Nicola Jarvis Loveday Epic Crewel Work project

Stitching heaven!!! At least it was when I started the second petal of the apple blossom. What I find really difficult is comfortably accessing the petal on my slate frame. I had to unpick the first layer of pale pink as I had got the stitch perspective wrong. But, stitching on such a large frame and making sure the stitch direction is pointing towards the centre of the blossom is challenging. So, I rotated the frame twice and that helped a bit. But, in the end I stood up and sewed so I could see everything clearly. This won’t be for everyone, and I am not it is for me either. Took me a while to stand up straight afterwards. I will work it out eventually. Still, it was an hour of stitching bliss.

Daily weekday needlepoint sampler using the stitch templates provided by Sheree Lantz in her ‘A Pageant of Pattern for Needlepoint Canvas’.’

This is my third sampler from page 92. Mrs Lantz refers firstly to the group: Mosaics. Then the stitch: a flat stitch. She states the source design is 13th century mosaic pavement from the Baptistry at Florence. The design is also found in Franco-Flemish embroidery, again taking inspiration from pavement design.

It’s been difficult to source internet images of the marble mosaic pavement floor at the Baptistry. I have some old photographs of the floor taken in 1988 by my then partner, Mark, but they are not in a media that can easily be uploaded. Lynne Rutter, on her website,, has some very good photographs of the marble mosaic pavement that are crystal clear, though light levels would probably have been very low when taken. I have asked for permission to share these on my blog. I hope to take my own photographs when I visit Florence in December 2018.

Mrs Lantz also indicates that the stitch sampler template below is in use today by American quilters – the Flying Geese. (You can see a nice example of a Flying Geese quilt in The Book of Little Quilts by Katherine Guerrier, page 8. (Purchased Barter Books, Alnwick, in 2015)

Though the sampler is not perfect, my French Knots are a bit irregular, it will hopefully provide a reasonable idea of what the completed stitch looks like.

Daily weekday needlepoint sampler using the stitch templates provided by Sheree Lantz in her ‘A Pageant of Pattern for Needlepoint Canvas’.’

This is my second sampler from page 93. Mrs Lantz refers firstly to the group: Mosaics. Then the stitch: a flat stitch. She states the source design is the Venetian San Marco Cathedral medieval mosaics. Most of the interior mosaics were completed by the 1270s and then restored by different artisans over the preceding centuries. Wikiwand provides a good description of the religious iconography of the mosaics and we are told highly regarded artists such as Veronese, Titian and Tintoretto prepared cartoons for the mosaicists to interpret. My interpretation of the stitch template uses three shades of green and I have couched a yellow wool thread around the outside.

(This photograph was taken by Ricardo Andre Frank, in 2005, of the mosaics in the San Marco Cathedral in Venice and can found in Wikipedia.)

Daily weekday needlepoint sampler using the stitch templates provided by Sheree Lantz in her ‘A Pageant of Pattern for Needlepoint Canvas’.

I still remember the day when I noticed this book on the shelves at Barter Books in Alnwick. Still my favourite bookshop after all of these years. What I really love about this book is the way Mrs Lantz has applied her knowledge of patterns used by artisans from all over the world, throughout recorded history, to the needlepoint stitch templates contained in her book. For each stitch template, she references the source of the pattern, including the location, the century and whether a similar pattern is being used by crafters today. Whilst working on Nicola Jarvis’s Love Day Epic Crewel Work project most days between 5:30pm and 6:30pm, I thought I needed an easier challenge, something I could focus on post-tea time. So, this is it, a small sampler each evening, following the patterns listed from pages 91 to 351. Time off for holidays and inspection days!

So here is my first one from page 91. Mrs Lantz refers firstly to the group: Mosaics. Then the stitch: a flat stitch. She states the source is 13th century ‘Mosaic Pavement’ and, that it can be seen in the Baptistry at Florence.

So, of course, with the wonders of the Internet, maybe this is the pattern to which Mrs Lantz refers….

(This photograph was taken by Ricardo Andre Frank, in 2005, of the Baptistry in St John, Florence, and can found in Wikipedia.)


Competition Coronation sampler

In 1997 I promised myself I would do everything I could to design and stitch an embroidery sampler that would win an embroidery competition.

I’d been, by chance, to an embroidery snd quilting show in Harrogate because I had nothing else to do. That’s was when and where my interest in embroidery was kindled. I watched Jack Robinson demonstrating the blackwork piece he was working on. Wow!

The catch? I couldn’t stitch. Never even picked up a needle. The internet was just beginning to take off. No apps or iPads. Didn’t have an email address.

I have spent the last 21 years learning to stitch. I’m at a point where I feel confident enough to have a go at researching, designing and stitching my own sampler for the Madeira 2019 competition. Don’t expect to win, but know I will enjoy the journey.  My last sampler acts as inspiration as I make the first stitch.


Pleased, but not perfect…

The Countess of Wilton in her book, ‘The Art of Needlework’ states, ‘Needlework is an art so indissolubly connected with the comfort and convenience of mankind at large that it is impossible to suppose any stage of society in which it has not existed.’ Without my needle and thread nearby, I would feel disconnected from those around me that, through their exquisite skills and artistry, add beauty and grace to our everyday lives, at least mine.

I’ve worked on the Epic Loveday Crewel Work fritillary all week. But, it’s been challenging fitting it in around my working day. I’ve almost completed it, but I know it’s far from perfect. But, it’s the trying, the struggling, the frustration and tears, that makes it all worth while. Makes you feel proud even though you know your own needlework is on a journey of which you are right at the very start.

What have I learnt since starting the project? Well firstly, I’ve persevered and used the technique taught by Nicola Jarvis for threading your needle. I’ve always sucked and threaded and still sometimes do, but her way is better. Mary Corbett, in a post dated 27 March 2008, describes perfectly how best to thread your needle. So, to use her words, and in the manner shown by Nicola Jarvis last week, I now pinch ‘Fold and Pinch’. (At least on most occasions). It really works. Place your thread around the shaft of your needle, pinch the thread up tight against the needle, remove the needle and push the eye down onto the pinched thread sitting between your thumb and forefinger. Then pull the thread through. It works great once you get the technique right.

Trestles: Whilst I love spending my money at the Royal School of Needlework, I was not tempted at all to spend it on their trestles at £550 a pair.

So, I’ve purchased two trestles from Ikea at £25 a piece. They do the job well enough, but are very cumbersome and my slate frame does not easily sit well on them. Ingenuity has been needed as any needleworker will know. (More to come on this).

As I said earlier, my fritillary is not perfect. What would I do differently? I would read the instructions once, and then as many times as necessary, until I was clear about what needed to be done. I’ve made some mistakes because I thought I knew what I was doing, and I didn’t!


Loveday: Snakehead Fritillaria Meleagris

Sat at home by myself, I am wondering why Nicola Jarvis chose to include the Fritillary in her Loveday design. I have an allotment and grow them, but they struggle in my soil. What I have found is that they relish damp conditions in winter and early spring. I planted too few, so they always look lonely and sad. They have chessboard flowers in pink, rose and mauve. Monty Don tells us they are native, that the bulb goes dormant after June until August, when it grows new shoots which can be found below the surface, ready to spurt once the weather warms. He also reminds us that if you want to see them in all their glory, thousands flower behind Oxford University’s Magdalen College every spring. So, although I don’t know for sure, I think she chose them for their beauty and grace, which is why I grow them in my allotment.

Group of Snakeshead Fritillaries. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.

So, I started the Loveday Fritillary during the class and, now feel daunted. Here’s what I’ve done so far. I will share what I learn as a novice crewel worker as I go.






Start of Loveday Epic Crewelwork



In November 2016, I booked the Nicola Jarvis five-day crewel work Loveday class at the Royal School of Needlework. For months I had been so excited and finally the day arrived with the definite promise of both challenge and enjoyment in equal measures. On the 7 August 2017, the class started at 10am with nine of us eager to get sewing. The week was inspirational and well taught, and Nicola patiently provided the support and encouragement I needed to learn each stitch.

Over the next 12 months, I will be regularly blogging about how, as a relative newcomer to crewel embroidery, I will complete each element of the Loveday design. I hope you will share my journey.