An Interview with Anne Oliver of Lolli & Grace

  • 01 of 03

    Meet Anne from Lolli & Grace

    Applique and Embroidery Flower Crown Girl
    Applique and Embroidery Flower Crown Girl. Image Courtesy of Anne Oliver

    From the moment I saw my first Lolli & Grace embroidery, I was smitten. As I saw more of creator Anne Oliver's work, I became more and more excited. Her stitching style is bold, whimsical and the kind of thing you want to reach out and touch. 

    Anne makes and sells finished wall art, jewelry and dolls with her signature style, but she also designs and sells patterns so that others can follow her lead. One of the things that makes her work stand out from others is how she artfully combines...MORE felt and other fabrics in with her embroidery. 

    I was so happy when Anne agreed to share a bit more about Lolli & Grace, because I truly believe that you'll become smitten too. 

    Thank you, Anne for talking with me about your stitching! How would you describe your embroidery style?

    First and foremost, I'd say it's colorful! I like fun colors, bright colors against dark colors and colors that blend together beautifully (which shows up in my love for variegated threads).

    As for design, florals always make me happy! But I also love clean lines, meaningful motifs (such as the "Heart and Hand" symbol, which is one of my favorites), beautiful lettering and generally just all things pretty.

    Your work often contains a combination of bold shapes and colors as well as fine details. Do you try to make sure your pieces have a balance of these or do you just see what feels right?

    In some ways I don't consciously plan shapes vs details, so that aspect is all about what feels right as I work. But in those wonderful times when the ideas are flowing, I often find that ideas pop into my head almost fully formed. Translating those ideas to paper, fabric and thread is really fun and almost effortless sometimes.

    Of course, there are also those times when I know what I want to create, but how I want it to look isn't quite so clear. That's when I just have to be persistent and keep trying (sometimes over and over) to get it right. Or sometimes that idea just isn't meant to be, so I lovingly abandon it. OK, mostly I wad it up and throw it angrily across the room while calling it bad names.

    Some stitchers like to follow a plan, while others are more improvisational. Where do you fall in that spectrum?

    I'm a planner through-and-through. I like to have the pattern fully drawn, cleaned up and perfected before I start stitching. It works for me, but I'll admit that one of the few times I just started stitching without a fully-conceived plan ended up being one of my most creatively-fulfilling designs. I even made a whole post on Instagram patting myself on the back for giving up all that control and just letting the needle and thread go where it wanted to. Hmmm, that tells me I should do that more often... 

    Continue to 2 of 3 below.
  • 02 of 03

    A Peek into Anne's Color Process

    Embroidered Felt Flowers
    Embroidered Felt Flowers. Image Courtesy of Anne Oliver

    You are clearly not afraid to use color in your embroidery. What is it that draws you to the colors you use?

    I'm sure there's some sort of scientific explanation for it, but when I see a beautiful color, a group of colors that look gorgeous together or a vibrant color that subtly shifts to another lovely color, it just makes me happy and calm, while also making me energetic and inspired at the same time. I get antsy and simply cannot wait to go create something ... anything! ... using...MORE those colors. You know how food makes some people happy? Well, color makes me happy. Although, I freely admit that I will never, ever turn down a big slice of chocolate cake.

    How do you go about choosing colors for a new project? Do you always work within a limited palette or do you select from ALL the colors?

    If an idea doesn't really hinge on specific colors, I definitely have a group of colors to which I gravitate most often — vibrant pink, spring green, robin's egg blue, golden yellow and a touch of vibrant orange. But it's wonderful to work on designs that are in completely different palettes, too. And for all my love of bright vibrant colors, recently I've really enjoyed injecting charcoal grey alongside them. 

    One of my favorite things about your embroidery is how you combine felt and simple stitches to create stunning florals. Can you tell me a little about this process and why you think it works so well?

    Remember how I said above that sometimes creative ideas will pop into my head? Well, a few years back a random thought occurred to me ..."Hey, I think I'd like to make something with felt and maybe some embroidery." Little did I know that tiny nudge in my grey matter would bring me to where I am now. 

    Embroidery on its own is obviously a wonderfully creative medium. The addition of the felt serves several purposes — it's textural, it covers more area, and it can provide both shape and color behind stitches in a way that you can't achieve with thread alone.  

    Continue to 3 of 3 below.
  • 03 of 03

    Rapid Fire Lolli & Grace Embroidery Questions

    Embroidered Sun Face
    Embroidered Sun Face. Image Courtesy of Anne Oliver

    Now it's time for my favorite part ... the rapid fire questions. Don't think too much, Anne. Just tell us the first thing that comes to mind!

    Favorite stitch?

    French knot — You think it's not going to actually work, and then behold! A cute little dot appears out of thread!

    Least favorite stitch?

    Daisy stitch — I use it all the time and I love the way it looks, but it fights me every single time. 

    Embroidery rule you're most likely to break?

    I always knot my threads on the back. Yeah,...MORE I'm a rebel. However, I am a stickler for not carrying dark threads across the back of light-colored fabrics. 

    Something you've always wanted to stitch?

    Right now that would be all of the ideas that are parked in my head waiting patiently (or not so patiently) to be brought to life.

    Favorite time of day to embroider?

    In the morning, at my worktable, with two bright lights shining on my hoop. <--------That last part is thanks to my aging eyes. Thank goodness for cheap reading glasses!

    Many thanks to Lolli & Grace! You can find tutorials from Anne at her blog, patterns and finished work in her Etsy shop and plenty of inspiration on her Instagram feed.