Monday, 2 June 2014

My Inspiration Monday - The Queen Stitch

How did your business come about?
I’d always been a very creative person, however the creative in me had been buried over the journey into becoming a fully functioning adult.  I was going through a bit of a dark period of personal struggle and feeling very lost. As a means of dealing with an anxious thoughts, keeping the brain busy and to keep 'twitchiness' at bay I decided I needed to find a new creative outlet.'

I always sewed, painted and drawn in the past, however these activities meant that you were often tucked away in a separate space. I wanted a hobby that would not require much set up in terms of expense or equipment, and most importantly something I could do on the sofa in front of the TV as I had just got into watching Mad Men and did not want to sacrifice this! So, yeah, sheer laziness was a huge factor in my journey! I did some research and stumbled across some cool contemporary embroidery websites and blogs.

I’d always loved Mexican folk art and the Day of the Dead festival. However I was struggling to find art of this kind in NZ. Therefore decided that I would just make my own. So I set myself a task of drawing and embroidering a rather complex Day of the Dead Sugar Skull. I literally learnt as I stitched. The project took several weeks and seasons of Mad Men to complete!

I posted the photos of my finished project on Facebook and the feedback I got was so positive that a friend suggested I make some more and bring them to a local market to sell…I really doubted my ability to do this, or what people would make of me, so very nearly said no. From there I started a blog to showcase my works, which then also took on a life of its own as it ignited my passion for writing, which again, was lost years ago.

Where did the name come from?

I decided from the outset that I wanted to be the rock and roll, gin drinking, sweaty cousin to traditional embroidery - therefore I didn’t want my name to be any thing stuffy, adorable or sweet. I wanted strength and sass!

One of my greatest heroes is David Bowie, so I took my name from a play on his song Queen Bitch - not only does Queen Stitch work as a homage to Bowie and the glam rock attitude, but it also make a cool persona for me to adopt. I love being a Queen of my stitch and blog empire!

How long have you been writing for?
I wrote a lot when I was younger - I have always had a very vivid imagination and enjoyed creating complex characters and worlds as a means of escapism and over-compensating for being shy, different and a bit of a loner.
In my teenage years I started a website with my friend called CeliaSays where we were both secret Agents working for this enigmatic woman called Celia. My alter ego was Agent DeLunTrash, which was an anagram of my surname. We’d write phoney interviews with celebrities, articles about our missions and office life, oh, and Tom Hanks was our Personal Assistant. Who was desperately in love with us.

Again, I lost touch with this side of myself as I got older and prioritised things like my career and relationships. It’s very easy to let being a grown up diminish these pursuits that we naturally did so easily when we were young. It’s inevitable, understandable, but sad - we need to wage a daily battle to reclaim what we’ve lost!

Where does your inspiration come from?

I’m a huge pop culture geek. I still have the passion of a fourteen year old for music, TV, film and stupid quotes - so this is where most of my inspiration comes from.
I am obsessed with the work of Wes Anderson and his distinctive visual style and craft, the music of Bowie, Morrissey and all things gloomy and English, Mexican folk art, and I enjoy the work of any artist or illustrator whose work is bright, bold and whimsical.

My house is a shrine to my influences. Almost every wall is covered in prints, posters and artefacts I’ve collected. It’s very bright and like a gallery in itself. It’s very easy to stare at the walls for long periods of time and draw inspiration from here. I think that if you surround yourself in what you love, then the inspiration just becomes part of you and you don't even need to think about your style, it just becomes a sixth sense.

What do you love about what you do?
I love the freedom of it all. Whilst I am very creative, I am not a technical or precise person, and I get bored very easily. Unlike cross stitch which is very structured and formal, with my embroideries I can just draw what I like and make it up as I go. I don’t really plan my stitches, I might watch a film, or hear a lyric I like and decide that’s what I’m going to make. Things like colour and blocking I just go with my gut instinct whilst I’m stitching.

With many of my stitches, I appreciate that people might not always get the reference. I don’t do it to be pretentious or to alienate, I just believe in stitching what I love and I trust that someone out there will connect with it. The best feeling is when I’m at a market and 200 people have skimmed past a stitch of something like a Bill Murray reference, yet one person see’s it and loses their s**t over it, and they feel it was made for them.

I love that so much, and when hey take it home I know that they will have a one of a kind piece of art on their wall that they are truly passionate about.
I could sew things that have a more mainstream appeal, but I’d get bored, and lose enthusiasm, and that’s not what it’s about. Plus if no-one wants my work, at least I know I like it, and can hang it in my house!

In terms of my writing, my blog is mine and I can write what I want, when I want. I like to swear and write in a very conversationalist way. There’s no-one to sensor or edit me. Originally it was purely for the purpose of showcasing my art, however it’s grown into photography, travel, a commentary on the Christchurch rebuild, review and, well, whatever I feel like!

Where do you find time to craft/write?
It’s a struggle, and gets harder by the month. I work full time in quite a stressful, challenging role, so when I get home I have to make a real effort to put on my Queen Stitch hat and structure my evenings like a second job. Thankfully I only have a dog that requires my attention!
The amazing thing has been that I’ve found the more I create, the more projects and opportunities crop up - something I never intended or could have imagined. My writing is now taking on a life of it’s own, spawning the odd contributor job. I also set myself a 365 Day photography challenge for 2014, which I now need to do every day for the year.

Of course the downside of it is that it becomes a juggling act, and I do often feel like Im dropping balls. Its a real case of too many pies, not enough fingersbut what can you do? I cant and wont stop (well unless Im checking Twitter or on BuzzFeed).

Whats next for you?
I have no long term plans, I never do in any aspect of my life. I just live one day at a time; working hard, following my gut instincts, being a positive person and simply saying an enthusiastic “YES!” to any invite or opportunity that comes my way…no matter how tired, busy or full of self doubt I am. Just doing these things has worked out amazingly for me so far, and sent only good things my way…and most importantly it’s making me very happy. So why change that?

Where to find The Queen Stitch

The Queen Stitch Blog
The Queen Stitch on Facebook 
You can also find her at the next Encraftment Market on June 14th - more details here.


Louise has this 'Eat Well, Travel Often' Stitch - for one reader to win.  This Stitch is a 23cm bamboo hoop, framed ready to hang with blue / green / red text. Backed with green / white polka dot fabric.

To go into the draw head to The Queen Stitch Facebook Page and 'like' her page.  Then tell Louise on my justalittlebitcute post on her facebook page (you will find this in recent posts by Others on The Queen Stitch) where you would hang this stitch! 

- one comment per person
- you must live in New Zealand
- giveaway closes on Monday 8th June

Images used with the kind permission of Louise Sutherland (The Queen Stitch)