Meet Nia, owner of Nia Cross Stitch, and find out about how she developed her love of cross stitch, why she started her own business, her Welsh roots and why lettering is part of every design…
Nia is a cross stitch designer who specialises in lettering. She creates a wide range of cross stitch kits and tapestry kits, along with bespoke designs to be appreciated by all!
We were lucky enough to catch up with Nia to learn more about her Welsh roots, the growth of her business and what inspires her. Plus, Nia shares some priceless top tips for beginners… you don’t want to miss them! Enjoy, or should we say, ‘mwynhewch’!
How did you get into cross stitching?
As a child I spent a lot of time crafting and creating. We had needlework lessons at school and I used to create clothes for my dolls by hand sewing, knitting and crocheting. I can remember receiving a gift from a neighbour which was a stamped cross stitch set and it included three skeins of brightly coloured cerise, violet blue and jade green stranded cotton skeins of embroidery threads. I loved them. This began my love of needlework which resulted in me studying needlework/textiles A level at school.
Being a creative child, I graduated from Exeter College of Art and Design and pursued a career as a graphic designer. I specialised in typography and this is evident in my designs which include my bespoke lettering to create different themes.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I took a break from my career as a graphic designer whilst raising my young family at the time and began cross stitching again when they were a little older when I had more time for myself.
Living in Wales, I found it difficult to find modern cross stitch designs in Welsh and therefore began designing a few for myself, creating my bespoke lettering as I went along.
All the designs I have are available as a Welsh and English version and this made me realise that perhaps others had the same problem as myself and therefore began to offer my designs for sale on my website and at local craft fairs. I also contacted cross stitching magazines with news of my designs.
Where do you get your design inspiration/what inspires you?
I love colour and pattern and this is evident in the use of colour in my designs. I take inspiration from my everyday surroundings and happenings and very often, an idea will pop into my head and I have to note it down in my sketchbook.
When I begin on a new design, I tend to have the colours I intend to use for the design in a bank in my mind immediately and I’ll have those cones of thread laid around to see them working together. More often than not those colours will be the ones used for the design.
What’s your favourite cross stitch creation to-date? Can we see?
It’s difficult to choose a favourite. There are so many and they all have their own little stories behind them as to how and why they came about. My favourite colour combinations are the pink and violet blues you see in the wedding designs. I love that.
I’m always excited about the current new design which I’m stitching at the time and long to get it completed so that I can publish the design and make it available to you all.
Crafts are known to be excellent for wellbeing – how vital do you find crafting for your own mindfulness and wellbeing?
When I’m sat with my cross stitching in front of me, I’m transported into another world. It’s a great opportunity to de-stress and become content with your surroundings. Gradually, any anxieties you have with all the lists in your head of the things which need to be done tend to fade away as you concentrate on the counting and loading of the beautiful coloured threads into your needle while you build your picture of cross stitches. The repetitive process is somewhat hypnotic as I’m eager to complete the motif which I may be stitching and look forward to beginning on another letter or motif of the design.
Once or twice, having woken in the night and found it difficult to go back to sleep, I’ve gone downstairs and picked up my cross stitching and found that half an hour of this is just the tonic to get me back into my sleeping mode. So relaxing, as all the lists which were in my head keeping me awake will have faded away while I return to my bed thinking about the latest design I’m working on.
Do you love escaping into a world of cross stitch? CrossStitcher magazine is for you with a wide variety of fresh designs in every issue to get stuck into!
What are your top tips for beginners/those who’d like to start to cross stitch?
1. If you’re a beginner or considering trying cross stitching as a craft, choose your first projects carefully. Don’t go for big projects with several similar shades of a particular colour and vast areas of background to fill in.
Instead, choose smaller, simpler, more manageable projects which will give you a better chance to complete them successfully. A larger, more complex design may put you off forever and there’s a good chance it will be left at the back of the cupboard and forgotten.
"As you become more confident with your stitching you will be ready to move onto the more complex designs."
2. Always work with clean hands to avoid dirt and grease ruining your stitched piece.
3. If you’ve chosen your design as a kit, take all the elements out of the bag and lay them out in front of you. The threads may be pre-sorted and already loaded onto the card for you, or in some kits, you may need to do this yourself. If so, check the colour descriptions carefully to decipher which shade is which if some of them are similar to avoid using the wrong thread in the wrong place.
4. Familiarise yourself with the pattern before you begin. Compare the pattern with the stitched image so that you know what it is you’re going to create. Always begin at the centre of the pattern and work outwards, completing little motifs or lettering as you go along and remember to try and make sure that you’re crossing your cross stitches in the same direction.
5. It’s a good idea, to double-check your counting to avoid mistakes. If you find that you’ve made a mistake, don’t panic – this happens from time to time. If you can see that this will affect the design, then it’s best to unpick your work and stitch that section again.
6. Always place your stitching away neatly when you’re not working on it and keep it in a clean bag. If you use a hoop to stitch, try and remember to remove your stitching from the hoop before putting your work away. This way you will avoid hoop marks on your fabric.
Are you into any other crafts and if so, what are they?
I love sewing. I’m always keen to make my own soft furnishings and finish my designs in creative ways which involves sewing. It may be hand sewing or machine sewing and I love choosing co-ordinating fabrics to make applique or patchwork items. I’m always interested to try out different ways to finish my creations.
When I had more time, I used to sew my own clothes and would love to find a spare hour or two to do this again. I also enjoy knitting and find it quite theraputic too. It’s a repeat process just like cross stitching.
Tell us about your craft room/work space – we’d love to see pictures, too!
I don’t have a craft room as such. I work from home and therefore use different parts of the house for different purposes. I tend to design and create at my desk working from the initial ideas in my sketchbook and transforming these into cross stitch charts on my computer.
I love the process of choosing the threads which I’m going to use for a particular design and love having these next to me when I’m working on the design to build the picture.
I keep my embroidery fabrics in my treasured blue Laura Ashley dresser and love using my wooden meter ruler, which was a gift from my late father, to cut the fabric and threads. I hand assemble all the kits myself with the help of my lovely husband when times get a bit hectic. He is the person who designs and creates my lovely printed charts for me and prepares the artwork ready for the printers.
When I’m stitching my models, I like to stitch in good light with all the elements next to me and I couldn’t be without my little orange pair of Fiskars embroidery scissors which I have had for a very long time. I stitch the models myself to begin with and then have my Mum to help stitch the variations of the designs.
Where can people find out more about you?
You can find out more via:
My website: nia-crossstitch.com
My Etsy shop: etsy.com/uk/shop/NiaCrossStitch