If you’ve not yet met Susan (@yardgrl60), you are in for a TREAT. Susan is our absolute favorite cross-stitch magician… the cross-stitch queen… the one who turns our tiny little wooden spools of floss into these remarkable mini masterpieces. She is on a personal mission to make every stitchy maker out there fall in love with Aurifloss and she’ll just continue shouting her love from the rooftops until you all comply. Our advice? Listen to her. She’s a smarty-pants and she knows what she is talking about!!
To learn all about Susan and her background, take a peek at her very first interview with us right HERE. Little Quaker Christmas is where our stitchy love affair began and we’ve just been having one big cross-stitch party ever since. Her latest collection is Little Quaker ABC. This collection was just perfectly curated. The colors are soft and luscious and remind us of spending a lazy afternoon in our favorite chair in our favorite room, sun peeking through gauzy curtains while a light breeze sneaks through. They represent that state of calm that we all really need right now. True to form, Susan designed an exclusive cross stitch chart to feature each color and give our idle hands something fun and satisfying to focus on while binge watching ALL of netflix;). Grab the chart right HERE.
We are delighted to showcase the collection and the colors here today… and to shine an extra bright light on Susan (just like the one she stitches underneath) with a super fun, sometimes silly, good ol’ no fuss chat. So without further pause… it’s Susan!!
Erin: Thank you SO much for taking the time to humor me with some stories, some tips, and some extra Aurilove! Some of these fine readers might be meeting you (GASP) for the first time, but no worries, I already sent them to your Little Quaker Christmas Interview for all the official stuff. That leaves us with the fun stuff;).
Susan: Before I even answer any of these questions, thank you for asking me to play along and have some fun with not just cross stitch and colors but stuff-stuff Erin.
Is it true that you’re a born and raised Floridian? What is it about the Sunshine State that makes you smile?
I was born and raised in Florida, with a few years as a child and a few years as an adult living out of state, but I always come back. And, I love the energy in Florida, because we are such a tourist attraction and have visitors from all over to come and visit. I actually get to meet people from different places and I love the fact that we have more sun than not most of the days.
If you were asked to rough it in the Maine woods for one Winter, would you do it? (LOL)
I have often said that I could survive “cold” country if I could have everything delivered and stay nice and toasty warm in flannel jammies all day long with a fire roaring in a fireplace at all times. Oh, and let’s not forget all of the plaid things that I would wear, quilt and the warm colors I would stitch with.
What was your number one favorite destination in the before-times? How about now?
Since I ever can remember, I have always wanted to visit Cuba. I was able to do that and would go back in a heartbeat to stay longer and see more things. I love any kind of Island living and can randomly pick an island to escape to just enjoy that lifestyle.
Many of us have seen the drool-worthy images of your home interior– how long have you been living there and how would you classify your style? What is your favorite color?
I have lived in this house longer than I ever expected to live anywhere. There was a point that we had to replace– I think it was the water heater, it was something that never needs constant replacement– well, anyway, I turned to my husband and said, “we have never done this before, do we move now?” My style has changed so much since we have lived in this house and now I would say it has everything that I love. I have gone from a busy, busy home look to a cleaned up version of things I love to collect. Less dusting and more about open spaces.
Doesn’t mean that I don’t have tons of stuff, I think that I have just refined it and don’t feel the need to have it all showing. And my favorite color is and always has been the color orange. That should have been a question all by itself, because I could go on and on about the shades of orange and how they live as a neutral in my house.
Be honest, do you decorate your home to coordinate with your Aurifloss?
I quilt and I stitch with shades of colors that I love and that I know match my house. There are two reasons for this and I always tell anybody that asks. If you don’t like the colors you are stitching or sewing with then you won’t enjoy the process. And, the other reason, probably the most important, if my stitching doesn’t match anything that I live with, then I know for sure it is not going to be seen nor is it going to be enjoyed. Don’t feel bad about changing colors to colors you love, that is the entire point of stitching. Stitch what you love in colors you love.
Which one came first– quilting or cross-stitch? Which do you favor now?
Cross stitch came first. Aida cloth, hooped. I remember doing series on shells, lighthouses, fruit, anything that I could do a series of and make a grouping with. Quilting came much later and I had already abandoned cross stitch by then. I came back to cross stitch and went straight to linen, stitching over 2 and collecting all of the Blackbird charts and then I saw my first Quaker sampler. It was the Akworth School, Mary Wigham sampler. By far, the largest and most detailed of any stitch I ever could think of stitching. I immediately knew that I didn’t want to repeat any color and changed the colors as I went along from the very first stitch.
How many red on white cross stitch samplers are currently hanging on your wall? If you had to estimate, how many hours went into creating ALL of them? How about spools of red floss? For scale, my newest and most thought about project hanging on my wall is my redwork wall. I have thought about doing one for years and the wall is 58” wide. I envisioned framed samplers from the ceiling to the floor, so I didn’t even know how to compute how many framed stitches it would take. So, about 4 years ago, I made a conscious effort to stitch as many Quaker style samplers in as many shades of red as I could and just put them all to the side and at some point get them framed.
Then I realized my mistake, I should have been framing them all along because it was a hefty bill at the framer…..but, in the end, I had 13 framed, hung them and realized I really do need more.
I feel like that this might be an ongoing project for years to come and a fun wall to revise and add too. I stitched in ranges from dark red into oranges and that has resulted in 54 empty wooden spools in a jar that I keep displayed in my sewing room.
Just so we have a tiny bit of education in here… what is your absolute TOP TIP for some just getting started with cross stitch, in need of a little expert guidance?
There are tons of tutorials that you can follow for getting started or refreshing yourself with cross stitch, and that’s a great starting point. So many people are coming back to this fun, comfy chair sport. Starting out, or coming back, I would suggest not hooping your work as you stitch. For some reason, you get the feeling that you are going faster and your work stitching in hand is more comfortable. It takes a minute to get used to, but once you put away the hoop you won’t go back. I stitch with a light brighter than 3 full moons hanging over my shoulder, it helps me for sure with seeing where I am going and you aren’t struggling so much to see stitches. And, while we are talking about stitches, stitch on a linen size that is comfortable for you. Don’t struggle or strain your eyes, enjoy it. I stitch over 2 on a 36 count linen and that is comfortable for me. It may take some trial and frustration, but find the linen size you are the most comfortable seeing your stitches and the linen size that doesn’t make the stitching seem like work. Any work that you stitch won’t change much in size for the finished project if you change the size of your linen, and you will definitely enjoy stitching more if you are confident in your ability to see your work.
What is it that you love so much about cross stitch and what is one thing about the practice that you’d really love for everyone to know and understand?
I have said it before, I am a nighttime stitcher, after the dinner dishes are finished that is my time to sit and enjoy the downtime. I do stitch on what I call “slug Sunday’s” and that has mostly been during our “shelter in” and rainy days. But, finding the time to be able to stitch for some people is a challenge. Pick your time, pick your space and just sit and enjoy the entire process. I know that I sound like a record stuck on repeat, but it’s all for fun and you should enjoy what you are doing. There is never a race to the finish line when stitching. When you change colors to colors you love you will find that you love your project even more. You truly are never behind in your own work, and that even means stitch-alongs. There aren’t stitching police watching how fast or slow you stitch so just enjoy.
Let’s get down to business! Little Quaker ABC. What inspired you to select these spools? Did you know, when curating this set, that the chosen colors would be absolutely perfect for Fall all the way into Spring?
I actually was in the middle of changing colors of a chart that I wanted to stitch and my eye kept going back to that chrome color. Which didn’t have anything to do with the chart I was choosing colors for. But, it was a stop everything moment and I just kept playing with colors, some I have never thought of using before and then suddenly it just all looked like they belonged together. It truly doesn’t even have a season to me, because the shades are muted and soft at the same time and work for all seasons.
What came first, the colors or the chart?
Absolutely, colors always come first. I have a tendency just to look at a piece of fabric and then race to my aurifil colors to see what blends pretty for any sort of stitching. Most of the time when I see a color I love and want to try, it’s a stop everything and play moment until I get it to where I want it to be. The charting of this Little Quaker ABC was probably one of the quickest I have ever designed. I knew that it had to be full of little things that reminded me of gardening and I wanted to make sure that the ABC’s were the main story of this little chart.
We’re fishing for sneak peeks… what else do you have up your stitchy sleeve?
I am so excited about something fun for summer. I have played and practiced on so many size linens because I want people to try something that might not be in their comfort zone. And, wanted to make it as easy as possible for everybody to try. I’m not going to give it away now. But, it does involve cross stitch and some other pretty fun stuff and of course mine is in red because I have a wall to finish filling up. So, you are going to have to stay tuned.
Cats or Dogs: Cats
Shoes or Barefoot: Barefoot
Country or City: Country
Camping or Glamping: Resorts
To the Mountains or to the Sea: Sea
Favorite Needle: I use John James petite needles size 26 Favorite Floss Color: hands down 5002
Hoop it or Don’t Hoop it: NO hoop
Current binge-worthy show: Stanley Tucci “searching for Italy” is my newest favorite show.
HUGE Thanks so Susan for indulging us in this extra fun interview. Until we meet again!
SUSAN’s FREE CROSS STITCH CHARTS
Click here for access to download all PDFs. Click here for the Collecting Colors SAL and herefor the Sanctuary SAL.
Instagram — Susan’s BookA love of color makes it easy for Susan to grab inspiration from her native Florida surroundings. With no grand idea other than knowing she wanted embroidery and nine patches in her first quilt, a new world opened up to this mom of now five grown children. Being self taught with many hours of reading about the makings of a quilt and quilt blocks has made this a lifelong passion. Susan is always searching for new and fun ways to show off as many colors as she can in a quilt. Most of her quilts are a creative impulse from trips to the garden center, a photograph, or browsing through paint chip selections. “I really never see just the quilt, I seem to see the quilt in the room that it belongs in”. Working in a quilt store for years helped Susan to pursue that passion of color and the fabric inspired life she enjoys while constantly striving to make her next favorite quilt.
Little Quaker ABC
10 SMALL SPOOLS COTTON FLOSS
6728, 2215, 5008, 2524, 2902
1126, 6731, 2910, 2920, 2975
Susan – can we purchase your red and white patterns? I would love to make the octagon one pictured here with 4 thread colors.