Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Thread Festival - part 2: What Delilah Did

This is the second instalment of Christine’s visit to the Thread Festival of Textiles. Find the first part, the festival review, here.

Tucked at the top of the Farnham Maltings, with a vaulted, beamed ceiling above, I found one of the Thread Festival’s main attractions: What Delilah Did. Sophie Simpson, the creative force behind the name, was all smiles on her stand, her mum helping at her side.

Many of you will recognise Sophie Simpson’s exquisite cross stitch designs, featured in her first book Storyland Cross Stitch. The black silhouettes are so striking...

...and many of the patterns were brought to life on the stand. Just look at those little badges!

Sophie was signing copies of Storyland Cross Stitch as well as her newly released book, Stitch the Halls!. (See Nicole’s review here.) She filled the other side of her stand with designs from this new publication, a merry mix of cross stitch and surface embroidery.

In between Sophie’s chats with the many visitors flocking to her meet her, we had a great discussion about contemporary cross stitch and the current state of the craft. She answered a few specific questions for &Stitches:

&S: Cross stitch and surface embroidery are such historic, traditional crafts. Do you see anything new? What makes it contemporary?

SS: The materials are mostly the same. There have been some improvements in certain materials – evenweave fabrics and linens, for example, are much more even and easier to work with – and metallic threads, while not perfect, are tending to split less.

The designs are new. There are so many interesting, modern patterns available now. I started designing because I liked to cross stitch, but I didn’t like the ‘cute’ designs that seemed to be all that was available.

&S: Who is your audience? Younger people who want a modern design? Older people who have been cross-stitching for years? A mix?

SS: I see a variety of people interested in cross stitch and embroidery. It’s a mix of all ages. My designs appeal to younger people, yes, but I have also found a lot of older people are buying my pre-printed kits – they still enjoy the technique, but many had been stopped by poor eyesight. The aida fabric has tiny holes! But they like that they can still do cross stitching with the pre-printed kits, because the ‘x’s are much larger. So yes, the audience has a wide age range!

Thank you for your time, Sophie, I can't wait to get started on my own Christmas cross stitch bunting!

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

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