De­signer Q&A

“There is great sat­is­fac­tion that comes with cre­ation. It is a spe­cial kind of joy to share that with oth­ers.”

Just Cross Stitch - - Contents - Pam Lewis and Su­san Rohm

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

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