Meet Nicola Hulks, a.k.a. the Mindful Stitching Company as we learn about her cross stitch podcast and patterns courses, how her love for the craft began with a Forever Friends kit, her top tips for stitching success, inspiration and more!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?
Hi, I’m Nicola and, as I call myself on Instagram, I’m a cross stitch super fan! My business is called the Mindful Stitching Company and it has two main arms. The first is my stitching podcast called Stitch Talk where I interview cross stitch designers and the second is courses for cross stitchers including a Design Your Own Cross Stitch Patterns course. I also design my own patterns and have an Etsy shop where I sell those.
How did you get into cross stitching?
I started as a child. I had a Forever Friends kit that I’m pretty sure I never finished! I then picked it up again when I was pregnant and unable to continue with dressmaking, which I also love. Since then, I’ve been hooked!
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I kept getting DMs on Instagram asking me to do custom patterns for people but by the time I costed them out to get paid for my time it became so expensive. All I wanted to do was teach these people how to design these patterns for themselves – they had the ideas already so why not? All they needed were the skills and I knew I could share those and so the cross stitch course was born!
The podcast grew out of that as I just love being a champion of all the creativity in our wonderful cross stitch community. This way I get to talk cross stitch every month with fellow stitchers and promote cross stitch businesses I love – it’s a win-win!
Where do you get your design inspiration/what inspires you?
In my course I talk a lot about inspiration. For me it comes from all kind of different sources, perhaps from holidays I’ve taken and the colours I’ve seen there, or a postcard I collected on my travels. I also get a lot of inspiration from special occasions – my baptism and Christmas patterns are my best sellers!
For even more inspiration, be sure to check out CrossStitcher magazine with a wealth of projects, charts, stitching advice, expert features and so much more! Check out our subscription offers or, perhaps our digital archive with access to more than five years’ worth of content, PLUS every new issue is for you!
What’s your favourite cross stitch creation to-date? Can we see?!
Ooh this is a hard one! I’d have to say that it’s the Christmas sack I made for my son for his first Christmas. It’s just so sentimental to me! The design is by Hannah Sturrock from Bobo Stitch – she’s a wonderful designer.
Crafts are known to be excellent for wellbeing – how vital do you find crafting for your own mindfulness and wellbeing?
It’s totally essential. I set aside a couple of hours after dinner a couple of nights a week to just relax in my craft room and stitch. It’s time for me and brings me so much joy.
What are your top tips for beginners/those who’d like to start cross stitch?
- Get the basics right when you start (like using two strands of floss, learning how to start and finish your thread and how to read a pattern). Once you’ve got these down the cross stitch world is your oyster!
- Get on Instagram for inspiration and to meet the loveliest group of fellow stitchers you could ever hope to know!
- Start with patterns that are smaller and with blocks of colour rather than lots of graduations of colour. Also check out the number of colours in the pattern. The more there are the more complicated it will be to stitch.
- But also, stitch what you love! You’ll be motivated to finish if you really love it and after all this is all for fun!
- Push yourself. Try and introduce a new skill with each new pattern you try. Maybe go for a coloured Aida next time or a bigger pattern?
And bonus tip – check out my website for a Beginners Cross Stitch course!
Are you into any other crafts and if so, what are they?
I’ll try my hand at pretty much any craft! I love sewing and have a vintage Bernini machine in my sewing room that has served me well. I love dressmaking in particular and wear a lot of clothes I’ve made myself.
Tell us about your craft room/work space – we’d love to see pictures, too!
Oh, I love my craft room! It’s a haven for me and I love being able to leave my projects scattered all over the place! I have a cosy armchair in there and a side table with a rack underneath for all my patterns. I also have a sewing table and a gorgeous vintage glass cabinet that I upcycled. All my previous patterns are up on the wall. I find that so inspiring!
Where can people find out more about you?
Next, don’t miss these 25 pro cross stitch tips for beginners and beyond, packed with advice to help you improve your technique, boost your creativity and organise your work.