Meet the Author
Hey there, can you introduce yourself?
I am a designer, author and compulsive maker of things. I run my embroidery business, What Delilah Did (www.whatdelilahdid.com) from my home in a sleepy Norfolk village, where I spend my time making books, pretty cross stitch patterns, kits and squillions of other beautiful crafty things.
Tell us a bit about the book?
Part story and part craft book; Secret Garden Embroidery tells the tale of a spectacular secret garden, filled with magic and whimsy and all manner of green things just waiting to be discovered.
As you weave your way through the garden you will unearth a bright and beautiful collection of botanical-inspired needlework projects, from small items for budding novices to large designs for confident stitchers. The patterns all have their roots in counted cross stitch, but use a variety of different techniques including herringbone stitches, star stitches, french knots and many more besides traditional cross stitch.
Each project includes full instructions for making the pattern into a finished object, such as a magnet, purse, cushion, jewellery roll or simple clutch bag. Keep your eyes open for beautiful Lacewing Butterflies, Arbour Alphabet Flags, a super-sweet Milk and Honey Bee and a naughty little Early Bird called Gerald who is guaranteed to brighten up your summer.
What was the inspiration behind it?
In my head I am the sort of person who potters about in my beautiful garden full of roses and peonies, with rows of neatly cultivated organic vegetables and fruit trees laden with delicious things. In reality I am a notorious plant murderer. I grew up in the countryside, surrounded by beautiful gardens, but when I dreamed up the book I was living in a tiny flat with no green space, unable to keep even a peace lily without it getting baked to death on my windowsill or drowned by my over-zealous watering.
I decided that stitching a garden-themed book and filling my home and imagination with stitched versions of my favourite botanical things was an excellent substitute for the real thing. It also seemed like the perfect next step for Delilah’s adventures after Storyland Cross Stitch (2013) and Stitch the Halls! (2014); Secret Garden Embroidery is the third book in the series.
Which is your favourite project?
It changes depending on the day! Miss Millicent Hare (http://whatdelilahdid.bigcartel.com/product/miss-millicent-hare-supply-kit-book) is a real beauty; she will find a home in my new studio once it is finished, as will the Little Bug Magnets (http://whatdelilahdid.bigcartel.com/product/little-bug-magnets-supply-kit-book) and Honey Bee Pin Cushion. The Arbour Alphabet Flags are really lovely and quick to stitch (I have already made two sets as baby presents), and this week I am in love the Floribunda Clutch Bag.
What is your craft space like?
Until last year I worked from my tiny open plan flat, which had become completely overrun with embroidery supplies. I have recently moved to a little house in the country though, and am part way through the long process of making it habitable. When it is finished I will have a whole room (albeit a smallish one) to use as a dedicated studio space, which I am pretty excited about. I will have a big work table with storage underneath, a peg wall for my hoops and frames, lots of shelving for my craft library, and the walls will be covered in my stitching.
I have spent the past nine months working out of boxes and on my mum's dining room table so I am not sure I'll be able to contain my joy when the studio is finally ready!
Have you always been creative?
Always. I love most crafts, but stitching comes the most naturally to me. My mum is an excellent dressmaker and my Nannas on both sides can do pretty much any craft at the speed of light, so I think it is in my blood.
When did you first start crafting?
I have been making things since I was really very small. One of my earliest crafting memories was making Easter bonnets with my sister and cousins for a competition. We all used to congregate in the kitchen at my Aunt's house when the weather was bad and do crafts or baking. There are few things I love more than crafting or baking with the rain hammering on the windows outside. I think that is partly why I love doing those things so much now; the warm fuzzy feeling I used to get in that kitchen has stayed with me.
Who are your crafty heroes?
I love Alice Hoffman, and the Harry Potter books are my happy place. Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne books are another. I love being transported to another time and place, and tend to revisit books I love many times.
In terms of crafty heroes, I have great affection for women like Beatrix Potter and Tasha Tudor, who flew in the face of convention and built entire lifestyles around their art, no matter what other people thought of them. I find that tremendously inspiring. I have always felt a bit out of place in the modern world, and the immersive nature of arts and crafts has enabled me to carve out my own little niche where I feel completely at home.
Where do you find inspiration?
Much of my inspiration comes from period dramas, stories, old houses, music… things that aren’t necessarily related to what I do. I feel most inspired when I am indulging in a little escapism.
What's next for you?
I am currently working on another collaboration with Cloud Craft (http://www.cloudcraft.co.uk/) for later in the year, which I am quite excited about.
After that I want to take a bit of a break from briefs and deadlines to spend some time in my new studio, making small quantities of lovely things for my shop (http://whatdelilahdid.bigcartel.com/) before I embark on my next big project.