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We enjoyed a catch-up with Carina Envoldsen-Harris, the author of Mandalas to Embroider, and her brand new book, Thread Doodling, to talk about her work, inspiration, and dog Blake!

First of all, how are you Carina?

Hi! I am well, thankfully I have embroidery and other crafting to keep me from getting too worried about the Covid lockdown situation. My routine isn’t that different from normal since I work from home most of the time anyway. The only real difference is that now my husband is working from home too, even sharing my little office with me. Blake the dog is very happy to have his ‘dad’ home every day. He sleeps in his bed between our desks while we work, it is very cute.

Blake in his bed in the office

We’re very excited about your brand new book, Thread Doodling! You have designed some absolutely gorgeous embroidery designs in this one. Which design is your favourite?

Thank you! I’m so excited about it getting released into ‘the wild’! Do I have to pick just one favourite design?! I really like all the patterns, but if I must, I’ll pick two: I'm very happy with how the colours and stitches in 'Centre of Distance' work together; and 'Doodle Sampler: The Garden' really embodies the idea of the book.

Centre of Distance project Centre of Distance detail
Doodle Sampler: The Garden Doodle Sampler: The Garden detail

Your last book Mandalas to Embroider was very popular, how does this book differ from that one?

In a way, they are quite similar. Some of the patterns in Thread Doodling are also mandala inspired. Where they differ, is that, in a sense, Mandalas is ‘just’ a collection of patterns. Thread Doodling has more of a mission. I love how stitching makes me feel, it helps me stress less and be more mindful. I want to encourage people to really enjoy their stitching and not rush to finish a pattern.

Mandalas to Embroider

With Thread Doodling I also want to give people permission to not follow a pattern to the letter, or to the stitch as it were! Some of the patterns are ‘complete’ pattern transfers but several of them have empty space for people to add the stitches of their choice. I really hope that it will inspire people to try different things and see what happens! I really believe that we are all creative, and even with a pattern we don’t have to replicate it exactly, we can add our own style to it. Just putting different stitches together and seeing what happens is one of my favourite things about embroidery. Some of my favourite Polka & Bloom patterns have come about this way. 


Tell us a bit about yourself and your company Polka & Bloom.

I am from Denmark but I’ve lived in the UK for almost 15 years. It’s the old story: girl falls in love with boy and then she moves to Essex to be with him. :-) I started Polka & Bloom to share colourful patterns that can be enjoyed by both beginners and more advanced stitchers. My patterns are usually inspired by nature (I love flowers) and folk art.

Blossom Burst Rosette Garden

Are the projects suitable for beginners?

Yes! The stitches used are very beginner friendly, I’ve used most of them since I taught myself to embroider about 14 years ago. And once you know those stitches, you can have fun experimenting!

Do you have any tips for beginners?

If a stitch is new to you, practice working it on a separate piece of fabric so you can get familiar with it before diving into an embroidery pattern. But that being said, don’t worry about your stitches being ‘perfect’. If a French knot is a bit wobbly, it’s no big deal. When you look at the embroidery a couple of weeks later, you might not even notice it. And don’t point out your ‘mistakes’ to others, they most likely won’t notice, they will just be impressed with your mad stitchy skills!

How long does it take you to complete an average piece (from the book) from start to finish?

I always have trouble answering this because when I stitch a pattern, for Polka & Bloom or for a book, I’m always unpicking stitches more than when I’m just stitching for fun. But on average it would take 8-12 hours depending on how densely it is stitched. I don’t really think about how long it takes, because enjoying the stitching, and using it to relax and unwind, is more important than finishing a stitchery. At least for personal embroideries!

Where do you get your inspiration?

I love flowers and plants in general and they inspire a lot of my patterns. I also have a collection of books about folk art from various parts of the world. If I’m stuck for a pattern idea or colour combination, leafing through those books rarely fails to spark something.

Do you have a favourite room at home to work in?

I have a small studio where I love working. Unfortunately, it can be a bit dark and there’s no room for a comfy stitcher’s chair. So a lot of my stitching happens in a south facing spare bedroom. The light is usually good, even on a cloudy day, and I can look out over a green space where people are walking their dogs and birds are swooping about. Our dog also likes joining me there so he can bask in the sunshine.

Blake on the garden bench

What are you working on now?

I am just finishing off a 100 day project where I have filled a half-inch circle with satin stitch. It is a very simple project that I have really enjoyed. Doing the same stitchy thing every day for the past 100 days has been something I have really looked forward to; it has been very soothing. I have also been sketching some ideas for an alphabet embroidery, which I’ll hopefully start stitching soon.

100 satin dots

If you make something from Thread Doodling I’d love to see it, so please tag me on Instagram (I’m @carinacraftblog) and the book even has its very own hashtag (#ThreadDoodlingBook) which you are very welcome to use.

Carina's book, Thread Doodling is now available, RRP £9.99.

Thread Doodling

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