We’re back with our Creative Q&As this week! I absolutely loved focusing on virtual markets this month, but am equally super keen to get back to getting to know those lovely, talented makers!
This week we’ve got the fantastic cross stitch expert, Kate Blandford!
If sassy embroidery, brutal honesty and crazy cool & contemporary supplies are your jam, then stay put and read below…
JANEY: Thanks so much for joining us Kate! So lets get straight to it: who are you and why do you do what you do?
KATE: I grew up surrounded by textiles, my mum has always worked in the industry and was a keen knitter back in the day (think brilliant Ghostbusters knitted sweaters. So jazzy). Unfortunately, she didn’t pass on the knitting gene to me but I did dip my toe in a bit of stitching growing up. I was definitely that kid that made all the stuff on Blue Peter and had a subscription to Art Attack magazine. PVA glue on everything.
I went down many roads before I got back into stitching. I started off studying fine art print at college followed by textiles at university (term ‘textiles’ used loosely, it was definitely more of an art degree than anything), then totally flipped reversed it and studied an MA in graphic design. The one thing that has always been pretty constant throughout my journey is using textiles in some form or another in my work. It was on my MA that embroidery turned on a light and since then I haven’t looked back.
I started off selling finished pieces but it soon became apparent that people wanted to make their own. In 2016 I launched my first kit and thankfully people seemed to enjoy them.
J: Amazing, sounds like a fab childhood and what a journey! Where do you find your inspiration for those kits?
K: I’d say that the majority of my work is inspired by music with a pinch of pop culture for good measure. I like pastels and super twee stuff but also skulls and heavy metal. They seem to gel pretty well!
J: Love the idea of that combination! What is one piece of creative equipment you couldn’t live without?
K: Only one?! Cripes. I would never turn my back on DMC threads. Honestly the best threads out there.
J: Sorry, that was mean I know – but an incredible choice, and something I would absolutely agree with!
Please can you tell us more about your work with Mr X Stitch?
K: I started working with Jamie (Mr X Stitch) back in 2014 as a columnist for his blog, tasked with sniffing out embroidery finds on Deviant Art. I was so stoked to be a part of the Mr X Stitch family as it is my go to website for keeping up to date with the goings on in the thread world. In 2016 Jamie asked to be a part of his book ‘Mr X Stitch Guide To Cross Stitch’ and I must have pulled through because he then asked me to be a contributor for his new venture: X Stitch Magazine. I’ve done a few designs for that now as well as some book reviews and I’m looking forward to continuing working with him as his briefs are always so fun and he lets me do some pretty rad stuff!
J: (We STRONGLY recommend you take a look at mrxstitch.com!)
Do you have any top tips for the people wanting to try cross stitching for the first time?
K: There are some great tutorials out there for complete beginners. I recommend checking out Peacock and Fig on YouTube. Get yourself some aida (cross stitch fabric), a needle, some thread and a hoop and go for it! There are a lot of free resources out there but always credit the OG designer – shameless plug but I have some super simple free patterns on my IG story highlights that would be suitable for beginners.
J: We love a shameless plug – I’m off to have a look right after writing this! That’s great that with just a few inexpensive pieces of equipment, and some brill online resources, its super easy to just get stuck right in!
What would you say is your biggest achievement so far?
K: Leaving my full time retail management job and trying to conquer the world of cross stitch. I’ve worked on so many awesome projects it is hard to narrow it down. Being at this point and enjoying what comes my way is the best feeling and I’m so thankful that people have supported my small biz and made that a reality.
J: Yay, amazing!
Your work and kits always offer some honest advice and wise words, so what are your ultimate words to live by?
K: Pizza is always the answer.
J: Love it, straight to the point and, as expected: completely true.
Now, where can we get our hands on your work?
K: My kits are sold in Brand Academy in London’s Oxo Tower. You can also get them from my website: www.kateblandford.com. Hopefully there will be more stockists in 2021…it is on my to do list!
So a massive thank you to the amazing Kate Blandford, for chatting to us and giving us an insight into what it is like running her fab business – please do go and have a look at her website and Etsy shop, and join the ride on social media!
Thanks for reading, join us next Friday for our Halloween small business round up – see you then!