What are these flights of fancy that Mabel has? Well, they are short snippets about anything that I've been doing, stitching, designing, thinking about, experimenting with, and so on, which I think you may be interested in. They'll tell you about new designs, how I come up with names, changes I'm making in designs I'm working on and so on. I can't promise posts will be regular or terribly frequent, but I'll do my best not to neglect this page for long periods of time! By the way, some of the pictures are thumbnails, so you can click on them for a larger version; if you hover over one and a little magnifying glass with a + appears, it's clickable.

Congress cloth Hardanger and freedom to vary

Does Hardanger have to be stitched on Hardanger fabric? If you have ever browsed Mabel’s designs (or those of many other designers), you’ll know that the answer to that is “no”. In fact, when Hardanger embroidery started there was no Hardanger fabric. As long as the fabric is an evenweave, and as long as you can find threads in suitable thicknesses, you can use whatever you like, from 14ct afghan fabric to 55ct linen (I’ve seen the pictures to prove it, but haven’t been brave enough to try it myself). Even so, the fabric of choice of Nordic Needle’s Roz Watnemo has always struck me as unusual – Congress cloth.

Why unusual? It’s not the count; at 24 threads to the inch it’s perfect to use with perle #5 and #8. But it’s not a fabric – it’s a canvas. That means it’s very stiff and also quite open, both of which seemed to me unsympathetic to Hardanger. My main questions were: if the weave of the fabric is relatively open, will there be enough contrast between it and the cut parts? Won’t the stiffness make it harder to cut, and practically impossible to tuck in the cut ends? Will the stiffer threads have enough “give” when working bars, for example when pulled together in a wrapped bar? There was really only one way to find out. Try it.

To my surprise, it worked. Of course it shouldn’t really have surprised me – if an experienced Hardangerista like Roz Watnemo swears by it, it’s unlikely to be impossible. Even so, I hadn’t expected it to stitch up just as quickly as on my usual fabrics.

Hardanger on Congress cloth

So how did the experience differ from my normal stitching? And will I use Congress cloth again? To begin with the first question, for one thing the material is much stiffer. You couldn’t use a hoop if you wanted to, I think. But then, you don’t need it, as tension is not really a problem with such a stable material. With a small snippet of a project like this, not having to use a hoop is quite an advantage, as it saves on material – you can stitch in hand on a little off-cut, rather than having to use a 5″ square to fit a 4″ hoop (note to self: must try a 3″ one to see if it will do; perhaps if I work “in the well”?). Not sure how I’d like to stitch anything big on this canvas, though I suppose a roller frame would work if you didn’t want to stitch a large project in hand.

Cutting was fine, the squissors coped beautifully with the stiffer threads, but as predicted, poking in the cut ends is more difficult on Congress cloth than on Hardanger fabric or Lugana (looking at pictures of Congress cloth Hardanger projects online I didn’t find any without visible cut ends). They do eventually bend back on themselves, but they are more likely to unbend again and poke their annoying little heads through the stitches. Working the bars was much easier than I’d expected: the canvas had enough “give” to allow me to pull the threads together. And finally, the look of it. That is to a great extent a matter of taste, but for me the weave is just too open – too much of the coloured backing shines through, making the contrast with the cut areas less striking.

Congress cloth vs Hardanger fabric

The answer, then, is no, I won’t be using it again; at least not for Hardanger. But it was an interesting experiment to try, and I can see it would be a useful material for building up 3D Hardanger shapes such as Christmas ornaments.

As I was stitching the patch for the last of my sixteen bookmarks yesterday, I suddenly realised that I’ve completed the wrapped bar/sunburst models needed for potential kits (except for the pink and turquoise versions as I had only one tag of each and they’d already been made up with woven bar/dove’s eye patches). This means that I am now free to stitch any future felt-tag-bookmarks-for-charity with whatever backstitch motif & bar & filling combination I’d like to use. To celebrate I finished number sixteen with picots smiley.

A picot felt bookmark

When I’ve ordered some more tags I’d like to try personalising one or two by stitching initials underneath the patch (chain stitch, probably). And stitch a few with the little baptism cross – being rectangular rather than square it would look good on the rectangular bookmark, and both good causes I am stitching for (Dunchurch Baptist Church's new building, and the Elijah Gambia foundation) are Christian, and likely to attract a fair number of fellow Christians to their charity sales. It looks like I’ll have plenty of enjoyable little projects to keep me occupied even if I don’t get round to my larger designs – and of course the annual Christmas Craft Event is looming, so I need to think up a project for that as well!

PS Two of the bookmarks are now in the hands of bibliophile friends who have promised to test-drive them ruthlessly. We’ll see how they stand up to the treatment…

Hand-made felt and the right surroundings for a sunburst

Would you believe it, I found I had six more tags than I thought – so I can do 16 bookmarks before having to think of ordering more! Here are the six different colours all made into bookmarks, and the first three bookmarks to use sunburst stitch instead of dove’s eye.

All six colours made into bookmarks The first three bookmarks with sunbursts

More about the sunburst stitch later, but first the tags. It’s been really enjoyable making these bookmarks, and I’d love to make some more, but there are a few things to consider before I put my order in. First of all, much as I love these bookmarks, will other people love them enough to buy them? After all, they are meant to raise money for charity. Secondly, are all colours equal? Are the pink bookmarks going to appeal as widely as the dark blue or purple ones? And what about that unknown green? Thirdly, am I or am I not going to produce Felt Bookmark Kits? I’m tempted to put together at least one set of twelve, as my project for next year’s Knitting & Stitching Show – it would make a nice change from the needle books, which I will have used twice already by then. Fourthly, how many do I get? The difference between an order of 16 and an order of 60 is 8p per tag. And finally (and rather importantly), are the tags up to the task?

There is a reason for that last question. You may remember that one problem was that the little hole in the tag (or rather, the felt around the hole) wasn’t strong enough to hold the tassel; but that could be got round by trimming the tag and taking the tassel through with a large-eyed needle. A bigger worry is that, being hand-made, the felt isn’t equally thick throughout. In most of the sixteen tags that I have the irregularity isn’t big enough to matter, but in at least one it looks as though over time and with a fair bit of use it may start to come apart.

Thin areas in the hand-made felt

Now this was just one out of sixteen; and it will probably be all right. But if I were using these tags to make up kits, I’d probably choose to discard this one as not being up to scratch, which means the money spent on that tag has been wasted. So here’s what I’ll do: write to Blooming Felt (who have been very helpful in answering my previous questions) and ask whether there is a way of guaranteeing that I’ll get only usable tags, and then place an order for sixteen (the maximum number I can get at their lowest postage) including one Apple Green.

I promised you more about the sunburst stitch and here it is – my experiments with different bars. The easiest one to work is the sunburst in woven bars, and it looks great when the sunburst is worked in colour against white bars (1st picture). White on white it gets a bit cluttered, even though I pulled the woven bars quite tightly so they were thinner than usual (2nd picture). Working a sunburst in wrapped (3rd picture) and double wrapped bars (4th picture) is more fiddly, because the loops around the bars aren’t anchored (with woven bars the loops go through the bars rather than around them, so they stay put). This makes the double wrapped version more effort than it’s worth as it really isn’t any less cluttered than the woven bar version, which is much easier to work. That leaves the wrapped bar version, which is the one I will go for if these do make it into kits – a bit more work, but a nice open, airy look.

Coloured sunburst stitch in woven bars Sunburst stitch in woven bars Sunburst stitch in wrapped bars Sunburst stitch in double wrapped bars

More about bookmarks

Three more felt tag bookmarks have been finished – they really are very quick which is just what I want. True, I pre-tasselled the tags and pre-cut the threads and fabrics, which makes the whole process a bit quicker still (quite a production line, in fact), but I do think that an experienced stitcher could put together one of these, start to finish, in about 2 hours. Ideal for charity stitching, or indeed for swiftly producing a good number of small Christmas presents. It might be an idea to put some kits together!

Three more felt tag bookmarks

As straightforward running stitch is not quite secure enough for my liking in attaching the patch (the first bookmark has been unpicked and restitched) I tried two different patterns: a zigzag (below right) and running stitch turned 90 degrees – perhaps you could call it perpendicular running stitch (below left). Both use more thread than ordinary running stitch but both definitely look and feel more secure. Another observation: the slightly stiffer Hardanger fabric (left) behaves better than the softer, floppier Oslo (right).

Two different ways of attaching the patch

On the whole I incline towards perpendicular running stitch as it is quicker to do, and also a little less noticeable. Both methods, if pulled fairly firmly while stitching, make the patch “puff up” and give a slightly padded effect. Both methods should not be looked at too closely on the back of the bookmark, but I hope people won’t mind that. One way of making the back neater is to attach the patch with thread the same colour as the tag, but unfortunately that would make it stand out rather on the front, and I’m not sure it would look as good as with white securing stitches.

Talking of colours, the Blooming Felt tags come in eight different shades; one of them is Ivory, which wouldn’t work unless you used coloured fabric, then the six colours I’ve got, and one more called Apple Green. The picture on their website, however, looks more of a mossy green. A very pretty colour, but not particularly apple-y. (It didn’t help that the picture of the Turquoise tag looked quite a different shade from the turqoise tag I’d just been using, making me think they might have changed the colour since I last ordered from them.) So I wrote to ask what DMC shade Apple Green was closest to, and quickly got a very helpful reply saying that they sell DMC soft cotton in shades to match their felts, with a link to the one that matched Apple Green. Well, what can I say.

Blooming Felt's Apple Green felt tag Blooming Felt's Apple Green soft cotton

With such a difference between the two pictures it would be anybody’s guess what Apple Green actually looks like, but fortunately I remembered that some DMC’s soft cotton shades match their stranded cotton shades, and both this one and the turquoise soft cotton happen to be shades I have in my stash. Turquoise is definitely like the tag I already have, and Apple Green is bright rather than mossy. In a way that’s a shame as I rather like mossy green; and this bright green will probably not go with any of the Anchor Multicolor perles. What it comes down to is that I’ll just have to order one to see what, if anything, it will go with.

But first there’s six more tags to finish. So far I’ve used woven bars and dove’s eye for all of them, and I’ll do one of each colour that way. The other four, which are duplicate colours, I’ll vary a bit; especially if I’m going to make them into kits, it would be good if the patch wasn’t exactly like the Mini Kit ones. I’m leaning towards using sunburst stitch (as used in Floral Lace: Forget-Me-Not and Song of the Weather: November) but haven’t quite decided yet what bars to surround it with. So far I’ve only used it with woven bars, but I’ll try it out with wrapped and double wrapped as well, plus perhaps some slightly different backstitch motifs.

Sunburst stitch

Worrying thought: I haven’t actually tried out any of these bookmarks in a book…

Charity bookmark ideas

Not having stitched at all for some time now (I just can’t seem to get round to picking up a project), I felt I needed something small to get me back into the swing of things. How about some of those charity bookmarks I’d been thinking about? But I still needed to work out some simplified finishes – the variegated buttonhole edge looks lovely but unfortunately is the most time-consuming part of the whole bookmark. Idea: stitch the adapted bookmark design, attach it to felt with running stitch, then cut around it with pinking scissors, and fray the fabric up to the running stitch. We’re preparing for a trade fair at the moment (for the day job, not for Mabel), but I’ll try this out when we’re back.

Then I had another idea. (Two ideas in one day, I was obviously on a roll.) Remember those felt gift tags from Blooming Felt? How about threading a tassel through the hole of the gift tag, then attaching a little Hardanger motif to the tag, and using it as a bookmark? It wouldn’t be quite so long as most bookmarks, but after all there is nothing against slightly shorter ones. Might even be useful if you read a lot of small books.

Gift tags and a purse from Blooming Felt

I worked it out in a bit more detail. Use the matchbook design, working the backstitch motifs in a variegated perle #8 to match the colour of the tag. Make a tassel from some more of that variegated perle together with a little white perle, and attach it by feeding a loop through the little hole in the tag, then pulling the thread ends through the loop (I’m sure there’s a name for this sort of fastening but never having been a boy scout – or even a girl guide – I have no idea what it is).

Felt tags and variegated perle to make bookmarks

Here I hit the first snag. When pulling the tassel taut, the thin edge of the hole pulled away from the tag, leaving me with a disconnected tassel clinging on to a wispy scrap of felt, and a hole-less tag. Hmm. This obviously needed some thought. I decided to trim the tag so it looked nice and tidy again, then use a needle to pull the bunch of threads through the felt until there is an equal length of threads on both sides, and knot the whole bunch together. This worked better and the tassel withstood my experimental tugs admirably. The little Hardanger motif was soon stitched, so all that remained was to attach it. I realised it would be difficult to trim the fabric after it was attached to the felt, so I trimmed it first, then worked running stitch all around it, two threads from the edges. Fray up to the running stitch, and voilà, bookmark!

The tag with its tassel, and the finished stitching Prepared tags with their tassels The finished gift tag bookmark

Now I did say “first snag”, a little while back. There were two more. One is that it’s quite fiddly to get the motif on to the tag straight. I kept tugging and adjusting while putting in the running stitch, and it still came out ever so slightly crooked. We may just have to accept that as being part of its genuine hand-made charm. The final snag is that although I think the running stitch is secure enough, in one spot it looks as though the fabric might one day try to escape, especially if it is handled a lot – which, as a bookmark, of course it will. So I may use a slanted stitch for the other ones, which should prevent any of the frayed edge from working loose. And then all people need to do is buy them at the Charity Fair!

Good advice, gloves, and pretty threads

First things first – three cheers for Serinde who mobilised her husband and his knowledge of printers and advised me to hoover mine. Hoovering not being one of my favourite activities, this solution to my printer problem hadn’t occurred to me, but it did the job: it no longer thinks it’s jammed, I can now use up the spare cartridges I had already bought, and just in case it decides to throw another wobbly I’ve printed out an emergency stock of Mini Kits and Notebook Kits. I feel terribly organised and prepared, and terribly grateful to Serinde and her other half!

Remember the hat I showed you, as an example of what I’d like to go with the 1930s dress I wore to the vintage car rally? Well, I haven’t found one yet, but I have found some rather nice gloves. They’re crocheted and beige rather than cream, but because of the beige bits in the handbag and shoes that’s actually quite all right. One of them needs a tiny bit of repair, and they only just fit, but they look lovely and they’ve got a dinky little button to fasten them at the wrist which is such a nice little detail.

Crocheted gloves Just the right size

Talking of dinky, you may remember that Dinky Dyes are discontinuing their cotton perles, some of which I used in my designs. I finally got round to ordering the Threadworx perles that I thought might work as substitutes, and they arrived today. I do love Threadworx, they have such briliant colours! Mosaic (the blue/green/purple) may be a little too bright to work instead of Daydream, but I’m sure I’ll find other uses for it even if it is. Wild Poppies (the bottom thread) is a little less bright than I’d expected, but Wild Fires I think will do very well instead of Jaffa; I’ll enjoy stitching some samples.

Threadworx substitutes for Dinky Dyes - I hope

Other possible threads which I haven’t tried yet are produced by Tamar Embroideries; I’ve noted several shades which look as though they might be close enough to the Dinky Dyes ones. The one drawback is that they aren’t perles, but different threads of about the right thickness. So are the Treenway ones I’m considering, but because they are silk they do have that lovely shine, whereas most of the Tamar threads are a bit more matt. And then there is Stef Francis who has some possibles too – lots of pretty threads to play with before I make my decision smiley.

Forgetfulness, a simplification and a contrary printer

Fancies haven’t been flying much recently, I’m afraid; a combination of the day job, health problems in the family, and fortunately also some nice outings – including a rally in our little vintage car during which I first got to wear a lovely 1930s dress my husband had made for me as a birthday/anniversary present. I was lucky to find both the shoes and the bag secondhand, and all it needs now is some gloves (the lady who made the dress has offered me a pair on loan but I’d like my own) and a suitable hat. I’ve got a picture of exactly the hat I want, and am keeping a beady eye on charity shops!

1930s dress The sort of hat I'm looking for

There hasn’t been a lot of stitching recently, either; I fully intended to do some serious Floral Lace buttonholing while visiting my mother in the Netherlands, only to find when I got there that I had packed three Floral Laces, a hoop, my special pointy scissors, the right perle cotton and even a pair of stork scissors, but that I had omitted to pack the needles I use for this project. Oh well, it meant I could give my full attention to catching up and chatting, so perhaps it was a good thing after all.

While I was in the Netherlands we met up with some friends who run a charity in Gambia, and they are planning a fundraiser for next April. Could I possibly stitch a few things they could sell, asked my mother. A wonderful idea if it weren’t for two things: our church is raising funds for a new building at the moment so my fundraising efforts tend to concentrate on that, and the bookmarks which sold like hotcakes at our own Arts & Crafts Fair earlier this year are very time-consuming to make. On the other hand, it’s a great charity, and I could stitch two of everything, one for the church building fund and one for Gambia – but it would have to be something a little simpler than the Windows on the World designs I used before. What if I used the smaller of the two but with less cutwork? A bit of re-arranging and some added lettering and I came up with this:

Simplified bookmark

It’s still a lot of buttonholing but it should be noticeably quicker than the original, and I can vary the filling stitches and the colours to make them all different. The only thing is the hearts perhaps make it less suitable for men, and I remember several people buying the bookmarks saying they made a good “man present”, so I’ll have to chart another one with “O”s instead. I might also dust off my mix-and-match Round Dozen design, as the coasters were good sellers too, and they don’t take too long.

One of the things I want to add to the Windows on the World chart pack is a link to the FoF post about the felt-and-buttonholing finish I’m using for Floral Lace (probably with some additional notes). True, the design got its name because the bookmarks are unbacked and therefore the cutwork parts are like little windows, but for those who really do not like showing their backs, needlework-wise, it might be nice to have the option.

Some time ago a chat with Sparklies’ Kate led me to get the cover pictures for the Mini Kits printed as photos, rather than doing them myself on my inkjet printer. The rest of the chart pack, however, is still printed here at home, on demand. It was annoying, therefore, that my printer decided recently that it had a paper jam, even though nothing had jammed, and even after I had removed every sheet of paper from the in-tray and checked its innards meticulously. All the more annoying as I still have four extra large cartridges for it, and it became more than annoying when someone ordered a set of three Mini Kits. By a stroke of luck I had two packs already made up, and I managed to print the third by disconnecting everything, reconnecting everything, printing one page, and repeating the process until the pack was done. But there’s no help for it, I’ll need to buy a new printer. Does anyone know if there are any simple printers out there which are not too expensive to run?

A needlework bar crawl

Stitching the model for Extravorganza 2 I was trying to work out the best route for the woven bars; I was halfway through the first quarter when I realised I’d actually made it far more complicated than was necessary! So the route was changed and is now much easier to work, with lots of places where you can conveniently fasten on and off. This is why I stitch everything before putting it up on Mabel’s Fancies!

And this wasn’t the only change I made because of stitching the models. Originally all four Extravorganza designs had wrapped bars and spider’s webs. Then I stitched the two smaller ones and found that I had to take the needle through the wrapped bars for the necessary travel from one corner of a spider’s web to the other, not impossible but very fiddly and not something I would lightly impose on anyone but myself. OK, move the spider’s webs so we can make use of nearby Kloster blocks for any thread-travelling. Then realised I couldn’t – or at least didn’t want to – move the spider’s webs in the two larger ones as I liked the arrangement I had. So change to woven bars and square filets for those two. As it happens I could have used wrapped bars with square filets (as it is possible to work it so that there is no travelling through bars) or woven bars with spider’s webs (as you can travel fairly easily through the back of woven bars) but I’ve now completed Extravorganza 2 with the woven bar/square filet combo so that’s what it’s going to be smiley.

And here is a little preview of what that looks like; I’m away on a family visit until next week, but after that I hope to complete Extravorganza 1 fairly quickly and make the design available on the website.

Extravorganza 2

On a separate note, here I am with a perfectly good excuse for buying stash (see my previous post) and I still haven’t made use of it! There are several threads in my Sew & So basket but I haven’t hit Buy yet. Why not? I’m not absolutely sure; it may be the struggle between “I can’t possibly buy just two skeins, what a waste of postage” and “I don’t really need any threads or materials other than these”. With a bit of luck I’ll make up my mind before they discontinue Threadworx as well…

A perle problem

There are, of course, always problems about using hand-dyed perles. Problems inherent to the product, I mean. For one thing, dye lots can vary wildly so that a stitcher may find that her version of a particular design looks washed out compared to the stitched model, or on the contrary rather garishly bright, or much greener, or much less purple. There is the fact that they are often rather more expensive than standard perles, and (depending on the brand) not so widely available or easy to obtain. And then there is the risk of colours being discontinued.

Colours, or even whole collections. Earlier this year, Dinky Dyes was taken over by Kathy Filosi, and she decided to continue the trend towards concentrating on the silk threads at the expense of the cotton ones. This is not an insurmountable problem for the stranded cottons, as the DD stranded silks come in exactly the same shades, and those of my designs which use stranded DD (like Floral Tiles: Pansies and Patches) already specified silk rather than cotton – although it does mean that the less expensive alternative is no longer available.

The perles are a completely different story, however. Dinky Dyes do have a collection of silk perles, and very nice they are too, but the colours don’t match those of the now abandoned cotton perles. Again not too much of a problem for some designs – Round the World uses a shaded red, green, yellow and light blue which shouldn’t be too difficult to replace, perhaps with Weeks Dye Works; Citrus uses a yellow/orange/red which is not an unusual combination and might even have an Anchor or DMC near-equivalent. The difficult ones are going to be the colours used in Douglas & Heather, and especially in Sunken Treasures.

Why especially that last one? Because unlike in the other designs, where the Dinky Dyes perle is the only colour used, in Sunken Treasures it has to fit in with several shades of standard perle – blue, green and purple in dark and light. Oh well, time to trawl through my stash of hand-dyed threads to see what possible substitutes there are. For the first one, “Airlie” (the middle bobbin in the first picture), candidates are Caron’s shade Parfait (bobbin on the left; less yellow than Airlie, and cooler in shade), Threadworx’s Wildflowers (on the wooden ring; cooler in shade, and with turquoise instead of green) and Treenway’s Mandalay (bobbin on the right). The right-hand picture shows Mandalay used in another design; the colour is quite close to what I’m looking for, but it’s silk, so rather expensive, and not very easy to get. I may simply suggest all three in the chart pack and let the stitchers decide how much they are willing to spend and which colour they like best.

Alternatives for Airlie Treenway's Mandalay

Finding a suitable substitute for “Daydream” (the middle bobbin in the picture below) in my stash is proving more challenging. The two closest I could find aren’t really very close at all – Caron’s Eggplant (bobbin on the left) is far too muted, and doesn’t really have any blue in it. Caron’s Appalachia (bobbin on the right) is too bright and the proportion of green is too large. Let down by my stash I looked into all those lovely threads out there which I haven’t got yet and found that my last hope is probably Threadworx’ Mosaic, which looks as though it may be a bit too dark and bold, and with a different purple, but which at least has a more “watery” look than Appalachia.

Alternatives for Daydream

Next step? Stitch a motif from the designs using the various substitutes, and see which ones come out best (if I choose the motifs wisely they’ll do for cards or gift tags so the time, thread and effort won’t be wasted). But first it’s off to Sew & So to get Mosaic in perle #5 and #8. I wonder if there’s anything else I can order at the same time to make best use of the postage…

A surprising lack of poppies

Recently a lady wrote to ask me: “Have ever you done anything with poppies?” My first reaction was “Of course!” But when I actually went through my list of designs it turned into “Oh, er, no…”. The closest thing I could offer her was Blackthorn, which Louise H ingeniously stitched in poppy colours.

So how did this happen? How did I design (besides several other flower-themed charts) 18 Floral Laces without ever doing a poppy? And how am I going to remedy it? Because I must agree with the lady that a poppy design would be a great idea. Well, I suppose I could do a 19th Floral Lace (remember how it started out as a set of three…?). It could perhaps be done on its own (not as part of a pair) as a Remembrance Day special, with part of the profit going to the poppy appeal.

So now I am charting poppies. Whatever the design is going to be, it will definitely have red poppies! Those yellow and orange things may call themselves poppies but with apologies to them, for me a proper poppy is red. So far I’ve charted one larger and one smaller version, both a suitable size for the Floral Lace framework – but it’s difficult to get particularly the leaf to look right in the smaller one. I’ve looked at photographs, and red poppies in bloom in our own garden at the moment, and also the poppy lapel pins I bought for my husband and me last year.

Poppy lapel pin

Those pins were very useful as an aid to design because they are stylised; still, I think I’ll go for a four-petalled flower to make it look just a little more natural. And perhaps “Floral Lace: Poppies” will end up as a pair after all – don’t they say Rosemary is for Remembrance as well?

Workshops both ways

I’ve got workshops on the brain at the moment. For one thing, tickets for the Knitting & Stitching Show workshop at Alexandra Palace are now available, so if you’re coming to the show on Friday 10th October and you’d like to try your hand at Hardanger (or brush up your skills, or simply spend some time stitching with like-minded people) do join me there.

Then there were the two workshops at Dunchurch Baptist Church, held in aid of the building fund on the last Saturday in June and the first Saturday in July. They were great fun to do because none of the ladies there (no gentlemen, unfortunately – are they shy about their needle skills? Or were they all occupied in polishing their car or playing cricket?) had ever tried Hardanger before, and several hadn’t really done much needlework at all. Did that matter? No! In fact, as one lady said, “It’s remarkable! We didn’t know anything about it and now, only two hours later, we’ve made something really pretty.” There are few things more gratifying than to watch someone cut and remove the threads for the first time and then give a delighted gasp because there, as if by magic, is that airy pattern of five holes. They all did really well and I am proud to show some of their work here:

June workshop July workshop
Anna's needlebook Claire's needlebook Linda's needlebook

But it’s not just teaching – I’ve booked myself a workshop as well, or to be precise a Royal School of Needlework Day Class. They do some in Rugby now, which is too good an opportunity to miss! So I’ve signed up for goldwork, and the fact that it’s on 6th December, the day after St Nicholas Eve, makes a great excuse for a present to myself. No previous experience is required, so having done one of the RSN’s short workshops (the lovely dragonfly below) at the Knitting & Stitching Show two years ago is a bonus and should help me not make a complete fool of myself smiley.

A goldwork dragonfly done at the 2012 K&S