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How I designed my tartan

How I designed my tartan


So lots of people have asked me how long it took to design my Stash Tartan. The simple answer is ages!Growing up in Scotland surrounded by touristy tartans with the bagpipes blasting out of Scottish themed shops did nothing for my love of this textile!It was not until early 2022 when I spent more time in Edinburgh that I started to soften to tartan. I just kept thinking of how rigid cross stitch is and how tartan must be similar to design. I thought- why don’t I like tartan?

The answer was that I wanted some bolder, brighter colours!

I choose red, blue, yellow and purple- my essential Stash colours and got thinking.I spent lots of time researching existing tartans, going to shops and reading books, like the wonderful The Secret Life of Tartan by Vix Rae- this was essential reading!

I tried drawing on graph paper, on the iPad, lining up my own threads before finally using my cross stitch software and designing one square at a time. Yup. It was a painstaking process with hours of hunching over the screen counting. Lots of tea was needed.Finally I created a square of tartan and named it Stash Tartan. After this I designed some small images using it before deciding I wanted some Scottish icons to be shown in the tartan.I chose the Stag, Thistle and Highland Cow, naming them Andrew, Barb and Harris was just for extra fun!

After stitching some versions I realised that each looked so different depending on how much tartan was used. So I thought best to use negative space for this first time and so the version of the "Encircled in Stash Tartan" was created. Each design fits easily within a 5” hoop so the size of each icon is restricted. I have done this so that the whole collection has a harmonious flow. However when designing some ideas work only as an outline, sometimes an idea is too big to fit within the hoop, and some just plain don’t work at all!In the future I am considering larger scale designs but for now I’m trying to take over the world- one hoop at a time!

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