De­signer Q&A Belinda Karls-Nace

Just Cross Stitch - - Contents -

Q. When did you be­gin cross stitch­ing?

A. Like many needle­work­ers, I was in­tro­duced to a nee­dle and thread at a very early age. I would watch my grand­mother do crewel em­broi­dery and cro­chet. My fam­ily al­ways en­cour­aged my cre­ativ­ity, and I re­mem­ber do­ing many craft and needle­work projects as a child. I have vivid mem­o­ries of work­ing my first crewel em­broi­dery and stamped cross stitch at the age of 6.

Q. When did you be­gin de­sign­ing cross stitch?

A. I started cre­at­ing my own de­signs in the late 1990s and Blue Rib­bon De­signs was born in early 2004. I was work­ing full-time at a mort­gage com­pany and de­sign­ing in the evenings and on week­ends.

In mid-2004, the com­pany I worked for was sold, and many of the em­ploy­ees were out of work—my­self in­cluded. With my de­sign busi­ness al­ready un­der­way and my first eight orig­i­nal de­signs ready for re­lease, I de­cided to jump in and try to make Blue Rib­bon De­signs my ca­reer.

Q. How did you learn to de­sign?

A. I was never for­mally trained in de­sign. I have taken quite a few art classes (paint­ing, wa­ter­col­ors, draw­ing, etc.) and well over 100 needle­work classes, but I did not go to school for de­sign. Dur­ing my child­hood and teen years, I was artis­tic, but needle­work was not my fo­cus. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing, I started do­ing cross-stitch kits—mostly as gifts for fam­ily and friends.

As time passed, I be­gan try­ing more stitches and tech­niques, work­ing with var­i­ous types of fab­rics and threads. I be­came en­tranced with all dif­fer­ent types/styles of needle­work and medi­ums. I started at­tend­ing as many classes and re­treats as I could fit in my sched­ule, soak­ing in as much knowl­edge of hand­work as pos­si­ble.

I found I needed a creative out­let and I wanted to share my pas­sion with fel­low stitch­ers. I am a self-mo­ti­vated, an­a­lyt­i­cal per­son and en­joy prob­lem­solv­ing, along with work­ing on the com­puter, so de­sign­ing my own projects seemed like the next log­i­cal step.

Q. What was the first thing you stitched?

A. It was a large crewel em­broi­dery de­sign that I worked on as a young girl. It said “Eat Your Veg­eta­bles” in the cen­ter and had var­i­ous pro­duce around the perime­ter. I can dis­tinctly re­mem­ber study­ing the in­cluded stitch di­a­grams to learn how to make French knots for the broc­coli and cel­ery, and the stem stitch for the car­rots. Over the years, I have won­dered what­ever hap­pened to that mas­ter­piece!

Q. What was the first thing you de­signed?

A. My first orig­i­nal pub­lished de­sign was a sam­pler ti­tled “Never Stop Grow­ing.” It is a monochro­matic, sam­pler-style de­sign and is still one of my fa­vorites.

Q. What is your fa­vorite type of de­sign to cre­ate?

A. I love early/an­tique needle­work and his­tor­i­cal sam­plers. My de­signs tend to com­bine the con­cept of his­tor­i­cal sam­plers with the styles and col­ors of to­day. My fa­vorite de­signs to cre­ate are larger pieces made up of smaller sec­tions that can be used for needle­work smalls.

Q. How do you be­gin a de­sign?

A. Once I have an idea or in­spi­ra­tion, I grab my sketch­book and pen, and get a cou­ple ba­sic draw­ings on pa­per. I then head to my com­puter and start the chart­ing process. Once an idea is born, it usu­ally takes me (on av­er­age) a cou­ple days to chart it on the com­puter to my sat­is­fac­tion. Once the chart­ing is ready to print, my last step is to pick the fab­ric and threads.

Q. Who or what in­spires you?

A. For me, in­spi­ra­tion is found ev­ery­where. I keep a sketch­book and a cam­era handy at all times. I of­ten write down ideas and sketch mo­tifs, ob­jects and lines. My friends will tell you, I am AL­WAYS tak­ing pho­to­graphs. I get a lot of in­spi­ra­tion out­doors when hik­ing, boat­ing, walk­ing my dogs and work­ing in my yard.

I also find in­spi­ra­tion and creative spark when pur­su­ing my quilting hobby. Sev­eral years into my cross-stitch de­sign ca­reer, I found I re­ally needed a creative out­let that wasn’t part of my needle­work busi­ness. With my love for fab­ric and threads, sew­ing and quilting was the log­i­cal leap.

When­ever I need a lit­tle break from hand­work, I spend an after­noon in my sew­ing stu­dio. I feel com­pletely at home and re­laxed there. I truly em­brace the en­tire process of sew­ing and quilting. I feel very com­fort­able and con­tent in my sew­ing stu­dio, and the time I spend in my sew­ing room truly brings out more of my creative side for my cross-stitch de­sign busi­ness.

Q. Are you a morn­ing, mid­day or night de­signer?

A. I am a night owl, through and through. I like to de­sign, stitch and sew into the wee hours!

Q. What do you do when you aren’t de­sign­ing or stitch­ing?

A. I am an out­door girl and fit­ness en­thu­si­ast. I like to lift weights, take long walks and hike with our two Ger­man Shep­herds, plus spend time on a bass boat with my hus­band. I en­joy tak­ing care of my home and yard, cook­ing, sketch­ing, quilting, and read­ing about his­tor­i­cal needle­work, an­tiques and tex­tiles. I also like to do gir­lie things with my friends like shop­ping or hav­ing tea.

Q. If you were to give some­one cross-stitch ad­vice, what would it be?

A. Love ev­ery stitch! Don’t be wor­ried about the rules or the “cross-stitch po­lice.” You should en­joy your hobby. I al­ways tell my stu­dents: “There is no right way or wrong way, only YOUR way.” Choose ma­te­ri­als, tools and sup­plies that match your per­son­al­ity and style and that work best for you. Cross stitch should make you happy!

Q. What’s the best thing about hav­ing your own cross-stitch de­sign busi­ness? And the worst?

A. The best: I get to be creative daily! I have a fab­u­lous home-based of­fice (a loft) where I work dur­ing the day. This is where I do de­sign chart­ing, com- puter work, mar­ket­ing, bag­ging charts, re­search, ship­ping, etc.

I also have a stor­age room that I lov­ingly re­fer to as “the ware­house” that houses all my printed de­signs, so all my work is done from the com­fort of my own home. I don’t have to ven­ture out into in­clement weather and I can work in my pa­ja­mas when the mood strikes me.

I have a “stitch­ing nest” in our liv­ing room where I work in the evenings/ nights on model stitch­ing. I do most of my stitch­ing in this chair, so I can work near my hus­band when he is home. I en­joy be­ing my own boss and con­trol­ling my own des­tiny. Oh, and I can’t for­get that I LOVE trav­el­ing and teach­ing. One of the best things is meet­ing fel­low needle­work­ers that share my pas­sion and teach­ing them my tips, tricks and tech­niques!

The worst: Be­ing self-em­ployed, I must be very self-dis­ci­plined. I have a sched­ule I try to stick to ev­ery day with an ex­ten­sive to-do list. It is not al­ways easy to sched­ule “me time.” I am a onewoman show, and I know my suc­cess de­pends on my own hard work and busi­ness de­ci­sions.

I find many friends and fam­ily think be­cause I work from home I am en­joy­ing lazy af­ter­noons and just “play­ing,” when (in re­al­ity), I work harder at my de­sign busi­ness then I ever did at my cor­po­rate job.

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