Each week throughout the summer we’ll hear from a designer about a pattern or book that caused them to head in a new direction and helped form their career. This is the sixth post in the series. You can read all of them right here.
Carina Envoldsen-Harris designs colorful embroidery patterns, mostly with floral themes. She’s Danish, but lives in Essex, England. Carina writes a lovely blog about her daily life as a designer and creative person. In her shop you’ll find PDF embroidery patterns (I’m especially fond of her new Frida Kahlo pattern, Las Flores de Frida). Carina’s first book, Stitched Blooms, was published by Lark Crafts last year. You can read my review of the book here.
I’ve admired Carina’s patterns for years and I’m thrilled to have her as my guest today to share the pattern (or, in this case, craft books) that changed her life.
When I first started embroidering what I made was patterns from various books or patterns I found online. Some traditional, and some by more contemporary pattern designers. I didn’t do my own designs at first.
Then I came across the work of Tilleke Schwarz, a Dutch embroidery artist who has a very unique way of using embroidery. I was completely captivated by her work and thought to myself, “Embroidery can be like this?!” It was like nothing I had seen before. It was embroidery as art and comment on the world.
Around the same time I had bought a Japanese embroidery book, Freehand Embroidery, completely on a whim. It, together with the work by Tilleke Schwarz, definitely changed the way I saw embroidery. I think it probably changed my life. I realized that I didn’t have to use a pattern to do embroidery. I could make my own pattern or do something free form. I could embroider words, mix and match styles, and use my own drawings.
These books together showed me that there are no rules in embroidery. There is complete freedom to make what I want to make. It seems obvious to me now, of course, but back then it was like rain falling after weeks of summer drought.
Of course, it’s a teeny bit ironic that I make and sell patterns now, but I hope that people will think of my patterns as starting points and do their own thing; change the colors or use different stitches. When they do, that makes me so happy. And I hope they feel that creative freedom too.
Carina’s “Rainbow Explosion”
Whenever I feel stuck, I turn to these two books and they never fail to make me see things differently.
Last year I actually briefly met Tilleke Schwarz and it was a complete Stendhal syndrome moment. I think I managed to keep it together, but afterwards there may have been a few moments of hyperventilation.
The work of Tilleke Schwarz and the Japanese book Freehand Embroidery (ISBN 4-579-11012-9) were the craft books that changed Carina Evoldsen-Harris’ life.
What are the books that changed yours?