The long climb to the Royal School of Needlework. It was the first day back after lockdown on July 9th after missing the whole of the last term. Due to social distancing there are no elevators running at Hampton Court Palace. Our embroidery classes are held on the top floor of the palace so I had to carry my slate frame and sewing supplies up five flights of stairs last week. Was it worth it? Of course!
As you may be aware, I am currently working on my Royal School of Needlework Diploma in Hand Embroidery. One of the units I have coming up is Advanced Silk Shading and I have to work on an animal or a bird. To practice for this unit I decided to enrol in the Trish Burr online Level 1 course for silk shading. Trish teaches a slightly different method of “painting with thread” than the RSN does, but I thought the practice would be good.
Trish Burr’s Level 1 does not feature a bird or an animal but it was a great exercise for blending colours and filling in various shapes. The result is shown below. When I get a chance I will sign up for Level 2 (a dragonfly) and Level 3 (a bird and flower).
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 perfectly:
…in their handiwork is their prayer. Ecclesiastes
See for yourself!
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!