We talk to Hannah Sturrock, a.k.a. Bobo Stitch about how her business began, her designs, inspiration, favourite cross stitch creations and enjoying the process. Plus, don’t miss Hannah’s top tips!
Before we get started, we've got an exciting announcement... We'll be working with Hannah on our very first collection of cross stitching webinars!
The collection will cover cross stitch 101, jargon busting, techniques and using text in your stitching. Don't miss out! Click the below button to find out more and book your place.
How did you get into cross stitching?
I started like lots of people do – my mum taught me. Her mother was a big yarn crafter – knitting, crochet, embroidery – even spinning, so it's a nice skill to hand down. I really enjoyed the process of it when I was younger but even then I never really enjoyed stitching care bears or the other cutesy patterns that I could find.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I didn't cross stitch for about 15 years, then my friends started to have children and I wanted to make them something. I remember how much I used to enjoy stitching and so looked for a modern pattern but couldn't really find anything that I thought would suit their modern nurseries. This was way back in 2007ish and it seemed like the style of patterns hadn't really moved on much since I was a child.
Now of course there is a huge explosion of cross stitch designers to suit all sorts of tastes and styles but choice really seemed limited then. After I had my daughter (nicknamed Bobo!) I researched again and thought there was a gap in the market for a fresher and more modern take on cross stitch and I officially launched the business in a very small way in 2014.
Where do you get your design inspiration/what inspires you?
I get a lot of inspiration from colour. I put colour palettes together and wonder what to make from them. I also like to design with the comfort of stitching in mind. For me this is a hobby that takes time – it's a slow craft, so you really want to enjoy the process. I see it as a total privilege that people have chosen one of my kits as a way to spend their spare time, therefore I try to design things that end up beautiful but are also relaxing to stitch.
What’s your favourite cross stitch creation to-date? Can we see?!
This is a really hard question and I usually end up feeling like whatever I'm stitching right now is my favourite. As a finished piece I really like the Christmas sack I designed for my book Modern Cross Stitch (Cico Publishing). It's really important to me that you can stitch things you can use as well as just hang on the wall – this piece, in particular, is special as it'll definitely become a family heirloom. The children get really excited when the sacks come out of the loft each year – it means Christmas has arrived.
Image credit: Cico Books.
I also love my slogan hoops as they're a real talking point at craft shows. I love the fact that they speak to people and make them laugh! So many people have bought the Wonder Woman kit and I always feel so happy when I package them up knowing that so many people have a Wonder Woman in their lives. That's a really good thing.
Ready to get stuck into cross stitching? CrossStitcher magazine is for you, packed with new designs to enjoy, charts, inspiration, seasonal projects, top tips, expert features, stitch-a-longs and so much more!
Crafts are known to be excellent for wellbeing – how vital do you find crafting for your own mindfulness and wellbeing?
There are so many reasons that craft has been shown as being good for mental health, but I find cross stitch especially soothing. I think there's a lot to be said for working with natural fabrics, in a rhythmic way that is very soothing. It focusses the mind without requiring too much thinking and it also stops you from the scroll of doom on that phone.
I’ve been encouraging both lapsed and current stitchers to get out an old 'work in progress' (we all have one somewhere!) and just get stitching. I did it too with an old Erhman Tapestry Willow Pattern kits that I've had for nearly 10 years. It's relaxing to stitch, soothing to work on something familiar and satisfying to finally get something like that finished!
What are your top tips for beginners/those who’d like to start cross stitch? Please share your top five tips…
- Find a pattern that you really love. That might sound silly but don't start with something just because it looks easy – make sure it speaks to you and you'll feel all the more satisfied once you're finished. And on that note...
- Don't be put off by bigger patterns that look more complicated as a beginner. Remember that with cross stitch you really have to learn only one type of stitch, then you're off! With some clear instructions and/or online tutorials once you get to grips with it you should be able to stitch anything. Lots of Bobo Stitch designs are filled with big blocks of colour or regular patterns. This helps you get into a rhythm, not have to keep checking the pattern constantly and more easily shows you if you've made a mistake before it's too late. And on that note...
- Don't be afraid of mistakes. Just unpick and start again. Always unthread your needle to do this, rather than just trying to unsew it, otherwise you'll end up in a frustrating tangle. Ultimately, it takes less time to rethread your needle so just do that.
- Make sure you have decent light and your pattern is big enough – I think one thing that can put people off is not being able to see properly. A good lamp and a large pattern print can really help. I always make sure Bobo Stitch patterns are plus sized – most on A3 paper and full colour so it's easy to see definition in the charts.
- Once you get to grips with your new hobby, think about what you're going to do with your finished projects before you even start them. It's a tragedy to spend all that time stitching something, only for it to sit in the bottom of your sewing bag. Learn how to frame your stitching in a hoop, or in a frame, make it into a cushion, sew it into a bag, make bunting or even try some soluble canvas and stitch it straight onto a t-shirt. At Bobo Stitch, I like pretty useful cross stitch as you'll see in lots of my kits.
You'll find more handy tips in our cross stitch guide for beginners!
Are you into any other crafts and if so, what are they?
I love to use my sewing machine and I'm that person who loves World Book Day at school which gives me a chance to use it to make wacky costumes. I'm not very confident with it though and I'll be booking on to a sewing machine driving lesson one day.
Tell us about your craft room/work space – we’d love to see pictures, too!
I love it (previously I was working out of a spare bedroom). Everything is at hand. My only sadness is that I can't display all my stitching thread reels which are so pretty or finished stitched samples as I want to protect them all from dust and light. I'm busy planning my next studio space, but for now I feel very lucky to have a dedicated space to work and craft in.
Where can people find out more about you?
Next, get to know Sally Wilson of Caterpillar Cross Stitch with more gorgeous modern designs!