Last year when I went to Creatival in Manchester I met the lovely Kirsty of Kirsty Freeman Design (https://kirstyfreemandesign.co.uk/), who makes and sells embroidered art, home décor and accessories, and embroidery kits. The subject of her work mainly focuses around animals and nature. When lockdown started this year I knew it would be a difficult time for small businesses so, knowing that workshops and art exhibitions would be out for a while, I went trawling the internet for craft kits so that I could keep blogging about the things I love and support small businesses at the same time! I remembered seeing on Kirsty’s Instagram that she had some kits for sale so I checked out her website and ordered myself the ‘Dark Grey Floral’ kit. It cost £20 including shipping to the UK.
Included in the box was:
- Grey linen with pre-stitched outline
- Embroidery needle
- Beading needle
- Embroidery hoop
- Seed beads
- Variety of thread and yarn
Also included were the instructions which were in three parts; the written instructions telling you what to do in each section, the step-by-step for each stitch and finally there was instructions on how to finish your hoop when you had completed the embroidery. There was also a numbered diagram showing the sections and large colour photograph of the completed piece for reference. Overall I thought that the whole pack was very comprehensive and thorough.
The written instructions were laid out in a table showing the stitch type, thread type and bead type for each numbered section. It reminded me of a paint by numbers, just with thread instead of paint! In fact, the whole project actually reminded me of an art class I did when I was at school where we had to fill in an outline with different pencil marks. The stitches in this project weren’t just the usual satin stitch, back stitch etc that you find in the majority of kits, but patterns and textures that Kirsty had put together to create a modern and visually interesting piece of embroidery. I like to think that I am quite good at embroidery and have done a fair amount of it over the years, but this project really pushed me to have a go at a different style and think about the arrangement of stitches. Some of the stitches I actually found quite challenging because they required a certain amount of spatial awareness, which isn’t something I excel at!
Kirsty suggests working through the piece methodically and one of the ways she recommends is by thread. I found this was the best way for me as it meant I could keep my needles threaded until I’d finished all the sections in that colour. As the sections are listed numerically and not by thread type I did start to get a bit confused, but I found crossing off each section as I went along, both on the instructions and on the diagram, to be really helpful.
I particularly liked the diagrams of each different stitch. I thought they showed how to do the stitches very well with clear pictures showing where the needle would come out and go back in to the fabric. I haven’t done much beading before so I quite enjoyed having a go of that, the only thing I would say though is that the beading needle does have a very small eye. You are only using the thinnest thread with it and it didn’t give me any trouble, but if you struggle with threading needles generally then using a needle threader might be a good idea with this one.
This is quite small work and requires quite a bit of focus. I did a lot of mine in one sitting, but I think it would have been better to do it over a longer period of time with more breaks for my eyes and my back. As it is split into sections it would be a good project to come back to whenever you have a spare half an hour or so, especially as each section is quite small and can be completed fairly quickly.
The finishing instructions showed how to gather the fabric behind the hoop, but there were other suggestions for what to do with it, including presenting it in a square frame or turning it into a cushion. I have gathered my fabric behind for now, but I haven’t cut the excess off as I like the idea of turning it into a cushion at some point in the future when I get some fabric for the back.
Whenever I do embroidery I’m reminded just how much I enjoy it. I have another couple of embroidery kits waiting for me so I think I might have to get started on them now as well! Watch this space…