Dyed and Gone to Heaven – An Online Magazine and Needlework Resource  

Continuing our theme of "Virginia is for Stitchers" we are pleased to present one of Virginia's talented resident designers...

Sue Kerndt of Stitching Kreations

Click here for Sue's free pattern for our visitors

WHAT IF? This seemingly innocuous question encompasses Sue Kerndt's design and teaching strategy. Whether working on a new design or teaching it, Sue constantly challenges herself and her students with this inquiry. Unexpected and remarkable results are often the outcome of these explorations into other design possibilities.

Sue Kerndt, a self described Air Force brat, who has lived in places as diverse as Washington D.C., Illinois, Delaware and Germany, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., but now calls Virginia home. Her love of the needlearts was fostered early on by her grandmother, who taught her how to crochet and embroider. She encouraged Sue to embellish her own handmade outfits with crocheted lace and embroidered flowers, insisting that it gave a distinctive personal touch to her wardrobe. After selecting the fabric for an article of clothing, Sue would duplicate a portion of the print as a hand drawn pattern using it as a guide to decorate a collar, pocket or cuffs with the motif selected. Today, Sue laments not having kept some of her earliest creations, particularly the ensemble consisting of vest and bell bottom pants covered with embroidered flowers and rainbows! (Make Needlework, not War!)

Sue received a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from James Madison University and concurrently did three years of study in textiles and design. Her educational background and subsequent teaching job experience has been and remains a valuable asset in her current avocation as needlework teacher and designer.

Canvas work is Sue's chosen area of expertise. She began designing while working at a needlework shop in Libertyville, Illinois, where she also became involved with the local chapters of the ANG and EGA Guilds. After returning to Virginia, she remained active in the guilds, serving as President of the Oatlands Chapter of the EGA. At the same time she became a frequent participant at seminars and expanded her needlework skills to include smocking, pulled thread, blackwork, hardanger and Japanese embroidery. Though now a long standing veteran and seasoned teacher, Sue welcomes opportunities to play the part of student because of her love for the "endless learning experience".

Her passion for designing and charting needlework took on new dimensions when Sue became not just computer literate, but proficient, as a result of a job teaching and evaluating software for the public school system, from the elementary grade levels and up through graduate college programs. This acquired facility brought about the "perfect mix" of Sue's skills, talents and interests: needlework, computers and teaching.

In 1994, Sue decided to take her needlework teaching career more seriously and enrolled in the National Academy of Needlearts Teacher Certification Program. After 3 years of intensive study, she received her Level II Certification in Canvas. Sue finds her teaching experiences immensely rewarding and the pleasure she derives from inspiring her students is a stimulus that keeps her enthusiasm going and generating new design ideas. There exists an exceptional kindred spirit among needleworkers and Sue treasures each individual she has met along the way. For her, they are like unique pages in a memory book that belong to her alone.

Having studied design and textiles in college, Sue was familiar with the qualities unique to hand dyed fibers and was particularly drawn to the Caron Collection Watercolour threads. Realizing that they needed to be used discriminately, she took the time to experiment with them in her work. Since she has never been a fan of the "cookie cutter" approach to needlework, these variegated threads allowed for endless possibilities. Sue works primarily with wools, cottons and silks and the Caron Collection provides many of the fibers used in her work. She enjoys coordinating the palettes from one type of thread to another. Impressions are singled out as a "dream come true"; the loft and texture of the blend works well with a wide range of needlework.

When planning a design to use as a teaching tool, Sue endeavors to find a new technique to teach or one to reinforce. She loves counted thread techniques, but feels very strongly that her pupils add their own creativity. This can be accomplished by altering the colors or threads used or by changing the design or stitch patterns. Here's where the ubiquitous "WHAT IF?" comes in!

Sue's sources of inspiration come from textiles, (as a fabric hound, some of her favorite haunts are quilt shops and fabric stores) stained glass work and architectural motifs and details. Ultimately, she feels the best designs are those with simple lines that allow the beauty of the threads and the texture of the stitches to dominate the composition.

A personal favorite artistic style is Florentine Embroidery (Bargello), which has always intrigued Sue. A change of color or threads in a single pattern can produce a myriad of surprising renditions. Based on an upright stitch, Bargello patterns can be turned and combined with other stitches and techniques. The main focus of Sue's recent work has been abstract designs incorporating a variety of tactics such as applique, reverse applique, laid filling techniques, padded satin stitching and traditional embroidery work on canvas.

In her free time, when she can find it, Sue gardens and also shares a hobby with her husband: collecting Department 56 lighted ceramic houses. They have collected the complete Dickens and North Pole Villages.This collection of over 100 buildings, accessories and design features, such as hand-made mountains and waterfalls, has earned them numerous awards for their displays.. Having successfully incorporated her other prime interests of needlework, teaching and computers into one career, Sue ruefully admits that the Department 56 craze is one endeavor she has not found a way to integrate with the others. But give her time! This challenge, like others before it, will no doubt eventually bear fruit!

Descriptions of Sue's illustrated designs:

Teaching pieces:

Flora Cristale - Stained glass design using Soie Cristale and couched Japanese Silver. Border consists of composite stitch patterns, flowers and leaves are in padded satin stitch. This piece will be taught at the 1998 National Seminar in San Diego for the American Needlepoint Guild

Floral Fantasy - An in depth study of five different types of Florentine Embroidery patterns, embellished with embroidery stitches. Uses Soie Cristale

Embellishing Blends - Laid filling patterns, 18 count canvas, 6" x 8" oval format

Odyssey - Reverse applique with fabric, 8" circle worked on hand dyed congress cloth. Uses Wildflowers, Watercolours, Pearl cotton and Metallics

Commercial designs:

Ice Crystals - Eight way Florentine design with beaded Blackwork background. Uses Soie Cristale, Waterlilies, and Candlelight

Kaleidoscope - Eight way Florentine design with beaded Blackwork background. Uses Impressions and Wildflowers

Hardanger Delights - Each ornament is 2" x 5" worked on 32 Belfast Linen

Florentine Ball - 2 1/2" ball on 18 count canvas

Florentine Holiday - 5" x 5" on congress cloth

Sue Kerndt's patterns are marketed under her company name, "Stitching Kreations" and have been distributed by the Caron Collection, Nordic Needle and Brite Ideas. For information on ordering Sue's designs or for her 1998 class schedule, please write to her at 1433 Montague Drive, Vienna, Va. 22182 or by email at SueKerndt@aol.com.

Note: All designs shown remain the exclusive property of the designer and are protected as such under the U.S. copyright law.

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