We talk to Durene Jones, owner of Durene Jones Cross Stitch about all things stitching – from how she got into cross stitch to how her business evolved and what inspires her. She even shares her craft room with us!
Durene Jones is a name many of you will be familiar with, regularly featuring in CrossStitcher magazine, for one!
She’s captivated us with her beautiful and characterful cross stitch designs and today we’re getting to know the multi-talented person behind the designs.
Hello, Durene! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, I currently live in the North East of England, in a little peaceful village with lots of countryside and the coast not too far away, both of which provide me with lots of inspiration for my cross stitch designs, as does my garden which you can often find me in when I’m not designing.
How did you get into cross stitching?
I've always been interested in arts and crafts, and can remember learning to sew, knit and crochet at a very young age. At school I studied art and also sewing and dress making. My art teacher was very interested in textile arts, so as well as painting and having the usual art classes, we also learnt various forms of hand embroidery, free hand machine embroidery, appliqué, batik and silk painting, which I think sparked my interest in various textile crafts.
Later I went on to art college to study general art and design, where I further experienced a mix of different art-based subjects, as well as more lessons in textiles, embroidery and surface design. And although I then went on to university to study graphic design, and the early part of my career is in this field, I think it was this early love of embroidery which eventually lead me into pursuing a career as a cross stitch designer.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I never really decided to start my own business as such. I knew I’d like to have a career in cross stitch design and first approached magazines to see if they’d like to feature my work. When they did and it became regular work, it led me to starting up my own business. My business grew naturally until I was in a position to do cross stitch work full time. At the beginning I was doing other work too as a graphic designer and then later working part time in a clothes shop.
I later decided to open an Etsy shop so I could sell charts as downloadable pdfs. This allows me to sell whatever I want, rather than just designs which are bought by magazines and I can produce embroidery and hardanger charts too, as I love many forms of needlework and this allows an outlet for that work and allows my business to grow.
Where do you get your design inspiration/what inspires you?
Inspiration can come from anywhere and often when I least expect it, and I’m busy doing something completely different. Odd little ideas for a design just suddenly pop into my head. And I've learnt to write them down immediately, as if I don't by the time I find the time to open my sketchbook to draw out my idea it’ll be gone. For this reason I often write lots of lists, so I have something to look back on when I have the time to pursue an idea fully.
What’s your favourite cross stitch creation to-date? Can we see, (please)?!
It’s hard to choose one design as they all offer different qualities and I tend to change my mind every time I look at them, as I’m very critical of my work. But it would probably be an animal design, or a Christmas one. Those tend to be the ones I remember.
Crafts are known to be excellent for wellbeing – how vital do you find crafting for your own mental health and wellbeing?
I like to craft to relax, not just cross stitch but lots of different styles of sewing, as well as crochet and card making. So what craft I choose to do can often depend on my current mood and how involved I want to be. I find crafting is an excellent way to turn off from the day, to de-stress and it also gives a great sense of achievement when the piece is finally finished.
“Inspiration can come from anywhere and often when I least expect it, and I’m busy doing something completely different.”
What are your top tips for beginners/those who’d like to start cross stitch?
Generally, learn as you go and find out what works for you. Once you have the basics like knowing how to read a pattern, how many strands of thread to use, what sort of thread to use, to keep the top arm of the cross always going in the same way as all the others and how to start off and end a thread neatly, the rest will just follow.
The most important tip is to enjoy it and don’t stress too much, especially if you’re just starting. New crafts can often be hard enough without putting yourself off in the beginning by trying to make everything perfect, or by looking at work of more professional sewers and just seeing fault in your own, so enjoy it, and if you make mistakes don’t punish yourself about them, but learn so you can continue to enjoy your craft.
Are you into any other crafts and if so, what are they?
I like to crochet and also make cards, although I probably don’t do them as often as I would like just because of time. Recently, I’m generally found model stitching hardanger pieces or ornaments that I need to photograph for my Etsy shop.
Please tell us about your craft room/work space – where do you work? We’d love to see pictures, too!
I don’t have a specific room in which I craft, that could be anywhere in the house, but I do have a specific space in which I work, which is just the corner of my bedroom that I’ve put a desk and shelves in. I don’t have a studio, so my work space has to fit in with everything else, but it works for me, and forces me to be organised and tidy too, so that’s probably no bad thing. If I had a studio, mess would no doubt just expand outwards until the space was full!
Where can people find out more about you?
Inspired by Durene? Start by going back to basics with our cross stitch beginners’ guide, or meet another talented cross stitcher, Dianne Fisher, who creates wonderful cross stitch designs in miniature!