When Illustration meets Embroidery – an interview with Why Knot Stitches

Why knot stitches behind the scenes

Stella Caraman, also known as Why Knot Stitches, has taken the embroidery world by storm with her colorful and artistic designs. The mix of clear black lines and the use of rich textures make her work unique and expressive. In this interview, Stella talks about her background, her embroidery tips, and why cats are such an inspiration for her embroidery art. Let’s start!

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Hi Stella, I’m glad to have you here! Could you briefly introduce yourself, so my readers know who you are?

Hi everyone, my name is Stella, I’m 37 years old and currently based in Romania, though I was born and raised in R. Moldova.

I am the woman behind Why Knot Stitches. My goal is to teach and inspire people to explore the art of embroidery.

How did you find your way to embroidery? When did it become a passion of yours?

My connection with embroidery has its roots in my childhood, where I was fortunate to learn from my mother and grandmother. However, my journey into embroidery truly rekindled in 2017.

At that time, I was working as an illustrator, and an intriguing project led me down an unexpected path. Tasked with creating an illustration centered around embroidery, my research introduced me to the world of modern embroidery.

Enthusiasm and curiosity led the way, prompting me to seek out embroidery tutorials and giving me the motivation to try embroidery again, as an adult this time. In fact, one of the first useful and well-organized tutorials I found were the ones in your stitch lexicon on your website. I want to take a minute to express my heartfelt gratitude to you, Anne, for generously sharing your knowledge with us. Your work served as a great source of motivation during my early days as a beginner! Your embroidery designs burst with colors and expressive stitch textures.

What inspires you to create your designs?

Due to my background in illustration, crafting my own patterns feels effortless and highly captivating. Inspiration often arises from the small things in my surroundings that I hold dear, evoking a sense of closeness and connection within me. The greatest inspiration however comes from my cat assistant, that’s his only job – to inspire me. 🙂

Over the past year, I’ve been experimenting with textures, and I’ve noticed that occasionally, a single stitch can serve as my inspiration to design a pattern solely for the purpose of incorporating that specific stitch.

Regarding the colors in my embroideries, I often contemplate how my work would look with a limited color palette. However, when it comes to selecting the palette for my next embroidery, I find it hard to resist the allure of the vibrant array of colors available.

The new Meowdern Art patterns are such a fabulous creation. How on earth did you come up with the fusion of cats and famous artists?

Thank you for your appreciation! The MEOWDERN ART Collection is a tale of two passions converging harmoniously. My fascination with cats, paired with my deep admiration for the life stories of renowned artists and their art.

The design phase, where the illustrator within me thrived, was an exhilarating challenge. It involved capturing the essence of famous artists and their distinct styles while infusing them with an overwhelming desire to embroider more cats. In simple words, I just wanted to create more cat embroideries 🙂

The embroidery process, however, held a different magic. It allowed me to delve into experimenting with various stitches, textures, and techniques.

The heartening response from the embroidery community was truly heartwarming. It reinforced my belief that this embroidery collection was absolutely necessary! 🙂

What is your favorite time and place to embroider?

I’ve transformed the largest room in my apartment into a personal creative sanctuary for embroidery. This is where I spend the majority of my time, surrounded by threads, fabrics, my feline assistant, and, of course, my daily tasks.

While I cherish this space, my ultimate heaven for embroidery is surrounded by the beauty of nature.

Favorite time? Always! I would embroider at any time!

Are there any embroidery helpers or tools you recommend using?

To anxious beginners, I would recommend trying a full embroidery kit, at least one. To crafty beginners, I would recommend finding fabric in local stores, to experiment with different kinds of fabrics. As for other necessary supplies, from my experience, well-known brands like DMC and ANCHOR are the best ones.

To intermediate and advanced embroiderers, I would suggest forgetting perfectionism 🙂

However the best tools to enhance your embroidery process at any level, that are absolutely necessary, are your curiosity and motivation, use it wisely!

What is your system of storing your embroidery threads? Do you have a tip to share?

You’ve got me here! I don’t have a formal storage system; I store my threads in ziplock bags, arranging them by colors and shades as they arrive. All of these bags are kept in a large box that my cat has adopted as his personal nail-scratching station. I like it because it doesn’t take up a lot of space and it’s easy to access.

The threads that have been used are stored in a different box, each of them wrapped around a floss bobbin, numbered, and organized by colors in a wooden box with a transparent lid. It also serves as a decoration when I’m not using those threads.

And theeen, I have the “working threads” those are the ones that I’m using for my ongoing project. These threads are scattered in a flat box, by my side in the whole embroidery process.

What is your favorite part of the embroidery process from start to finish, and which do you like the least?

What I enjoy the most is designing patterns, particularly the moment when I have to merge a visual concept with the stitches that best align with the vision I hold in my mind.

But I can’t deny the soothing feeling that the actual process of embroidering brings to my life – the tranquil and affirming experience of crafting something with my own hands.


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Which embroidery project was the most challenging you have ever done?

The most challenging one was and it still is, to embroider a surrealistic butterfly on a jacket. I started it two years ago and it’s still in progress. It’s challenging not because it’s too hard but because I can’t find time to work on it.

The most challenging pattern in terms of complexity was undoubtedly the “Bohemian Cat.” This design features a black cat seated in a colorful armchair. Besides the abundance of Satin Stitch, which I adore, it incorporates a wide variety of colors. I will never forget the considerable effort I put into making the cat’s face appear cute rather than evil, which I had to restitch a few times before I finally achieved the desired level of cuteness.

black cat on arm chair embroidery pattern by whyknotstitches

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 ventured into a wide array of stitches and experimented with various materials over time. My current drive is centered around exploring new methods to convey depth through textures and unique ways to employ specific stitches.

However, my ultimate aspiration is to embark on larger projects, intricate in terms of both colors and shapes, akin to surrealistic paintings.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self who has just started embroidering that you wish you had known back then?

Oh, that’s easy! Start sharing your embroidery sooner and don’t worry about it being perfect.

heart landscape embroidery pattern by WhyKnotStitches

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! Where can we find you to see more of your work?

I’m deeply grateful to you for appreciating and showcasing my work, and a bit of my life with your audience!
Many thanks to your readers for being curious about my embroidery journey!
IG: @WhyKnotStitches
Tik Tok: @WhyKnotStitches
Youtube: @WhyKnotStitches
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Interview series – Hands of Embroidery

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