also other materials or techniques. That is why my blog is called Spiel mit Textil (Playing with Textiles). I love colours, especially tone-in-tone, not too multicolored.

10. 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 can only explain how I start. I need a theme or an exercise. I think about the material, the form, the colours I can use. Then I start intuitively. That is like a game.

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

Yes, from time to time. Then I hang up the the work at a spot I often repass during one or some days and each time new thoughts appear to help me going on.

Image for TAST Interview with Barbara B 12. 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?

Oh yes, stitches I use often are for example Chain stitch, Herringbone stitch and French Knots. By using them I can design many new and nice variations and patterns.

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

At the beginning I prefered embroidery yarn with 6 threads and would choose the number of threads to work with. In the meantime I use anything that looks like a thread.

Image for TAST Interview with Barbara B 14. What advice would you give to new hands?

My advice: Try, try, try! But always have fun and enjoy what you do.

15. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Yes. I would like to thank you, Sharon, for giving me a lot of pleasure, I am always learning Pintangle and TAST new embroidery stitches, I have also met a lot of nice female
embroiderers, which I enjoy with my 80 years.

And Thanks to you Barbara for your time in doing this interview! I hope readers enjoy this TAST Interview with Barbara B of Spiel mit Textil. I certainly enjoyed doing it. If you have enjoyed this interview visit Barbara’s websites that I have listed above as they ooze creativity.

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.

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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