Backside of the Hoop with Kayla Dickens

Knotty Dickens row

Can you believe it’s the last day of 2015?! I cannot hardly believe it. It feels like 2013 was a couple months ago, and what the heck happened to 2014? On this last day of 2015, I’m going out with a bang by featuring my pal Kayla Dickens of the cleverly named “Knotty Dickens” shop. Kayla and I met on Instagram, and quickly formed a kinship over our love of hand embroidery, font, and florals. I’m so excited to feature her for my last Backside of the Hoop interview for this year, and here it is!

Tell us about yourself

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I’m Kayla, creator, maker, doer, owner of all things Knotty Dickens.

When did you start doing embroidery?

In the fall of 2014, thanks to Instagram, I absolutely fell in love with hand-embroidery. (Seriously go checkout #handembroidery, #hoopart, and #embroideryhoop.)  I’ve always had a love for arts and crafts but something about hand-embroidery just made my heart skip. Around the same time, I also found out that I was pregnant with our 4th baby. We have 3 children, a Daredevil and Twins, so I was excited but so nervous (I mean this would have made 4 babies in less than 4 years.). After some complications I found out that I was experiencing a molar pregnancy and there wasn’t a baby (more about that below). After my emergency hysterectomy, I decided to finally start living a full life. My old-soul-lover-of-knitted-sweaters-and-vintage-floral soul that I used to embarrassed about is finally blooming. I’m not completely sure what held me back before but you’ve officially been warned: Kayla is an old lady and loves it! 

I made my first freehanded embroidery hoop as a commemorative piece for my family photo wall. After completing that, I knew I needed to embrace the need for needles and thread. 

So that’s the short story. If you’d like to learn more about my experience with my molar pregnancy then checkout my blog at knottydickens.com.  

Was there anyone who taught you, or are you self-taught?

I taught myself by playing around and watching YouTube videos.

Do you still have the first piece you created?

I do still have the first piece I made. It’s actually the one I made to commemorate my loss. I was still feeling pretty sad about my hysterectomy and had reached out to my support group on Facebook. Someone said, “Other ways people have used to work through grief: plant a tree in the baby’s honor (you can talk to it, visit it, nurture it and watch it grow), commemorative jewelry, prayer, acknowledgement ceremonies, etc. do what works for you. Take one day at a time. Focus on getting through today and deal with tomorrow when it comes.”

I looked around. What could I do? There was a note from one of my dearest friends (BFFAAANAC) which she gave me after my first ultrasound showing there wasn’t a baby… and then I decided to make an embroidery hoop to hang on my wall. I plan on hanging it next to our family photo on the wall.

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Where is your favorite place to embroider? Tell us about it. Why is this your favorite place?

My favorite place to stitch is in my recliner. I bring over all my supplies on my end table and just go for it.

Show us your backside…of your hoop!

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Have you always finished off your pieces this way?

After reading, “Although the threads of my life have often seemed knotted, I know, by faith, that on the other side of the embroidery there is a crown.” – Corrie ten Boom” I decided to always leave my hoops open. You see, on the back side of all beautiful embroidery work there is a mess of thread. It almost looks like knotted jewelry. But when you flip that baby around, it’s a beautiful piece of art.

Have you tried other ways?

For the most part, I leave my backs open. Probably 98% are open unless someone asks. I close it up with matching fabric – but it’s not my favorite way of doing it.

What is your favorite part of the embroidery process? Your least favorite part?

My favorite part of stitching is how relaxing and therapeutic it is. I love the rhythm and watching something come to life. Sometimes my least favorite part is the brainstorming of new work. There are days when I just stare at a black piece of fabric and busy myself with other work.

What are your top three favorite stitches?

I absolutely love the daisy-stitch, the classic back-stitch, and French-knots. And the woven-wheel-stitch.

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What is your favorite brand of floss? How do you organize your floss?

DMC Embroidery Floss is my favorite and absolute go-to. I love to organize my floss in the standard DMC box that you can get at any craft store. I think it’s better than storing it on clothespins (though I know those look super cute for photo props) because it is portable. I do a lot of my stitching on-the-go like at the park while my kids play or in the car when we are taking a long trip. I love that box has a lid and it won’t spill out all over the place. It’s probably how I will always organize it.

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Do you create your own patterns, or purchase patterns from other artists?

I have created a few patterns since opening my Etsy shop. When one of my pieces becomes popular – and since I personally don’t like working off patterns – I create a pattern, for others to use, from my own free-handed work. So I am actually making the sketch AFTER I’ve embroidered it. It’s a little backwards, but it works.

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What’s up next for you? Are you excited about a particular piece you’re creating?

2016 will be my 2nd year of business. I have many new products coming out and I am making sure that I always have a section in my shop that is “ready-to-ship.”


Thank you so much, Kayla! I loved reading about your embroidery story and process. Kayla’s work is stunning, and I hope you’ll check her out further on Instagram.

Next month I interview Kari Lockhart, so stay tuned for her interview.


I’m planning big changes to the Random Acts of Amy blog in 2016, and I hope you’ll join me as I expand my blogging chops. Please be safe tonight, and I wish you a happy and profitable 2016!


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