Jo Butcher sees herself more as an Embroidery Artist, than tutor and her beautiful creations can often be found hanging on the walls of art galleries. She draws her inspiration from nature and many of her designs are based on English meadows with the soft colours and spring feeling they bring.
Jo’s first needlework passion was creating clothes as a teenager, and soon after studying fashion at college, she started a successful career as a designer/patten cutter in London. Then tragedy, and an encounter with Inspirations Magazine cover, lead her back to needlework, rediscovering the comfort and joy stitching can bring.
Ahead of Lady Anne’s Needlework Festival, we caught up with Jo to find out a little more about her passion for stitching.
Why and how did you become a needlework tutor? Did anyone or thing, in particular, inspire you?
Ssssh! don’t tell anyone, but officially I’m not a needlework tutor! I class myself as an Embroidery Artist, as my main income is from selling my original artworks in galleries and at fairs.
My embroidery journey began with the purchase of Inspirations magazines in 1999. I was heavily pregnant at the time and couldn’t work out when I would have the time to sew, but loved the project on the front cover. Sadly, within a year I had all the time in the world as our daughter was diagnosed with a genetic condition at 6 months and we lost her 4 months later.
Embroidery became my therapy, as it is for so many of us. So, when in 2014 Inspirations asked me to contribute to their magazine, then teach at their 2016 Beating Around the Bush convention in Adelaide, it was a joy to be able to give back to a community that had helped me through a very dark time. Australia is a long way to go to find out whether or not I was any good at or enjoyed teaching! I guess the answer to both was yes, as they have asked me back twice since.
I’m looking forward to teaching at a UK event, as I get asked a lot if I teach ‘only in Australia’ which is always slightly bizarre to hear since I’m from the UK.
What is your main needlework interest?
Do you have a favourite stitch?
Yes, French Knot.
If you had to choose one needlework possession to save in a fire, what would it be?
My original stitched version of the ‘Floral Border & Beehive’ picture.
When developing your designs, which activity takes the most time?
I prefer to design as I stitch, then I get the backgrounds printed, then have to re-stitch it to work out exactly what I’ve done for the kit! Not the most productive route.
How much time do you spend stitching each day?
Before a fair, I stitch as much as possible during the day, though there is a lot of framing, admin and social media work to be done too. Every evening is spent stitching!
What is the best piece of advice about needlework you have been given and can share with our students?
It’s all about the TENSION!
What advice would you give to students to get the most out of their workshop experience?
My workshops are relaxed and informal, so I just want students to enjoy and embrace my impression of all things floral.
Have you taught at Phillipa and Laura’s retreats before?
No, but I know they are super organised and stunning venues so I am sure I will love it!
Thank you Jo for your time and energy, we look forward to having you with us in our home town during the Lady Anne’s Needlework Festival 2021.