What do Hollywood, Evelyn Ackerman and DMC 718 have in common? Find out in this delightful interview with Jody Rice of Satsuma Street, as she shares how she got started, her favorite Satsuma Street design and a whole lot more!
You can also find Jody's work on Instagram at @craftnik.
How did you get started designing cross stitch patterns?
I was working at a very stressful job in the film industry, and I thought it would be relaxing to do some cross stitching, which I hadn't done for years. But the patterns I found in big-box craft stores were just not appealing to me. I have a background in both textiles and illustration, so I thought I could probably design my own. People liked them, so I launched my Etsy shop in 2013 to see if they would sell, and they did!
What is the favorite pattern you have designed and why?
Whatever I'm currently working on is usually my favorite! It's too hard to choose, but my Voyage pattern is the first one I designed that really made me feel like I was on to something big, so it holds a special place in my heart.
What do you draw on for inspiration?
I love mid-century design and illustration, so I'm always digging through old children's books, record covers and textiles for ideas. I especially love artists like Mary Blair, Charley Harper and Evelyn Ackerman, who all did amazing work in the 1950's and 60's.
What is your favorite part of the design process?
I'm always in love with my idea when it's just a sketch, and then it's usually a struggle to translate that idea into a cross stitch chart and still capture the original feeling I was after. But after many hours of editing, there's always a moment where everything clicks into place and I know it's going to work. I usually do a little dance at my desk, and then I know it's almost ready to start stitching!
When did you first start cross stitching? Who taught you how?
I'm sure my grandmother taught me, she was very crafty and we did lots of stitching together when I was growing up. I didn't touch cross stitch for many years though, and it was only when I started Satsuma Street that I picked it up again.
What do you love about cross stitch?
I know some people find it tedious, but it puts me into a zone that I just find really relaxing. I'm one of those people who has a hard time turning my brain off, and cross stitch really helps with that. I hear from people all the time who find it helps them with anxiety and other mental health issues. I think if everyone could do it, we'd have a happier world.
What do you like to do when you stitch? Listen to audiobooks? Binge watch Netflix? Talk? Enjoy the silence?
I mostly tend to watch British detective shows. I've watched all of Midsomer Murders at least three times. The more formulaic the better, since I'm mostly just going to be listening and looking up from time to time!
What is your favorite DMC (or other) color?
It's funny, I don't really like the color in any other context, but DMC 718 is one I return to over and over in my designs. It's such a vibrant shade of plum, but for some reason it works with almost anything you put next to it.
How do you organize your stash?
All my floss is in ziplock bags. I have everything divided into color groups; blues, greens, reds, etc, and then within each color group I divide them by the numbers. So a bag of all the blues in the 200-300 range, another of all the blues in the 400-500 range, etc. Somehow I still never have the color I need in stock.
Linen or Aida?
I always prefer linen, but I think Aida gets a bad rap. If you prefer stitching on Aida, don't let anyone shame you for it.
Tell us about where you live and what makes it special.
I live in the "North Hollywood Arts District" neighborhood in Los Angeles. It's very walkable and full of creative people. I can walk to a dozen great restaurants and bars, an art house movie theatre, and tons of live performance spaces. I just wish I was closer to the beach!
Are there other hand crafts you like to do? (e.g., knitting, quilting, papercrafts, etc.)
I love any and all crafts. I'm pretty good at most of them, though advanced knitting is something I just have never had the patience for. The one time I tried to make a sweater, it turned out big enough for three people.
What is the last book you read / movie you watched / album you listened to?
I just finished the novel "Swing Time" by Zadie Smith, which I loved. I wish I could figure out a way to read and cross stitch at the same time, then my life would be perfect.
Where is your favorite place to travel and why? Or where do you dream of traveling?
Every year my husband and I go to Mendocino after Christmas, and I don't know why but it's like going there pushes a reset button in my head. It helps that there is very little cell reception or wifi, so we basically just unplug and spend all our time on the beach or drinking wine by a fire. It's heavenly.
If you didn't have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Is it lame to say I'd design more cross stitch patterns? That and reading more books.
What's your superpower?
I have scarily good hearing, which is actually more of a curse. I'm always yelling at people to turn down the TV and being driven crazy by dogs barking from miles away. But I'm also really good at eavesdropping, so I know everyone's secrets.
Want to see more of Jody's work? Be sure to check out our full selection of Satsuma Street patterns and kits in the shop!