This week the clocks have been put back an hour in the UK and British Summertime is behind us as we head into the winter months. As I write, rain is lashing against the windows and the wind is howling down the chimney and shaking down the last of the leaves, which have hung on valiantly throughout October. I know for some this is a gloomy prospect, but I always enjoy the change of seasons and the chance to slow down and reflect. Ask me again in February and I’ll probably be longing for some warmth and sunshine, but for now I’m happy to light some candles and hunker down under a blanket with a quiet contemplative activity. I tend to read and knit more in the winter months but this week I have also rediscovered hand stitching.
Long before I ever started machine embroidery, I used to hand stitch. I started like many, with cross stitch kits and then progressed to small, stitched designs that usually decorated special cards. But it is something I have not done for a long time until last week, when Izzy and I were fortunate enough to interview embroidery artist Maggie Schnücker for our latest podcast episode. Maggie is a talented artist who creates exquisite botanical and nature inspired hoop embroideries, as well as running a successful business, Maggie Jo Studio, creating and selling patterns to spread the joy of hand embroidery to others.
Having chatted to Maggie, I found her gentle enthusiasm for her craft infectious and I was inspired to pick up some hand embroidery of my own. I started with a small kit that was a free gift with the magazine 'Mollie Makes' from years ago. I knew I was hanging on to all this ‘stuff’ for a reason! After an evening of slow, gentle stitching I had a little piece of embroidered art, which is now hanging on my studio wall. I admit I was rather chuffed with my efforts and had the urge to do more!
I discovered a couple of very small wooden hoops in my stash of stuff ‘that will come in useful one day’ and set about designing some tiny bee embroideries inspired by Maggie’s latest designs. I found a piece of fine linen and a handful of appropriately coloured threads and again after a couple of evenings, I had finished two little hoops, just 5 cm in diameter. I’m now thinking that tiny embroideries this size will make gorgeous ornaments for the Christmas tree... but I might be getting carried away!
If I have inspired you to pick up a needle and thread to try some hand embroidery too, do take a look at Maggie’s nature inspired designs, the perfect way of bringing some of the outside in during the winter months. Maggie also has a book out very soon with 30 brand new designs, all inspired by her surroundings in Texas. Botanical Embroidery is released on 16th November and is available now for pre-order from all major book retailers. It is released in the UK on 21st December so just in time for some relaxed slow stitching over the Christmas holidays. And don’t forget to listen to the podcast - Izzy and Gina in stitches - too. It’s another fun episode with our usual giggles and chat!
And I make no apologies for mentioning Christmas in this post, because commercialism and excess aside (both of which I hate) I do love the festive season too… mince pies and mulled wine, now there’s a thought!