Autumn is here.

Just back from our 11th trip to Pirapora close to Tropea in Calabria southern ItalyRobert and I had a great week in Puglia before driving across from the east coast to pick up my stitching friends on the west coast to arrive at Pirapora. Crossing from Puglia, interesting villages, churches and trulli houses but very flat we appreciated just how dramatic and beautiful the Calabria countryside is.After a very wet summer it was amazingly green – fortunately the weather changed as we arrived and we enjoyed warm sun and blue skies for our whole visit.
On or trips to Tuscany , usually in April/May, we always have a design that everyone works, on this trip people are able to choose what they wish to stitch. Both work well, this year in Tuscany we all stitched the venue’s logo, a pair of pheasants under an olive tree;in Calabria there was a wide range from a large wall hanging worked in silks on 18 mesh canvas to a hussif and all things in between.Personally I worked on a group of Butterfly wit…

Scrap book Jottings

August, they say is the ‘silly month’ when editors and journalists scrape around for news, ‘Man bit Dog’ can become front page news!Schools are out, Mothers seek to entertain their children, (we used to set off on our bikes with a packed lunch, sadly not possible in many areas now)’ Grandparents plan day outings or even spend time with the family on a ‘bucket and spade’ holiday; Robert has taken two of my grandchildren to Whipsnade Zoo to day and they, fortunately, couldn’t hope for better weather. So, with, I imagine most people being bored with Brexit and Trump I should like to share some of my thoughts with you and share the Autumn class programme. Firstly, and after all I am a devoted andenthusiastic stitcher – what have I been doing? This new technique of Shadow stitching – allowing the detail of a hand-painted canvas to show through a ‘veil’ of lacy stitches – has completely intrigued me.I have just completed 2 designs, an Elderflower and a Lilac each with two different borders; ha…

Another wonderful trip to Tuscany

Recently back from our third visit to Borghetto Calcinaia following much the same programme as in our previous visits and with three new people to join those who had been before.
Special interest holidays work well, needlepoint and stitching are no exception, all the participants have a passion in common and I find needle pointers love flowers, gardens and visiting interesting art museums and quaint villages.They also enjoy their food and sampling recipes and fresh ingredients’ from the area.A win win situation.

Possibly the most important feature of the trip is the stitching project on offer; ideally everyone working on the same design – even if some details are adapted – works so much better with cross fertilisation of ideas and swapping of threads.On our previous two visits we have worked on panels by the Del Robbia family – a famous family of potters from the area who produced their panels in the 16 century.This year we chose the attractive logo from the Borghetto and worked it in a…

Flowers in Needlework / Burn Incident

I know no-one who doesn’t love flowers, the colours the smell so little wonder, flowers have been a favourite subject with artists and embroiderers throughout the ages.
In Elizabethan times, the English, well known for their love of gardening, have used flowers often in a naturalistic style than most other countries – vegetables and fruitwere almost as popular.The larger pieces were often planned and sometimes worked by professional men but these too frequently hade flowers and foliage as part of the design. My favourite reference books The Needleworker’s Dictionary’- Pamela Clabburn ‘The Embroiderer’s Flowers – Thomasina Beck.

In Victorian times, with the increased leisure time among the middle classes, embroidery and watercolour painting were practiced and flowers particularly popular.Berlin wool work designs printed, hand coloured in the early days were worked with a special wool and sometimes beads –illustration.

The example here is from my own collection, the design worked entirely wit…

An exciting new look at needlepoint.

When searching for a title that both described a growing trend in needlepoint design and encouraged you to read it, ‘new’ was not perfect as ideas and techniques continue to grow and have always done so.From my own designs you will see antique tiles, Tudor embroidery and Victorian Ladies journals have inspired me.

My first designs that took the colour of the canvas as part of the design many years ago was a range, the Gazebo collection, stitches worked in white and ecru on antique (brown) canvas, the individual stitches – including Skip Tent – allowing the deep shade of canvas to offset the design.Nowadays the exciting range of coloured canvases would lend themselves beautifully to this simple idea – oh for the time to play.
Next came two Patchwork designs, the canvas painted in a crazy
patchwork of colours.Each area has stitches, often old favourites in threads to compliment the painted area below.Either the stitches had space in between rows, an element of the traditional stitch left …

Loose Ends

A very Happy New year to every one; let’s hope that we all enjoy good health and success in 2018

Having just had a lovely family Christmas with my daughter in France (freezing and cold outside but log fires and warming food in) I have taken stock of projects, ideas and goals that have, for whatever reason not been done in 2017.Not that I wasn’t stitching when even possible but there was no telephone, doorbell or email essential to respond to. A response we had from a recent article was from an American now living in London whose step-grandmother worked the most amazing three fold screen during the Second World War.The theme was Alice in Wonderland and one can see from these illustrations the Mad Hatters’ Tea Party, Alice and the Queen with the Jam Tarts.Fortunately the stitcher’s initials and the date 1944 are visible.The lady was obviously a proficient stitcher as among the photographs I was also sent a French style Berger chair and a round cushion with flowers and a humming bird.I bel…

Golden Rules for perfect needlepoint

The many helpful tips one picks up on class, swapping ideas with groups of fellow stitchers or from the many excellent books on the subject cover a great deal; starting and finishing a thread, clean and dirty holes, using the right ply after stripping it to mention just a few.
 I could go on all day however I realised recently that there are some ‘rules’ that are applicable to all needlepoint, Florentine, Stitchery, Shadow stitching and even pieces worked entirely in Basket weave tent stitch. So to share my ‘golden rules’ with you Choose your design with care because you love it because it has good quality materials, even weave canvas, interesting threads and where necessary clear instructions .  because It doesn’t work the design in ‘half cross stitch' which will distort the canvas and not give good weave.   Similarly, should you work areas with basket weave (diagonal tent) there will not be sufficient thread. because, even though you love the design you don’t like the colour schemes …