Friday, 18 December 2015


Recently I have been lucky enough to attend a short but very interesting course of writing articles and blogs.   We each had to prepare something for the other members of the class to critic, very scary but most useful. This happened the day after I posted my latest on India and the tutor said that my comment ‘’Even the spinning wheel became a weapon in the struggle for women’s freedom’’ was most interesting and should be explored further.

The tutor also said that I should write more about the opening up of trade between Europe, England in particular, and India and this I promise to do at a later date, however her comment about weaving, stitching and embroidery helping largely in women’s flight for both financial and social freedom intrigued me and made me want to follow it further.
Nothing is new, as early as the 13th century in England, Opus Anglicanum  as English Medieval embroidery was called, was without doubt some of the finest examples of English needlework for all times.

Fortunately I was able to attend a day seminar on Opus Anglicanum just a few days ago.  Until then I (wrongly) had believed that it was worked almost entirely for the Church but there was also many items of secular embroidery.    Items of clothing of for well-to-do people as well as the clergy, horse-trappings and furnishings were commissioned – these were more commonly used and thus did not survive as the ecclesiastical pieces did. 

I even found out there were women named; by the late 13 century it had become a highly lucrative industry and a number of workshops flourished financed with City money and employing both men and women. Famous among them were Mabel of Bury St. Edmunds and Rose, wife of John de Burford who was a merchant in the City of London.   From records it would appear that frequently it was a man, the owner of the workshop, who received the payment but I suspect that there were women employed in the stitching.
Famous examples such as the Syon Cope and the Steeple Aston Cope, named after the area they were designed for or the family who commissioned them, are in the Victoria and Albert Museum.  But I believe that at the time of the Reformation there was a danger of Church vestments being confiscated so many items were sold abroad hence the excellent examples in foreign museums and collections.

Fast forward to the 19th century when Berlin Wool Work became the international rage.  These patterns to be stitched with worsted wools were originally drawn and painted on graph paper (then called point paper).    These charts were imported in their thousands to Britain and the USA.   I have read that while L. W. Wttich the Berlin print seller has always been credited with starting this craze, it was his wife, an enthusiast who drew her own designs and encouraged him.

Originally these patterns were hand-coloured by an army of women in Germany, the wool too was produced there and generally speaking the designs were useful and tastefully coloured.  Later on with the advent of aniline dyestuffs in the 1850’s (strong magentas and spinach green to give examples of the more lurid colours!).

 As a result of the insatiable demand from the emerging leisured classes, the patterns were printed in colour and any item that fancy could believe would add to the overstuffed Victorian house.  Images of animals, particularly dogs and birds were popular and I believe ‘sleeves’ for piano legs and covers to keep the key board dust free were available.

This subject of women gaining status, independent and some form of financial security is vast and worthy of much more research.    I have skated over the Elizabethan period when leisured women stitched many types of needlework the most famous of whom was Mary Queen of Scots.   She  is recorded to have passed many hours of her imprisonment stitching.    However furniture of the period was heavy and so table carpets and wall-hangings particularly for beds were both popular and needed.  While men frequently designed and prepared canvases women were engaged in the stitching.

Dame schools in the States taught basic sewing and the Finishing Schools on the East Coast taught many more sophisticated types of needlework. No doubt the basic needlework enabled the poorer girls to continue in the professional field while the more leisured girls bought and commissioned needlework for their own use.  This was similar in Britain and many establishments offered music, drawing and needlework ahead of anything more academic.

A vast range of monthly magazines offering the latest ideas and how-to projects were published in the 19th and early 20th century, first in the USA and then the UK.  The first in America was Godey’s Ladies Book which was the first to actually pay the contributors for their work.  Being strong on the latest embroidery, handwork and recipes one can only believe these authors were women.

As I have already said, this topic is vast, well worthy of serious and extensive research.  I haven’t even touched on the India women’s independence though I do hope I shall find out more while reading about the international trade that was established many centuries ago. 

However women in many parts for the world, through many forms of embroidery, weaving, spinning patchwork writing about the craft or even preparing and painting designs among others gained a type of independence important to them.    It could have been producing or helping to produce something extremely beautiful, it could have been being in the company of fellow workers,   It could even have been, though not necessarily, making some money of their own.

Similar activities continue to this day,   I also have more than one version of a design stitched to check quantities and instructions, Knitters check patterns and knit finished garments for photography, help can be given if a client wants a custom piece but is not prepared to do it themselves.

I should apprieciate your comments, contributions or details of how you or members of your family gained social or financial independence from active participation in hand crafts.  Perhaps they were left with young children and little support or they had to live abroad, joinging their husband in a country were driving or venturing out unaccompanied was not safe.  I should love to hear your stories.

Related information:

                                                                My favourite reference books
                       The Needleworker’s Dicationary               Pamela Clabburn
       Needlework, an illustrated history           Edited by Harriet Bridgeman & Elizabeth Drury

                                                                    Upcoming exhibition
             Victoria & Albert Museum                           Opus Anglicanum Oct 2016 – Feb. 2017

Friday, 4 December 2015


India mania has hit!

We both see and hear a great deal about India; their politics, culture and history.  Their Prime Minister Narendra Modi has just been on a State visit to England resulting in excellent trade agreements – the first visit by an Indian PM for more than a decade. 
In addition the Victoria & Albert Museum here in London has also catered to our long term interest in all decorative crafts with the current exhibition Textiles of India and the Bejewelled Treasures, the collection of Al Thani which opened last week.

The Textile exhibition is so comprehensive and beautifully displayed, for once I visited it twice – there was so much to enjoy.  Every stage of existence, birth, betrothal, marriage and death is marked in lndia with gifts of cloth. The exhibits show the love of colour and texture all augmenting life’s rich pageant.    Even the spinning wheel became a weapon in the struggle for women’s freedom.
I have been lucky enough to visit the Northern areas of India and on my last visit I was intrigued by a stone grille window frame (open to allow the cool air to circulate – my design ‘India’ shown here worked on 18 mesh canvas with floss was the result

Textiles for centuries have also been central to opening up India to the world and their far reaching presence today both inside the subcontinent and outside is a testimony to their continued importance.  They have a live quality due to the skill and dexterity with which they are manipulated – a simple length of fabric, a sari becomes animated when wrapped around a woman, another length can become a turban, a dramatic form which I would dearly like to master.

Textiles have always been prized in India for clothes and furnishings.  One of the most exciting display in the current exhibition is a ‘palace room’ completely hung tent-like with beautiful embroidered fabrics.  Even their elephants had lavish gold and silver encrusted embroideries at royal ceremonies.   One year, our stitching theme on the Italian trip was ‘Elephants’ a great subject for canvas work and here are some of the results just showing how colour and stitching can be so individual.

Fabrics opened India to the world, and their far reaching presence today both within the subcontinent and outside is a testimony to their continued importance.

It was the late 17/ early 18th century when England became involved in the trade, particularly of chintz, a glazed fabric, which became so popular and still are to this day.

In the 19th Century with the industrialisation of cloth manufacture in England, India was compelled to concentrate on beautiful hand-woven and embroidered fabrics.  Today many internationally known designers use the skills of Indian craftsmen for beadwork and embroidery and for a taste of sumptuous and vibrant textiles one can glimpse an impressive array in Green Street, Southall, Wembley  or Belgrade Road in Leicester.

I am biased, the Victoria and Albert Museum is my favourite museum in all of London and I do think that the membership of the Friends, even of one seldom gets to London is worthwhile just for the beautiful V&A Magazine and free priority entry to all exhibitions when in the capital. 

Textiles of India Finishes on the 10th of January
Bejewelled Treasures Finishes on the 28th of March

Friday, 30 October 2015

Planning for the Winter

Our clocks in the UK go back this weekend so the evenings will get darker a whole hour earlier. Spring forward, Fall back is the way I remember it. Recently we had Harvest Festival at Church with the lovely hymn ‘Come ye thankful people come, Raise the song of harvest home, All is safely gathered in Ere the winter storms begin.  Jews also have a similar festival Succoth also known as the Festival of Ingathering.’

Similarly I am planning on needlepoint projects for the long evenings and cold days when stitching rather than going out seems far more attractive.  My students are also planning, at a recent open day here many chose a new project for their winter stitching.

Besides a design interesting colour schemes can be recorded so here is a bunch of dried flowers with a bunch of threads that would echo the shades well.

 So, I have already got a piece ‘Aleppo’ on the go;  I think I have already mentioned it inspired by an ornate ceiling in the Citadel in the city of Aleppo in Syria but in addition I always try to have a ‘piece to go’  something that can be popped in a bag to work on at odd moments.  Spec cases are always good and make excellent presents.  Kindle covers, Christmas tree ornaments likewise. We also have a clutch bag that can take panels to match different outfits – again a small canvas
Some years ago, more years than I want to remember I taught panels for this bag/purse in Scotsdale for ANG.  If anyone has a bag of that vintage do let me know as additional panels are available.  The current purse is also available with a whole wardrobe of panel designs.

This is just one of the panels with an amusing chain.  Although the Duchess of Cambridge carries her signature clutch bags in her hand I do find a chain to pop over my shoulder more practical.  I have amassed a collections of chains threaded through with velvet ribbon as well as this converted necklace.

Besides stitching I also love going to exhibitions, particularly in the Victoria & Albert Museum here in London.  At present there is a sensational ‘Textiles of India’ show; I have been once but plan to go back soon as I allowed far too little time to thoroughly enjoy it.  It will shut on 10 January 2016

 Another exhibition I definitely plan to go to next summer is an exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace of paintings by Maria Sibylla Merian  (1647 -1717)  From the advance publicity it would appear to be of her Butterflies;  however I am lucky enough to have her ‘New Book of Flowers’ and if the illustrations are anywhere as good as those in that book it will be an embroiderer’s dream.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Inspiration from Travel

Rudolf Nureyev said that whenever he danced a role it told a story;  I am similar – all my designs have a story behind them. Some from the place where I got the inspiration and others from motifs or colour combinations that caught my eye.
My collection of designs is inspired by the dedication and expertise of the craftsmen and women who originally made them often centuries ago.

Some of my favourites that come to mind are ‘India’ (available on both 14 and 18 mesh canvas);  it was on my very first holiday with my husband in northern India where I saw decorative stone grilles instead of windows to allow cool currents of air through – Robert was much perplexed at my request for a photo but delighted when he saw my needlepoint interpretation.
Another favourite is 'The Tiles of St Mark’s';  again inspired by a lovely trip to Venice, a first for me . The Cathedral’s interior is dazzling with walls and ceilings covered with gold ground mosaics but it was the inlayed marble floor that intrigued me most.  Memories of sitting in a quiet corner and sketching the geometric patterns of the floor tiles that had been there for centuries resulted in one of our most popular designs.

The Tiles of St Mark’s
We have some sad memories too;  the wall tiles in the beautiful St John’s Cathedral in Christchurch in South Island, New Zealand have inspired three designs and it was only later that a devastating earthquake destroyed most of the city and the Cathedral.
During a trip to Syria just before any troubles began, throughout the country, all the places we visited were rich in design  ideas..  I dread to think how many of the sites and buildings remain.  In Aleppo,  I photographed a magnificent ceiling in the Citadel which is the design I am working on at present, reliving the joyous time we spent in the country.  I believe that during the current civil war this complex has been used by the Syrian Army as a military base and, as a result has received significant damage.  
Even to-day there are reports of the Arch of Triumph in Palmyra in the north being ‘pulverised’.  Palmyra was constructed centuries before Christ as a stop over for travellers crossing the Syrian Desert and set in an oasis was almost the highlight of our trip..
Finally, as mentioned it is colours that demand my attention, we have just returned from St Lucia and the vibrant colours of the Carnival costumes, the iridescent turquoises, watermelon pinks, the pistachio greens and daffodil yellows are itching to be stitched!
Cathedral Tiles, Charlotte and Tudor

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Stitching in Italy

We have just returned from a break to Italy, too busy stitching to blog, sorry about that however I am longing to share the news with you now.

We had our 8th visit to Pirapora a family run Agro tourism place that grows all its own fruit and vegetables, even the wine we drink with dinner.  The location is perfect, pleasant shady gardens where we stitch, weather allowing, with stunning views of the sea.

Everyone stitched their own design which added to interesting discussions and suggestions.  As before one outing to an interesting place was all I could encourage them to take – this year we went to a Roman/Norman site Catanzaro.   Our English speaking guide who with his knowledge adds a great deal to any of our trips and this time was no exception, we had a visit to an old olive press with the original machinery and an embroiderer’s work studio  and saw her working with the silks produced from the silk worms who enjoy the mulberry leaves grown in abundance in the area – we even fitted in lunch at a hill top restaurant with amazing views.

No-one there would leave without booking our 2016 visit – it is the 14 – 23 June! – let me know if you would like the full details.

However here is the exciting news, I have been approached to run an additional needlepoint course next September (2016) in the most beautiful location in Tuscany. 

Robert and I spent three days with the English owners and sampled some of the delights that would be built into the course – I always visit and explore any possible place and this would be perfect for those of you who would like to stitch but also get a taste of Tuscany, its villages, museums , the views down the valley to a lake and at that time of the year Autumn colour, even a tempting swimming pool in the garden.
One evening there is a trip to Sansepolcro a walled city built around the 1012AD Cathedral where I visited the Aboca Museum of Herbs and Health which I believe is the most beautiful museum I have ever seen.  The plan will be to meet up  afterwards to have a delicious dinner together.

Another highlight that we were also able to enjoy was Sunday lunch at Trattoria da Vasco, a family run restaurant that makes a special feature of Sundays, everyone sitting under parasols and eating a 7 course menu.

At the moment I am trying to design a needlepoint project to both reflect Tuscan heritage and offer flexibility for different levels of stitchers. The group will be maximum 9 people and I shall be on hand the whole time to offer help and advice.

To sum up the two places, if you want to concentrate on stitching in a friendly relaxed environment with home grown food and simple, spotless accommodation Pirapora is for you.   On the other hand if you fancy some really interesting visits in addition to stitching and prefer a little more luxury Borghetto Calcinaia is your best choice.   Either venue can have an additional stay organised by you – Sicily from Pirapora, Florence, Sienna, etc. etc. from the Borghetto.

The prices of the two do reflect the additional visits included in the Tuscan deal and the fact that Tuscany is better known for its beauty however I really believe that good value is offered in both cases.

(To sum up included for Pirapora is transport to and from Lamezia Therme airport; accommodation (units of two rooms, single occupancy with one shower room;  breakfast and dinner with wine, tuition with Anna.

Not included – flights to Lamezia (Ryan and Al Italia), lunches, the day outing usually under 100 euros, spending money for ice-creams etc. and your needlepoint project.

For the Borghetti collection from either Perugia Airport or Arezzo train station

Full board and lodging (single or double occupancy with shower room are offered at two prices).  All visits, transport and meals out (not any museums you might wish to visit)

Not included, your needlepoint project paid for to Anna, any travel arrangements to Perugia or Arezzo.)

There are fact sheets for both venues and if you are interested I should be happy to send them as already four people have put their names down

Monday, 8 June 2015

Combatting Stress

So many of us consider our lives stressful, the demands of family, the pressures of work, the problems of the daily commute; but nothing is new!

The three part television series , ‘Armada – 12 days to Save England ‘– I mentioned  on Facebook on Friday showed Queen Elizabeth I waiting for news of the English fleet engaged in combat with the Spanish galleons in the English Channel.  Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen was always urged to marry to safeguard herself;  there was a strong move in the country to re-establish the Catholic Church, without an heir, tormented by nightmares and the strain of keeping up appearances if the Spaniards had landed on English soil her days would definitely have  been numbered.

So, in this excellent series she is shown sitting with her ladies waiting for news and stitching the most beautiful piece of embroidery, it looks like cut work to me

I heard Anita Dobson who plays Elizabeth I in the series talking on the radio, that it took more than 4 hours in Make-up to create her ageing and the importance of looking wonderful to her Court.   I long to ask whether the piece of embroidery was a prop or whether Ms Dobson is also an accomplished stitcher herself!

Mary Queen of Scots – Elizabeth’s rival for the English throne – was held prisoner for 17 years at various great houses,  Hardwick being the most famous, and she worked some magnificent pieces of needlepoint.  The Oxburgh hangings, panels of fine tent stitch mounted on velvet bed curtains can be seen at Oxburgh in Norfolk.
Her life too, must have been extremely stressful being sent as a child to the French court without her family, married to the Dauphin who became King Francis II but who died only a few months later leaving Mary just 18 years old.  Rather than live under the domination of her Mother in Law Mary moved to Scotland before being imprisoned by Elizabeth being a serious threat to the Monarch

It is recorded that her jailer’s wife, Bess of Hardwick sat with her stitching and trying to have some attempt of a normal life.  Quite pleasant one would say, but NO, she was surrounded by people who reported any comments or moves to Elizabeth; she was frequently moved, often at night, to a new location to foil attempts to rescue her.  Her embroidery was a form of therapy and many of the motifs she stitched expressed her private thoughts as all her written correspondence was monitored by her captors.
Always remember...
More recently I believe that many actors and opera singers stitch before and between performances, Henry Ford, Hardy Amies, Joan Sutherland to name just a few.  One can imagine on a film set or in one’s dressing room sitting quietly stitching could have a calming effect.
I know how much I relax whenever I can stitch for an hour or two – the pleasure of concentrating completely on colour, the choice of stitch, the rhythm of the stitching and, at the end, what has been achieved
If not already, try some needlework, even for complete beginners Florentine designs can be perfect, make friends with your shop owner, join a class, meet other people or stitch contentedly with a play, music, or my favourite, a talking book.  Remember how for many centuries people (mainly women) have coped with major stress in their lives.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Swishing, Swapping, Exchanging

Until recently I wasn’t familiar with the expression ‘Swishing’ but everyone seems to be doing it with clothes, books and items they no longer want in return for items they do.

 I believe the popular Radio 4 BBC programme ‘The Archers; held one recently for their village of Ambridge,   Locally in Primrose Hill there was one for children to first dress as their favourite character and swop books. Great fun so I decided to adapt the idea to needlepoint.

 People have long told me how their stash of threads is rapidly resembling a mountain and hate to throw either books or materials out.   I regularly have an ‘Open Day’ to share new designs so bringing their un-loved items to swop was an added attraction - last week was the event.

The attendance was encouraging,   The selection of threads people brought in was exciting and definitely is encouraging me to design even more pieces to expressly use up their own threads.  But even more interesting was the number of pristine kits from other designers that were brought in – complete cushion panels as well as small items  

Nice designs, pretty colour schemes – it led me to believe that they had been presents. ‘Recipients who were knows to stitch would LOVE a kit as a present ‘Not so.  I remember doing book signing trips around Britain for my books ‘The Complete Needlepoint Course; and ‘Needlepoint, Stitch by Stitch’ when I was frequently told they had been given a kit by a close friend and they felt obliged to work it even if they didn’t like it or it didn’t fit their d├ęcor   Worse still the donor was due sometime soon and would expect to see it finished and in pride of place.

Some Designs Expressly for Using Up Threads
So, please if you have friends who stitch get them a book with designs they can copy, adapt to their own needs or simply put on the ‘coffee table’:  a voucher so they can choose for themselves or a class, especially helpful to someone just starting on the hobby as they will learn good working methods that will stay with them forever.  Perhaps a subscription to a lovey magazine like Giuliana Ricama though new has an exciting range of needlework ideas and techniques (including mine I am delighted with)

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

River Cruise on the Danube

We have just returned from our very first river cruise; until now we have enjoyed exploring countries – like our recent trip to Myanmar (Burma that was) but that necessitated moving from city to city, beautiful location to fabulous temple – all packing, unpacking and different beds almost every night!

On a river cruise such as this one we saw five countries, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary all from the comfort of one comfortable cabin, in the space of seven days.  Just for the record we travelled up the Danube, going from Bucharest (close to the mouth of the river into the Black Sea) and up though Belgrade to Budapest.  Also allowed quite some relaxed stitching time!

 Crafts have always been popular in Eastern Europe, possibly as they have long cold winters and with their centuries of troubles including the very recent past, staying quiet at home was practical.   Furthermore some of the area have lent towards the Christian church in Italy and others to the Orthodox Church. On my return (not very good at doing pre-travel research) I have found an extremely good explanation of the complicated history and, as a result, the needlework in ‘Needlework, an Illustrated History’ edited by Harriet Bridgeman and Elizabeth Drury in the Central and Southeastern Europe section.

Particularly exciting were the heavily (and beautifully) embroidered national costumes which we were able to examine in museums and on people!    But inspiration also came from colour, form and techniques; marvellous frescos in the Orthodox Churches, paintings covering the walls, pillars and ceilings; colours still amazingly fresh and often with repeating borders connecting the likenesses of the biblical figures that set my mind racing. 

In Arbanassi a historical town, perched high with wonderful views and streets of traditional houses I found the most attractive hand decorated pottery which though not the easiest to cart home I had to have!!  After all some of the decoration would be great needlepoint and anyway we love home-made soups in the winter!   In fact coming back to a damp London we christened them with vegetable soup on our first day home.

One day we were sailing up through the Iron Gates, no off boat trips but great stitching time – it is interesting how many people introduce themselves and talk about the needlework they enjoy back home – everyone who makes something with their hands seems so nice and love seeing what others are doing.

Cautionary tale, a good student has just returned from an exciting trip to Oman which they loved however three days before the end of the holiday she finished all her stitching, all the books she had taken and asked her husband if they could return early!   Not that they did but it does show how important it is to take plenty to do even if it doesn’t get done!

Our final stop before Budapest in Hungary was a Craft Museum in Kalocsa where we saw examples of embroidery for sale.   Hungarians it would seem love colour, much of their furniture is gaily painted with flowers, birds and fruit; some of the rooms were painted, again brightly, from floor to ceiling and, not to be out done their embroidery would brighten up the dullest day.   My favourites were the white on white which reminded me of some of the techniques of explained in Carolyn Ambuter’s book ‘The Open Canvas’.  So now that book is on my work table along with countless other ideas.
Two examples of modern designs purchases and kindly photographed by a fellow passenger

So, what was it I took to stitch?  In the past I have recommended nothing too large or nothing without some plan of action and threads you hope will work.  This time I wanted to do a second colour scheme of a small version of ‘Cathedral Tiles’ – checking instructions and quantities before launching a design is also wise so that is what I did.   Not quite finished but I will share the ‘work in progress’

Home now with preparations for a Swopping Party towards the end of the month.  It seems a popular theme ‘swopping’ things be it books, clothes or anything one doesn’t want anymore (or never did) for things that appeal.  Recently my grandchildren got an invite to a Book Swopping Fancy dress party, dressed as their favourite character the entrance fee was two of their own books they had finished with.
Just for the record we travelled with Emerald Waterways and the trip was called Enchantment of Eastern Europe and we really enjoyed it.

Ps Have just been to ‘Savage Beauty’ at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London;  a truly amazing exhibition of Alexander McQueen’s fabulous clothes.  It was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York before coming here so I do hope that as many as possible have seen it or at least booked a date.  It is a big exhibition, I took almost 2 hours and I wasn’t with a companion to chat! 

The sheer expert cutting and details of many was breath taking, other pieces were purely ‘cat walk’ items such as a dress made entirely from razor clam shells and another made out of flowers.  There were accessories, film and models galore and to finish one of the best selection of art books I have seen

Monday, 20 April 2015


We have had the first session of the two day Lettering Class, everyone enjoyed it.

Hard at Work
We started off exploring the many, many types of lettering that could be used on needlepoint with the help of a specially prepared work manual.  This gave examples of simple letters, script alphabets, monograms, nautical flags that represent individual letters, and many more.
Hard at Play
 Besides numerous alphabets there was examples of how each type could b put to create whole projects or simply add a personal touch to a piece.  A lively discussion ensued with many examples of my own work being handled and discussed
Gill Alphabet

Probably the areas that appealed most to the students were ‘Phrases’ , sayings like ‘You aren’t getting old just more valuable’ and one student brought in a great saying about gardens which will call out for a pretty floral border (to be worked on Day 2).  The Eric Gill script alphabet worked on a Tartan background which can be ordered and worked in other colours also proved popular; and the Rainbow letters which were originally created by my niece who does watercolours of children’s names.
Gina in Rainbow Letters

Monday, 13 April 2015

Stitching wilst the husband is enjoying The Masters Golf Tournament

As mentioned before the weekend I expressed the hope that, because of the back to back sport over the weekend I would get a great deal of stitching done and promised to share any progress!

Scheme II & III
Well, here is what I managed – finishing a third colourway of Tudor Rose and quite good progress on my Rhinoceros.  Some time ago I showed a ‘vide poche’ piece with Robert’s initials and multiply borders that I completed however I enjoyed working all the different borders so much that I vowed to follow the same idea and make it into a boxed cushion – so as to show the intricate border flat!

The Rhino is hand-painted from a woodcut by Durer (1515) and worked in Vineyard silks (my first use of this thread and good for Tent stitch as it is not divisible) The Border introduced Threadworx Overdyed floss and stranded cotton. 

By working the two central columns (top and bottom) and then the corners it makes fitting in the in-between columns simple and many of the patterns used before are working well.
Scheme I

The Tudor Rose kit is available with or without threads and the Rhino painted canvas and instructions can be ordered thru my email:

Friday, 20 March 2015

20 Hours: Network, Dance and Threads

Just had a spectacular 20 hours;  Swan Lake ballet, the annual meeting of the Needlepoint Network and choosing threads of my next project;  sitting with a cup of tea,  catching my breath after so much excitement.

Last evening we went to see ‘Swan Lake’ at a live cinema relay from The Royal Opera House, Convent Garden.  I have written about these live relays before, one sits there and join audiences in more than 1069 cinemas in 26 counties to enjoy world class performances. 

Swan Lake was no exception; Anthony Dowell’s production evoked the opulent period of 1890 Russia when Tchaikovsky wrote the music; In my ignorance I had thought the whole story revolved around the swans living by the lake with their classical white costures, but two of the Acts were at Prince Siegfried’s palace, masked balls, acrobatic entertainers and sumptuous costumes. In addition to the beautiful sets by the Lake with the ‘swans’.   Natalia Osipova and Matthew Golding danced Odette and Prince Siegfried to the delight of the audience. 

Celtic Hearts I
This morning we had the annual meeting of the Needlepoint Network; this is a group of trained women who teach my designs together with other designs also created within the network.   The Network was started by me some 25 years ago in the response to students enjoying both stitching with like-mined people and having help with learning good techniques.   Now All Stitched Up’s web site has each Networker’s programme and dates.  There are also open events in many places in the UK also listed.
They are always looking for people who are fanatic about needlepoint and might be interested in helping other people in their own area.  Do let them know of your interest they would love to hear from you.

Threads for a New Project
Then, I headed straight to the thread store. When planning a new project I do like to actually see the threads, group them together and have the widest choice available.  Re-ordering on line is fine but there is nothing like seeing the actual shades and how they blend (or highlight each other) in the flesh.  As I mentioned recently I have photographs of a palace in Aleppo in Syria (taken 4 years ago before the problems started) that I have longed to start for some time and with my memories of the rich colours used in the Swan Lake costumes I plumped to go theatrical!

This hand-woven scarf bought in Guatemala was a further inspiration for the colours – will see how it goes and I will keep you posted.