Paula: The Ambience of Stitching (Interview)


 Paula O’Brien makes music and stitch patterns based on how she sees the world.

Paula O’Brien (better known as just Paula) has impressed friends with her hobbies. Apart from making music, she also stitches on the side earning her a story in one of UK’s top magazines about cross stitch. As of this writing she is working on something-either musical or visual. I was ecstatic when I received the two framed pieces of the Celtic patterns she made for me. They are now resting on my working table and I am always filled with positivity when I look at them. She is primarily and electronic musician but more and more she is exploring Celtic music. She is trying to collaborate with other musicians merging her talent with the keys and a voice that is comparable to  Kate Bush and Eimear Quinn.
I am uncovering another facet of her artistry-creating breathtaking patterns through needle and cotton. She joins me today as this week’s featured artist. This interview was really fun!

Your needle works are amazing. How long did it take you to be an expert in this craft?

Thank you! I wouldn’t really consider myself an expert, there are always new skills to learn and new types of design projects to sew.

You perform and write music on the side. How are these two hobbies related?19050_240553798469_2149301_n

Both are creative and both bring me great pleasure. They each require a great deal of concentration in their own way. Music can be composed very spontaneously at times if the inspiration is flowing, whereas some sewing projects can demand months of your time just to finish one picture. Both music and sewing are a form of creative therapy for me, I get a buzz hearing a finished mixed and mastered track. Likewise, I feel a sense of accomplishment seeing a finished picture framed on a wall.

The Celtic stitches you sent me are gorgeous. How is stitching in cotton different from doing it in wool?

Thanks! Sewing in wool for tapestry (needlepoint) projects is somewhat easier because the picture is printed on the plastic canvas. Cross stitch demands more concentration as the pieces are sewn onto blank aida or evenweave cloth. Therefore, it is important to count the stitches correctly to have the correct spatial layout, especially when sewing samplers (pieces with small picture motifs, text, the alphabet, a border pattern etc) which are often symmetrical in design. Additional info re Q3. Tapestry work is always sewn in one diagonal stitch whereas designs using cotton thread can be in many different stitches.

Are you planning to put up a shop one day to sell your works?

🙂 It would be nice to think that maybe there might be the chance of this in the future. However, if I was to charge for my time, as if it was a job, I think they would be too expensive to buy because of the length of time involved in sewing them.

Your Celtic designs are stunning. Do you plan to make more in the future?

Thanks again! I do intend to sew more Celtic designs and already have ideas for themes, some taken directly from historical sources. However, I won’t divulge any ideas in case some are shipped to The Philippines! 😉
What particular time of the day you are inspired to sit down to get creative in terms of music and stitching?

Music is my natural passion and just “happens”… it doesn’t follow any particular routine, it’s a spontaneous force so it leads you where and when it wants you to go so to speak. Ideas can arrive quite quickly for new compositions and I start hearing them inside my head. I generally have to be in a calm and relaxed frame of mind though to be inspired, then the ideas can flow very quickly, a song can be written and recorded within a few hours. These are the moments when you lose track of time 🙂 It can be frustrating when this happens if you’re trying to sleep.. Vocally I prefer recording in the evening, you won’t get much of a dawn chorus out of me 😉

Stitching is very enjoyable and I love this form of creative expression. The choice of designs are endless! It is more of a hobby for me which I do as and when I have time, as and when the mood takes me, whatever the time of day.

Visual and sound: which of the two carries more importance to you?

Tough question, an interesting one though! Music is part of who I am, I was born with this connection with music: I play by ear and music is integral to me. I also have a very strong relationship with sound in general in terms of the world around me, where I am, what music is playing in a social setting etc, music affects my mood. I dislike intrusive sounds, I prefer calm and harmony. Visuals matter as well, the ambience created in an environment by the use of design and colour for example. Sound and visual are areas both interconnected : I feel my instinctive “calling” is to music as it has always been there in my life, but I have a strong interest in design and visual forms of creativity as well. As I am not really a visual artist myself in terms of producing something on paper, a canvas, the stitching is a way for me to create a piece that can be framed. 🙂

You joked about this but perhaps you are serious.When are you going to start sewing the Andromeda galaxy?

I have lots of projects to do for family and friends which will keep me busy for a long time. Eventually I will sew some for my own walls! 🙂 I need to find chart or have a photo created into a chart, then I can begin to sew this beautiful galaxy! The universe amazes me, I was serious! 🙂

The following are her needle works and studio pictures.

The Celtic Patterns

Studio pics




Cross Stitch

Paula: Some Celtic pieces stitched for my friend Jose Rommel Labatos who lives in The Philippines. Jose writes a Celtic music blog so the Celtic theme was ideal. He chose the bookmark aida fabric from a choice of colours, it's the first time I've created a home-made bookmark. The card shows a Celtic bird.He received them yesterday. — at UK before being posted to The Philippines.  More when you click on the picture
Paula: Some Celtic pieces stitched for my friend Jose Rommel Labatos who lives in The Philippines. Jose writes a Celtic music blog so the Celtic theme was ideal. He chose the bookmark aida fabric from a choice of colours, it’s the first time I’ve created a home-made bookmark. The card shows a Celtic bird.He received them yesterday. — at UK before being posted to The Philippines.


This is referred to as a carol although it contains no reference to the Nativity….the predominant interpretation of the lyrics (below), which were found in a manuscript c.1504, is that they refer to Arthurian legend / holy grail quest.
The track was recorded with this historical interpretation in mind and the theme is reflected in the slideshow paintings. The melody is a traditional melody,not the Benjamin Britten arrangement.-Paula

Please see the link for further info:

Lulley, lully, lulley, lully,
The faucon hath born my mak away.

He bare hym up, he bare hym down,
He bare hym into an orchard brown.

In that orchard ther was an hall,
That was hanged with purpill and pall.

And in that hall ther was a bede,
Hit was hangid with gold so rede.

And yn that bed ther lythe a knyght,
His wowndes bledyng day and nyght.

By that bedes side ther kneleth a may,
And she wepeth both nyght and day.

And by that bedes side ther stondith a ston,
“Corpus Christi” wretyn theron.

faucon: falcon
mak: mate, love
bare: bore, carried
purpill: purple (the royal color)
pall: a funeral pall, a cloth spread over a coffin
bede: bed
rede: red
lythe: lieth, lies
wowndes: wounds
bledyng: bleeding
kneleth: kneeleth, kneels
may: maid, maiden
wepeth: weepeth, weeps
stondith: standeth, stands
ston: stone
Corpus Christi: body of Christ (Latin)
wretyn: written


5 Replies to “Paula: The Ambience of Stitching (Interview)”

    1. I can imagine how relaxing and calming it must be to do something like that for hours which require attention.And the end result is always magical. I think for people who have hobbies ( like you for instance with your gardening and I with my sketching) this can really take away life’s noisy bits and take you into a place where you are very much at home and in a way feeling magical 😀


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