Meet Sophie Simpson (What Delilah Did), author of Secret Garden Embroidery

Blogger Sophie Simpson is the owner of the successful embroidery business What Delilah Did, and sells her distinctive patterns online and in boutique haberdasheries and lifestyle shops throughout the UK. Here, Sophie answers some of our questions about her work.

Which is your most cherished childhood memory?

I was fortunate enough to have a very idyllic childhood in the countryside which was chock full of amazing memories – I’m not sure I could pick just one. Building dens in the woods, camping in the garden, epic games of hide and seek, baking/eating flapjacks so hard they could crack a tooth and making crafty things in the warmth of the kitchen whilst the weather raged outside are all pretty high on the list though. I fully intend to move to a cottage in the middle of a field and recreate it all in the not too distant future.

What makes you passionate about your craft?
I love being able to make something from scratch and have it turn out exactly as it looked in my imagination. Cross stitch is the only thing I have ever been able to do that with. It is also like therapy – there is something so calming about the repetitive action of stitching and following a pattern. I am quite possibly the least relaxed person on the planet so I love that stitching forces me to switch off for a little while.

What sparks your creativity?
Stories, music, period dramas, old houses… and rather ridiculously, the weather. I feel most creative when it is cold and rainy outside. Snuggled under a blanket making something lovely whilst Stephen Fry reads Harry Potter to me – that is my happy place. I am a total granny at heart.

Could you describe a typical crafty day in your life?
There isn’t really any such thing as a typical day for me; every day is so different. Things always take so much longer than I think they are going to, so more often than not I end up spending a whole day on one thing and just keep going until it is done. That might be photographing new products, updating my website, answering emails, putting orders together, working on a commission, or designing new patterns and kits. Actually getting time to stitch in the day is a rare luxury – I normally end up doing that part in the evenings. I am trying to change the way I work so that I have more of a routine, but I haven’t quite hit the nail on the head yet.

Organised mess or creative minimalism? What does your working space look like?
Creative minimalism, definitely.  I don’t feel creative at all when things are a mess and I am a complete neat freak. I live and work in a tiny, hobbit-sized flat and everything is open plan so it can be a challenge to keep things tidy when I am working – if I am making kits it tends to end up looking like a miniature factory with piles of supplies on every available surface, but I have a rather excellent walk-in cupboard in the hall where everything gets hidden on a regular basis. I always have new designs and work in progress stuck to the walls too as I like to live with things for a while before I make final decisions about them. It is a good job I love what I do because I am completely surrounded by it all the time.

Sophie Simpson (What Delilah Did) is the author of Secret Garden Embroidery (Pavilion, £14.99)

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