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!