All posts by EYES

Hilary Spilsby May 2021: Lucy Boston – Patchwork of the crosses

Val Wright (Chair) opened this month’s meeting with some encouraging news. The Exhibition Sub Committee have secured the use of Cottingham’s Civic Hall for next year’s exhibition, which will run from Friday, 29th April until the 2nd of May, 2022. Val explained how this venue provides great opportunities, in terms of a large, open and ‘blank’ space, which will allow for a separate sales area and a space to enjoy refreshments. The Sub Committee also are hopeful that there will be space for a demonstration area. The Exhibition Committee will design the exhibition. Val said that help would be needed for displaying items, stewarding and providing refreshments. In the meantime, Val asked that we take stock of all the projects we have completed throughout the last year, with a view to putting them forward for the exhibition. She reminded us of her lockdown challenge – Close To Our Hearts. This is a 3-D project, 5” x7” in size, depicting anything that has especially touched us during lockdown.

Lynn Benson spoke to us next, introducing a challenge for a Society Display for the exhibition. Lynn’s challenge is to create a piece to fit in an embroidery hoop. The hoop can be any size and Hilary Goldsmith told us that there are plenty of hoops available in the EYELETS stash. Lynn wants us to be experimental with this piece, using any fabric or thread or stitching technique. She is asking us to just ‘go for it’ to produce a piece about anything that inspires you.

Lynn had a little time to show us a couple of hats she has made, each one exuberant, with an abundance of feathers and a 3-D one, which can be worn at any angle!

Jacky Ward Lomax: From Drawing to Quilt

Jacky’s background is in sculpture and she is a self-taught quilter. Jacky explained that the leap from sculpture to sewing and needlecraft was a stretch, although, as a teenager, she would draft her own patterns and make her own outfits.

Jacky began her talk for us by explaining that her inspiration comes from a range of sources, including; images from ones own imagination, research from the computer, books and photos, and tracing images from birthday cards and such like.

Jacky showed us a beautiful selection of pieces and explained how the process worked – from inspiration to end result.

The first piece Jacky showed us was a wall hanging of a pine tree, inspired by a dream. Jacky explained how she draws a grid over her initial drawing so that she can adapt the image to the size she wants. This done, she can choose an array of fabrics and threads and get to work.

We were treated to a vibrant and colourful wall hanging that Jacky created for a friend, celebrating the joy of singing. A Tibetan singing bowl with flowers produced a joyous piece of work.

Jacky is a regular visitor to our sales table, keeping her stash topped up, and even the most unpromising fabrics clearly gain a new lease of life in Jacky’s skilled hands. We enjoyed a Klimt inspired wall hanging of Burton Bushes in Beverley, with spindly, stylised trunks and stylised flower patterns in gorgeous hues.

Other pieces were inspired by Jacky’s visit to Pearson Park, with its exquisite displays of flowers and a birthday card with a graceful trio of horses cantering along the beach.

Jacky’s work is clearly inspired by the world around us with all its colour, texture and joy. Her final piece for us was a bright and very beautiful sunflower!

You can download Jacky’s PowerPoint presentation here:

Hilary Spilsby: Lucy Boston – Patchwork of the crosses

For the final part of our afternoon, Val introduced us to Hilary Spilsby.

Hilary was seated in front of a spectacular quilt which was inspired by the work of an extraordinary woman, Lucy Boston, 1892-1990. Hilary spoke of Lucy’s background as the child of Wesleyan parents and, during The Great war, as a nurse in a French military hospital. She later became the author of the Green Knowe series of children’s books. During the ’30s, we learned that Lucy returned to Essex, after studying painting in Vienna, and set up home in Hemingford Grey. It was here that Lucy started to create quilts of great detail and eclectic in mix.

Hilary was so inspired by Lucy’s work, that she bought the patterns and paper pieces needed to create her own Boston Quilt. Amazingly, the quilt is made up from only two shapes – 24 honeycombs, framed by 1” squares!

Hilary explained that she wanted to make her quilt for her wedding anniversary. She showed us how playing with colour and shade, each square can look completely different. Hilary uses fat quarters and regular metres of fabric for in between. Antique sheets, which aren’t so stiff, are used for the background. Always ready to explore, Hilary has honed her ‘fussy cutting’ technique, selecting tiny images and motifs and cutting them out to insert into her designs to add another layer of delight!

Hilary spent three years on her quilt, taking it on her Anniversary Cruise to Iceland.

Many ladies were interested and, probably relieved, to learn that Hilary leaves her tacking in when making quilts!

You can download Hilary’s presentation here:

An inspiring afternoon, delivered by inspirational women, was enjoyed by all.

Lockdown and finishing UFOs

By Maureen Bromley

During what turned out to be the first lockdown, I decided, after working on various patchwork quilt tops (unfinished), general sewing, and knitting and crochet, that maybe I should maybe get some of the UFOs finished.  So I went through my workroom (not sure I could actually work in there as it could be considered a storeroom). I should finished one or two of the items started many years ago, which transpired to be during the 1970s.   I first thing I thought I should finish was an embroidered tablecloth, with the design preprinted on it, which was about two thirds done.  Over the period of the next few months I worked on it, then put it back in the bag, worked on other things and then finally in November I finished it.   It had one or two light stains on it which have more or less washed out and I am pleased to say we used it on the table on Christmas Day.   The tablecloth was bought for a table we had, but it does fit  the current table diagonally. 

I then found another tablecloth, this time it was pulled thread, a very soft evenweave fabric with a green and white stripe.   Again this was about two thirds done, so I worked on that, in between other things and finished it February this year. This was an original design by me and the notes and diagrams were still with it, along with all the threads.  But I did have to reduce the amount of stitchery on it as I wouldn’t have had enough thread.    This was started even earlier than the other tablecloth, possibly 1970, again it fits our current table diagonally.   It doesn’t photograph particularly well, or maybe my skills as a photographer are lacking, but the photo does give an idea of what it looks like.

Well, I think I was on a bit of a roll here as I found yet another old embroidery in the guise of a cushion cover.   No idea what the fabric is, it is quite narrow, about 24 inches wide with a selvedge each side.   The design is an embroidery transfer which I still have and it was probably about 90% stitched.  Why did I stop? Well I have no idea, but it is finished now and made up into a cushion.

I then had to decide what to do next.   There are several UFOs started on workshops when I was attending classes etc a few years ago, so I pulled out the first one which I had the threads and design with it.   This is a crewel work piece, using mixed threads and was probably about only 10% completed.  I am happy to say this is progressing well and I am enjoying it so I hope to be able to finish it now.    I think it is supposed to be a cushion cover, I may be overrun with cushions, but we will see.  After that there are at least another half dozen pieces to be done, so it may be some time before I start any new projects! Well, unless I am tempted that is!

Maureen B

EYES celebrates 35 Year Anniversary!

Anniversary cake prepared by Margaret Wright’s daughter Helen

On Saturday 14th October 2017 EYES members celebrated 35 years as a Society.

We were entertained with talks by founder member Muriel through to Helen who described ‘growing up’ with EYES. Each speaker recalled incidents and memories highlighting the importance of the Society in their lives to this day.

Muriel spoke about being at the initial meeting, in 1982, where a group of City and Guilds students from Bishop Burton College were looking for like minded people to start a society with regular meetings.  Muriel brought along samples of intricate smocking and described how the process of gathering the fabric, prior to the embroidery, was greatly improved when the society bought a smocking machine. She also talked about the society having  been involved in the Millennium Tapestry, sections of which are still on display in the James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough.

Margaret spoke on behalf of four members , Dorothy, Ann, Joyce and Kathy and their shared memories since joining the society in 1991. Their individual skills range from Dorothy dyeing her own fabrics, to Joyce with her traditional styles including hardanger and pulled threadwork. Margaret emphasised how welcoming these four had been on her first residential visit, helping her develop skills and confidence. She showed the audience a machine embroidered picture of a garden arch Ann had completed on one of these courses.

For her talk, Marion recalled her enjoyment of the residential courses run by EYES over the years. She highlighted the social aspect of attending these courses and the regular workshops, as a means of getting to know fellow members. Marion also encouraged members to become involved in the committee.

Jacky introduced herself as a woodcarver and former art teacher. She enjoys the Saturday speakers as they ‘give me permission to try’ and she takes away new ideas every month. Jacky designed and stitched the EYES Shield which is on display at every Saturday meeting.

Maureen spoke of past events and competitions held by EYES bringing with her a pin cushion, made for one of these competitions. She also spoke about the society being involved with collecting silk threads for refugee women in Afghanistan. Another of the competitions resulted in cushions for Dove House, Martin House and the Godfrey Johnson Home .

Helen’s mother, Wendy, was one of the original students who wished to continue with their love of embroidery and encourage others to form a society. Helen recalled attending EYES meetings with her mother and her own developing enthusiasm for the hobby. Helen revisited her time as Chair of EYES talking about Trader’s Fairs trips and outings . Amongst her items Helen had to show were intricately decorated Walnut Purses.

Everyone agreed the afternoon had been most enjoyable and wished the Society a further 35 years.

Below Muriel bringing the afternoon to a close cutting the cake.


January 2021

Susan B

I attach a picture entitled ‘July’.

It is one of a monthly series.

On the border I have used the names for July in the various languages of the UK and a Roman quote about sailing on the ocean. The main part uses Roman mosaics of sea creatures, with a nod to Asissi work, and the bright colours of modern Mediterranean mosaics to depict the mystery of the deep ocean, which is still a great unknown.

It is very simple. It is cross stitch, English star, and back stitch.

Deb D

Val W opened our January Zoom meeting with a discussion about her love of Colour. Deborah D showed these two colourful pieces hand embroidered with spiritual wording.


Diana’s sister has embroidered these napkins ready for a 70th birthday celebration. Everyone is hoping they will be able to meet in person for this important date.

Maggie T ‘You did say you wanted colour’

You did say you wanted colour!  This is my version of the Harry Styles jacket (with a lot of alterations)

Angie Hughes April 2021: Creative Ice Breaking

We began our meeting with a warm up session from Hilary Goldsmith on the theme Quilting has kept me sane … Or has it?  She told us about the quilts she has been making in lockdown, and how the sunflower theme led to her “growing” a sunflower plant, which attracted a catepillar, which eventually turned into a butterfly.

Our April speaker on Zoom was Angie Hughes. Her presentation looked at ways of
increasing creativity, particularly when we can’t visit museums, art galleries, and exhibitions.

The first point she made was to get on with it and make a start. The author Philip Pullman goes to his shed and works from 9 – 5 so that when an idea comes, he is ready to use it. But even when you are in your working space, what can you do to get your creative juices going? Ideas include:

  • Look for artists that can inspire, for Angie this included Klimt, Jane Walker and Hundertwasser.
  • Look at pictures in books and magazines. Try picking a section so work on.
  • There are now many opportunities to work with artists via website workshops. Domestika is a good place to learn from artists you wouldn’t normally come into contact with, as tyhe artists live all over the world. There are English subtitles where the artist is not using English for the tuition.
  • Look at specific techniques to experiment with colors and shapes. An area which inspired Angie was using specific areas from fiction or reference books and producing them to create pictures.
  • During lockdown many galleries have been developing their websites. Try a virtual visit to the
  • National Maritime museum, the V&A and many more.
  • Simply gather a variety of materials, including favorite fabrics, transfer foils and bondaweb and try making different shapes and marks.
  • Communities are invaluable for swapping materials and ideals, perhaps developing altered books, travelling books, or simply collaborating on a project.

At the end of the presentation, Angie described the process for using transfer foils – iron bondaweb onto black velvet, remove the paper and apply the transfer foil using an iron to make marks (remembering to apply the foil face up).

Lucy Adlington March 2021: Tea Gowns and Dresses of the 1930s

Lynn B started the meeting with a moving book review of Threads of Life, Clare Hunter, which is about how needle and thread have sustained stitchers throughout the ages, with specific examples of how this has maintained memories and morale throughout difficult and often desperate times.  After such a wonderful review I know I, (Val W) for one, will be searching for and reading this book.


You cut a length of thread, knot one end and pull the other end through the eye of a needle you take a piece of fabric and push your needle into one side of the cloth, then pull it out on the other until it reaches the knot. You leave a space. You push your needle back through the fabric and pull it out on the other side. You continue until you have made a line, or a curve, or a wave of stitches. That is all there is: thread, needle, fabric and patterns the thread makes. This is sewing.”

 ‘Threads of Life’ by Clare Hunter who explores embroidery as the chosen method of communication for many great examples of noteworthy people during the course of her writing.

 The book is split into well defined chapters on particular themes which makes it very easy to dip in and out of as the feeling takes you.

Do try it, you won’t be disappointed. There is a copy in our library.

Val then introduced Lucy Adlington of History Wardrobe and her show and tell on Tea Gowns and Tea Time in the 1930’s.  Lucy gave us a splendid talk and showed us some (mostly) original patterns, pieces and garments from throughout that decade and explained how these particular garments reflected their social context and social status during the turbulent decade leading from the relief of peace and settling down after the Great War and the Spanish Flu Epidemic to the build up and commencement of the Second World War http ://

The garments and patterns reflected the streamlining entering the fashion works following the dominance of the art deco movement.  This was typically epitomised in the use of floaty fabrics such as georgettes and chiffons and the mainstream introduction of artificial fabrics such a rayon.  Feminine floral motifs began to dominate, whether printed or embroidered, and the use of bias cut fabrics to allow swirling skirts and dresses that gently enhanced and projected the gentle, delicate, dainty female form that replaced the rail thin androgynous models of the 1920s – such female forms still strictly controlled through, albeit with bralettes and girdles instead of heavy corsets! 

The talk culminated  in Lucy donning a beautiful original 1930s tea gown of sheerest chiffon over a yellow slip and talking through the differences between day gowns of the time and tea gowns – specially donned for that extra special afternoon tea outing with friends, and how tea dresses were often sheerer, floater and a longer length to day dresses, as if to emphasis the floaty ephemeral female ideal being projected at that time.

Along the way we received some splendid nuggets of information about historical fabrics, and I will take her advice and never use rayon hanky!  (Don’t blow your nose on a rayon hanky as the snot slides straight off!)

The afternoon concluded with Val giving our thanks to Lucy for a wonderful show and tell, and wishing all members a safe and happy month until our next meeting.

A Year Passes EYES Members Still Stitching

Hilary G has a go at Tambour Embroidery following last month’s discussion.

Rachel B

Pat C I’m hoping members would like to see my ‘Lockdown Quilt’, finally finished in February 2021 and now with my son and daughter-in-law.   The main blocks are from a pattern in Today’s Quilter but I had to improvise on the outer border and binding having only scraps of fabric left to work with.  This was the result of having purchased a Stripology ruler and excitedly cutting more 2.5 inch strips than I needed for the pattern.  Happy days!

Alison Larkin February 2021: Jane Austen Embroidery

Serendipity, Austen Embroidery and Lady’s Magazine

Following retirement after 30 years of teaching Alison was able to follow her passion of 18th and 19th century embroidery on a full time basis, without the feelings of guilt many of us experience.

Serendipity stepped in in the form of an embroidery pattern discovered in a back copy of a 19th century magazine, The Lady’s Magazine. This spawned an idea for a book and years of research and collaboration with Jennie Batchelor. During this process, and following another personal interest, Alison discovered Jane Austen was an embroiderer and often referred to this in her novels. Thus developed their book Jane Austen Embroidery.

Alison introduced her talk showing artifacts of Georgian Embroidery she has seen in her own studies this enhanced a very detailed and interesting talk about the techniques and materials used in the time of Jane Austen and Alison’s personal discoveries as she researched the book. Alison’s skill extended beyond the research of the book into designing the front cover with embroidery in the style of the time.

For those interested in purchasing Alison’s book and seeing Alison’s other work click on the link below.

Alison Larkin Embroidery – Historical Embroidery in Full-size and Miniature