Linda Reeves, of
FREE Sweet Spring Sampler (click on the sampler below, right,
By Rita Vainius
origins of Linda Reeves' fervor for embroidery are vague but
she treasures a bag fashioned from coarse burlap and embroidered
with knitting yarn which earned her a Girl Scout Merit Badge.
Linda's mother, Irene, a uniquely gifted seamstress, was an early
inspiration and guiding light. With her unerring eye for design
composition, she taught Linda to discern the less obvious, but
more creative possibilities, in combining disparate elements
to form an artistic whole. Being encouraged to venture beyond
written instructions and learning that self expression evolves
from experimentation, Linda gained the self-assurance to trust
her own instincts.
Linda's exclusive pattern, designed for our web visitors is entitled
"Sweet Spring," and includes a companion piece, a scissors
keeper. Linda creates these complementary accessories to make
use of the "kibbles" of leftover threads and linen.
Perhaps the only connection between Linda's previous career and
her current one is an interest in botany. She earned a BA and
a MS in Biology, with emphasis on Marine Botany and a Ph.D. in
Botany, with emphasis on Cell Biology. A post doctoral fellowship
in Microbiology followed. From there, she forsook academia for
the "real world," working in the environmental field.
By training, Linda is a chemist. Her career advanced to a position
as the national director of laboratory quality assurance for
an environmental analysis and consulting firm. This job kept
her on the road and to both pass the time and save her sanity,
she applied herself to needlework en route. Since airplanes are
not exactly a "stitcher's paradise," Linda refined
her projects to those which did not require the close scrutiny
of a chart, leading to her preference for band samplers. As her
traveling and stitching progressed, Linda realized that she was
changing the elements of the design to her own taste more often
than not. Thus up in "the friendly skies" was a designing
Many changes followed her marriage to Mark, a fellow scientist,
and the subsequent birth of their son, David in 1991.Though she
had been extremely career oriented, intending to take a temporary
leave, this soon changed. The drive to compete in a fast-paced,
high stress world evaporated as home and family became her overriding
priorities. Though often physically exhausted, motherhood gave
her a new outlook on life and a resurgence of creative energy.
Between infrequent naps and frequent diaper changes, Linda sketched
ideas for needlework projects.
These projects began with an existing design as a starting point
and then improvising from there. Ever the observant scientist,
Mark noticed the constant alterations she was making. Realizing
that what she was actually doing by changing the elements of
the pattern, was designing, Mark urged her to attempt her own
from scratch! Initially, Linda shrugged off this comment, but
the seed had been planted and eventually sprouted - big time!
The first "seedling" to grow and bloom was the "Pink
Dogwood Band Sampler." As a career woman Linda and other
"needlework groupies" regularly congregated at the
local shop. One day, just as she was getting her feet wet as
a designer, the owner literally grabbed Linda as she walked in
the door. As the proprietress gushed about the arrival of an
exciting new find at market, she unpacked her booty: the Caron
Collection Waterlilies-overdyed silks. Linda had never seen anything
like them and exclaims: "That sort of pushed me over the
edge!" Having not a clue as to how or when she would use
them, she just could not resist their allure.
inducement was a perfect confluence of factors in the early `90's
which made it an ideal time to begin a design career. The needlework
market was exploding in a riot of color and texture with the
introduction of colored linens, textured fibers and countless
new embellishments. Everywhere Linda turned, there was a preponderance
of novelty supplies initiating inspiration. Mark again spurred
Linda along by suggesting that she exhibit at the Charlotte Show.
The seed had grown into a blossoming tree which was about to
named her new company "La Broderie." Though eminently
appropriate as it means "embroidery" in French, there
was a more nostalgic reason behind it. While on honeymoon in
Canada, Mark and Linda visited the "Old City"in Quebec.
As passionate bibliophiles, they wandered into a bookstore and
Linda discovered a charming old volume called La Broderie,
a perfect addition to her needlework library. She recalled that
serendipitous find and it seemed especially suited to her business
given the way it had evolved so naturally yet unexpectedly. Seven
years later "La Broderie" offers forty leaflet designs
and thirteen designs commissioned by a variety of needlework
Lacking formal training has never hampered Linda's development
as a designer, though her methods may be rather unorthodox. Her
primary inspiration is the written word: poetry and quotations.
Linda starts by charting on graph paper with pencil. After she
gets a rough design going, the stitches, motifs and overall pattern
flow from there. These elements will then evoke the "color
mood" appropriate to the sentiment. Most often, Linda employs
Wildflowers threads in her work because of their compatibility
with flower thread. Beads, charms, semi-precious stones, gems,
sculpted attachments and other embellishment are where Linda
"really goes all out," leading her to make a very apt
comparison: "Incorporating these fabulous attachments in
your design, is like being able to put fine jewelry on with your
Stitching her models is part of Linda's design strategy, intuitively
changing elements as she works on it. What she begins with is
sometimes so far afield of the outcome that she jokes: "Darwin
would have loved me." Moreover she believes that a designer
should see her work through from its first stitch to the very
end, so that she will be aware of potential questions or other
snags other stitchers may have with it.
Linda designs by employing what she refers to as a very "loose"
method, stitchers find her style very distinctive, describing
it as fresh and pristine. A clue to her work is provided by a
signature alphabet which Linda developed and consistently uses.
She calls her designs "contemporary samplers,": samplers
"where you can break all the rules." Using as many
different stitches as can be worked complementarily into the
pattern, Linda further refines her designs by altering, stretching,
adding steps and combining the stitches in novel fashions. Needleworkers
eagerly respond to these quirks in her work.
Linda has been especially successful with smaller pieces such
as her "Sampler of the Month Birthstone Series," which
make endearing, personalized birthday gifts, as each contains
an appropriate semi-precious stone. When working in a diminutive
scale, Linda applies the same aesthetic considerations as in
larger designs, striving to integrate an element of artistic
challenge into each. Recently a new facet has been added: drawn
thread work which is integrated into the sampler as a separate
panel. This accent highlights either a motif used in the design
or relevant date. The uncommon, yet flattering, combination of
these techniques creates an aura of elegance, gracing the more
traditional homespun look of the sampler.
Having forsaken the fast lane of her previous career, Linda currently
works part time at her son's school. One still find her most
evenings at the kitchen table, pencil in hand, sketching out
a new idea against the strains of classic rock, ever a child
of the `70's. Her designing profession melds perfectly with her
simple, quiet lifestyle. "I do not live a designer life,"
she asserts. Her family is endlessly supportive, assuring that
their home and her work are harmonious and satisfying. When she
announces: "Life is good," one readily recognizes and
appreciates this sense of contentment in her work. It all sounds
like a designer's life "to die for!"
La Broderie sells to shops and needlework outlets nationwide.
For more information contact Linda Reeves at 8312 Mecklenburg
Court, Knoxville, TN 37923-6719 or by e mail at email@example.com