Freshly Stitched with Celeste Johnston
What do you love about embroidery?
I love the warmth and texture a piece of embroidery brings to a space. I also love how easy it is to sit down and pick up without mess or preparation. However, it’s the process that draws me in. The rhythmic motion of filling in patterns with beautiful colors is very therapeutic. It’s a hobby that has been engaging women for hundreds of years, and I love being a part of that heritage.
Where do you live?
My family and I live right outside Austin, Texas, and I am originally from Peoria, Illinois. We love living in the Austin area because of the amazing food, abundance of parks and trails, the music scene, and the community we’ve formed together with our friends and neighbors.
Do you have a designated studio? Where do you stitch?
I share a home workspace with my husband, Taylor. I use my desk for sketching, transferring patterns, choosing floss colors, and working on the business side of my art. But I usually stitch on my comfy couch in front of the TV, or outside watching my kids play, or in a coffee shop listening to podcasts, audiobooks, or phenomenal playlists that my husband creates for me.
Your work is filled with beautiful botanicals; did you start with this theme, or did it evolve?
I started embroidering cacti and succulents because they’re such fun and colorful objects to stitch! I also love to stitch flowers, words, and animals. Some of my most popular designs are from my 50-states collection, where I stitch an outline of a state and fill it with native plants and landscapes.
Do you garden or have a house full of plants?
I am a budding gardener! I love to pick out different annuals to add to our flower beds each spring, and tending to our yard and flowers is one of my favorite daily activities. My favorite flowers are peonies, cosmos, zinnias, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and cheerful chamomile. The list could go on. Honestly, I love all flowers! As far as houseplants, I have a LOT, and I have to exert quite a bit of self-control to keep that number from growing too high.
You have a significant following on Instagram; can you tell us how that platform inspires your work and why you think it’s so popular?
I love being a part of the global embroidery community through Instagram. It’s incredible to see the variety of art created with the simple medium of needle and thread. My Instagram account started as a way to share with friends, and it grew organically to a community of more than 50,000. I’m pretty introverted and never expected to have such an audience, and now—a book! I think it is enjoyed by so many because I share tutorials and tips for embroidery. I try to be consistent in my style and authentic to myself, sharing highs and lows. I engage with my “Instagram friends” as if they are friends in real life, having conversations about stitching, life, plants, and everything in between.
In addition to being a busy designer, artist, and entrepreneur, you are a mama to two adorable kiddos.
How do you balance it all?
Being a mom, artist, author, and entrepreneur is a lot to balance. I have to carefully choose what I commit to, which means getting comfortable with saying no when something doesn’t fit or bring me joy. I sometimes struggle with meeting the demands of my family and work. Ultimately, I put my family’s needs first because I recognize that these years are fleeting. Thankfully, I have a supportive husband who has an equal hand in parenting our kids.
What do you hope readers will get from this book?
I hope they will feel empowered to create something new with the patterns and instructions I have provided. I hope they make a lifelong connection with embroidery. And I hope they gain as much happiness from this fulfilling
craft as I have.
Celeste's Stitching Playlist
“Appointments” by Julien Baker
“River” by Leon Bridges
“Love Yourself” by Sufjan Stevens
“This Feeling” by Alabama Shakes
“Cold Little Heart” by Michael Kiwanuka
“A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke
“You Can Have It All” by Yo La Tengo
“I Want a Pair of Cowboy Boots” by Jens Lekman
“Smoke Signals” by Phoebe Bridgers
“Slow Show” by The National
“Postcards from Italy” by Beirut
“Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves
“The Voyager” by Jenny Lewis
“The Greatest” by Lana Del Rey
“Seventeen” by Sharon Van Etten
“Love Is Light” by Yola
“Marigolds” by Kishi Bashi