Scarlet Thread introduced you to Kurdy Biggs, the designer behind Threedles, last fall. Imagine our delight to discover that her newest design had won a First-Place ribbon at the 48th Annual Woodlawn Needlework Exhibition in Mount Vernon, Virginia. Looking Glass, also there, won an Honorable Mention ribbon. We caught up with Kurdy recently to talk about her work and her exciting new design, Cleopatra's Eyes.
Can you provide a bit of background on your relationship with needlework? When did you first start stitching, and what did you stitch?
I started stitching when I was about 8 years old. My parents went to Williamsburg, VA, every year and would bring me back one of those stamped cross-stitch samplers of the historic buildings. I used to wait for them to return, so I could see, and touch, the colors I received that year.
How has this evolved?
Well, I stepped up to the large samplers that had embroidery at the bottom section, and I was off. I think I embroidered on anything I could in my teens, my jeans, my shirts, and some very large samplers. I did some counted cross-stitch, and some traditional needlepoint throughout the years. Then I ran across Susan Portra and Jean Hilton, and I was hooked on counted canvas. I had a history of creating Christmas ornaments as “bows” on presents to family and friends, and this evolved into my own counted cross-stitch and needlepoint designs as ornaments.
What path led you to designing these gorgeous pieces?
Basically two things led me to trying my first design. The first factor was that I was having trouble finding something that was interesting to me to stitch. The second factor was that after relocating to Colorado, I needed to either restart my previous business or try something new. So with the encouragement of family and friends, I decided to try designing needlepoint.
Was “Looking Glass” your first design? How has it been received?
“Looking Glass” was my first full-size design that is based on kaleidoscopic images. Since I am new to this profession, it is hard for me to tell how well “Looking Glass” has been received, However, I am happy with its success.
Could you describe your design process? Where do you get your inspiration?
For years my husband and I have collected kaleidoscopes, especially the oil-filled, dichroic glass ones. Every time we would take them out, I would look at the images and think “I would really like to be able to stitch this.” So with this idea, I did some sketches, sat down at the computer with a graphic design program, and started to draw. I also wanted to try to design something that was not so rectangular. I must also admit that at first, the “drawing” took lots of computer support from my husband!
You focus primarily on charted needlepoint designs. What intrigues you most about this form of needlepoint?
Possibilities, variability, and flexibility. There are so many possible options among the stitches, the colors, and the fibers. You could never stitch them all. And did I mention all the fibers? I LOVE using new and different fibers; the more sparkle, the better. That said, I find that this form of needlework lets me be my most creative; the canvas is strong enough to support the different stitches and fibers without distorting like embroidery on fabric can.
We’ve noticed that you stitch (or have stitched) all of your colorways (thank you!). Why do you believe this is important?
Each colorway I stitch teaches me something about what looks “good” and what doesn’t meet my expectations. Each extends my understanding and appreciation for the fibers I am using. When I stitch each colorway, the results are all slightly different. I may not always use the same fiber for the same stitch, I might try using more than one color in a stitch, or I might place something slightly differently. Therefore, by the time I make the final chart, I have decided which version I like the most. However, I must say that the choice of colors and fibers is my opinion only, and stitchers should always feel free to try alternative stitch options, fibers, or colors that they prefer. I also encourage you to embellish the piece as you like. Just because I like crystals, that doesn’t mean you have to use them!
What are your future design plans?
I am working (on the computer) on a new project called “A Different View,” which is also based on a kaleidoscope. If it turns out as I am planning (sometimes the design winds up going its own way), the design will have four main panels, but I will give you six panels to choose from. This should allow the stitcher to choose both the panels and where to place them in the design. I am also hoping to include some other options, so this piece could have a large number of variations.
Finally, are you able to find time to stitch for pleasure? Care to tell us what you’re stitching on right now?
My stitching for pleasure is still my new designs. I am always worried that I will not have something new to stitch! This is probably why I sit at the computer and design new patterns, when I should be working on the charts and finalizing a completed written pattern!
Right now I am stitching on a design called “Mirror, Mirror.” As you can probably guess, it is based on mirror images of a set of stitches. This is a smaller and easier design that takes one section and its mirror image to make up the entire design. I believe people will enjoy stitching it because once you have the first section done you know how to do the stitches, however, the orientation changes.
Scarlet Thread is offering both a complete kit and a thread, bead, and canvas kit for two colorways of Looking Glass! (They're going fast; we're restocking the threads now.) Check out the beautiful threads for the Black and Yellow versions. We expect to have Cleopatra's Eyes in the store within the next few weeks, as soon as Kurdy finishes the chart.