Welcome to the first Backside of the Hoop of 2017! I am excited to kick off 2017 with a bang by interviewing Adam Pritchett. I have admired his embroidery style for quite some time. I am not a fan of spiders except when they’re embroidered by Adam! He is a master at creating little embroideries with impeccable stitches. It’s because of his beautiful bullion knot roses that inspired me to try to master this stitch.
Tell us about yourself
I’m Adam, I am a self-taught embroiderer & artist, based in The Lake District, England. When I’m not sewing, I can usually be found in the kitchen baking cakes, or trying to take pictures of neighbourhood cats. I started my shop on Etsy a few years ago initially to sell hand dyed tote bags that I was making, but as my artwork developed and I grew more interested in embroidery, the shop slowly became a place just for sewn work.
When did you start doing embroidery?
I have dabbled in bits and pieces of hand embroidery since I was at school, and a little more while studying at university—but it wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I sat down on a quiet weekend and decided to try stitching something after finding a bundle of floss in a second hand store. I was snagged straight away, and found as much research material, like old books, random assortments of video tutorials online—anything and everything I could find.
Was there anyone who taught you, or are you self-taught?
My gran taught me a tiny bit, but she’s more of a knitter, so most of what I have taught myself has been a lone adventure!
Do you still have the first piece you created?
I do still have my first piece! I stitched an improvised pattern while working in an art gallery sitting in with the exhibits and it was very experimental but I still look at it fondly, needless to say I’ve learnt a lot since then.
What’s your embroidery story?
I think one of my fondest memories of embroidery is quite a recent one; while on a train journey down to London I was stitching one of my spiders, and was being watched by a number of ladies sat behind me. I could hear one of them telling her friends what each of the stitches I was using was called, and later on as I turned around we caught one another’s eye and struck up a conversation about my sewing and what it was. The little spider piece got handed around to all 6 of the ladies so they could see it, and it made me think how wonderful it was that a piece of embroidery started an exchange between a group of strangers who otherwise wouldn’t have had anything in common. Crafts has a very special way of being able to do something like that, and it’s one of the reasons I value it so dearly.
Where is your favorite place to embroider?
I’m actually a bit of a sewing nomad, I have two boxes that store all of my threads and needles, and a hoop clamp and it all just moves around the house/other peoples houses/the garden, wherever I happen to be working on that day (usually in the best light I can find)! It is my dream to have a beautiful studio space where everything is neatly organised, and I have lovely walls and lots of light—but it just hasn’t happened yet, one day when I have more time & can afford to!
Show us your backside…of you hoop!
Have you always finished off your pieces this way?
Yes, I generally always work with a woven wool fabric that is similar to felt, but much thicker & stronger, as a result of this fabric being so thick I find that trimming and glueing my hoops works best to finish them.
Have you tried other ways?
I know that many other stitchers leave additional fabric gathered at the back so the piece can be tightened as and when it might need to be over time from the fabric shifting, but if I finish off a hoop in that way with this fabric it’s just too thick and sticks out too much. It doesn’t suit it!
What are the advantages in how you finish your pieces?
Well because I use this woven wool it doesn’t tend to stretch like a lot of cottons can, so it makes for a robust finish that sits well inside a hoop once it’s cut and glued in place. It also looks nice and neat too.
What is your favorite part of the embroidery process?
I enjoy the peacefulness that you get from sitting and stitching a design that you’ve created and bringing it to life. Sewing has a unique, hypnotic, and calmingly repetitive motion that is always a pleasure to watch, seeing other people working is such a joy.
What is your least favorite part?
I’d have to say my least favourite part is trying to transfer a new skein of thread onto a reel without getting any knots in it, and it takes so much time away when I could be doing other things.
What are your top three favorite stitches?
Certainly a chainstitch, bullion knot, and french knot! Those three give so much variety and diversity in what you can do with them.
What is your favorite brand of floss, and how do you organize it?
I primarily use DMC cotton floss, and usually split the strands in to single, or double threads as I’m working as most of my work is quite fine & small. But I also have a collection of DMC Flower Thread which is a now discontinued but brilliant type of twisted thread which is much stronger and thicker than single strand cotton floss, it’s lovely to work with but sadly, difficult to source. I keep all of my threads in a DMC segment box, I only recently purchased it, but it’s been such a lifeline for saving me time and keeping me on the straight and tidy.
Do you create your own patterns, or purchase patterns from other artists?
I do all of my own designs free hand with an air erasable pen directly onto the surface of the fabric. I sometimes sketch things out on paper first, but I usually just form an idea in my head and have a start point, a design often changes as I work, but that makes the end result all the more interesting! Much of my work is inspired by myth & magic, but I am very heavily rooted in botanics and insects as a returning theme that I always go back to.
What’s up next for you?
I have a few pieces in the pipeline that have been going on over the holidays, and I have a few ideas of things I want to make in the new year, I enjoy making designs that are seasonal as I stitch a lot of plants & flowers, so some wintery pieces are in the works. I was also on television over here in the UK on a Christmas crafts show working on an embroidered stocking, so that was such a fun, exciting thing to be involved with (and I still don’t think I’m over my aversion to talking on camera, but I’m working on it). I’d really like to do some sort of craft show for 2017, but I’ve never done one before, so I’m open to suggestions!
I enjoyed reading about your embroidery story and process, Adam – thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed. I would love to watch your TV interview, and will have to try to find it online.
Next month’s Backside of the Hoop features Sarah Milligan of iHeartStitchArt.