Friday, 30 November 2012

Westhope Weekend

The branch are hoping to go to Westhope College again next year, for a residential two day weekend course. We are considering the 13th to 15th of September, 2013.

The college are looking at potential tutors and costs etc , so we are not able to provide any more information at the moment, but we've asked for a tutor who can lead a course which is hand embroidery only or something that can be either machine or hand.

If you are interested in coming to Westhope on the above dates, could you please either email, or see Anne at the December session.


Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn Talk and Workshop

The Wrekin Branch have booked Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn for a two day workshop next year, and have asked local branches to publicise it.
The workshop will be on March 15 and 16, 2013. It will be held at St John's Church and Community Centre, Saltwells Drive, Muxton, Telford TF2 8RJ. The cost is £80 and includes a ticket for the talk on Friday evening by Jan and Jean.
If you are interested in reserving a place, you will need to send a cheque, payable to Wrekin Branch, for £20 to the secretary Pam Tait, please email for the address.
The balance will be due by the end of January.
Those wishing to attend the talk only on the Friday evening can buy a ticket for £5.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Experiments with Pattern with Steph Redfern

This weekend, 15 Guild members met at the Friends' Meeting House in Cotteridge for a dayschool with Steph Redfern.

Steph is an artist with a long career in ceramics, who moved into textiles about nine years ago, and is now a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. She brought along examples of her finished work, and her design process, and took us through creating pattern from inspirational images.
Steph Redfern Dayschool
One of Steph's finished pieces, using repeated leaf shapes

Steph Redfern Dayschool
One of Steph's design boards
We all set to work, with a wide range of inspiring images that varied from pictures of pylons to sweet shops, and everything in between, using the techniques that Steph taught us to build up repeating designs.

We layered fabrics and assembled our designs, then started adding simple stitch to bring the elements together.
Steph Redfern Dayschool
Hard at work adding stitch!
Everyone got going on pieces that looked great, and will give us a project to work on in these winter evenings.

Anne H started with an image of a hinge, and ended up with this very lively piece.
Linda's Lovely Dancing Mushrooms
Jane's piece, inspired by pebbles
For some more images of our designs, press Play on this slideshow:

One of our members, Angie, really enjoyed herself, and said this about the day: "Lovely one day workshop with Stephanie, such an inspiring and gifted artist, got us all off to a great start on new individual projects inspired by simple shapes and pattern. Really enjoyed myself and the company, and look forward to seeing everyone's pieces when finished."

Steph also had a good time - she wrote about her experience on her blog. Have you been inspired by pattern and created any embroidery? If so, feel free to leave us a comment, either here, or on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Programme of Events and Workshops 2013

We have a fantastic year of embroidery talks and workshops ahead of us in 2013: 
Visitors are welcome to any of the talks, feel free to just come along. Bookings are required for dayschools, if you would like to come along, please see Margaret Richards at a session, or email for more information.

# represents a change from the advertised programme, due to circumstances out of our control.

Updated to add hyperlinks to session writeups.

Monday, 26 November 2012

January 2013 Session - Members Making Evening - Ideas Needed

During 2013, the branch are hoping to participate in a number of local festivals, leading embroidery workshops and selling items to raise money for Branch Funds.

We are planning to kick start this process by dedicating our January meeting to gathering ideas of embroidered items that members could make and contribute to a stall for the branch.

We need your support with this! Could you please have a think about some projects that you could make, that would sell for £10 or under, and would be willing to make for the Branch? In January we would like people to bring along their idea and the resources to start making them.

Therefore, if you have an idea, could you please bring along to the January session:
  • Any examples you have of the finished item you would like to make
  • The materials to make the item
  • If it is a small item (e.g. a brooch, greetings cards, etc.) enough supplies to show someone else how to make it, so they can sit with you and create one/some
Could everyone please bring:
  • Sewing kit (needles, thread, scissors, embroidery hoop if you use one)
  • A small selection of fabric (e.g. cotton, felt, sheers) and embellishments, if you have them to hand
We are aiming to do our first festival in late Spring/early Summer, so we really need your help to make sure we have a lively and engaging stall that helps people see the wide range of fantastic skill within our group.

Thank you for your support!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Stitch of the Month: Cross Stitch

Thank you to Marilyn, who is doing a sterling job producing Stitch of the Month stitches for us all to enjoy.

This month, she has chosen cross stitch, which is a stitch many of us will be familiar with from its uses as a counted stitch, however it can also be used in a free-form manner to great effect.

Despite being quite simple to work, it can be used to build up a beautifully textured surface by varying the size of the stitch and the thread used to work it. It is also useful (along with other linear stitches) to couch down thicker threads/wools:

TAST Week 12 - Couching - Detail
(By Luci F on Flickr)

There are a number of beautiful images which depict Cross Stitch used in a range of interesting ways, however as they are copyrighted, I'm not able to reproduce the images here, so please go and check out these links for some inspirational uses of the stitches:
Cross stitch has a number of variations, including Alternating cross stitch, Rice stitch, Double cross stitch, Long arm cross stitch and Montenegrin (Links all go to Sharon B's stitch Dictionary)

Have you used cross stitch in your work, either counted or free-form? If so, please share a picture with us, either here or over on our Facebook group. We look forward to seeing how you get on!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Show and Tell November 2012

We had couple of beautiful items at this month's Show and Tell. Both Angie and Pam decided to bring in projects they had previously worked on that included French Knots, as the Stitch of the Month.

Angie shared this gorgeous tailored neck collar, made out of felted merino wool and organza, embellished with French Knots and machine stitching:
Show and Tell November 2012 1

The colours are gorgeous, and the textures of the felt, organza and knots work really well together.

Angie made it for her City and Guilds course, where she had to provide a costing for the piece. As French Knots are quite time consuming to work, she switched to machine cable stitch, with a few French Knots, on the back of the piece:
Show and Tell November 2012 3

Pam also shared a project which featured gorgeous use of French Knots to build up texture. She created this beautiful picture based on a mossy waterfall she had seen while on holiday in the USA:
Show and Tell November 2012 8

The whole top of the piece is heavily textured with French knots, wools and scrim in beautiful colours to depict the moss:
Show and Tell November 2012 7

Thank you to both Pam and Angie for sharing your work with us - we look forward to seeing more next time!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

2012 Message from the Chairman, Christine Poole

Below is a message to all Guild Members, from Christine Poole, our Chairman:

To all Members of the Embroiderers Guild

It is difficult to believe that a year has passed since I last wrote to you - as Vice-Chairman and Acting Chairman of the Guild.

It has been another busy year – for me, for the Trustees, the Chief Executive Officer, the Guild staff and for you, the Members.

In April the Council welcomed two new Regional Chairmen – East Midlands and North West – and said sad farewells to the two retiring Regional Chairmen.  The Trustees and Executive Committee remain the same and we have placed details on the Trustee Bank website with the intention of attracting new Trustees who have skills and contacts to help us in our move forward.  The CEO and the Guild’s staff continue to work with us. 

Now as Chairman I have had the opportunity to meet many of you at your Regional Days, AGMs and Exhibitions, as well as at Branch meetings and exhibitions.  We have shared laughter and concerns.  As I appreciate, through membership of the Yorkshire & The Humber Regional Committee, Regional Chairmen and their Committees, together with their Branches, work hard in planning very successful Regional Days, AGMs, Exhibitions and Summer Schools.  The Regions, their Chairmen and Committees play an increasingly important part in the life of the Guild and its Chairman.  Your support of them is invaluable, through attendance at events and membership of committees.

Members have been able to visit the Guild.  The Finest Stitches Exhibition (items from the Collection) has visited various venues around the country and locations are being sourced for exhibitions in 2013.  Folios continue to be renovated and borrowed by Branches and Regions – if you haven’t done so already and would like to, please contact Annette Collinge, who continues to manage and oversee the Collection but is now assisted by the newly formed Folio Committee. 

Again the Guild has received welcome support from Twisted Thread (Knitting & Stitching Shows, Festival of Quilts), Coats (Regional Day competition prizes), Madeira (Regional Day sponsored lectures) and the Worshipful Company of Broderers (Broderers Prize).  It is important that these relationships, as well as new ones, are acknowledged by the Guild, its Regions, Branches and Members.  

As I write this, the Guild is responding, albeit at comparatively short notice, to a request from Twisted Thread/Upper Street to contribute for the first time to the First Steps Lounge at Knitting & Stitching Harrogate.  The Learning Curve is for the more experienced stitchers; First Steps for those starting out and may lead to the recruitment of Young Embroiderers’ and new Members.  Volunteers have come forward from the Yorkshire & The Humber, North West and North East Regions.  The idea is to hold one hour drop in sessions to attract young people and beginners, to introduce them to some basic stitches by way of easy projects that can be completed in an hour or so, or later at home.  I hope that some of you are going or will have been to Harrogate and seen for yourselves.  I look upon the Guild’s participation as a way forward in our partnership with Upper Street but be aware, if this is successful I may well be seeking more volunteers in the future for both Alexandra Palace and for Harrogate!

I hope also that you will have taken the opportunity, either at Alexandra Palace or at Harrogate, to visit the Graduate Showcase, speak with the Graduates and invite them to speak at your Branch or Regional meetings. 

Again I am looking forward to the Guild’s AGM in April, this time in Cheltenham – Springtime in the Cotswolds.  I am sure you will have been captivated by the colourful flyer produced by the organising Regions (South West and Wales) and that I will see you there – for all or part of the weekend’s programme of activities.  As you may have gathered by now, I do enjoy spending time with you.

My thanks go to the Guild’s members of staff.  They took me on as Vice-Chairman-elect a couple of years ago and have given me the benefit of their unstinting support, patience, advice and guidance throughout my time as Vice Chairman, Acting Chairman, Chairman-elect and now Chairman.  They dissuade me from reinventing any wheels, ease frustrations and provide encouragement in what I try to do.  But I am not alone in this - you will be aware of their help and support through your contact with them.

You all have worked very hard this year – registering, stewarding, planning, contributing in different ways – all for the love of what you do.  All you do is valued.  For many of us complete relaxation will not come until after the Season’s festivities are over but this is the time for me to wish you and your families a happy and peaceful Christmas and the very best for the New Year.  I am looking forward to seeing many more of you in 2013.


Christine Poole
Chairman of the Guild

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Great Grandma's Workbox with Felicity Howatson

On Monday, Birmimgham Embroiderers' Guild welcomed Felicity Howatson (of to speak about her Great Grandma's Workbox, an utterly beautiful treasure trove of embroidery history:
Great Grandma's Workbox with Felicity Howatson, November 2012 4
Felicity was a wonderful speaker, telling us tales of how the box started its life in the late 1700s with her great grandmother in India, being passed down through the family, with everyone adding their own precious tools to it. As she spoke, she handed round the items, letting us see them up close; a wonderful experience.
One of the treasures the box contained was this beautiful tape measure, with little kittens carved into it (in a technique similar to scrimshaw), still extending and retracting even after all this time.

Great Grandma's Workbox with Felicity Howatson, November 2012 13

Everything in the box was beautiful, as well as having a purpose. We would love to use bobbin covers such as these, designed just to make plain wooden bobbins look more attractive:
Great Grandma's Workbox with Felicity Howatson, November 2012 15

And these tools with lovely carved mother of pearl handles, acquired at various times (the button hook was used to fasten the many tiny buttons on Felicity's mother's wedding dress), yet looking so beautiful together:
Great Grandma's Workbox with Felicity Howatson, November 2012 21

She also brought some lovely textiles expertly worked by her family, and generously allowed us to look at these too:
Great Grandma's Workbox with Felicity Howatson, November 2012 11

To take a look at some more things in Felicity's workbox, press Play on this slideshow:

As her day job, Felicity is an Ecclesiastical Embroiderer, and she brought along one of her (very impressive) works, which is shortly to live in the V&A:
Great Grandma's Workbox with Felicity Howatson, November 2012 17

Felicity uses the soluble film that she has created quite extensively in her Ecclesiastical embroidery, for example to get accurate details on faces. It also works well to make 3D forms such as masks and bowls - Felicity shared a couple more of her soluble film projects with us, and we purchased some film and kits, to try out at home in future.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable session. Next month we are having a members workshop, making Mini Cushions with June. See you there!