Nicole is a very talented stitchy pal of mine and a fellow Feeling Stitchy blogger. She makes beautiful embroidery patterns, each telling a tiny story in stitches. Let’s get to know her!
Where in the world are you?
Right now I’m on the couch in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Europe.
Briefly describe yourself and what you make
I draw, I embroider, I make embroidery patterns. I’m terribly slow at all those things too. I do a little bit of sewing and quilting as well but I’m not very good at it! I also write for my own blog and about once a week for the Feeling Stitchy blog.
Who or what inspires you?
I draw inspiration for my embroidery work from lots of things. Books, music, art, every day stuff, places I have visited. Everything I experience can end up in one of my patterns in one way or another! For the colours I use in my embroidery I find inspiration in fabrics, and vintage stuff can be a great resource for colour combinations as well.
For stitches I browse my (small) embroidery library. Recently I started a collaboration with fabric designer Lizzy House, making patterns to go with her line fabric ’Castle Peeps’, which I found hugely inspirational. A whole new colour palette has creeped into my floss box because of that and I’m pretty sure that it will have an influence on future patterns.
When / how did you learn?
I learned embroidery from the internet and from books a couple of years ago. Actually I’m still learning. It’s not something that you can fully master in just a couple of years.
Why do you ‘bother’ to make things by hand?
I enjoy the process of making things by hand and the uniqueness of the end product. Sure I have Ikea or other mass produced stuff around my house too, but it doesn’t compare to a hand stitched pillow case or a home made soft toy does it? I also like the idea that it is part of a long tradition in many cultures. A lot of the stitches used in Medieval Embroidery are still used now!
Have you always made ‘stuff’?
Well in a a way I did but not really crafty stuff, I was pretty bad at the Needlework/Knitting/Weaving/Macrame (this was in the seventies mind you) lessons in Primary school and did not enjoy it at all. I preferred writing stories and making hand written ’newspapers’ and such. Later on in my teens I did enjoy Art lessons quite a bit and I had a certain talent for drawing I guess. I went on to study History though and did not start my crafty activities and embroidery untill I was in my mid thirties!
Can you reveal a little about your creative process?
I sketch and doodle. Sometimes when I have a vague idea of what I want to draw I look pictures up in books or on the internet and draw them in my sketch book for inspiration. The basic idea of a pattern usually comes quite quickly. The actual pattern drawing takes a bit longer. I also add stuff to the pattern as I am embroidering. I’m not aiming at releasing patterns on a regular basis or because I sense a certain ’trend’ in the Crafty world, I release patterns that I like and luckily there are embroiderers out there who like them too.
Favourite book(s) or craftbook(s)?
I love reading and I have a list of books I read this year on my blog. One of my favourite books of the last couple of years is the ’Book of lost things’ by John Connolly. As to craft books. When I’m embroidering I like to have ’The Stitches of Creative Embroidery’ by Jacqueline Enthoven on hand. And the ’Left-handed embroiderer’s companion’ by Yvette Stanton as well.
I also regularly buy sewing books but I must admit that I mainly look at the pictures and rarely make anything from them. Except for Amy Karol’s Bend the Rules Sewing that is. Awesome book, especially if you are a newbie at sewing!
Is your art/ craft a business as well? Any advice on running an arty/ crafty business?
I did not really intend it to be ’a business’ at first but it sort of took off by itself and now it’s a tiny business. Certainly not enough to make a living off but it keeps me more than busy. For me it’s important to go your own way artistically (or craft-istically) and be unique, not copy others. Sadly there is a lot of design ’borrowing’ going on lately and quite a lot of ’sameness’ in stuff that is for sale in places like Etsy.
Do you make art or craft? Is there a difference?
I would not describe my stuff as ’art’ so I guess I make craft then? That’s o.k. there is no shame in making crafts.