Maker profile

Cover of the Doll House World magazine Sept 2012

“From rug maker to bag lady”

 

Janet Granger has a wealth of experience and variety at her fingertips, literally, with her hand-stitched miniature needlepoint

By Jill Mundy

[As featured in Dolls House World magazine, issue 242, Nov 2012]

 

If you have ever looked for a carpet, rug or some cushions for your doll’s house (as I’m sure you all have), the chances are you have been enticed by one of Janet Granger’s many needlepoint kits.

 

Her enthusiasm for stitching began as a child and she has been running her successful business for sixteen years.

In 1984 Janet bought a Georgian doll’s house and started to decorate and furnish it. “At the time there was hardly anywhere to buy carpet kits, so I thought I’d have a go at designing some myself “.

The designs worked well and eventually led Janet to launch her full time business in 1996, following publication of her book ‘Miniature Needlepoint Carpets’, sadly no longer in print. She was ready for the hard work that running your own business entails. My husband still thinks it’s great but my parents think I’m crackers!

Janet had started her working life in public libraries, where she loved the books and enjoyed meeting the public. She didn’t like the limitations of working for a large organisation though and her own business has given her a lot more flexibility.

3 dollhouse needlepoint handbags

Janet’s Miniature handbags.


A dollhouse sampler on the wall

A Miniature sampler

Dollhouse needlepoint bolster cushions

“I run my business from home so that I can combine home and work life. If it’s sunny, I can do some gardening by day and pack parcels in the evening. It all gets done eventually but not always in the conventional order!”

There is no ‘typical’ day at Janet Granger Designs but this suits Janet well. “I love that my work doesn’t follow an organised pattern.

Fulfilling orders tends to be the first task, then making sure adverts and deadlines get done… then maybe a bit of designing, if I’m in the mood.”

Janet Granger

Whatever she has been doing, Janet likes to clear everything away at the end of each day. “I am obsessively tidy, so my office is like a show home, with nothing left on the desk overnight.”

“I have a messier store room where the parcels are made up and the kits stored; by necessity it has to be more untidy sometimes and that part drives me to distraction!”

The company is run by Janet and her husband Chris. As Chris is good with the technical side of things, they were one of the first miniatures businesses to have a website.

“That was back in 1997. My husband is wonderful at website design and my website now has over 200 pages, with loads of information, as well as a well-organised shop section.”

When they allow themselves time off from the business, Janet and Chris have a hobby that involves travelling all over the UK. “I love doing Dances of Universal Peace” Janet told me. “It is a form of spiritual dance, a bit like circle dance with singing, celebrating all kinds of religious traditions.

The words are not often in English – they’re usually in the language of the religion being celebrated, such as Hebrew, Arabic, Maori, etc. It’s very energetic and I love it.”

Janet’s embroidery skills have been mainly self-taught, as by the time she went to school, embroidery and sewing were being phased out of school lessons. She finds her inspiration in many places and you can tell she has a real eye for colour. “I have a huge collection of books about interior design, especially William Morris. Nature always provides lots of inspiration for colour schemes.”

Having honed her skills over the years, there are still times when a design doesn’t quite work out as planned. “Sometimes, I think I’ve chosen the right colours for a project but, as I’m stitching it, I realise the colours aren’t working well. But things can always be unpicked – even though that can be soul destroying!” Janet’s favourite item usually tends to be her most recent. “I always love making the newest item in my range. Working out how to get a new line on sale is what I love to do. Once all the problems have been solved, I need to move on to something else.”


Regular readers of DHW will recognise Janet’s latest items. “I always have several ideas in the pipeline for new things to add to my range. This autumn, I have just launched a selection of tiny handbags, suitable for several historic eras. There are always more ideas than time, unfortunately, but I get around to most things eventually.”

Janet believes her needlepoint kits are unique in that everything a customer needs to complete their order is included. “Even metal bell pull ends, wooden tapestry frame pieces or wallhanging poles. The instructions supplied are very detailed but if you really get stuck, visit my website.

There are online tutorials, showing exactly what you need to do to assemble your kit.” Many of Janet’s designs come as part of coordinated collections, so mix-and-match designs form a large part of what she has to offer.

All the kits and charts are available from www.janetgranger.co.uk or by post from Janet Granger Designs, Rose Cottage, Leek Road, Waterhouses, Staffordshire, ST10 3JS. A paper catalogue is available for £2.50 or available as a free download from the website.

I am sure that one visit to the catalogue or online store won’t be enough and like me, you will have to go back again and again.

A dollhouse needlework stand on a hand

A Miniature needlework stand