Category Archives: Meetings

April 2019

From Intangible History to Creative Practice.

Engagement with the deep-sea trawlermen of Hull and their fashion design process 1950s to 1970s.

The daughter of a hull trawler man, brought up  in a  matriarchal household of talented weavers and stitchers  Claire gave us a fascinating talk about her own career and study exploring both aspects of her heritage.

The 1970s saw the demise of the deep sea trawling industry in Hull and with it a whole culture passed into history.

Clare spoke about her initial interest in weaving, her experimentation leading to innovation, working for some of the major textile companies. Her natural curiosity brought her full circle and her own father. The Hull trawlermen had a distinctive on shore style of dress. Claire spoke of the particular style of the suit having elements of a variety of influences. Her latest research is an attempt to discover the roots underlying this style. One theory is that it originated through popular Wild West cowboy outfits as depicted in films of the 1950s.

Claire showed us samples of her early design work and sketch books with ideas for adapting the decorative ‘cowboy’ jacket using fish and flower designs.

Another element Clare is following is looking at the actual dyeing process and its ecological effects. To this end she has been experimenting with a reduced number of dyes. The combining of threads during weaving produces different colours thus eliminating the need for potentially harmful and unnecessary dyes.

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Sarah Impey March 2012: Writing with a needle

Sarah’s first foray into textile work was foundation piecing a patchwork of hexagons from scraps of 1970s fabrics of her mother’s. In fact it was her mother who then backed this piece after it had been ‘finished’.

Sarah then told us of her work as a political journalist reporting on Parliament, this work meant her leisure time was in the morning. Determined to make the best of her free time Sarah returned to her teenage interest in patchwork and eventually quilting.

Over time her art and techniques developed and Sarah now combines both interests creating quilts with writing as an integral part. The art of making the quilt and the words almost philosophical; links to past quilters, a circular quilt describing a feeling of going around in circles linking problems associated with old age and Alzheimer’s.

Beautiful looking quilts with thought provoking text, thank you Sarah.

Alison Larkin January 2019: Opus Anglicanum

Opus anglicanum also known as English work is fine embroidery often worked in gold thread. It dates from the Medieval times particularly the 12th  to mid 14th century.

The work was highly prized for its exquisite needlework and great detail and was used for  Archbishop’s Copes and to embellish diplomatic gifts.

Unfortunately many of the skills were lost as a result of the plagues which swept Europe at that time.

Image result for opus anglicanum imagesImage result for opus anglicanum images

Alison Larkin will talk about Opus Anglicanum and show pieces of her own work in the style of English Work.

Janet Browne November 2018: Stitching the Landscape

Starting from her own love of drawing  the places she loves Janet has developed her own style of textile map. Her unique perspective and type of applique’ brings to life the streets of houses, gardens and allotments with individual features recognisable to the observer.

A journey to Scarborough detailing York Minster en route and Scarborough South Bay, St Ives in Cornwall , tiny houses surrounding the harbour.

Janet  explained her own journey to find her present method of stitching, a wonderful afternoon inspiring many to try Janet’s style in their own work.

September 2018: The Stamford Bridge Tapestry Project

On Saturday September 8th 2018, we were delighted to welcome some of the ladies involved in the Stamford Bridge Tapestry Project.Heather gave a wonderful entertaining and informative talk on the place of the Stamford Bridge Battle in the history of England.

If Harold Godwinson had not had to march north to fight two battles in order to defend his claim to the English throne he may have beaten William at the Battle of Hastings.

Shirley then talked about the inspiration behind commemorating the Battle of Stamford Bridge in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry.

She gave us a wonderful insight into the groundwork of preparing the drawings and transferring these onto the linen for stitching. The colour palette is as close to the Bayeux as possible with the addition of red and purple. The pictures are stitched with an outline stitch infilled with the Bayeux stitch. 20 ladies meet regularly taking turns to stitch each panel and each panel follows the style of the Bayeux tapestry with writing above the scene and the banner below has a symbol unique to each stitcher.

The expectation is that the whole work will be completed in the next few years and ultimately a  hoped for permanent display in Stamford Bridge.

A Berserker being brogged
Jean stitching
Jean stitching.
Heather (left) and Shirley

IMG_0003IMG_0002Thank you to the ladies for sharing your expertise and enthusiasm for this project and we look forward to following its progress and the opportunity to see the finished work.

2017/2018 Guest Speakers

Saturday May 12th

Lindsay Roberts

The Border Tart-Tart’s Textiles Travels

On Saturday May 12th we were taken on a journey, starting in the Scottish Borders travelling to Gujarat in India and back to Scotland.

Lindsay shared with us her textile travels, learning first hand, techniques of dyeing, weaving and printing. It was in Gujarat that Lindsay developed her interest in Islamic pattern after visiting some of the area’s historical sites. She travelled to two different areas within Gujarat spending some time with local weavers and dyers. On her return to Scotland Lindsay trialled some of the methods she had seen .


Above. A boy’s dress hand embroidered with traditional patterns from the Kachchh area of Gujarat. Although much of the symbolism of these traditional patterns may be lost the young women still use them in their work.

A very enjoyable and interesting afternoon sharing Lindsay’s travels.

Catherine Lawes 14th April 2018

From Here to There and Back Again

Catherine drew a pattern of her life and influences through the many and varied textile pieces she brought to our society. Born in New Zealand,the child of emigrants, she returned to England aged 18, but New Zealand and it’s culture have remained her muse.

Her own journey in textiles started out with kits and then developed into individual works ranging from wall hangings and quilts to coats and jackets. Many of the pieces having been specifically designed as commissions for Knitting and Stitching Shows.

One particular aspect of Catherine’s textile art is landscapes inspired by favourite views especially New Zealand. To this end Catherine shared her expertise and skills with us the next day in her Layered Landscapes workshop.

The, partial, results, of this day school can be seen on our workshop page. We look forward to seeing the completed pieces in May.

Another fantastic speaker inspiring us all with her on journey into textiles.

Julia Soares-McCormick March 10th 2018

Queen of Fashion

What Marie Antoinette wore to The Revolution

Julia’s talk about Mari Antoinette was a wonderful insight into the 18th Century French Aristocracy and women’s styles of the time.

Her attention to detail, historical accuracy and enthusiasm for the subject was contagious. Members were encouraged to view the garments and ask further questions following Julia’s talk.

This article is deliberate in not including content of Julia’s talk as we would encourage everyone interested to visit Julia’s website to find out where she will be speaking in the future. A wonderful afternoon.


Dr Susan Kay- Williams November 2017: Royal School of Needlework

On Saturday 11th December we were treated to an interesting and informative talk by Dr Susan Kay-Williams Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework. Dr Kay-Williams explained that the RSN was originally set up in order  to continue and preserve the great tradition of hand embroidery. She showed us slides of  students using a ‘slate frame’ , a traditional tool which dates back to at least the 18th century. The ‘slate frame’ requires the fabric to be stretched as taut as a slate to be worked on, hence the name.

Whilst having a base in tradition the RSN continues to challenge it’s students to interpret their ideas. One such challenge was to stitch a self portrait and we were shown images with embroidery worked on handkerchiefs and even a kitchen sieve.

Susan’s talk  covered a whole gamut of work from traditional crewel work, through to white work, black work, black work in red, stump work and a myriad of designs and interpretations of past and present students work.

My personal favourite, and judging by the gasp that went up as Susan showed the slide, many others too, was The Coronation Robe of Queen Elizabeth II from 1953. Susan showed a sample of the Gold Work undertaken by the RSN for the cloak.

Bringing us right up to date Susan talked about the hand embroidery on the cloak worn by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film Dr Strange. A great source of pride for the RSN is that, although many people may work on a particular design or project, all the work is identical. The cloak was a central character in the film and in order to withstand the rigours of filming 12 cloaks were made, each one having to be indistinguishable from the other.

Altogether a most enjoyable and educational afternoon.

Below. Dr Kay-Williams brought many samples of the work done by the RSN

RSN Display