One day, I was browsing Etsy for flower embroidery patterns, and then I saw it: the most beautiful meadow landscape embroidery pattern I have ever seen. And so I found the wonderful world of larkrising by Lauren Holton. The beautiful meadow is not the only pattern, Lauren is making the most beautiful scenic landscape embroidery patterns. I wish you a good time reading this interview with Lauren of larkrising!
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Hi Lauren, I’m glad to have you here! Could you give us a short introduction, so my readers know who you are?
Hello, I’m Lauren. I’m a fiber artist living in Seattle, WA (USA). I run my creative business from home while mothering my two young boys, ages 6 and 2. My work is focused on hand embroidery and designing embroidery patterns/kits, but I also do punch needle, weave and sew. My favorite non-fiber activities include hiking, traveling, reading, and enjoying time with my family and a large collection of houseplants.
How did you find your way to embroidery and when did you decide to create LarkRising?
As a child I spent a lot of time on creative pursuits of all sorts and always enjoyed anything using string or fabric the most- I even had a bead loom in middle school! However, since I wasn’t naturally gifted at drawing or painting, I never envisioned myself as any type of artist and didn’t pursue it as a career initially. I did an undergraduate degree in environmental science with a focus in environmental education, but always continued to craft for fun in my free time.
I quit my day job to stay home with my older son while I was pregnant with him and found that I needed a creative outlet even more, so I picked up embroidery when he was a year old. I began by sketching a very simple bee design and stitching it based only on a few stitch diagrams I found online, and while it wasn’t a stunning piece of embroidery, it turned out pretty well, and more importantly it was so much fun for me.
I loved that the materials were small and easy to move around the house or take outside, I loved the tension involved with the fabric and pulling the stitches “just right,” and I loved how much texture and detail I could create by adding thread to such a simple design. That was in March of 2016 and by June of the same year I decided to open an Etsy shop, mostly just hoping to make enough money to support my own craft habit, or maybe pay our cell phone bill if I was lucky. I started an Instagram at the same time as a way to share my work and connect with other makers, which I think really helped me grow in the craft. Developing embroidery patterns that other people could follow as DIY projects was an obvious next step for me because I genuinely enjoy teaching and also because I was running into the issue of being limited by how much time I could actually spend stitching. Creating patterns allowed me to earn some passive income and not have to stitch at such a fast pace. Lark Rising Embroidery has since blossomed into Lark Rising Studios to incorporate the other mediums I enjoy and I’m continually amazed at how many people have been able to enjoy my patterns.
Can you tell us a bit about the process that goes into designing your embroidery pieces?
My design process looks a lot different now than it did in the beginning. The reason for that is mostly due to finally feeling a lot more confident in my own artistic voice and intuition. I used to design patterns that I liked, but I put a lot of consideration into what I thought other people would like, what colors I thought my customers might want to use, etc. Now I only create work based on what I feel inspired by and what colors I’m enjoying, and surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly) people have responded to my more recent work so much more because of that.
These days I’m really inspired by botanicals/florals and landscapes, as well as a lot of the pattern-styles used in surface design. I love creating collections that center around a theme but incorporate multiple pattern styles, including some that are more abstract so that the focus can really just be on color, texture, and shape.
What challenges and positive experience have you encountered by creating embroidery pieces?
I think one of the biggest challenges in any art practice in the digital age is to be as authentic as you can. When we spend time on social media or sites like Pinterest, it’s really easy to get stuck in comparisons or be overly “influenced” by someone else’s work. I’ve had quite a few upsetting experiences where my work has been copied, stolen, or reproduced (even by a big company), which is really disheartening. On the other hand, when you are able to channel your inner voice and create something that feels very “you,” it’s so exhilarating, and when people respond positively to it, that’s also very affirming. Mostly I just feel extremely fortunate that I was able to turn my hobby and creative energy into a way to help support my family.
Many embroidery people are struggling with storing their embroidery threads. What’s your system – or non-system?
This is a question I get a lot, and I’ll share my system, but it definitely isn’t glamorous. In my little breakfast-nook turned studio I have a big wooden board with thin dowels sticking out–I have most of my thread stored on these “pegs,” sorted in the same order as the DMC thread color guide. I don’t have every single color, but I have a lot, and usually several of a single color (the board is about 3×4’).
In addition to this, I always have a big pile of thread on my desk. I use this pile as my color-selecting stash. When I’m deciding on colors to use in a piece I do a lot of picking up different skeins, holding them next to each other to compare, etc. This is always messy, so I’ve decided to just let this pile live on my desk and embrace the chaos. I also have a small fabric bin on my desk that has partially-used skeins in it–ones that still have the color label and enough left to be worth holding onto, for times when I just need a little bit of something and don’t want to use a whole new skein.
What is your favorite part of the embroidery process from start to finish and which do you like the least?
Choosing the colors is usually my favorite part, but I also just really enjoy coming up with new designs. It’s really fun to puzzle out how to make gorgeous, impactful designs that people can recreate, while still using just a handful of simple stitches.
Which embroidery project was the most challenging one you have ever done?
The most challenging project I’ve created was definitely the ABC Embroidered Wall-hanging I created for a class on Creativebug. It was a concept that I really wanted to explore for a long time, but it was so tough to decide on the different little images for each letter, to give them all a cohesive style and level of detail, and it also took ages to stitch all of the little tiny details. I’m so happy that I took so long to work it out though because I love how it turned out and the class has been really well-received.
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?
Something that I’m just starting to explore is layering fabric and embroidery and paint and embroidery. Designing patterns is wonderful, but sometimes I need to create more freely without having to keep track of colors, stitches, or stopping to take photos–I’m hoping that exploring with adding in some other mediums could be a really nice change of pace for me.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self who has just started embroidering that you wish you had known back then?
Focus on creating work that you want to display in your own home, and create designs that please you, not anyone else. Really taking the time to develop your artistic voice is so worth it.
Thank you for taking the time answering my questions! Where can we find you to see more of your work?
Thanks so much! You can find me on Instagram @larkrising, on larkrisingembroidery.com, which has my newsletter sign-up, a bunch of free stitch tutorials, and recommendations for some of my favorite supplies. You can check out my patterns and kits on Etsy at larkrisingembroidery.etsy.com or take one of my five online workshops on Creativebug.com
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