1. Please introduce yourself – name, where you are from, family, pets etc.
Hallo, my name is Giovanna. I’m 55 years old and live in Bologna, Italy, with my husband and two sons of 23 and 17. I was born and bred in Italy, but we’re a multinational family, because my mother is English, and my husband is Dutch. I am fluent in the three languages, Italian, English, and Dutch, and have both the Italian and British nationalities. I work full time as a scientist, and stitching is my hobby and anti-stress therapy.
2. How long have you been stitching and how did you start?
I’ve been stitching on and off since I was a child: my mother taught me when I was 7 or 8 years old I believe. She got me started on canvas at first, then took me on to cross stitch. She made me use linen straightaway, rather than Aida, which was no problem. Because of that, I’m firmly convinced that nobody should be intimidated by linen when they start stitching. After all, none of those antique samplers stitched by little girls (or boys) of the past were made on Aida, were they? I didn’t stitch much in my young adult life, but got back to it with a passion in my late thirties, mainly because I discovered a whole world of lovely charts and materials on the internet. In addition to the gratification derived from creating beautiful stitched works, two other reasons for my liking the hobby so much are (a) the sheer tactile pleasure of handling natural textile fibres such as cotton, linen and silk, and (b) the soothing regularity of the gestures as I stitch.
3. How long have you been blogging and what inspired you to start? Is there a story behind your blog title?
I started blogging in 2008, inspired by a local stitching buddy who had a very popular one (in Italian). Sadly, she burnt out and stopped blogging shortly afterwards, which was a great shame. At the time, I was active on some stitching bulletin boards and showing my stitching on line, and I thought blogging would be a great way to keep it all in one place. The name Giovanna’s stitches is pretty self-explanatory. It was also a way to emphasize that this was purely a stitching blog, and that other parts of my personal life or interests would not be featured. But I do show pictures from my travels occasionally.
Dreamkeeper Etui by Brightneedle
(this features in the blog header)
4. How would you describe your stitching style? Are you a serial starter, a rotator, a OAAT (one at a time), highly organised, random and eclectic, etc.?
I’m a pathological random starter! I often get started on a newly issued design just because I really like it. The trouble is that there are too many great designs out there which catch my eye.
5. Do you have a favourite designer or style of design you are drawn to?
My favourite designers are those who have built on past stitching traditions to develop an original new style, while still retaining a classic look. The Drawn Thread is one. Another one used to be Indigo Rose, but unfortunately she’s stopped designing - but I have several of her charts still in my stash, which I intend to stitch sometime. With both designers I love how they use special counted-thread stitches to create texture. I also enjoy whimsical designs like those by Blackbird Designs, Plum Street Samplers, Kathy Barrick Designs, The Prairie Schooler, and Cross-Eyed Cricket.
Ghoulies and Ghosties by Brightneedle
6. Which piece are you most proud of in your collection?
I think it’s Catherine Agnes by Indigo Rose: it was so much fun to stitch, and I love the composition and colours. There are tons of different stitches in it, which as I mentioned above makes it an instant hit for me. My only gripe with it is that it was finished too quickly, and at times I’m tempted to stitch it again!
I’m also very proud of some smalls I finished, which were class/on-line projects by Brightneedle, CA Wells and Chatelaine, they were all great fun.
Catherine Agnes by Indigo Rose
Nantucket Cottage by C.A. Wells
7. What has been your worst stitching disaster?
I like to think that the scary amount of unfinished projects I have lying around is my worst disaster!
8. Which new technique would you like to try, either stitching, finishing or another craft?
I live in the area where the Aemilia Ars needle lace school thrived. I’ve seen some really beautiful specimens in museums and exhibitions, and I’ve considered taking classes to learn the technique. I haven’t had time for it so far, and I’m starting to think that by now I’m a little old for it. But, who knows?
9. Do you have a box of finished-but-not-fully-finished pieces? Or is everything FFO'd? What's your favourite way to fully finish a project and what do you do with them?
Ouch… I’m pretty bad at FFOing, mainly because I don’t really enjoy sewing, and believe it or not I have never learnt to use a sewing machine. I do have lots of hand-sewn pincushions and ornaments spread around my home, but I also have loads of unframed and unfinished pieces - the pleasure is mostly in stitching them.
Stitching Leporello by Chatelaine Designs
10. Which of your projects most represents "you"?
I don’t really know… whatever I’m stitching at the moment, probably, as it’s always something that I’ve chosen to stitch because I like it.
11. Tell us a secret about yourself. Or a joke. About anything!
I have some geeky passions: Star Trek, LEGO, mathematical and logical puzzles, the moon landings and space travel in general. I’m fascinated by planes, and always enjoy seeing one take off or land, or travelling on one. On the other hand, I have no interest whatsoever in cars or other motor vehicles, and instead I’m keen on cycling whenever I can, including my daily trip to work and back. I consider cycling my tiny personal contribution towards a cleaner environment and a fitter self.
12. Anything you would like to add?
Just a big “thank you!” to everyone who visits my blog, and to all those stitchers all over the world who inspire me by sharing their pictures on the internet - I’ve learnt so much and got to know so many designers through you all. I like to think that stitchers, like all crafters and artists, make the world nicer by creating beauty, and that stitching is a passion shared by people of all ages, views, and cultures: a unifying, positive and creative force, in a world in which many other forces try to divide us.