Do you remember a few weeks ago, we saw a DAZZLING portrait of a coffee shop? Well that incredible work of art was created by our friend Melissa Vono! We first met Melissa when she joined our Stitch People Academy and since then we’ve watched her expand and grow with amazement. We had to get to know her a bit better.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hey y’all! My name is Melissa Vono and I currently live in Richmond, VA with my husband, Zak, and our kitty, Laika, but we will be moving across the country to San Francisco in just a few days! I am a speech-language pathologist with a specialty in working with children who are Deaf and hard of hearing. I love cross stitching, yoga, Barre3, video games, linguistics, and visiting with friends and family… but not as much as I love queso dip!
Tell us about your business!
I started my cross-stitching business about a year ago in order to make some extra money doing something I love. I originally started cross stitching as an outlet for my creativity and to lessen my diagnosed generalized anxiety disorder. For me, cross stitching is really calming and keeps me centered even on the hard days. I named my business Stitch At Nite because I only have time to stitch in the evenings after work — and because of my love of Nick At Nite shows, like the Dick Van Dyke Show, the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and I Dream of Jeannie! I suppose I am an old soul.
How did you first come across the Stitch People book?
I discovered the Stitch People book via Instagram a few years ago. Lauren Conrad ( of Laguna Beach and The Hills) posted a family portrait she had made, and I remember being fascinated and excited by it! I loved how cute it was with so few details, almost like classic video game characters. Lauren Conrad and I are the same age and I watched her grow up on those MTV shows. If she can do it, why not me?
What was your first Stitch People piece and how did it go?
My first Stitch People portrait was of my husband, my cat Yoshimi (now dearly departed), and myself. It took me a while to figure out what colors to use and how to properly position and space everything. It wasn’t quite as easy as it looked and I had to take out a lot of stitches when I miscounted, but it turned out decent. I have that portrait on my shelf and look at it to remind myself of how far I have come and how much my creativity has grown since that first portrait!
What have you enjoyed about making the portraits?
My favorite part of making Stitch People portraits is finding and adding the right details and trying to match the colors and individual aspects of people. Getting the hair color just right and the animal fur patterns is one thing I love to play with. But sometimes what you leave out of a portrait is just as important as what you add! I’ve also recently begun using a wider variety of Aida fabrics which really change the feel of the portrait.
What’s been your favorite piece so far?
My favorite piece so far was the one I made for a local coffee shop in Richmond, Virginia. The owner of Ironclad Coffee Roasters commissioned a piece of his family in front of their coffee shop — a converted firehouse — for Mother’s Day. It took so much time and effort, but I feel super proud of how it came out! It was by far the biggest challenge I have tackled and you can read more about how I did it on the Stitch People blog.
Where is your favorite place to stitch?
My favorite place to stitch is all over! I may spend the most time stitching on my couch, but I like to stitch in a wide variety of places, including on airplanes, in the car, in parks, on rooftop bars, in private clubs, in coffee shops, at breweries, and even during a staff meeting at my work! (No, I didn’t get in trouble. Yes, I wish I could stitch in more meetings.)
How have you developed your cross stitching skills?
I developed my cross-stitching skills by designing bigger, more ambitious pieces that force me to try new techniques and practice old ones. Once I figure out a new kind of stitch or a skill, I like playing with it and pushing myself to make it better. It isn’t always easy, and I still hate french knots, but I believe that practice makes better, not perfect!
What advice would you give to people just starting their cross stitching journey?
My advice to people just starting their cross-stitching journey would be to allow yourself enough time to practice and let your creativity grow! Start small, and work your way up to that big, grand project in your head. And even after you make a pattern or design, give yourself permission to edit and freestyle things as you stitch. My digital designs are typically templates and guides rather than strict rules. And have fun! If you aren’t having fun on a design, take a break, or change it up to make it more joyful.
Where can we see more of your work?
Thank you so much Melissa for letting us get to know the talent behind your fabulous stitching!
If you would like to see more talented Stitch People Stitchers, head to our blog and search for Stitch People Stars!