Selvedge: Meet Louise Newton
“I’ve always loved daisies. I grew up with them as they covered our garden at home. Perhaps they give me a sense of nostalgia, reminding me of making daisy chains with my sister and picking them for my mum when I was younger. She would use an egg cup as a vase to put them in the kitchen,” says Yorkshire embroidery artist, Louise Newton. With vibrant threads on neutral-coloured backgrounds, Louise captures these special childhood memories and her picturesque surroundings in embroidered artworks. A keen observer, Louise is drawn to the finer details found in nature – delicate twisted stems, missing petals and hints of colour. “My nana used to say daisies were blushing when they get the little pink tips in summer; that melts my heart!”
Yorkshire’s dales, coast and woodland offer plenty of inspiration. Louise is especially attracted to photographing and stitching wild spring flowers, insects and landscapes. Even the winter months are a creative time for her as she uses embroidery to escape the dark mornings and rainy afternoons.
You’ll often find Louise sitting on her bedroom floor, at the kitchen table or curled up on the sofa with a hoop in hand. A cup of tea is close by and her work is spread out all around her, including a tangle of embroidery threads. “I am quite disorganised when storing my threads,” she admits. “Rather than finding the patience to wind the thread around a bobbin to keep it neat, they can get into a large tangle. My friends are absolutely horrified when they see the state of it, but I have come to accept that this is just the way I roll.”
Louise rarely plans out her designs onto fabric, preferring to work freehand and let her imagination guide her. She loves using split stitch to create curved flower stems and clusters of French knots for the textural centres. “I can remember teaching myself how to make French knots via YouTube and it seemed so difficult and long, even just to make one French knot. Now I whizz through them – it’s so satisfying,” she says. One stitch she is yet to master is the bullion rose. “I have broken four needles trying to make them!” she laments.
Along with embroidery, Louise incorporates other techniques and materials into her work. She has experimented with painting fabric with acrylic and watercolours before embroidering over the top and stitching over needle-felted shapes to create a three-dimensional effect.
Another creative technique Louise uses to create interest is carrying the thread over the hoop and allowing the thread to hang below the hoop. “I love the idea that the flowers are ‘growing’ over the hoop and that the hoop becomes a significant piece of the artwork, rather than just acting as a frame,” she says. When it comes to finishing off the embroideries by backing the hoops, Louise becomes the “queen of procrastination”. For her, it’s the most challenging part of the process. “I want to be doing the fun stuff – stitching my flowers!”
Louise says that art makes her a happier person; it can both calm and excite her. “When I get stuck into my stitching, it is very relaxing and grounding but it can also be a butterflies-in-your-tummy kind of excitement when an idea comes together.”
Louise’s sunny personality shines through her work – her pieces are busting with happiness and positivity. And couldn’t we all do with a little more of that in our lives?
To find out more about Louise Newton of Lou Stitches, visit her Etsy shop (loustitchesshop.etsy.com) and check out her Facebook (www.facebook.com/loustitches) and Instagram accounts (www.instagram.com/loustitches).