“There is great satisfaction that comes with creation. It is a special kind of joy to share that with others.”
Q. When and how did you learn to stitch?
A: Pam: I learned to embroider as a little girl. My mother taught me when I was learning how to sew doll clothes for my Barbie® dolls. I was about 12 years old at the time.
I learned to do counted cross stitch from my oldest sister, Betsy. On a shopping excursion, I bought my first graph, fabric and floss for an extremely complicated Chinese geometric design that was 10 x 15 inches. I didn't know any better and thought it was a normal beginner piece. It took three years to complete.
A: Susan: I learned to embroider at about 13 years of age. My Grandmother Ida lived in Oshawa, Canada, and was always doing her “fancy work.” Granny showed me how to do several of the stitches and gave me the materials needed to get me started. For Christmas that year she included iron-on transfers, DMC floss, needles and hoops in our yearly Christmas parcel. Even my brother learned to do Granny's fancywork.
I learned to cross stitch after becoming best friends with Pam in January of 1979. It took Pam a while to convince me that I could learn to do counted cross stitch. After stitching my first design, a small Christmas ornament, I was hooked. I was about three months pregnant at the time and would wake up my husband in the early hours of the morning because I would be cross stitching in bed.
Q: How did you meet and form your partnership?
A: Pam: Susan and I met at church in January 1979. Our church was starting a contemporary Christian singing group, and at the meeting, Susan came to sit down beside me, and we have been best friends ever since. We have been through everything together— from raising our children to the care of our parents to weddings to the deaths of parents. We talk and text all the time. Even our husbands are best friends.
A: Susan: During the Easter holiday in 2002, Pam and I designed our first graph, “Be Ye Kind.” That December, we took the stitched piece to get framed and the owner of the crossstitch/framing shop wanted to know where we had purchased the design. When she found out we had designed it ourselves, she encouraged us to get it published.
She put us in contact with the owner of The Abecedarian, a cross-stitch shop in Atlanta, Ga. She was impressed with the design also, and she put us in touch with the owners of R&R Reproductions, Pat and Anne. They encouraged us to participate in the cash-and-carry show in Charlotte, N.C., the following July of 2003. During the time from December to July, we designed seven new graphs and stitched the models. Yellow House, one of our first designs, is still one of our best-selling charts.
Q: How would describe your style of cross-stitch design?
A: Historic, whimsical and eclectic. We began designing cross-stitch charts out of the love we have for needle arts and the history and meaning of all the motifs included in samplers. We were intrigued with historic samplers and the fact that young girls completed them.
We also have a strong sense of whimsy. We love to design the houses and other charts that have little people and animals in them. There is great satisfaction that comes with creation. It is a special kind of joy to share that with others. Q: Which of you does the designing? A: Susan: We both work very closely together all during the design process, sketching out the ideas on paper and then translating those ideas to the computer. Pam's expertise is on the computer using the design program. We sit in the office, and Pam uses the computer. I give suggestions about what should be included or removed: “Why not …?” or “Can you make a …?” We even stitch on the same piece when we are on deadline. We tag-team the piece until it is finished. We have learned to stitch the same way so you can't tell the difference between our stitches.
Q: What inspired your Quaker Christmas Needleroll & Accessories project that you will be teaching at the 2017 Annie’s Needle Arts Festival: Christmas in Williamsburg (see the advertisement on pages 4 and 5)?
A: We love the classic motifs and the whimsy in the traditional Quaker interpretation and placement of motifs in samplers. You can see the stitchers' personalities, the type of materials they had available to them, and the stitchers' thought processes as they stitched. We wanted to translate that into a design that would be seasonal, practical (like the Quakers) and fun to stitch. We love stitching smalls and thought this would be a way to use them to complete a simple design.
Find Praiseworthy Stitches' Batty Bat Ornament on page 34.
You can find Pam and Susan's Haunted Hillside Farm design in the Just CrossStitch Halloween 2015 issue, available at Annies CraftStore.com.
Susan Rohm, left, and Pam Lewis have been best friends since 1979. Their website is www.praiseworthystitches.com