Category Archives: Doodle embroidery

More thoughts on doodle embroidery

Since my previous post, it’s been bugging me as to why the interest in doodle embroidery has caught on. Partly, it’s due to a couple of authors bringing out books featuring that style of embroidery, so that it’s been put in the public eye. I think at least one of them has a business selling the designs featured in the book she’s published.

My book 'Miniature Needlepoint Carpets', published in 1996, which is now only available second-hand

I’ve no problem with that – I did the same when my book ‘Miniature Needlepoint Carpets’ came out in 1996. Now, it’s only available second-hand, though – it’s been out of print for over five years. Blame Guild of Master Craftsman Publications – they decided to remainder it, not me! Most of the designs from the book are still available individually as chart packs from my website, though.

What interests me, in particular, is what grabs the imagination of the public and makes them think ‘Mmm, I’d like to do that’, once they see a certain style appearing, that’s new to them. Is it really the idea that they want to stitch something, but think that, as they’ve got very little time (apparently – see the previous post on this subject!), they choose a project from the perspective of the time it will take to finish, rather than the enjoyment they will have while they are creating it?

When I used to sell my miniature needlepoint kits at needlecraft shows around the country (I don’t attend shows any more, I sell only from my website), people would sometimes ask, ‘How long will this one take to complete?’, and that always bemused me, as I’d never think of the ‘time cost’ when I’m considering buying a kit. What’s more important to me is the aesthetic look of the finished item, the interest I’ll get from doing (learning to do?) the various stitching or other techniques needed, the colour scheme and where I’ll put the finished item, etc. etc. Possibly the cost is a factor. But the number of hours it’ll take is virtually irrelevant – I’ll stitch it till it’s finished.

It would be like asking in a restaurant ‘How long does it take to eat that?’, and if you’re told ‘twenty minutes’, then you’d choose something smaller/easier to chew up. Doesn’t make sense, does it? You’d choose your food, hopefully, on how it tastes, not on how quickly you can stuff it down your throat.

Doodle embroidery – what is it all about?

A selection (very SMALL selection, actually!) of my embroidery books

Yesterday, I went to a really good, independent bookshop near where I live. It’s called Webberley’s, in Hanley, Stoke on Trent, and it’s a great shop. Two floors of books, both fiction and non-fiction, on all sorts of subjects. A large craft materials section makes it even better.

I was hoping to browse through their craft/embroidery books section, and maybe make a few suggestions to ‘Santa’, as he’d come, ready-prepared, with his credit card. However, I came away disappointed, and not for the first time, after looking through recent embroidery book titles.

It’s not the shop’s fault – I know they can only buy in what’s available from the publishers – but I find the latest ‘craze’ for books on ‘quick and easy’ embroidery extremely depressing. The projects in the books seem to all be things like ‘how to stitch three buttons onto a shop-bought cushion, add some lazy daisy stitches and you’ve got a wonderful addition to your home’. No you haven’t, actually.

And why are the only ‘allowable’ colour schemes brown, brown, and more brown?

And don’t start me on ‘doodle embroidery’! What’s that all about? Take a line drawing of something that looks like bad clipart (is there such a thing as ‘good’ clipart?), and then backstitch over all the lines, often in just one colour. Voila! Erm…you’ve then got a line drawing that’s been backstitched over. What do you then DO with it?

The embroidery books that I’ve loved to collect over the years are truly inspirational. Gorgeous photography, projects that have your fingers itching to start as soon as you open the book, instructions so clear that even a completely new technique looks simple enough to try. Stumpwork, ribbon embroidery, thread-painting, blackwork, 3-D projects, historical items…they’re all tempting if presented in the right way.

The selling point with a lot of the designs in recent books is that they’re quick to finish. This is partly what I dislike about them. I know there is a modern myth that ‘people these days have less time’. It’s very easy to buy into that idea. However, there may be more things available to do now than in previous times, but each person still has the option of CHOOSING – and maybe that’s the real problem. Many people watch TV for five hours a day, and think that’s OK. Then they say they’ve got no time. Excuse me? Turn the thing off. Even better, get rid of it. You’d be amazed how much more can be achieved when the  time-filling, gadget-needing activities are eliminated.

If someone has little time, but still wants to do somethng creative like embroidery, I do question the idea that a project needs to be completed in one session, too. If you’ve only got half an hour a day to stitch, but you work on one project for a month (30 lots of half hours), you can easily make a very worthwhile item in a month.  What’s wrong with that?

Maybe I’m just weird 🙂

I do sometimes get the response, ‘Well, it’s OK for you, you’re a designer, so of course you like the complicated designs – it’s easy for you.’  But that idea won’t wash either, I’m afraid. I’ve never had professional training in embroidery. I taught myself, from the age of four, because I was ENTHUSIASTIC. I became very focussed on what I wanted to do, sometimes dropping other activities to allow more time for what really interested me. If people never push themselves, we’d all still be sitting in our prams, eating rusks, not achieving anything. Perhaps I’m just more determined than other people? I dunno. 

OK, rant over. I think I’ll go and have another look through the heaps of books I’ve already got on embroidery….