Accepting my early retirement I am filling my days with quilting and sewing projects as well as catching up on my blog and organising my huge backlog of holiday photos. I have also started the Royal School of Needlework's Diploma classes at Hampton Court Palace. That's what I love – hand work, travel, being around my family and writing about it.
A recent trip to Scotland provided lots of inspiration for quilts and embroidery projects. Ranging from May Morris’ beautiful work in Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton to the amazing Quaker Tapestry in Kendel in the Lake District I was amazed at the artistry and skill of the creators.
One of the Quaker Tapestry pieces summed it up for me
When I travel I love to visit museums that feature local handicrafts and costumes. I found a little gem of a museum in the back streets of Chania’s old town on the island of Crete. It was developed by Irini Koumandraki who displays historic pieces of embroidery, applique and lace in vignettes alongside old irons, farm utensils and crockery. It’s charming and protected by Irini’s ten year old dog who likes to check out any visitors.
Best of all was talking to Irini about her own work (see the first five photos) which she makes entirely by machine with silk threads (see the photo of her thread stash). “It is all just in my head,” she said, “I don’t have a pattern!” I bought the olive tree piece for my own collection and in driving around Crete I realised that Irini has got the tree just right with it’s numerous scraggy trunks and the purple hued leaves.
In August I had the good fortune to attend embroidery classes with Nicola Jarvis in Les Carroz, France. It wasn’t just any old class. The Alpine Experience classes are a cut above with magnificent accommodations and fabulous meals offered in the setting of two chalets high up in the French Alps. The week starts and ends with transport from Geneva airport so that, from beginning to end, there is nothing to think about but embroidery! Thanks to Nadine and Mark for a wonderful week!
Nicola Jarvis is a superb teacher – she lets the students work at their own pace and on their own projects which incorporate her designs, of course. She gives a short stitch lesson to one or two students, then offers thread colour choices to another but still has time for a heartwarming chat or a personalised art lesson. Her kits are beautifully designed and screen printed making it easy to follow the various elements.
Canada Day and graduation day at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace. Received my Certificate in Hand Embroidery under blue skies accompanied by my stitching buddy Claire! Being a graduate this year I was able to include a couple of pieces in the annual show so I chose my Jacobean and Blackwork (Roald Amundsen) projects.
During our visit to Budapest in Hungary I constantly snapped stained glass windows, tile floors and local embroidery for inspiration for my own sewing projects. I got ideas for at least seven quilts plus a possible project for my Diploma Whitework unit at the Royal School of Needlework. So much potential!
While on a recent holiday in Helsinki, Finland we visited the National Museum where I discovered this beautiful sampler made by Johanna Charlotta von Knorring (1758-1829) when she was 25 years old in 1783. The workmanship is lovely, but what I liked best was the unusual inclusion of a lobster in the animals decorating the piece. Living near the sea I guess it made sense for her to add creatures she knew well.
This little robin was a practice silk-shading piece which leads me to believe that my skills in this area have improved. However, he’s also a good reminder that the holidays are soon upon us! We’re off to Helsinki, Finland for Christmas as the girls are all elsewhere for the holidays. Looking forward to some snow and new adventures!
My hand is is all cramped up right now. This evening I put the last stitch in the last project that I need for my Certificate of Hand Embroidery from the Royal School of Needlework. Ozzie is my goldwork lizard and, assuming I pass, I’ll have completed four projects for the Certificate. I’ll celebrate more when my hand can hold a glass of Prosecco!
At the end of July 2017 I took a two week long intensive course in silk shading at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court. It was exhausting and quite stressful, but I survived and have now produced a piece will probably pass and give me my third unit in the RSN Certificate Programme. It’s a hanging begonia in case it is not instantly recognisable!
I recently took a one day course on silk shading in Bristol – I may post a picture of the fox design if I finish it soon. As a treat we travelled down the day before and spent the afternoon at Tyntesfield, a National Trust property near Bristol. The setting and the interiors are magnificent as is the inspiration for future embroidery projects. Have a look…