Poppy by Hazel Blomkamp

14th August 2020

You’ve fallen in love with the pattern, you’ve started reading the instructions and suddenly you stop short in a panic. Up until the section entitled ‘Order of Work’ for Hazel Blomkamp’s latest masterpiece, Poppy from Inspirations issue #107, you’ve felt pretty confident. But then you see the words ‘freestyle stitched background’ and suddenly, you’re just not sure.

Hazel Blomkamp is well known and well-loved for her intricate, crewel-style, surface embroidery projects. For anyone who has ever worked one of her pieces, you’ll know the satisfaction that comes from the myriad different stitches, weaving techniques and beaded details.

Poppy continues Hazel’s already tried and true tradition, however, this amazing project asks you to take one further step, into the unsettling world of ‘random’.

It seems almost counterintuitive, but random stitching is one of the most difficult forms of stitching one can do. It does seem that no matter how hard you try your random stitching will start to form patterns as if your hand and needle combined simply have a mind of their own.

Why is this? Why is it so difficult to avoid forming squares or circles, as Hazel has insistently pointed out? Why is ‘irregular’ just so difficult?

There is clear psychology behind this. The human brain is very good at seeing patterns which, back in the day, was a vital survival skill when living out on the plains. If we failed to recognise that the shadowy shape amongst the long grass was a hungry predator, we wouldn’t be around long enough to regret it.

Freestyle stitched background

However, while pattern recognition was vital for our survival back then, today that same skill makes it exceedingly difficult not to fall into the habit of seeing and creating patterns whether we want to or not.

The unusual texture of ‘Poppy’ is achieved by the monochromatic array of background stitches which are worked right at the outset.

Hazel has provided eight different stitches to use when creating the background, but to really achieve the effect, no one stitch should be repeated too much or too little, and no area of pattern should be too uniform. Sound easy? For most of us, the answer is a resounding no!

There are several creative ways you could approach this, from writing a list of the stitches and putting a tick next to each one as you work a section of it to ensure you aren’t favouring one over another, through to just acting on instinct and letting your eye tell you what comes next.

For those stitchers who are really uncomfortable with the idea of freestyling, using Hazel’s model and referencing the detailed close up photography in the magazine as a guide can help.

However, the thing to remember above all else is that we are predisposed to see patterns and therefore, even if you haven’t created a pattern intentionally, our eyes will still find one (even if it isn’t there!). There’s no point in worrying about what is psychologically instinctual. Ultimately, if it looks beautiful, if you’ve enjoyed the process and if you’re happy with the result, then you have achieved success.

The truth about Poppy is that the brilliantly coloured plumage of Poppy herself actually forms the focus of this exquisite piece. As soon as you start to work her, your freestyle stitching will visually drop back to where it belongs and your eye will be caught by her glittering gaze instead. 

Your mind’s need to see order will be satisfied by the clear patterns within each feather, and the careful combinations of colours, stitches, beads and crystals which make up Poppy’s shape.

It isn’t often you’re instructed to just ‘let yourself go’, so the idea can seem daunting to those of us used to following the steps carefully, just as they are laid out. But here’s your chance. Thread your needle, choose your stitch and go for it!

As soon as Poppy is complete, you can be satisfied by the knowledge that the next time you see a pattern asking you to ‘freestyle it’, you’ll be able to dive in head first without anything to fear.

Make Your Own Poppy

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Poppy by Hazel Blomkamp is an elegant candle screen featuring a flamboyant bird with engaging stitches and techniques.

Printed Magazines

Inspirations Issue 107

Digital Patterns

Poppy – i107 Digital

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Poppy includes everything* you need to re-create this fabulous bird: Fabrics (unprinted), embroidery threads, beads and needle.


Poppy – i107 Kit

Due to popular demand Poppy kits are currently sold out. The good news is that more stock is on its way. The not so good news is that due to sourcing lead times and current delivery delays, there is an expected wait of 4-6 weeks. Thank you for your patience.

*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the magazine/digital pattern.

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