This month we were whisked back in time to the Georgian era, by local embroiderer and co author of the book Jane Austen Embroideries, Alison Larkin. Lots of elegant waistcoats and top coats with exquisite embroidery (and that was just the men) and the ladies in delicate silks and muslin, also either quilted or embroidered. Alison’s work on the Jane Austen patterns from “The Lady” magazine were delightful. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.
As has become our custom on zoom, we had a “warm up” act while everyone logged into the meeting. Chair Val surpassed herself today by using power point to display work from various residential workshops from 1989 to 2018. We spent a lovely time reminiscing about past tutors and venues. Our first ever residential was organised by Doreen Spencer at Grantley Hall and the tutor was Jenny Barson, a very talented machine embroiderer. There were more visits to Grantley for box making with Bridget Rylands, and silk painting with Mary Day. Marjorie Siboldi managed to run off several poppy pictures, which she framed and sold to people on a different course, whilst the rest of us were still deciding which colours to use. Other tutors at Grantley were Jean Littlejohn, and Jennie Rayment. When the hall was taken over we tried a non residential weekend at Newland High School with Pam Watts. We had a skilled tutor and great food but the camaraderie was missing.
Next came several visits to Horncastle College. The venue had a really good workroom with plenty of natural light, and the food was outstanding. However the bedrooms were in need of refurbishment and didn’t pass government requirements. Linda Westerman, Tracy Frankland and Anja Townrow were our tutors. All experts in their own field.
Sneaton Castle near Whitby had wonderful views and gardens, and a huge collection of Mouseman furniture. The bedrooms were purpose built for schoolgirls and a bit cramped. Paddy Killer and Linda Westerman were our tutors.
Wentworth Castle Northern College became our next venue. Lovely rooms, but the voucher system for food left us bewildered. Beadwork ,Friendly Plastic, and Poker Work with Organza were our very varied subjects. The weather caused many problems on the Kathleen Laurel Sage weekend and we arrived late, some of us dripping wet from leaving the car to seek directions (who knew there were two Wentworth mansions). After a busy weekend Andrew Gibb helped many of us with seized brakes to rock our cars free. Caroline Cockcroft had to confess to her husband that his brand new car had a wrecked engine.
Then on to Cober Hill, our current venue. It ticks all of our boxes and our tutors Linda Westerman, Karen Lane , Gail Lawther, and Josie Storey have all been inspirational. Here’s hoping that 2021 will prove equally as good next month.
Our main speaker this month was Alison Wake
Alison is a member of the Peak District Artisans. She is inspired by the natural and industrial landscapes of Derbyshire. We were taken through a collection of photographs in varying seasons. The colours were fantastic, as were the miniature scenes she created from them. Her work is hand stitched in wool, dyed locally. She usually buys variegated skeins in 4ply (sock yarn) so that a continuous line of long and short stitch can be created without change of thread. The waterfalls have a sparkle of silver and look very realistic. Alison was very generous with her tips about construction and framing. If you did not join the zoom meeting do have a look at her website, Cognissart. I had no idea that Derbyshire was such a beautiful county as I have only ever seen it in rain and fog. Some of her work is currently in the shop at The Rope Walk in Barton on Humber. Opening Days Wednesday – Sunday
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.
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.
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).
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 ://www.lucyadlington.com
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.
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.
Chairman Val began the meeting by welcoming everyone but pointed out how difficult it was to gauge everyone’s reaction so she would love to have feedback and ideas for how to start the meetings. She then asked Elizabeth and Deborah to share some of their thoughts on how to cope with the next few months. Deborah has really embraced colour during lockdown as a way of keeping up her spirits so watch out for pictures of her activities on the website. To quote her “Grey is out, colour is in”. Elizabeth reminded us of the importance of keeping up our standards and dressing up even for zoom calls and she gave us a lovely foretaste of what was to come by sharing projects she had done on Anne’s workshops in the past.
Anne then began her talk with a reminder that she had spoken to us a few years back and she was clearly impressed with the sales table. We will all be plundering that again as soon as we can! She gave a brief resume of how she started her journey, not in textiles but in art and her love of workshops and experimenting with all things new. Sound familiar? But gradually she started incorporating stitching into her collage work and eventually moved into using fabric. Harold the hare was a highlight with layered fabrics and stitching. She stressed the importance of not always having a plan but allowing the piece to grow naturally. This can be risky, but she insisted it is worth playing and giving yourself freedom to experiment. As a lover of all things Poppy I was fascinated by her 3D poppy head but as she pointed out this was a PHD piece (no not a higher level degree but her name for UFOs -Projects Half Done).
Since her last talk to us she has set herself the challenge of learning new stitching techniques. Not necessarily as a finished product but as a sample to be enjoyed in its own right. This is something many of us find challenging, needing to find a purpose for doing something but maybe lockdown has taught us the importance of doing things just for the fun of it and her strips of fabric on bobbins and miniature books certainly gave plenty of opportunity to experiment and explore stitching.
Anne is left-handed and pointed out that it is often difficult to find demonstrations for left- handed people so she feels she is filling a gap in the market with her videos on You tube. In ‘Sewing for the Soul’ and ‘The love of Stich’ she uses scraps of found fabrics as well as hand dyed fabrics and threads to create exquisite little pieces often incorporating buttons, Suffolk puffs, vintage lace and many stitches you may have forgotten you knew. Her website is full of examples and her You Tube videos are extremely easy to access from there and provide small weekly projects.(Just google Anne Brooke Textile artist) She demonstrates fabric books, a book in a tin, tags and circles of friendship all created using stitch.
Anne spoke of being part of a community of people out there who are stitching and enjoying it and I think we can all relate to that. By the end of the talk I certainly agreed with one of her quotes;“My soul has been fed with needle and thread.”
Links to Anne Brooke’s website below.
Anne’s website has links to her You Tube #Sew the Soul and other projects plus the opportunity to join a Zoom workshop coming up soon.
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.
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)
Next Zoom meeting Saturday February13th.
Alison Larkin : Serendipity
Jennie, also known as the Calico Queen (UK) or Muslin Mistress (US) told us that whilst doing her son’s paper round she had a chance encounter with a lady who taught patchwork. Jennie was fortunate to have been offered lessons as long as she provided lunch, and bearing in mind she had been in catering business before, this was no hardship.
Several other chance encounters happened in that she applied to teach evening classes, was accepted and on the back of that, was offered a job on a shopping channel and Quilting Classroom came into being which was broadcast at 8am on a Sunday morning. She says that the producers trusted her as they left her alone on set for 30 minutes whilst she demonstrated her craft.
Jennie continued her talk with a variety of demonstrations, on how to make trumpets, triangles, partial seaming, crackers which then could be used as placemats, posh crackers, bags, bowls (which could be used as a hat if it snowed), taking 60 deg diamonds to make into a star, bunting, fabric flowers just to mention a few. She has a catch phrase ‘nipping and tucking, twiddling and fiddling, manipulating and manoeuvring material’ which makes me smile everytime I hear it.
Her first book, Tucks Textures and Pleats, written as a result of a dare, established her as the fabric origami expert travelling the world to teach, up until Covid and lockdown. Several books followed and all contain detailed instructions as to how to make the items as well as humorous stories of events in her life.
As a result of the lockdown in March, Jennie has written her most recent book, Material Magic which contains instructions as how to fold a square into a flower which she then demonstrated to us.
Jennie’s final story of the afternoon was to tell us that her three grandchildren came to visit just after she moved house three weeks ago, she took them shopping into the local supermarket which has the Post Office attached. On her shopping list was a bottle of gin for her elderly aunt and to save time she gave the grandchildren the shopping, her payment card and asked them to go and pay for the items whilst she went to the Post Office. A few minutes later there was a loud ‘We can’t serve them’ and when she went over to find out why, the assistant said the grandchildren ‘Were too young to be served alcohol’. They are 10 years, 8 years and 6 years! She is now known in her local area as being an alcoholic as well as being totally nutty.
This was an excellent talk and I have struggled to limit the number of the highlights of the talk as there were so many.
EYES Thoughts Sheila F.
November 14th, second Saturday in the month, it must be EYES this afternoon. But we’re in lockdown again, we need to stay at home as much as possible. So thank you Val W and Sarah S, for there was an EYES meeting after all. I’m lucky, I have access to a laptop or an iPad, and the Zoom app is free. Sarah had emailed us beforehand giving us an ID and a passcode. I was worried but actually it was straightforward. I was quite early logging in so saw Sarah invite many familiar faces – forty-five in fact including Margaret Booker from Norfolk. Eventually my laptop settled on four faces and mine across the top of the screen leaving room for the main speaker. We were all muted by Sarah ( a seemingly easy task! ) and then Val welcomed us to EYES via Zoom.
Jayne G spoke first and gave us a talk on making Christmas cards, actually one design but many variations. What a difference a bit of calico makes or a different colour or pattern. It looked great upside down too. Actually, at it’s simplest level I could make a card with my 5 year old grand-daughter then maybe move on myself to something grander one day – or maybe not! Jayne will know when she gets her Christmas card from me this year. A simple but necessary tip from Jayne – photograph your completed work then you have the pattern for next year. Thank- you Jayne.
Annette spoke next and tried to answer the question “What did you do during Covid Grandma”? and added David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash as a subtitle. She was away on a cruise when it all began so came back with Christ the Redeemer, black-necked swans, South American mountains and the sea in her head ready for a quilt. She had taken two lovely hand-made bags with her so it was good to see those unpacked. Her next job was more urgent but not quite so lovely – like many of us Annette set to work making face masks for family and friends and then scrubs for use in hospital. ( I think she’s still looking for Giant Bradley to model the prototype. ) Then there were a few things to finish off: some embroidery, a kit bought in Harrogate and then the quilt, a wonderful reminder of her cruise. Thank-you Annette.
Val W was next with her Cheeky Robin. Seemingly easy to make from three squares of felt and help from grandchildren, this robin could be made more elaborate by adding legs before stuffing or even a flap/tail to make it a mobile phone/tablet stand. Again a different colour and a comb and we had an Easter chick. Thank -you Val.
Sarah Perkins concluded our talks by giving us a good use for that jelly roll we’ve all got somewhere.
Sarah moved in to her windmill home only to find floor to ceiling pipes in the sitting room. Box them in, was the obvious answer, but how? She started by hanging a long length of white muslin-type fabric over the pipes. Then Sarah started some pulled thread work and some embroidery stiches but she was hardly making much impact on such a length of fabric. Then followed a stump work windmill, beautifully embroidered sails, a wall, flowers and a hint of the sea in the background, but still only a third of the hanging was embellished. A history lesson and a timeline followed and the bottom third of the hanging was complete. Then the jelly roll was remembered – beautiful colours and a picture in itself as it cascaded from mill to timeline. Finally a very handsome stump work millerwas added. Apparently it took Sarah nearly four years to complete her masterpiece but most of that was thinking time – we all know that feeling. Thank- you Sarah.
So, there you have it – my recollections and views on the EYES meeting of November 14th. I think you’ll more from the photographs that the contributors will be putting on the website but I urge you to join us next time on December 12th. It is fun and you never know what you might learn.
As Sheila said, December; Jenny Rayment, January Ann Brooks , February Handmade, Alison Larkin, March Angie Hughes. Details to follow.