A few years ago I joined a local branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild. We meet on the first Wednesday of the month and most months we have a guest speaker. In June 2004, Margaret Lewis gave a talk and demonstration on Japanese embroidery and bought along examples of her work. I have always loved the look and feel of silk and was totally captivated by these beautiful silk embroideries. I discovered that Margaret taught a 5-day class in Bournemouth twice a year, September and February. When I went home and enthused to my partner about the evening and he encouraged me to enrol for the class. We already had a family holiday booked for September so I enrolled for the February class. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the 5 days in Bournemouth. Firstly, the other ladies on the course are a joy to be with. Secondly, having so much time to spend stitching without interruption, or feeling slightly guilty about the jobs I could be doing, is wonderful. I learned so many new skills in that week from the tutors and from the other students who freely shared their knowledge and experience.
Margaret is a Kurenai-Kai Graduate Authorised Tutor. They teach traditional Japanese Embroidery over an initial ten Phases. In Phase I, I learned basic stitches such as laying foundations; working veins, stamen and branches; and some gold and silver thread work. I made good progress during that week but had plenty still to do on my Phase I design when I returned home. Because I have to set up before I start and clear it away when I have finished (the frame takes up too much space to leave out all time and I cover the work to keep it free from dust and dirt), I need to set aside time to work on this embroidery. I also like to be alone and quiet so that I can concentrate on what I am doing. This is not often possible, so it took me a year to complete the design. I didn’t think that I was going to finish it before the next class and, in fact, only finished it the day before the class began.
In February 2006 I returned to Bournemouth to begin Phase II and learned some special effects; braided cords; and padding. I enjoyed this class every bit as much as the first. I am a very slow worker so I had a lot more work to do after the course and throughout the year I have slowly progressed whenever I could find some time. I have done most of the work on this design and hope to finish it soon as I do not want to be doing it at the last minute, like last year.
The Kurenai-Kai Japanese Embroidery Centre have a lot more information about learning Japanese Embroidery on their web site or, you can see some examples of the beautiful embroidereries stitched at the Kurenai-kai Centre in Japan on their art gallery.
Their UK branch also have a web site here.