We’ve all found varying vices since the pandemic halted us in our tracks two years ago – some more productive than others, I’ll admit. For me, personally, my vices have included baking brownies and cookies (with the sole purpose of having easy-access snacks rather than practising the craft) and complaining about having nothing left to watch on Netflix. For Stephie, however, her vice has materialised into something that all of us can enjoy: her beautiful embroidery.
Picking up the hobby during the first UK lockdown after discovering an old starter set she’d purchased and never used, Stephie began embroidering as a distraction from the world around her, and quickly discovered she wanted to try her hand at her own designs. The inspiration to pick up the hobby came after a workshop with Full Circle Tees, and it was this out of all of her usual hobbies that stole her attention the most due to its sheer demand for concentration.
And in a world filled with beautiful creations – mostly of the floral or butterfly variety – Stephie decided to do something a little different, combining what was right in front of her with her love for architecture. This resulted in beautiful designs emulating gorgeous scenes that can easily be stumbled upon in Manchester city centre, with designs so far including Manchester Cathedral, Beetham Tower and the Central Library.
Stephie said: “I really love architecture. When we go away I spend hours taking photos of buildings. I live in the city centre and my daily walks and how quiet it was meant I could really appreciate how many beautiful buildings were right there in front of me. And so the two things just came together.”
Over a year in, Stephie has now begun documenting her creation process, letting followers in-the-know about how she preps each piece for stitching from start-to-finish. If that wasn’t all, she’s garnered glowing reviews on Etsy after selling a number of her pieces – offering both pre-made pieces and personal commissions to customers. If that wasn’t all, Stephie is also helping others get started, too, with a unique starter kit where you can create your own embroidered Manchester Bee.
“It has really helped keep me focused and calm during everything that has happened this year.” Stephie told us when asked about how she felt about making lemonade out of the many lemons thrown our way this past year, adding: “I normally work in art and community events and obviously, none of that has been able to happen for nearly a year now. So stitching and the community I’ve found on Instagram has really helped provide an outlet for all that energy.”
So, after smashing life in lockdown, what’s next for Hoop and Fred? Stephie has a few exciting projects up her sleeves – all of which wouldn’t be possible if she hadn’t picked up that starter kit last April – including more DIY kits to help others learn, IRL workshops, and there’s even whispers of a potential exhibition, something that Stephie would love to hold one day.
Hood and Fred has a number of unique, hand-embroidered designs on sale now, which you can find over on her Etsy page here.