This week I would like to introduce you to and other TAST participant Queeniepatch of Queenie’s Needlework. Queenie tells her own story but I wanted to point out that this innovative lady has joined in and revisited the TAST challenge a number of times. I have always enjoyed her Stumpwork ladies and her avatar photo (above) is the image that comes to mind when I think of Queenie and her blog. Queenie has gone on to create her own Sunday Stitch School. There is a huge thrill for me when I saw this, as for a teacher to see students teaching others is wonderful. This is how hand embroidery will stay alive. Anyway off my soap box and on with the interview!
TAST Interview with Queeniepatch of Queenie’s Needlework
Why do you like hand embroidery and hand work? How has it influenced your life?
Oh, I like the movement of the needle, the touch of fabric and thread, the slow tempo, the fact that you can stitch almost anywhere, in the park or a waiting room as well as at home… I like how the needle leaves a trail of thread in the fabric… I like the 3D image made by knots, loops and couched lines…
From an early age I have had a need to create, and I think needlework satisfies that urge.
I also find it both relaxing and energizing. My days usually contain little ‘me time’ so when I do have some, I will turn to hand embroidery to slow down and charge my batteries at the same time.
How did you start? Were you taught by your mother, school or taught yourself online? If you taught yourself what attracted you to embroidery?
I started by looking, very early in childhood, at the exquisite silk embroidery cushion on Grandmother’s sofa, at my mother and her needlework friends monogramming tea towels, and I wanted to join in. I was shown how to make some simple stitches on waffle cloth.
When formal needlework lessons at school started I was ten, and by then knew the most basic stitches.
The first projects (a luncheon mat and a serviette case) were set for the whole class, but the teacher let me go on and design a tea cosy by myself. It featured a peacock and its open tail feathers were made up of different stitches – a kind of sampler.
In adulthood I have taught myself from books, but when I stumbled on TAST in 2012 I knew it was something much better. This idea of learning a stitch a week, by just adding it to a scribble cloth or building a serious project, blogging about the process and result, sharing it with others online, being free to skip a stitch… I’d say TAST is the best thing that has happened in my needlework life. Thank you Sharon!
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 have made several TAST samplers, as well as a very useful TAST reference chart. Also I often use the stitches to create small greeting cards, add features to stumpwork portraits or when making Swedish wool embroidery clothing.
Can you talk about your last project and/or your current project?
The last TAST project was a sampler, called TASTy Tuesday Second Helpings, where I wanted to repeat the stitches I had learned two years earlier and begun to forget.
At the moment I am making a bed size quilt out of thousands of small green triangles, machine stitched over paper.
When TAST came to a halt at the 140th stitch in 2014 and I still wanted to learn more, I decided to make use of my many stitch dictionaries, and pick a stitch a week. By posting the ‘lessons’ and ‘homework’ on my blog as Sunday Stitch School I spur myself on. As there are so many stitches yet to learn, I might never graduate!
What is the project you are most proud of?
Difficult question! I like the Swedish Cushion (TAST sampler) and the Swedish wool embroidery purse as well as some of the stumpwork portraits, an appliqué quilt with bias tape that I embroidered on, some small cards of a dress made of Open Based Picots or the ‘knitted’ cardigan of Magic Chain stitches….
Do you have any UFO’s ? If so, fess up to how many?
Believe it or not, at the moment I don’t have any slumbering half finished projects, but I have a dozen new plans (UFP’s?) Among them are a Mola bag, a map of Stockholm quilt, more parts of that Swedish wool embroidery folk costume… I have all the material, just want to finish the Work In Progress first.
Do you work purchased designs or do you design your own projects? Or do you do both?
I have worked a number of kits, mainly in Cross stitch, Canvas and Blackwork. I find it convenient to have everything prepared and it is relaxing for a holiday project. However, I much more enjoy designing my own projects as it satisfies my cravings to create.
Do you have a creative design process? If so what is it? Or do you work intuitively?
It usually starts with an idea and a rough plan, then I make a sketch. That will set me off, but as I move along I often make changes. I have tried several times to make a journal for each project, but find that I give up on it half way through. Instead I try to record the process and progress on my blog.
What stimulates your creative process? What inspires and sparks ideas for you?
The sparks often come from something I see, at an exhibition, on TV, online, or even on a tea cup. I have made two quilts where the inspiration came from the patterns on china.
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 start with a sketch, collect the material, mark the fabric and decide on a starting point, pick a stitch and jump in.
Or I start with a stitch I want to try out, then make a sketch of a design where this stitch would look good.
Maybe the best way to go from blank fabric to stitching is to decide where to start, isn’t it like kicking off the bicycle and as it starts rolling you just peddle along?
Do you have stall points? If so how do you get past them? Do you have any tips to share about this.
Nearing the end of a project I do find that my interest and enthusiasm wanes. In the past I tended to shelf projects, but these days I push myself to complete them. I might slow down but have a rule that at least 10 minutes per day must be devoted to that project until it is completed. The satisfaction of having seen it through is so rewarding!
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.
Yes, I do. They are Stem, Chain, Buttonhole and Feather stitch as well as French (or Colonial) knot. I know them well, using them is stitching in autopilot. You could also call them ‘Lego’ building blocks; combined with other stitches they give many possibilities.
However, the TAST samplers and reference chart constantly remind me that I should ‘think before I stitch’ and pick a more unusual stitch instead.
Do you have a favourite embroidery thread, or something you use all the time? If so what is it?
Pearl cotton shows off the stitches well. Stranded floss is found in many shades and the six strands can be divided. I also love the feel of wool.
The beauty of ‘difficult’ threads like chenille, thick cords, metallic has tempted me into buying too much, the challenge is now to find ways to use them.
What advice would you give to new hands?
or any other online course/stitch-along,
or take part in a beginner’s workshop at a show/shop,
or buy a small kit,
or make a pin cushion, it is small, easy to assemble and gives instant results
For free style embroidery, get a boldly printed fabric and stitch along the lines.
For counted work, start with Aida fabric where the grid will help you find the right holes and spacing.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
In the past, and in school education, a PERFECT result was the goal. In today’s needlework and fibre art, it is more important to ENJOY stitching and embrace the FREEDOM of expression.
Give needlework a try, and if you feel it is not for you, don’t be afraid to walk away with your head held high.
Of course, I hope you will have found a new life with fiber art. Happy stitching.
I hope you have enjoyed this TAST Interview with Queeniepatch of Queenie’s Needlework. I certainly enjoyed discovering more about Queenie’s approach to embroidery. If you have enjoyed this interview pop over to Queenie’s Needlework for a visit as I had lots of fun on her blog browsing and selecting images for this article.
This interview is part of series that ran 2017 as the Take a Stitch Tuesday Challenge has been running for a decade. Throughout the year I interviewed stitchers about their hand embroidery and feature their work.
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