She’s one of the most popular designers in the cross stitch world, with her cute and cuddly animal patterns being stitched far and wide by thousands of keen stitchers and fans. We were lucky enough to meet the late Margaret Sherry back in 2012. Here’s an extract of our interview with the Queen of cute cross stitch…
When you hear the name Margaret Sherry, what’s the first thing you think of? More than likely, it’s her adorable animal designs; from cute cats and knitting chickens, to gardening hedgehogs and sewing mice! So, when I arrive at animal-lover Margaret’s home in Cheshire, it’s no surprise a four-legged friend is there to greet me. Margaret introduces me to Michael, her Jack Russell, and he leads the way into the charming curate’s house that she has called home for over 30 years.
Room with a view
After a four-hour journey here from the Crazy office, a nice cuppa is just what I need, so we settle down in Margaret’s studio with a pot of tea and freshly baked cookies. I can see why Margaret chooses to work from this room, with its beautiful garden view and sunshine beaming through the large windows. “My studio is in such a sunny spot, and I take inspiration from both the view and the fabulous sunsets,” she explains fondly.
I’ve travelled to see Margaret today as she’s painting two pictures that the Crazy technical team will turn into charts for this issue. About a month ago, the team and I sat down and planned two exciting gifts for this issue, a fun festive card pack, plus a matching bonus chart. I sent Margaret a brief which detailed the size of the designs, colour suggestions and a few ideas for settings, knowing she has a unique ability to take a small idea, such as ‘a cat playing in the snow’ and turn it into something show stopping. So, when she shows me the beautiful drawings she has been working on – a sweet fluffy cat and a gorgeous winter wonderland scene – they bring a huge smile to my face. Margaret never fails to impress me, but how does she come up with her designs? “I start with rough sketches of my ideas and see what works best,” explains Margaret. “Originally, Sarah suggested a cat with a snowy plant pot on its head, but after drawing it I realised it was a bit static. “I make sure every illustration has a focal point and, of course, they have to have a humorous expression! Each character has a triangle of emotion linking their eyes to their nose,” she enthuses.
Time to paint
As the line drawing is now approved, Margaret moves onto the next stage, adding colour using her treasured paint palette. “I won my paintbox as a prize for my art at school. Some of the colours I’m using today have happened accidentally when I’ve mixed different tubes, so I can’t ever clean it!” As she begins to paint, I’m fascinated by how quickly her design comes alive. “I always start with the lightest colours and build intensity,” reveals Margaret. In no time at all she’s created a colourful, heartwarming scene, and a sweet card I know you’ll love. “It’s always a joy to produce something the Crazy readers like to stitch and get pleasure from,” smiles Margaret.
All about art
As Margaret is such a natural artist, I wonder if she ever considered another career path. “I would have loved to be a pathologist. I think my parallel life would have been just as fulfilling!” she laughs. Before Margaret found her talent as a cross stitch designer, she used to design medical journals, encyclopedias and children’s books, and teach at college. “I used to design from the moment the kids went to bed, until they got up for school in the morning!” The mum of four is close to her two daughters and two sons, who all have their own successful careers as a TV producer, nurse, criminologist researcher and a full-time mum. Margaret tells me she likes to paint personalised gifts and cards for her friends and family. “I painted my son and daughter-in-law’s house as a wedding present and I always do cards for my grandchildren.”
Issue 171 of Cross Stitch Crazy, including this full interview, is available through the Cross Stitch Crazy app for Apple Newsstand and Google Play.