Backside of the Hoop with Beth Stackhouse
I am so pleased to interview Beth of Forest Chorus Studio for Backside of the Hoop! I met Beth on Instagram, and have long admired her embroidery style. Beth creates beautiful hand embroidery featuring florals. Her stitching is so beautiful and precise. Read on!
Tell us about yourself
I’m Beth of Forest Chorus Studio, and I live in the Kansas City area with my husband, two young daughters, and a feisty Taiwanese street cat named Mayda. I have a degree in English and a passion for traveling, reading, hiking, and of course, embroidery! I especially love stitching florals and landscapes.
When did you start doing embroidery?
I got started in fiber arts in my early twenties when I fell in love with knitting and modern quilting, but it wasn’t until I discovered embroidery a couple years ago that I found my true passion. I’d been curious about it for awhile, but I never worked up the courage to try it until I attempted Alicia Paulson’s gorgeous Daisychain Alphabet Crewelwork Sampler. I just couldn’t pass it up. It is such a pretty pattern. I learned to embroider using the stitch guide included with the kit. I worked on the pattern almost every evening for three months. When I finally finished it, I felt very proud, but I also felt quite sad because it was over! I was hooked.
Where is your favorite place to embroider?
I am really fortunate to have a dedicated space for my studio. The room has two large glass doors that open onto our backyard, so the light is really nice. I share the studio with my 5-year-old. She has her own desk and really seems to love having a special place to create. When my younger daughter is old enough, she will have a spot in there too, if she would like to. From my desk, I can see the little patch of forest behind our house. I named my business Forest Chorus Studio because I like to sit and stitch and listen to the birds sing. It is definitely my happy place, and it never ceases to provide me with inspiration.
Show us your backside…of your hoop!
I’ve tried several ways of finishing my hoop backs, but for the pieces I sell in my shop, I prefer to back them with a coordinating fabric. I use three layers of fabric in my hoops: the embroidered piece, a thin layer of muslin, and the backing fabric. I love using the extra layer of muslin because it adds more tension to the hoop, increases opacity, and prevents any pattern on the backing fabric from showing through.
What is your favorite part of the embroidery process?
That is really hard to narrow down, but I think designing is my favorite part. I really love choosing colors. I start out with a basic color scheme in mind, but as I stitch, I consider the texture, placement of stitches, and overall balance and adjust my colors as I go, and I find that process to be so much fun. As far as the overall design, sometimes it’s something I’ve thought about for a long time and carefully sketched out, and sometimes I pick up the needle with just a vague idea of what I want to do. I also really enjoy the simple, meditative act of stitching. I love that I can let my mind wander on the easier stitches and then bring my focus back on the trickier ones. It is really fun and stress-relieving for me. I don’t think I can put into words how much I truly love embroidery, but I feel like I have finally discovered — after so much searching — the tools I need to express all these ideas I have in my head. It is such an incredible feeling. I am absolutely addicted.
What is your least favorite part of the embroidery process?
Finishing the back of my hoop. It takes up so much time that could be better used on stitching! I specifically dislike centering the embroidered piece in the hoop before it is glued. I find that part really stressful and take a lot of time to get it just right.
What are your top three favorite stitches?
I thought about this question for a long time before answering. I love so many of them, but I narrowed it down to three that I think are beautiful, versatile, and fun to execute: stem stitch, french knots, and straight stitch. There are just so many things you can make with them. I am going to cheat though and list a couple honorable mentions that are dear to me: fly stitch and split stitch. They are just so fun!
What is your favorite brand of floss?
How do you organize your floss?
I organize my floss on plastic bobbins and store them in a box. I’ve tried other ways but ended up wasting a lot of time looking for the color I wanted. This is the easiest way to keep organized for me, and it has the benefit of being very portable.
Do you create your own patterns or purchase from other artists?
I really enjoy creating my own patterns. Designing is a huge part of the fun for me. I find so much inspiration in nature, and I have a long list of projects I want to get to. I also really enjoy stitching landscapes inspired by places I have visited.
What’s up next for you?
Right now, I’m really struggling to find time to work on everything I want to do. I’m still relatively new to this embroidery journey, and there are so many ideas I want to explore. I’m really excited to try combining my love of knitting and modern quilting with embroidery. I’ve also been doing a bit of cross stitch and cutwork lately and would like to explore other traditional needlework techniques. I have some pattern-writing projects I’d like to attempt as well. Thinking about all the possibilities is really exciting to me.
Thank you so much for sharing your embroidery story and process with us! I completely relate to how many possibilities there are out there for embroidery artists, and how exciting it all is. Next month I interview Liz of Cozy Blue.