Traditional Hand Embroidery

traditional hand embroidery: click on thumbnail to see larger version of image

Stitching from a young age: I became interested in hand embroidery aged 11 inspired by needlework classes at school. I had a very traditional teacher who was tough but fair, requiring a very high standard of work. Mrs Hyde provided a thorough grounding in all manner of techniques in dressmaking as well as decorative embroidered items. Sadly I changed school at aged 13 where needlework was not on the curriculum, so stitching fell by the wayside for a while. During the 1970s, following major surgery I needed a recuperative occupation so I stitched at home, using prepared designs found in my three favourite books. I liked the first two books very much because most of the designs were modern and used interesting fabrics and threads. Then following marriage and my first own home (in rural Aberdeenshire) I needed a few practical items to brighten up the kitchen... I still have the cushions from the front cover of book number three, and some of the stitched panels are stored away, but most of the embroidered panels were given as presents to family members.

I can't bear to throw books away so I still have these and other similar booklets from the period. Unfortunately, they do not credit the designers of each piece of work. It would be lovely to know who they were.

Marriage, child rearing and a very busy career made serious stitching difficult for the next 30+ years...

Picking up the needle in ernest: On retirement from the day job I decided to take up the needle again. This time I wanted to design and stitch my own work. However, I made a mistake by jumping in with the RSN traditional hand embroidery course at the studio of Tracy A Franklin in Durham ( and City & Guilds courses by StitchBusiness.

The next few years were a very steep learning curve! I don't have an arty background, so was naive about all the elements that go to make up a good design. Quality of stitch was fine, but composition definitely had room for improvement. Follow this link for a gallery page with close up details of my four pieces for the RSN Certificate work.

Since completing the RSN certificate I have mostly been developing my contemporary textiles portfolio, but do enjoy having a piece of traditional work on the go as well.

Some notable pieces are 'Autumn Leaves', designed and stitched by me in the company of Tracy at her studio in Durham and working from a North East Region Embroiderers' Guild course tutored by Jenny Adin-Christie, where I started her stumpwork kit, The Owl and the Pussycat. I occasionally participate in community projects as a volunteer stitcher. In 2019, using canvas work techniques on a church kneeler for St Michael's Church. Howick, Northumberland. In 2021, I started stitching two specially designed panels for the Weardale Methodist Tapestry project. The details of these pieces of work can be seen on my other traditional embroidery gallery page.

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