Colorful embroidery for the heart – the Lolli and Grace Interview
Dear embroidery enthusiast. I’m going to introduce you to a fellow embroidery artist. She does not only share the same name as I do *virtual high five for Annes with an E* she also loves colors as much as I do: Anne alias Lolli & Grace.
It has been a while now since I have found and admired Anne’s designs. She is one of the kindest people you can imagine and it shows so much in her work, too. Spring-like, warm color palettes and hearty themes make it very easy to fall for Lolli & Grace Designs. Enjoy!
Hi Anne, I’m glad to have you here! Could you give us a short introduction so my readers know who you are?
Hello everyone! I am Anne, the creator, designer, stitcher and pattern-maker of Lolli and Grace. I have a wonderful and patient husband, an amazing and beautiful 14-year old daughter, and 2 snuggly dogs.
All of my life I have been creating in one way or another, whether it is drawing, painting, stitching, knitting, sewing, doll-making or learning photography. And even though I am not doing all of those things all of the time, each interest has contributed in a fundamental way to what I do now.
The moral of that story? Don’t ever discount an interest or a hobby you have because you think it’s not “useful.” Everything you learn informs all the things you do later.
How did you find your way to embroidery? When did it become a passion of yours?
I have always loved needlework. I first did needlepoint in Jr. High school, then I did cross stitch in college. In fact, I just unearthed the framed cross stitch piece I did right after I was married that matched the colors in our first apartment. (It’s lavender and yellow, which matched our Laura Ashley comforter – anyone remember Laura Ashley?)
Several years later I saw a pattern for embroidered pansies in a Martha Stewart magazine and was immediately inspired. Several years later, a thought hit me like a bolt of lightning…”Hey, I want to work with wool felt and do more embroidery.” And here I am!
It’s always a huge step to start your own business especially a creative one. When did you decide to take the leap?
When I was younger, there simply was not a consistently reliable outlet to sell handmade goods. Thus, I spent a lot of time doing things just for myself. But when I started embroidery again, there was Etsy, which made it easy to start a handmade business without a huge financial investment. But getting started is the easy part…working at it consistently and figuring out what you need to do to keep it going is the hard part.
The colors you choose are always so cheerful and heart-warming. Which role does color play in your life?
Color…oh, color. Color drives pretty much everything I design. It energizes me, inspires me, makes me happy. Picking out the colors for every project I design is one of the best parts of the process for me!
Let’s dive into the embroidery related things!
Many embroidery people are struggling with storing their embroidery threads. What’s your system (or non-system), would you share your secret-sauce with us?
If I had a secret-sauce, a fix-all, a One Best Way To Store All The Threads, I would gladly share it with you!! Unfortunately, it’s an ongoing process. I don’t like to wind my threads onto bobbins, because
A.) It takes forever and I’d rather be stitching, and
B.) I detest the creases that form, which make it hard to separate threads and then later can turn to knots as you’re stitching.
But I finally got fed up with piles of thread heaped up on my desk, so I devised a quick way to get all those threads wrangled, which was to put them in divided, clear protectors that are then put in a big 3-ring binder. There’s a blog post on my blog that talks all about it. However, this method has some pros, but it also has some cons.
Now I have pretty much switched to using those plastic 5-drawer cabinets (11” high x 7” wide – you can get them at WalMart), where I can organize the skeins by color and/or brand in each drawer. I can pull drawers out easily and take them to my table, see all the threads easily and then pop the drawers back in the cabinets when I’m finished choosing colors.
What is your favorite part of the embroidery process from start to finish and which do you like the least?
The very first stitches are always fun, because I’m excited to start making my idea into a reality. I also love it when I’ve been stitching for a bit and find that rhythm – you know, when your brain and your eyes and your hands are synced up and the stitches are going just where they’re supposed to go, the satin stitches are smooth and pretty and the colors are all blending together beautifully.
My least favorite part used to be separating threads, but now that I strip threads instead of untwisting them (like I did when I first started) I actually love the meditative aspect of separating threads and putting them back together.
Which embroidery project was the most challenging one you have ever encountered?
The most frustrating time I had on a project was my own fault. I loved the design I had created, the colors were great together, and I knew it was going to be a success as a finished piece. But I chose the fabric poorly. It was just white fabric, but I grabbed some cheap fabric in my stash instead of making sure I was using nice, quality cotton.
That fabric fought me on practically every stitch. The needle didn’t want to pierce it easily, the threads didn’t glide through and the fabric didn’t stay tight in the hoop. By the time it occurred to me why I was frustrated, I was halfway finished (and it was a design that was 100% satin stitching, so a LOT of time and thread had already been used).
I’ll never make that mistake again.
There are so many embroidery techniques and materials out there. What would you love to try out one day that you haven’t done yet?
I’ve only worked a little bit with silk threads but they are amazing, so there’s definitely more silk in my future. I’d also love to try some thicker threads, especially to explore some of the different color effects.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self who has just started embroidering that you wish you had known back then?
As I mentioned above, to separate threads by stripping, not untwisting. I could have saved myself a lot of irritation and frustration if I’d known it made such a difference.
But also, I would want my younger self to know that I’m not alone, that there are indeed other people out there with a love for color and a passion for the same things that inspired me, and that connecting with that vibrant community brings rewards beyond what I could have imagined.
Thank you for taking the time answering my questions! Where can we find you to see more of Lolli & Grace?
Thank you so much inviting me to share a little bit about myself! Here are the places you can find my work: