Stitching in Lockdown

"Just waiting for the big day to be confirmed"
How life has changed for us all!  We were lucky enough to spend the first weeks in the BVIs and only kneelers for my granddaughter's wedding in May (sadly now postponed till September if then) but while stitching I find great opportunities for daydreaming about future projects; with the sun, boats and relaxed lifestyle I found an illustration of a friendly gecko that would make a perfect panel for one of my clutch purses - furthermore I dreamt of making my own shoulder strap for the purse with 'shell' beads from the Internet;  a project now on hold but not forgotten!
Returned to the UK in early March just at the beginning of the virus hitting the UK. For the duration of our trip I had been working consensually on a pair of wedding kneelers.

A multi stitch panel
Instead, talking with my students on my return,all in isolation but thankfully able to talk on thetelephone, Zoom and email, what they reallyneeded was designs that required little counting, were quite small and ideally using up their own stash of threads.
As a result we now have two new designs, a Florentine panel that, along with the YouTube tutorial is fun and a Multi stitch panel that really excites me in addition to other kits available to use your own threads that are shown on my website. Both can be supplied with 14 or 18 mesh canvas.
Designing and planning continues, the small Multi Stitch panels already mentioned are addictive;  crewel wools work well on 14 mesh canvas and the floss, stranded and overdyes great on 18 mesh. Now there is such a lovely range of coloured 18 mesh canvas choosing colour schemes to enhance the canvas colour adds another dimension. One doesn't even have to do a complicated stitch to achieve a stunning result.

The Florentine design, again available with instructions and canvas can be  a traditional colour scheme or worked in a dazzling scheme to cheer you up working it and a show stopper when finished.  My YouTube tutorial already mentioned is free. can be watched more than once and definitely gives you many tips for any and all Florentine, do watch it! Link here!
These, along with a number of my designs, details given in the 'Kits without threads' in my web site are well worth considering for these difficult times.
In the past. beautiful work has been stitched by communities, often made to celebrate an important event;  I believe that the National Needlework Archive has a record of all community textile pieces to celebrate the Millennium (2000)  Personally I remember with affection a needlepoint panel in the village doctors' surgery  near Norwich where some of the most interesting buildings were stitched by members of the parish. Of course these were probably stitched in group meetings when materials, stitches to be used and progress could be discussed.  Sadly not possible now. This is why the two new designs are suitable, easy to show attached to an email, on facebook and other ways. One idea I've had while stitching my own Multi-Stitch panels is for a number of panels - stitched by different people - to be mounted as a large wall hanging for the village hall, doctor's surgery or similar as a memory of the Coronavirus. If I had a suitable wall space myself I should be tempted to work a number in shades of blue/tuquoise/ and mount them together - my husband is quite lucky as I can't think of a suitable wall!
Staying in touch with fellow stitchers is tremendously important; there are those who still hope to come to Italy with me in September, those who live alone and those who have a problem with their stitching and need another opinion or a kick start. Fortunately I have many conversations and some are able to visit for a short period in our garden. It is a peoples affair, it is and has always been and I love it that way;  when this is all over I do hope to have a small exhibition of things you have all done in lockdown - it will be exciting to see. Meanwhile remember I am only an email or telephone call away.
Doing needlepoint or in fact any handmade item could be termed a luxury that I believe is essential in this time of uncertainty; reading, Netflix, learning a language (which I am also doing) are all great and to be highly recommended but let's face it, creating something beautiful, useful and personal is just so special. Needlepoint designs worked by you and particularly those worked in your own colours are unique. A comment I recently saw was 'They (you stitchers) make the useful beautiful and the beautiful useful' A perfect way of summing up your talents.

 Furthermore your pieces will last and give pleasure to many others too. I often see pieces of work done by students' grandmothers or indeed by grandfathers possibly converlessing after injuries received in WWI (do wish they had at least initialed them) and a hydrangea rug I did forty or more years ago still gives me pleasure every morning I see it.
Inspired by Cross stitch embroidery on clothing,
particularly Marys Queen of Scots 
Another aspect of the enforced self isolation that should be enjoyed is time.  Recently I have been reading of slow looking, taking time to look at things around, The Tate Gallery has an interesting programme looking in particular at paintings, Richard Dadd's The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke (1855-64) is a painting that has intrigued me for many years is one of their examples  with fine detail that has in fact been a 16 year study for one lady;  Ford Maddox Brown's paintings also encourage close study, 'Work' his most famous. Brighton Beach another of his large canvases  is one I love making up stories about members of the crowded beach, their Victorian clothes and how they spent their 'day by the sea' Many, many other artists' work deserve  attention to their detail, try 'slow looking' for yourself.
How, you may ask can this be applied to your needlepoint; very definitely I would answer;  my designs are frequently inspired by my travels, seeing mosaic floors in cathedrals, attractive architectural detail, unusual colour schemes; Tudor was inspired by cross stitch embroidery worked on beautiful garments worn in the contemporary portraits;  the diaper patterns on my dining chairs by the painting the Ambassadors in the National Portrait Gallery.

Tulip with interesting heart
Now with our world confined to the garden looking closely at flowers reveals wonderful detail, far more sophisticated colour combinations that appear on a casual inspection. Even Christmas cards - not necessarily the holly and robin variety - can give ideas for colour schemes if one takes a few moments to look and dream.

I do hope you have enjoyed this long blog; My stitching has been of great importance to me but also given me time to think, dream and explore new ideas. I hope to return to the monthly blog soon.


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