Sunday On The Run - Alexandra
Tell us a little about yourself?
Hmmm well, I just turned 25 last month which is kinda neat! I'm currently enjoy my quarter-life crisis (joking, but not really). I've lived in Ottawa my entire life and grew up in the country in Dunrobin at my parents home on the Ottawa river. I moved downtown to the Little Italy area for my first year of university and still live in the same neighbourhood, but now with my English Bulldog, who I will happily admit is my best friend! I have a full-time gig (doing something I love) as my embroidery doesn't support me enough to work on just a freelance basis yet, so often stuff I create is during my down time. Currently I work full-time as a Registered Nurse in Psychiatric Emergency at the Ottawa Hospital and I also sometimes work on a casual basis at the Royal Ottawa. I love the skills I've learned and gained over time being a nurse - being able to listen to peoples unique stories and determining how to best help them in a way that is suited to their individualize needs.
How did you start doing embroidery?
I started embroidery during my final year at Ottawa University and afterwards when I was studying for the NCLEX (the Canadian licensing nursing exam). I worked at Indigo Chapters from Grade 12 until my 4th year of university and during my final year working there the store came out with a line of 'DIY' craft kits. One of the kits was for cross-stitch so I decided to try it out and see if it would help keep my hands 'busy'. I often found that I would feel 'bored' if my hands weren't doing something. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed completing the DIY kit so I continued to learn and eventually made the transition over to embroidery. I actually self-taught myself how to embroider once I figured out the basics of cross-stitch and I continue to ‘play’ with stitching to refine my technique. I ended up making the switch from cross-stitch to embroidery because I found it too annoying/tedious to count stitches and I would more often than not end up losing count. Since then I've learnt a few new stitches from the book 'Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops: A Bend-the-Rules Primer' - it's a great book if you're looking for how to start!
Have you always been crafty?
Indeed I have!
I'm an only child so my imagination runs wild at times and I have always enjoyed being able to 'create'. My parents recognized my craftiness and nurtured this as a child, often buying me craft kits to complete together or Klutz books to complete independently (which were my favourite)! I also loved to take random stuff I'd find and DIY it. One of my favourite projects was taking old cigar boxes from my dad and repurposing them by adding collages to the top of the, or swimming for beautiful rocks and painting them for use in gardens while I was at my cottage. Also my paternal grandmother makes beautiful quilts and she taught me how to sew when I was young so I could make clothing for my Barbies of all things (my biggest obsession until Grade 2 haha!)
Your work is contemporary with a fair bit of humour in some cases. Have you ever had a reaction from someone who might have expected traditional embroidery with standard “home sweet home” type messages?
Not in a while. When I first started I made a cross-stitch that raised a few eyebrows from coworkers at Chapters who saw me stitching in our break room. I was making a monochromatic pink-toned cross-stitch that said 'Gimme Head Till I'm Dead' so I wasn't too surprised! I don't think I've ever posted a picture of it either but it's still one of my favourites that I hang in my home office to this day. I've participated in two craft shows so far and have noticed that people who see my embroidery for the first time often giggle/laugh in reaction to my contemporary style which I quite enjoy. Different messages I embroider seem to ‘speak’ to different people — which is exactly what I am hoping for :)
In terms of custom work have you had any strange requests?
Not yet! I'm open to anything so feel free to send any strange requests my way!
Since this business isn’t your only work, how many pieces on average do you complete per week?
It tends to depend upon two/three factors... The first is how much I work during the week since my hours at the hospital vary as I do shift work and sometimes pick up overtime. The second is the design/sizing of the piece as the more intricate or smaller sized embroideries take a bit longer to complete detailing. On average I tend to complete about one or two pieces a week but there have been times when I have made about ~5 pieces! I've found that I have a really bad habit of starting an embroidery, completing about half of it, getting bored and starting something new, then coming back to finish it maybe 6 months to a year later haha. It's a habit I plan to break...maybe!
Do your hands get tired?
Surprisingly they don't! Part of the reason why I took up embroidery was for a way to keep my hands 'busy' as I find I get bored when they aren't and it's definitely helped. Additionally, we still do paper charting at the hospital where i work so I wonder if that somehow helps and contributes.
If you could embroider something for a famous musician who would it be and what would you design?
I would LOVE to embroider an album cover for Portugal. the Man. They have been my favourite band since about Grade 11 so I think that would be really cool. I enjoy how each album has a different vibe/sound so you can always find something for whatever mood you are in and they were one of the best artists I've seen play live ever (and I've seen a loooot of concerts!). All their artwork is actually done by their lead singer, John Gourley, so I would adore stitching something (anything) that he's designed!
How did the name “Sunday on the Run” come to be?
It's a random combination of a few things. 'Sunday' is one of my favourite days of the week as it's a great excuse to stay home, be lazy, and curl up with a book or movie before the work week starts! 'On The Run' came from my ongoing longing to run away from daily responsibilities...or to the beach.
Ok so when you are not working or embroidering... or sleeping, what do you do for fun?
I looove to read and absolutely devour books! If you leave me to my own devices I read about a book a day which makes it difficult to pack for vacation. I haven't been reading at this pace since I started embroidering and have therefore switched over to audiobooks and podcasts as I enjoy listening to something while I stitch (SIDE NOTE: send me an email or DM on Instagram with any recommendations as I am always looking for new favourite books/podcasts that others love!). Otherwise I love to go to hot yoga and have a unlimited-monthly membership at Yogatown! I started doing yoga about 7 years ago when I moved downtown and have only gone to that studio because I'm loyal like that when I find somewhere I truly 'love'. I would like to take a yoga teach training course in the near future, more so for personal knowledge, but it all depends on if I can score the time off at work! Additionally, I enjoy taking my bulldog for walks around the area where I live since there are lots of nice pathways around Dow's Lake and she loves to explore. I like just like a simple night in with some good friends, good food and better wine!
What is your favourite hangout in Ottawa?
Would it be weird to say my home? I'm honestly such a homebody! Otherwise I love going to the Moonroom! They have the best cocktails and food with the warmest atmosphere...and obviously good music!