1. Please introduce yourself – name, where you are from, family, pets etc.
Hi I’m Helen from StitchyDragon Creates. My mom is English, my dad American, and I married a Scot! We moved to the Highlands of Scotland 25 years ago and raised three children here. My oldest son is married with two young boys and they live in the same small town we live in, my younger son is studying computer software engineering in Edinburgh, and his twin sister is studying music in Aberdeen. Hubbie and I share our house with two cats, Pippa and Felix. Pippa in particular has a Need to test drive every blanket I crochet (whaddaya mean you need the bit I’m laying on?!)
Pippa and Hydrangea blanket
2. How long have you been stitching and how did you start?
I remember learning to stitch various embroidery stitches on gingham fabric when I was four and sewing lots of embroidered felt projects from a little Ladybird book in the years after that. My mom used to do a lot of dressmaking and I remember going to sleep to the sound of her machine so sewing in one form or another has always been part of my life. My first counted cross stitch project was a Pierrot kit I was given one Christmas, I think I was nine or ten? In my teens and early twenties I sewed clothes, toys, and home furnishings, and gradually started cross stitching more as my children started school. Although cross stitch will always be my first crafty love I gave in to the call of the fabric and started learning to quilt in 2010. The following year I started crocheting, first amigurumis and then exploring the wider world of crochet. In 2013 I picked up knitting needles for the first time in almost thirty years and have found much truth in that saying “In the rhythm of the needles there is music for the soul”.
chick and duck amis made for my grandsons
3. How long have you been blogging and what inspired you to start? Is there a story behind your blog title?
I started blogging in February 2012 mainly due to the encouragement of a bloggy friend. I had been following a few crafty blogs (including hers) for a little while and thought that, even if no one else was interested, it would be an easier way to keep my far flung family updated with what I was up to (90% of my family are spread across North America). Dragons have been my favorite animal since early childhood and StitchyDragon was my original user name on the first online forum I joined so StitchyDragon Creates seemed a natural blog title for me.
4. How would you describe your stitching style? Are you a serial starter, a rotator, a OAAT (one at a time), highly organised, random and eclectic, etc.?
I used to be a strictly OOAT cross stitcher but once I started taking on bigger projects and then added in different crafts that went out the window! Now I try to keep it to two cross stitch projects on the go (usually a big and a little), and no more than two knitting projects, one quilty project, and a crochet blanket on the go at a time. With the emphasis on “try” ��…I also have some UFO’s and the last two years I have been focussing on finishing these off (and not adding new ones!).
5. Do you have a favourite designer or style of design you are drawn to?
I like a wide range of styles but my favorite cross stitch designer would have to be Joan Elliott. Apart from designs she has had in various magazines over the years I have five of her books to work my way through! I’m definitely more of a traditional quilter, I love civil war fabrics, applique, and anything with a star block will grab my attention! Knitting wise I love stranded colorwork and socks (don’t ask how much sock yarn is upstairs waiting to become actual socks!), and crochet wise my biggest inspiration is Lucy of Attic24.
crochet wreath inspired by Lucy
6. Which piece are you most proud of in your collection?
That would have to be the Geek quilt I made for my younger son when he left for uni. Each block represents something from his favorite books, video games, films, or tv programs. It took me a year and a half to finish it but I had to learn a completely new-to-me technique (foundation paper piecing) and then design almost half the blocks myself. Some of them are available free on my blog, I still haven’t finished writing the other ones up…You can read the full story behind it and see some close ups of the blocks here http://twchighland.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/quilts-to-inspire-big-finish.html
7. What has been your worst stitching disaster?
I have been lucky with my stitching so far but my knitting adventure started out with a disaster. My Nan was an avid knitter, she taught me to knit as a little girl and was always on hand to help me. Three years after she passed away I decided to knit myself a fair isle cardigan as my first knitting project in almost 30 years (I mean how hard could that be?!) so after 7 months (and a steep learning curve!) it was finished. I wore it a couple times then washed it and it stretched to where the arms would’ve fit a gorilla! I tried washing it in slightly warmer water and - yup you guessed it! – it ended up a felted shrunken mess! It is the only project (to date) that has ended up in the bin as unsalvageable.
doomed fair isle cardigan
8. Which new technique would you like to try, either stitching, finishing or another craft?
I would like to stitch more 3D cross stitch pieces, I have done a couple so far as gifts and really enjoyed making them. There are quite a few other crafts which appeal to me but I am trying very hard not to add anything new in now. If I succumb to temptation I think it will be hardanger… or cake decorating…
cross stitched angel
9. Do you have a box of finished-but-not-fully-finished pieces? Or is everything FFO'd? What's your favourite way to fully finish a project and what do you do with them?
I taught my kids to stitch when they were little and I have the first project each of my sons’ finished along with two of my own first cross stitch projects in a drawer upstairs, likely they won’t be fully finished into anything now. My daughter still stitches sometimes and I have two of her more recent finishes waiting to be FFO’d at some point when she is home and we will do that together. Everything else I FFO as I go along now. I have learnt so many different techniques thanks to the generosity of lovely folks on the internet but my current favorite way to finish a small cross stitch piece is as a flat finish. I have a seasonal shelf to display different smalls every month and the rest of the year I find they store better as a flat finish than as a wee pillow.
January snowman small
10. Which of your projects most represents "you"?
Oh gosh that’s a hard one! Cross stitch wise it would have to be either Crescent Moon Dragon by Joan Elliott or Spirit of the Wolf by Dyan Allaire (wolves are my other favorite animal). But Moda brought out a line of fabric in 2013 that I felt was totally me as soon as I saw it and you can read about the quilt I made from it here http://twchighland.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/17-ufos-in-2017-february-update.html
Crescent Moon Dragon
Spirit of the Wolf
11. Tell us a secret about yourself. Or a joke. About anything!
OK... I choked on a carrot this afternoon and all I could think was "I bet a donut wouldn’t have done this to me!"
12. Anything you would like to add?
I’d like to thank Jo for asking me to participate in this, I was really honoured she thought of my little blog! I don’t always get a lot of time in front of my computer due to health reasons but I do enjoy being part of the online crafty community and getting to know folks. Apart from all the temptation and enabling for new projects I find online an inspiring place to explore - there are so many amazing, creative, and talented, people out there! Wishing you all a happy and creative week.