It is amazing how all our lives have changed in just a very short period of time. To try and keep everybody in touch we thought it would be fun to post photographs of what members have been up to. They are in no particular order, just as they arrived in my "In Box". It would be great to do another one in time for our next meeting which was to be in early May so I look forward to receiving your contributions. Ros
Clare R has kindly sent a photograph showing her gallery of work. You have been busy - Thanks Clare!
Message from Hazel P – thanks Hazel!
Since the lock down I have been continuing to embroider on these off cuts of fabric I bought at the June 2019 meeting - fabric designed and hand printed by that month’s speaker Alison Hulme.
Haven’t worked out what I will do with them yet, maybe make door stops.
I also had a go at making masks, but of course they are not the right fabric.
Message from Nikki VW - thanks Nikki!
As you can guess I working on several things at the moment.
I have joined a free online workshop Revival Sketch book course.
American but some British artists on it they are good I did send details to Vernice to share with the guild.
Also the South West Region 8 inch Floral hoop deadline extended also the Areofil Competition "Doors "to do!!
Current work stitched Lima with Hibiscus and finished Parrot.
When this is finished I think I will have a zoo!
I am also painting a Daffodil and Doll still life.
Plus lots of gardening and cooking.
Made potato peel crisps and Chicken Stock!
Message from Lindsay S - thank you for contributing. Big hug and stay safe!
I picked this little wooden frame up online from Rainbow Silks. Good fun.
I'd send a pic of my living room ceiling which I painted today but that would be like watching paint dry
So I responded asking for a photo anyway!!!
I wasn't planning on changing things here so soon but as I can't get out and about it's inevitable. Thankfully the diy stores are still delivering so I have been able to get my supplies
Being diabetic I'm not going to the supermarket atm, however I have a couple of lovely neighbours and Linda W who lives in Calne too, who are keeping me stocked on groceries.
Everyone is being so lovely.
Message from Amanda R. Thanks Amanda - really love your files!
I have finally found some concentration to be doing some doodling and as you are looking for items for blog I thought I'd share pics. Its nothing fancy or grand but when you have so much time on your hands I've been doing filing of all the papers one accumulates! And to give the ugly files a different look I covered files and boxes in fabric and made free motion embroidery labels for the files! Well it makes a change from looking at ugly files :-)
Message from Judy J. Thanks Judy, you must be pleased with that, love the fish!
Here is a photo of my completed picture following the lino printing workshop with Louise Nichols. It was a good day.
Message from Ann J. Thank you Ann. I was amazed by the size you must be very pleased and thrilled with the end result - a real family heirloom. I wonder if it is for your own bed or for a present.
Here’s my finished patchwork, all done by hand, it’s taken 18 months. I’m using the yellow blanket for wadding (thrifty!) and a cream cotton sheet for the backing. Today I cleared a space and laid out my sandwich to tack it together. Ripped my hand on a pin and bled right across the newly washed backing. I’ve soaked it and hung it out to dry and will do it all over again tomorrow.
Sorry to read you got blood on your quilt Ann. I saw a similar posting on Facebook the other day and the majority of people responded by suggesting you used your own spit to get the blood off your work – something to do with your enzymes in your spit interacting with your blood . Sounds a bit gross but obviously works!!!
Message from me, Ros L
Just before the dreaded “C” word entered our vocabulary in I decided to enrol on Sue Stone’s course, Stitch your Story. I had done her previous course, Exploring Textiles and Patterns and had really enjoyed it. I had told myself that her latest course was not really my thing but in a weak moment I reasoned with myself that it was the same price as a Summer School and what ever happened I was sure to get enjoyment and learn something. It could not have come at a better time because everything is online and we have to post our work on a Facebook page so it is fun to see everybody else's interpretation of the challenge. So folks here are my first efforts. They are not supposed to be finished pieces – when we have learnt more we can obviously go back so we will see. At present we are asked not to use images of anyone we know. The photo of the old gentleman is one I took in Gujarat many years ago - I have always loved it but it was not until I looked closely I realised he only had one tooth :-)))) Hopefully by the time we have another of these postings I will have some more to show you. PS Sorry I should have ironed them but . . . . . !!!
Message from Christine H - thanks Christine!
Christine reminded me that today (Wednesday 1 April) we should have been going to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. I had forgotten! What a great shame but hopefully we can put it on the calendar for next year.
Christine calls this her "PHD and not the type of thing we usually do". Come on Christine, at this time we are allowed to do absolutely anything to keep ourselves sane and I think it is super.
Email from STITCH
Hi Rosalind _
The latest issue of Stitch is published today: Thursday 26 March 2020. This is to let you know the story of the Savernake embroidery is covered in our letters page. Thank you so much for sharing.
This issue is all about appreciating what’s around us and making the most of it. There’s a whole host of ideas on capturing the beauty and strength of nature in stitch. Plus clever projects that champion left-overs by turning bits you might otherwise throw away into something else altogether. The pages are simply bursting with needle and thread inspiration to keep hand and mind happy. And we all need a good dose of stitching to keep us going!
We have a couple of offers that may be of interest to yourself or your fellow embroiderers. If you don’t already subscribe, you can download a digital copy TODAY by heading to:
There’s an amazing offer: 3 issues for just £5! With so many shops closed, this might be the easiest way to get a stitching fix for now.
Or you can take advantage of our very special UK subscription deal: 3 issues for £3!
Although this option would start with the next issue.
Keep stitching and keep me posted with your news!
Editor, Stitch Magazine
Tel: 07764 576014
A message left on our website
My name is Tanya and I specialise in medieval embroidery.
my work is here https://opusanglicanum.wordpress.com/
I teach for several museums and galleries, including the Ashmolean in Oxford. Since all classes and events are currently cancelled or postponed, I've created a couple of online classes to get us all through the long boring lock down.
One is laid and couched work (bayeux style stitching) in wools, which is suitable for beginners to intermediate, and the other is a more advanced class in opus anglicanum. I'm offering an option to have a kit sent out, or a cheaper option which will be access to the digital media only (useful for stashbusting).
I wondered if this might be something your members would be interested in, and would be very grateful if you would let them know about it.
The shop link is here
and there's also an opusanglicanum facebook group, which many participants are involved with, and which is open to all who are interested in medieval embrodiery
thank you, Tanya
Message from Annie F. Thank you Annie!
I've just finished this baby blanket which is done in mitred squares
Message from Lindsay S regarding our current challenge. Thanks Lindsay!
Our Planet in Crisis
From rising sea levels, rising sea temperatures, forest fires, drought, global warming etc.
As before we are using a canvas 50cm x 20cm but they will be displayed horizontally.
By my calculations we will be able to hang 13 in a single row and I am hoping that, with more than 2 dozen pieces, we will be able to have 2 or even 3 rows in the final display.
I feel that this will make as effective and impactive a display as we have had in the past.
And, as before, use any fabric, colour, or method of textile design as you would like.
Below is my piece illustrating rising sea levels.
Since receiving this email from Lindsay we have heard that the Conference Centre at University of the West of England (UWE) where the West of England Quilting and Textile exhibition is held, has been turned into a hospital for Covid 19 patients so it looks as if you will now have plenty of time to complete your work.
A message from Ann S. Thanks Ann!
A flash of gold
A combined back ground of distressed painted paper, and layered with a gold embellished fabric. Using stitch, gold paint, rust and a little piece of painted tyvex. this is inspired by places where buildings are faded/old and yet still beautiful in my eyes.
Message from Tase W. Thanks Tase
After doing Anne Helleyer's workshop before Christmas, I decided to do a picture of my son's house in Old Town, Swindon (his is much more interesting to look at than mine!). I painted the calico with acrylic paints, crumpled them up and left them to dry for a couple of days. Well, in reality they've had 4 months to dry because that's how long it took me to actually do the in project! I painted the lintels above the window and door with acrylic, but constructed the rest as we did in the workshop. Free motion machining secured the layers and added detail. Son is rather pleased with it!
Flower pounding is a way of transferring colour from flowers on to cloth, which I then embroider to add dimension. If you'd like to have a go, I've recorded a video to show you how https://youtu.be/r9Pj1lnu2IM
Lino cut workshop with Louise Nichols, further embellished with stitch and felt. We did several prints, so I have plenty more to play with!
Well that's it. Monday 6 April and the sun is shining here in Corsham. I just wish I could have been driving over to Lockeridge for the day with you all but, hey ho not to be. If you have enjoyed reading this please contribute next month.
Keep safe everyone and keep stitching.
Louise first introduced herself as a textile artist and she doesn’t class herself as a printmaker.
She talked us through the process which we would be going through on this one day workshop. Today is all about getting the fabric printed with a design that then can be embellished, appliqued, or embroidered to our own unique style to produce an item that can either be used for fashion, accessories or fine art.
She uses a singular lino block with one colourway print or on a rare occasion a multiblock print of more than one colour combination .
When choosing a design Louise advised that not too much detail is the key to being able to add future applique, embellishments etc, so that we are not constricted by fine detail on the fabric or which would be lost if we were to cover up inadvertently e.g. less area for further enhancements with thread, appliqued fabrics etc.
We measured out a design roughly 6 inch square or similar area in a rectangle as this would be a suitable amount to carve and print in the time available.
We then proceeded to carve out the design which was fairly successful on the softcut lino Louise provided – (softer and easier to carve than traditional lino) before making sure that any lines were not too finely carved together as when you print onto fabric sometimes the ink can be transferred to the carved out lines if not thick enough and therefore losing the detail of the print.
Once carving was complete after lunch Louise advised about suitable fabrics to print upon.
Closely woven fabrics would take the print well but you need to remember that it is sometimes harder to put a needle through a tightly woven fabric and the addition of printed ink on top of the fabric can make sewing harder still. So a smooth finished fabric such as linen with a looser weave would be ideal or similar cotton fabrics.
With regards to which ink to use for printing our fabric it really depended upon whether we would be intending to wash the item after completed. Louise brought 2 different fabric block printing inks with her, a watercolour one which is light fast and suitable for fine art pieces which do not require washing (in fact if you were to wash would be ruined as the ink would be removed) or a Speedball fabric ink which was oil based, which takes longer to dry and needs fixing with an iron (and a piece of parchment paper to protect the iron) but once fixed can be safely washed so is suitable for fashion items.
We spent the rest of the afternoon experimenting with the different inks in a variety of colour ways on a selection of fabrics.
Louise then advised that to finish off the item , you would back the item with either a lightweight fusible interfacing or a bondaweb sheet and depending upon your use, a lightweight wadding etc before embroidering or appliqueing the item. Below is a selection of members' work.
Report and photos by Claire T.
Thank you Claire, Ros
Louise Nichols’ talk this month was entitled “From Graduation to a career as a Textile Artist". As a child she always enjoyed drawing and sketching so when the time came, Louise went to De Montfort University in Leicester to follow a Fashion and Textile degree specialising in surface design. After graduating Louise went to work for an Upholstery designer, Jennifer Sanderson creating fabric and wallpaper designs. Following that she worked for William Love who was an agent for stationery and Simon Elvin (Greetings cards) was a client. Louise showed us a wonderful selection of Christmas cards, wrapping papers and gift bags she had made for sale in Superdrug, Oxfam and Clinton Cards.
Louise started making her own cards and a range of handmade wedding stationery but when she returned after a break when her children were little, she found that technology had moved on giving her too much competition and so she made basic pictures and stitched gifts. When she moved to Cornwall Louise started going to Craft Fairs and creating projects for SEW magazine. Initially the editor would give a sewing brief and source the material but as time went on, a regular production line of items was needed so it was time for a change. Louise enrolled on a printing course run by Sophie Fordham and started to use hessian backed lino to print simple basic images on fabric. As she kept the copyright for the projects she was able to start her own workshops and now has kits and items for sale in 17 galleries around the UK.
Thank you Louise for a most enjoyable talk and if you would like to purchase one of her kits or to find out more about her workshops visit her website at : https://louisenichols.com/
Report and photos by Ros
Our February speaker was Dr Susan Kay Williams, Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, who kindly returned to Lockeridge to give the second part of a talk about colour which she started in July 2018.
This talk Susan entitled Poo, Poison, Science and Serendipity and I am sure I was not the only one to be intrigued by what was to come. She is a great collector of fabric and thread sample books and we found it fascinating to see how her research over the years has shown the development of both natural and synthetic dyes. I never realised that guano was collected and used to make a yellow dye and that green, which was made with arsenic, became very popular in the early 1800s. This material put the weaver, the maker and the wearer at risk and we were shown a sketch published in 1861 by Punch which was entitled the Arsenic Waltz.
Credit - A skeleton gentleman at a ball asks a skeleton lady to dance; representing the effect of arsenical dyes and pigments in clothing and accessories. Wood engraving, 1862. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY
In the early 19C Michel Chevreul, a French Scientist, did research into colour. Initially his colour wheel showed 72 colours but he went on to explore an even wider range of hues ranging from loud to soft. A chemist, William Perkin, was attempting to find synthetics quinine. He did not find that but discover the first synthetic colour, later named mauve. This colour became a favourite of both Queen Victoria and Empress Eugene.
Credit: Image below taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Eug%C3%A8ne_Chevreul
Susan concluded her talk by bringing us up to date by talking about the invention of procion dyes and the production of synthetic indigo for making denim. She showed us colourful images of dresses from the catwalks of Mary Quant to those worn by Diana Ross and interior designers like Sonia Delaunay.
Credit: Image below taken from Dr Susan Kay Williams' presentation
Dr Susan Kay Williams has written a book entitled “Colour in Textiles” which is available on Amazon
Report by Ros
Lovely collection of photos to celebrate Nikki's workshop. Thanks to Vernice and Kay
Uploaded by Ros
Pamela’s interest in Russia started at a young age when her father worked in London near to the Russian Shop and bought home books and artefacts as presents. She went on to learn Russian history at A Level and in 1973 her husband was posted to Moscow for 6 months. At this time she was doing a 4 year City & Guilds Course and had the fortune to meet the Textile curator of the Museum in Moscow. Pamela introduced her to art quilts which started in Russia about this time.
The first evidence of metal thread work was found in Russia about 1592 and Pamela showed us a photograph of the Stroganov family shroud (below). Similar work was being done in England at this time. In the 17th C the aristocracy wore long beards, flowing gowns and coats but overnight this changed at the time of Peter the Great. Beards were shaved off, the old style was banned and western court dress was worn. Merchants’ wives continued to wear traditional dresses made of silk and exotic imported materials. Embellishments were worn on the end of plaits but when a lady married she hid her hair away. Examples of textiles fortunately survived the Russian revolution where as a lot of paintings did not. The blue court dress below was worn by the last Tsarina, Alexandra Fyodorovna. It was made by the Atelier of Olga Bulbenkova in the late 19th-early 20th C
In 1903 a ball was suggested for pre and post revolution costumes and Pamela showed us photographs of the wonderful variety of outfits which were worn.
Nowadays gold work is now mainly found in the church costume. Torzhok, a town between St Petersburg and Moscow is full of monasteries and a school of gold embroidery. Girls are taught the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic and then they continue to the embroidery school. Below are some examples of items Pamela bought at the school and on her travels in Russia.
Thank you Pamela for a most interesting talk about a subject I knew little about!
Report and photos by Ros
Our Christmas “bring and share” lunch is always an enjoyable event and this year joint chair Clare Russell and Ann Smith started by presenting Kay Francis with some flowers as a thank you for her many years of service on the committee.
After lunch our surprise speaker was Lt Col Neil Stace who was a runner up in the 2015 series of the BBC Great British Sewing Bee.
As a bit of fun, Neil and a friend joined the sewing group at Primary School and his interest in stitch developed from there. He talked about various tours of duty in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Northern Ireland and explained that there was always down time which had to be filled which is why he included a sewing machine along with his kit. Neil sees himself as a soldier who sews and an engineer who does not need a pattern which is why he designed and made a wedding dress for his female driver in Bosnia. Another story that I particularly found interesting was during his second round of duty in Afghanistan in 2010 he had the challenge of re-introducing cottage industries to the local ladies which had to be done discretely through an interpreter. It was so successful that after a couple of months the ladies had set up stalls in the market selling their crafts.
It was Neil’s wife who completed the application form for the Great British Sewing Bee and he had to go through a number of interviews and challenges before being accepted onto the reality TV programme. He showed us a little girl’s smocked dress, a boys waistcoat (made during children’s week), a ladies corset and a wonderful kilt which he often wears.
Several of our members contributed to the Flags of Thanks challenge which Neil organised recently. People were asked to make a 12 inch square of gratitude to the Armed Force Community. About 1000 flags were made and displayed St Thomas Church in Salisbury in June 2019. Eventually Neil wants to stitch these squares together to make in quilts, sleeping bags and ponchos for war veterans and he had a number of the squares and quilts on display.
Whether it be modifying backpacks in Afghanistan, repairing cuddly animals during tours of duty, making costumes for musicals, modifying clothes for Skiing for the Disabled or making bags with local primary school children, Neil’s sewing skills were there for all to see. All through his talk Neil emphasised the importance he finds in relaxing and de-stressing through stitching and knitting and he talked about sharing his skills with others both in the military and on civvy-street. He reminded us that soldiers during the Crimea, the First and Second Wars had done the same.
Thank you Neil for sharing these amazing stories and opening our eyes to a side of our craft that most of us knew nothing about.
Thank you to Vernice for sharing the photo she took of Neil in Salisbury earlier this year and to Lindsay for her "Salvador Dali" photo of our Christmas lunch table!
Report and photos by Ros
A few years ago I saw Anne Hellyer’s work displayed at the West of England Quilting and Textile Show at the UWE (University of the West of England) in Bristol so when I had the opportunity to go on a two day workshop I was keen to put my name down.
Anne’s distinctive “Painting the Town” designs incorporate hand painted textiles and free machine embroidery.
We started the day by choosing a design, winter townscape, snowy townscape or an individual choice. The hand painted fabric is ironed onto a background and then starts the fun of adding the doors, windows, plants and trees. Finally a backing is added and ribbons to enable you stand your finished work up with a night light in the centre.
Anne was extremely generous sharing her ideas and techniques and the two days of stitch, stitch, stitching went so quickly. The end results were so individual with each person choosing different coloured fabrics and adding their own special ideas including Rosemary's super black cat.
Thank you Anne for a great workshop.
Anne’s kits can be bought on her website: http://www.paintingthetown.org.uk/
Please note - all the designs are Anne's copyright
Report and photos by Ros
Liz explained that many years ago she chose rocks and stones as her topic for a City and Guilds course. During this time she also became interested in lichens and, although she has diversified considerably, Liz is well known for her circle in square designs using lichens as inspiration. Liz handed round a wonderful selection of her work and it was interesting to see her lichen design created using different techniques and materials. They included applique and reverse applique, free machine embroidery, hand stitched French knots, hand dyed fabrics, varying colour combinations and multi media.
Liz enjoys poetry and regularly includes text in her work. She loves experimenting with fonts and her son has created a font for her in the shape of a leaf.
In 2006 Liz was awarded the Charles Henry Foyle award for Stitched Textiles. Her work was entitled “On to the Eastward” and was her interpretation of a maelstrom.
Liz gives talks, has had articles printed in various publications, has been an artist in residence at Nature in Art and has exhibited her work at the Festival of Quilts and around the country. She is a member of the Contemporary Quilters Guild and showed us examples of a monthly challenge to create a journal quilt.
Thank you Liz for a wonderfully enthusiastic talk and for generously sharing your techniques.
Report and photos by Ros
Nikki is a talented artist in so many disciplines and the Guild is fortunate to have her as a member. We could not be anything but inspired by the breadth of her passions and skills, she in turn is inspired by artists such as Van Gogh, Klimt, Monet, Gaudi, Lautrec, the pre Raphaelites, and nature, history, birds and colour. Nikki showed us an amazing array of her work of embroidery, enamelling, silver-smithing, stained glass, furniture painting, upholstery and needle felting.
In amongst all this Nikki's uses recycled materials to dazzling effect in her multi media works such as her crown made for this year’s entry to the Madeira Competition. Last year she was competition winner with her beautifully imagined 'Mary Poppins' carpet bag. She is rightly proud of her ability to recycle and reuse.
Nikki seems to be able to turn her artistic talent to almost anything as well as doing her bit to save the planet. Thank you from the members of the Guild for giving us a glimpse into the amazing world of Nikki Vesey Williams.
Thank you Amanda R for your report and the photos.
I was so very sorry to have missed your talk Nikki, another time! Ros
Information in this blog is provided by branch members who have attended the meeting, workshop or event.
Marlborough & District Branch is a member of the Embroiderers' Guild, the UK's leading crafts association
* The Embroiderers' Guild website -https://embroiderersguild.com/
* The Guild Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/embroiderersguild/
* The Guild Pinterest pages - https://uk.pinterest.com/theembroiderers/
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