Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Needlework Nibbles

I have been following The Embroiderer’s Story for sometime now. In addition to the beautiful embroidery, the blog is a full of information about the history, materials and stitches of 16th century embroidery. Now there is a newsletter to provide even more information about techniques and materials of this period.

The topic of the first edition, published in May, was gold threads. Some of the threads are familiar to me, but Tricia introduced a new thread that she has developed together with Benton and Johnson - Gilt Tambour Special. The thread is supple with little over twist so it can be stitched with rather than couched.

Tricia has designed a range of taster kits to give stitchers an opportunity to try out the techniques and materials discussed in each newsletter. The first kit features Gilt Special Tambour.

'Strawberry Gobelin Fob' has a small strawberry motif worked in queen stitch. I have never encountered queen stitch before and had to look it up. Each queen stitch consists of 4 vertical stitches that wach start in the top center hole and finish in the bottom center hole and is couched in the middle to form a filled diamond shape. In this design the stitch is worked over 4 threads horizontally and vertically. I found it a very fiddly stitch to work, especially at this scale.

© Thistle Threads/Carol-Anne Conway

The motif is stitched in one strand of Au Ver a Soie Paris. This is the first time I have worked with this thread and found it a total joy to stitch with. Mary Corbit did a comparison of twisted silk threads, including Soie Paris on Needle'nThread.

© Thistle Threads/Carol-Anne Conway

The background is stitched in gobelin stitch using Gilt Special Tambour. An other new thread and another new stitch for me. I'll let you know how it goes.

Happy Stitching

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Crisis at the Embroiderers' Guild

The Embroiderers' Guild was founded in 1906 by sixteen former students of the Royal School of Art Needlework to represent the interests of embroidery. The aims and objectives of the Guild
"To promote and encourage the art of embroidery and related crafts and encourage the creation of fine articles incorporating the use of or associated with embroidery.
To educate the public in the history and art of embroidery and to undertake or support research in that subject and to publish the useful results of that research.
To collect, document, preserve, exhibit and interpret, examples of fine embroidery which are of historical or educational merit and to make available to the public such articles."

In 1924 HM Queen Mary became the Guild's first Royal Patron. Most recently HRH the Duchess of Gloucester graciously became the Guild's Royal Patron in 2005, following the death of HRH the Princess Alice in October 2004. On 8th May 1964 the Guild became a Registered Charity and in 1986 Registered Museum Status was achieved in recognition of the standard of management applied to its collection embroideries. The collection is of national significance as a resource for artists and students. It consists of over 11,000 world embroideries dating from the Coptic period to the present day, and includes a major collection of British embroidery.

The Guild also has a collection of over 2,500 titles including 600 reference books available to both Embroiderers' Guild Members and the public within the library and 2,000 loan books (temporarily suspended) which provide a rich source of research material for students and members.

In 2006, a century after its founding, the Guild had over 25,000 Members and subscribers throughout the world, 236 Branches and 85 Young Embroiderers Groups for young Members aged between 5 - 18 years.

Today the Embroiderers' Guild is in crisis.

For the past 25 years the Embroiderers' Guild has been located in apartments at Hampton Court Palace, Surrey. In recent years great effort and resource was dedicated to establishing a National Embroidery and Textile Centre but following an exhaustive review of the proposed NET Centre, the Trustees established that the project posed an unacceptable risk to the long-term future of the Guild and decided to withdraw project. Vast sums of money gathered by years of fund raising were lost. The Embroiderers' Guild licence at Hampton Court is due to expire imminently. The Embroiderers' Guild, its collection and its library face the very real prospect of becoming homeless by the end of this year.

Given the current economic situation, is the fate of a charity concerned entirely with embroidery and textiles significant?

Does all responsibility for preserving such a collection and resource lay in the hand of the membership, or is it of sufficient social and historical value that Government or the likes of the Heritage Lottery Fund should assist in it's preservation?

Is there an historical building, themselves struggling to survive, that might benefit from a partnership with the Guild? How do we find them?

Thursday, 9 July 2009


I seem to have hit the stitching doldrums! I have several things that I would like to get started on but can’t make up my mind which to do first, so I find myself becalmed.

I am still working on my JEB Phase II. Kind of ironic that it is called Calm Flow! Some time ago, I set myself a goal of doing a little stitching before leaving for work. There are some mornings when I simply do not have time and a few times I have lapsed but by and large I have maintained this regime. Most days I only manage about 10 minutes but by doing this I am making slow but steady progress.

A couple of weeks ago I reached a turning point. Literally! The design lies roughly on the diagonal and I began working from the center of the design towards the bottom right hand corner. When I had completed all the couching in this segment, I need to rotate the frame so that I could comfortably work on the remaining segment, again from the center out.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

The gaps in the design will be filled using a different technique. For now I am just enjoying the calm flow of couching strung beads on gently curving lines while I wait for a fair wind to fill my sails so I can set sail on a new stitching adventure.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching