Showing posts from 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 Anglicanumas English Medieval embroidery was called, was without doubt some of the finest examples of English needlework for all times.

Fortunately …


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 …

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 additio…

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 intr…

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 studioand 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…

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 mentionedon 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 h…

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…

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 m…


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

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.
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

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…

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!
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.
The Tudo…

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 th…