Shopping Cart
Your Cart is Empty

Here's what we're thinking about today...


27 May 2020

Today, I’m looking for a few volunteers!  Do you have a creative embroidery project in mind but don’t know where to start?  Would you like to learn a new technique from scratch?  Or would you just like to take the next step on your embroidery path?  Are you interested in participating in an experimental one on one on-line tutoring/mentoring session?

If so, please send me an email ([email protected]) outlining what you would like to achieve from an opportunity like this. Meetings would take place within the next couple of weeks and would be scheduled on Zoom or Skype so you can be anywhere in the world if you will have to have access to one of these platforms.

To help you decide if you would like to participate, please see the “About ” page for an introduction to me.

Online Learning

25 May 2020

The Mariner’s Compass class will be taught this fall through online learning. The particulars are not available quite yet, however, if you are interested in further information for the class as soon as it becomes available, please send me an email at [email protected]

The Mariners’ Compass was a popular motif during the late 16th century when exploration and settlement of New England was beginning in earnest. This three dimensional design is inspired by the embroidery on a mariner’s scarf made for Sir Francis Drake. Goldwork threads used include pearl purl, lizerene and passing. The centre is padded leather and as is the fully articulated directional needle. The project will be embroidered on a black satin ground.

What's on the frame?

17 May 2020

If you don't follow me on Facebook, you may be interested in an update on my current project.  All the little flowers and leaves are complete for Invenire Gaudium.  The background is a deep blue dupioni, the needle is gold kid and the flower bed is a rich brown charmeuse.  I have begun to stitch the elements on but it is a slow process sewing through all the layers of thread, fabric, glue and metal.  I've taken a break to begin the embroidery for the letters.  I haven't decided whether each letter will be a different arrangement of layers or all alike... a little trial and error is in order.

Something entirely new!

15 May 2020

Things being as they are, I find that I have several kits for the Queen’s Needle Case class which had been scheduled for the EAC National Seminar in Halifax. I have decided to make them available through this website. As an experiment, the project will be available in two versions:  the full kit or simply a pdf of the instructions. If you think you may be interested, full details are available on the new SHOP page!

Looking back to Tudor times

1 May 2020

This is my most recent reading material, Tudor Textiles by Eleri Lynn published by Yale University Press.  There are lots of little bits of information about embroidery sprinkled throughout the book. The Tudor era saw the demise of ecclesiastical embroidery and the development of embroidery for fashion. Much of it was done by professional embroiderers. Their huge output is itemized in wardrobe accounts and inventories and the extravagance and symbolism is discussed in many books, Tudor Textiles included.  Unfortunately, to my thinking anyway, there has been little published about who did it and how it was achieved. There were whole families who spent their lives to producing the vast array of exquisitely embroidered good required by the elite. How can this omission be redressed?

Still looking back

27 April 2020

This was a project from the first year of my degree course. The assignment was to compile a brief outline of embroidery from a country of the students’ choice listing key points, social patterns, contextual information, the roles of men and women. I chose Canada and made a reversible, fold out time line with one side covering the history of the nation and the other, the embroidery. Each picture could be lifted to reveal a little bit of information.  Canada's embroidery history is like a microcosm of all the techniques in the world.  

Looking Back

27 April 2020

How many embroiderers can you fit around a frame?  Studio Inspirations (est 1997) is still meeting every Wednesday in Ottawa.  Back in 2005 we completed a full altar frontal for Christ Church Cathedral based on the story of the creation.  The little creatures riding on their mother's back are from the antependium.  It's amazing what you can do with a little silk paper and stitch.  

The Gutter Lane Embroidery facebook page has the image from day of land and plants we used the humble dandelion.

Time to read

20 April 2020

Today marks a month since I started posting daily on Facebook and this News page. This activity has produced a bright spot in the otherwise dismal spring. The Boleyn Bloom has traveled to Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand and The States, and with it, donations to local charitable organizations. A sincere thank you to all who have participated. I’m going to take a break now and do some reading… all related to embroidery of course. Before I sit down with my articles and books, here are the blooms and leaves from yesterday, the second flower not quite finished…

Re-vamping the website

19 April 2020

I'm thinking the website no longer reflects the realities of the day.  I've begun to make changes because circumstances have altered radically since I set it up almost three years ago and the future is uncertain to say the least.  I'll continue to stitch as think, that's one of the great things about embroidery - lots of time to consider "what if?"  I thought I'd throw in a couple of images from ten years ago and my first attempt at a website just to remind myself that I've been here before...

 The flowers will continue to bloom on  Gutter Lane Embroidery

Embroidery as Art

19 April 2020

Pricked extreme embroidery was an exhibition presented by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City in 2007. The purpose of the exhibition was to showcase “the artistic potential of traditional and innovative materials”. The catalogue is a substantial publication illustrated in colour on matte paper. The works were selected from artists world wide and each piece communicates concepts that challenge the viewer to  consider them in a different perspecitve. An artwork particularly prescient in the context of global events in 2020 is found on pages 78-9. Artist Laura Splan presents a series of exquisite, machine embroidered lace doilies. Each is in the shape of a different virus molecule. “Bioterrorism, SARS and anti-bacterial soaps alike have heightened out awareness of the microbial world. Doilies serve as a metaphor for the way we have adapted our everyday lives to these now everyday concerns.”  

To see an exhibition of embroidery from the perspective of skill see   Gutter Lane Embroidery

Transferring the Pattern

18 April 2020

Prick, pounce and paint. There are traditional supplies needed for this method of transfer. Vellum so that the holes made by the pin stay open, pounce powder which can be charcoal or chalk, white watercolour paint or black ink and a brush. I’ve done this so many times and I never have the proper supplies so I improvise. In this instance, I just pricked the same paper that came out of the printer with the design printed on it. I use talc instead of chalk because it’s handier and the chalk pounce that is available in the quilting stores comes in massive amounts and is very expensive. Powdered chalk from the hardware store for chalk lines is often coloured with dye that may bleed if it gets damp. Painting requires a high quality, very fine brush and a steady hand. Practice makes perfect… well, not quite. I've never painted on velvet before and it comes with a whole new set of challenges...

To see the experimental flowers from yesterday   Gutter Lane Embroidery

The Spanish Cloak

17 April 2020

The short cloak was named for the fact that it had become popular at the Spanish court around the middle of the century. There are several short cloaks depicted in the large painting “The procession portrait of Queen Elizabeth I”. This one is worn by a courtier identified as George Carey 2nd Baron Hunsdon. On page 306 of QEWU an item in the Stowe Inventory is described “…one short cloak of blacke vellat with a brode border richlie embrodered with leaves and flowers of venice golde silver and silke like frutage…”

I've framed up some black velvet and will transfer the pattern today.

For some real (not painted) 16th c embroidery go to  Gutter Lane Embroidery

Painted Embroidery

16 April 2020

The Spanish cape or cloak was popular during the latter half of the 16th century and it was depicted in many portraits of wealthy citizens. I’m not a student of fashion, so I’m not sure of its origins and why it is called a "Spanish" cape, but I’ll look it up. My focus is the embroidered trim that is often painted in great detail and whether it can be translated into a 21st century version of the original. Often, due to budgetary and time considerations, the embroidery on reproductions and costuming for re-enactment and theatrical purposes are made using techniques that are not true to the period.

In Praise of the Humble Needle is on  Gutter Lane Embroidery

Something 16th Century

15 April 2020

I am still engaged with the series of Boleyn Blooms having settled on the design for number three yesterday.  I need to start considering a new piece based on a 16th century portrait. I’m going to start looking through my collection of photographs and the bookcase for some clearly rendered images of embroidery on clothing to see what I come up with. 

Yesterday’s johnnie jump up is on Gutter Lane Embroidery

An Embroiderer of Note

14 April 2020

I first met Carolyn Standing Webb in (OMGoodness!) 2003 when we were both teaching at the EGA Seminar in Rye, New York. She has kindly and beautifully pilot stitched some of my designs for more recent seminars including the Compass. Her attention to detail is invaluable, ensuring my instructions are clear and precise. She has finished the Boleyn Bloom in record time and it is stunning! Carolyn managed to find most supplies in her cupboard. Among her substitutions were Pearl Purl for Lizerene in a few places, Gilt Sylke Twist for the #1 Japan thread fly stitch and lovely gold beads for the green crystals.

For an update on Boleyn Bloom 2 go to Gutter Lane Embroidery

Lazy weekend

13 April 2020

Not much embroidery happening this weekend, but somehow the work space got a bit messy again. This morning will be spent taking stock and getting back to stitching. There were lots of requests for the Boleyn Bloom which means lots of donations to local shelters and food banks around the world! Thank you all for being so generous – in times like these we all need to be good neighbours.

Here is a combo one embroidered flower (I think a clematis bloom?) and three awls. See a different combo on the facebook page Gutter Lane Embroidery

Recently published books

12 April 2020

Recently there has been a flurry of books published about embroidery. Well maybe not a flurry, but three - which I think may be a record of some sort. The Gown by Canadian author Jennifer Robson, A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier, both are novels. The third is a history of embroidery by Clare Hunter, Thread of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle. All three are worth reading, all three reminded me of my time at the RSN – good and bad. Stitching in a group is an underlying theme in all of them and has never been very appealing to me, except that I have had one excellent experience, that being the Bouquet of Remembrance and Celebration. I find this painting by Remedios Varo hauntingly beautiful and very compelling. It is titled Embroidering the Earth’s Mantel. 

For another story about stitching together see today's post on Gutter Lane Embroidery

Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd

11 April 2020

My telephone reminded me today that I should be getting off a plane from London this afternoon. My plan this year was to spend the winter adding to my selection of teaching pieces and the rest of the year sharing the beauty of embroidery and encouraging stitchers to go beyond their comfort zone and experience the joy that is goldwork (Invenire Gaudium). The following year (and the proceeds from teaching) was to be spent in the UK visiting museums and archives winkling out the mysteries of Tudor Embroiderers and their work. This obsessive interest in the history of 16th century embroidery was sparked by Janet Arnold’s masterwork Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d. It cost me the earth at the time but it remains my most valuable book in so many other ways!  

For more about Tudor history see today's post on Gutter Lane Embroidery

Some adjustments to the Boleyn Bloom

10 April 2020

I’ve had an email from my favorite talented and speedy stitcher indicating that the instructions could use some clarification. I have revised pages 8 and 9 slightly, so if you get that far and have difficulty, just contact me as I indicated in the original email and I will reply right away with the new pages.

The Dove and the words Omnia De Super on the original design for Invenire Gaudium represented elements from the Broderers’ Company coat of arms. I have since changed the motto and replaced the dove with a peacock butterfly. I took this photo a year ago on a country walk in Chessington. I may even add a caterpillar or two. However, one motif at a time – for yesterday’s rose and the next installment of Tool Time please go to

  Gutter Lane Embroidery

Heart's Ease

9 April 2020

I’ve been sending out the Boleyn Bloom to embroiderers donating time or money or both to local charities all over the world.  Just a thought… if and when you finish, send along a picture and tell me how and if you changed it. I’ll add them to my map.

I’ve also been working on the sea of little flowers for Invenire Gaudium. The second embroidered garland had lots of pansies on it and I thought I would give one a try.  

To see B's first try at split stitch, go to the Facebook page....  Gutter Lane Embroidery

Time to Learn

8 April 2020

One positive thing about having to stay at home is that it provides an opportunity to learn. I’ve learned a bit about Facebook and how to connect to the wider embroidery community. Having achieved that little goal, I decided it was time to learn how to make a video. I have roped in my daughter who is working from home and needs a bit of distraction from numbers. A bit of an introduction to B… She has made some pretty impressive cosplay costumes on the machine but her only hand embroidered projects appear on the 21 March entry. As a museum tech, she had to learn conservation stitching and her attention to detail is impressive. Here are some pages from her conservation stitch sample book.

To see our first video collaboration, go to....  Gutter Lane Embroidery

Tool Time

7 April 2020

Back to Great Grandmother’s sewing box and a variety of pin holder/needle books. This little pair of grey shoes are hand-made: one is a pin holder and the other, I think, is a needle holder. The needle holder folds out and the pin holder appears to have held pins in the sole. The little pink fan opens to flannel pages for needles but has pins stored along the edge of the covers. All three are trimmed with blue silk ribbon just like teddy. A souvenir needle book from The Grotto in Margate appears on the facebook page....  Gutter Lane Embroidery

A Rose by any other name...

6 April 2020

Here are step by step photos of the rose on Invenire Gaudium. Beginning with a satin stitch base in soie d’alger then the layers of metal thread and Devere silk. I have outlined this rose in pearl purl but I prefer the effect of the lizerene as on the blue flower posted today on the Facebook page...  Gutter Lane Embroidery

Ready to Start

5 April 2020

When I teach a class for silk and metal thread, I like to have the students work the embroidery using a slate or scroll frame.  Often though, there is not enough time to have them frame up in class.  So here is a quick step by step for framing up beginning with tracing the pattern.  Net step, turn top and bottom edges of the ground and pin to webbing matching centre lines.  Overcast the seam starting from the centre line and stitching to the left, then begin again from the centre and stitch to the right. Assemble the frame, pin twill tape to each side of the ground fabric and secure with vertical stitches along each side.  Lace each side through the twill tape and around the side bars with string. Then tighten and select materials.

Now, please go to the Gutter Lane Embroidery Facebook page to see a mini lesson on broadplate sizes ...  Gutter Lane Embroidery

Ready to transfer

4 April 2020

When I saw it on the printed page, it looked a bit bottom heavy (below).  So it went back on the computer.  The final result fits nicely into the outline but I still don't have any ink to  transfer using the printer.  Come back tomorrow and I will have it transferred on the moire and a third design to make it a triptych.  I will also have a go at choosing the silks and metal threads...

Now, please go to the Gutter Lane Embroidery Facebook page to see how Invenire Gaudium is progressing ...  Gutter Lane Embroidery

Partial Success

3 April 2020

Pencil to paper achieved! Not really anything new but an expansion on a theme… Boleyn Bloom 2. Beginning on paper and proceeding to the computer, the line drawing for the next project is complete. Usually, I print the design directly onto the ground fabric but as luck would have it, the printer has run out of ink. I was able to get it printed onto paper and delivered to the door. Now it has to be transferred the old-fashioned way! While waiting on the delivery, I was able to pick up needle and thread and begin something else…

Now, please go to the Gutter Lane Embroidery Facebook page to see the project that did get started ...  Gutter Lane Embroidery

The First Day of April

1 April 2020

Many of you may not have Facebook (I didn’t until very recently) so here’s the post with the details for the Boleyn Bloom fundraiser:

I, like many of you, have been doing my part by staying home, staying safe and staying healthy and feeling quite helpless. I have been working on the instructions for a very pretty embroidered flower, the Boleyn Bloom and trying to think of what I could to do to make a small contribution, and I have decided to try something new (for me). The Boleyn Bloom is a very pretty piece and I have had several inquiries about when it might be available. I am making the pattern and instructions in PDF form available to anyone who would like to have it. All you have to do is make a donation of any size to your local women’s shelter or food bank and send me an email with the name of the organization (you don’t have to tell me the amount) and I’ll email the instructions to you. There is a lot of gold and silk in the supply list but I encourage you to substitute things you already have in your house. There is a suggested list of threads that you can substitute included in the PDF.  Mine is an adaption of the original(s) and yours can be an adaptation of mine!

Now, please go to the Gutter Lane Embroidery Facebook page for the story of today’s textile treasure. Here’s the link ...  Gutter Lane Embroidery

The Last Day of March

31 March 2020

When I took my degree course, I was required to take a sketchbook with me everywhere I went. It was a hard habit to establish, and I really didn't know one end of the pencil from the other, but the more I persevered, the better my sketches were. I think it’s the same for most people, you don’t think you have the skill - and you probably don’t to start - but persistence pays off in a lot of ways. Several of my insects and skulls turned into embroideries… not as pretty "Simply Irresistible" but perhaps it’s time to pick up the pencil again?  Maybe try adding colour this time?

See "Simply Irresistible" on today's Facebook page...  Gutter Lane Embroidery

The Middle Road

30 March 2020

After tidying the studio and investigating the Box of Inspiration, I’m leaning toward a combination of experimental and familiar in a creative hand embroidered sculpture.

In the Box, I found an extra spine from the sea urchin, which when sitting on its own conjures up a vision of a forest of them. The crazy lighting in my studio adds an extra dimension… A good starting place, but where will it lead? 

Does your workspace ever get into this state?  Gutter Lane Embroidery

Hand-crafted Needle Books

29 March 2020

Sticking with the needlework tool theme for now, here is a little crocheted needle book in the shape of a sombrero. It belonged to my aunt and every one of the five pages has an assortment of needles with a few pins for good measure. (See the post on 11 November for a picture of Aunt Hallie.) Seemed to be a good place to store badges you wanted to keep but didn’t need to wear anymore. An IODE lapel pin and a Brownie pin - a pixie, a gnome or something else? Inside the crown is the perfect place to hold a thimble…

Another of Hallie's needlebook can be seen on today’s facebook post… Gutter Lane Embroidery

Directed Advertising in the 50's

28 March 2020

The little replica vacuum cleaner contains thread and needles for emergency repairs. It also comes with a list of all the “outstanding features” of the real thing including all the labour-saving aspects such as the “Conventional toe-touch switch that lets you turn cleaner On and Off without lifting your heel from the floor.”  Now, the GE people are quadrupling production at their Wisconsin plant to manufacture the essential ventilators to supply hospitals and healthcare facilities.

The instructions for the Boleyn Bloom will be available soon. Please go today's post on facebook for details, click here Gutter Lane Embroidery

27 March 2020

A Box of Inspiration

26 March 2020

I have finished re-stitching and photographing the Boleyn Bloom and will spend the day working on the instructions but I’m not sure where to go afterwards. I’ve been stitching a lot of teaching pieces this year and I’ve got more than enough new ones ready to go.  However teaching is on hold for now, so I think it’s time to go outside the box and create something wild and wonderful. 

This is where I go for a nudge in the creative direction… When a piece is in the early stages, one element might go through several iterations. The final work may not include some very viable trails, so I put some of them away in a box and bring them out for inspiration when necessary.

To see the first thing I pulled out of this mess of creativity, go to  Gutter Lane Embroidery

The Cupboard under the Stairs

25 March 2020

No room for a Harry Potter under these stairs… not as accessible as I would like but much better than rifling through a huge box of wooden sticks. On top are the stretcher bars, next has hoops, scroll and slate frames, third is full of embroidery stand parts and the lower shelf has artist stretcher bars for really big projects.  

For today's post on facebook, click here Gutter Lane Embroidery

Needlework Tools

24 March 2020

This is going to be a marathon and if I am to continue to post everyday, I will have to have a “go to” when I run out of embroidery thoughts. 

 My collection of needlework tools is perfect… The rosewood box came from the UK with my great grandmother Rebecca when she immigrated to Canada in 1912 with her husband Stephen, her son Fred and daughter Isabel – my grandmother. Her oldest son William had emigrated four years earlier and had convinced them that Canada had much to offer them. It was filled with inspirational readings and needlework supplies and tools. The orange and gold biscuit tin belonged to Isabel. She was 19 years old and had been employed as a nursemaid to a young child. In the biscuit tin, she kept the items she would need to mend and repair when necessary, scissors, coloured yarn for darning, threads and assorted needles and buttons.  

To see a sample of the inspirational literature and one of the more interesting tools, please go to Gutter Lane Embroidery

Preparing to stitch

23 March 2020

I’m starting the instructions for the Boleyn Bloom and thought I’d give it a try on stretcher bars instead of my usual scroll frame. It took me almost as long to prepare and it was much harder on my arthritic hands but I think I got it drum tight. I always work hands-free in order to manipulate the threads so I brought out the trusty Grip-it stand. I used this stand for many years for canvas work and found that as long as the stretcher bars were in the clamp securely using the third screw, it worked beautifully.  

To read about my new couch potato project, please go to Gutter Lane Embroidery

The wonders of running stitch

22 March 2020

The image below was a project I started to keep me busy when I didn’t want to spend any time designing. I found the ground cloth in my box of scrap fabric that I didn’t know what to do with but couldn’t bring myself to get rid of… It is a small box but it has treasures in it, including this one that I kept from my City and Guild days at the London COFACT… (College of Fashion and Clothing Technology). The talented embroidery artist Margaret Nicholson was our tutor. Textiles are like that… they hold a wealth of memory!

To read more about the materials I used on the embroidery I call Another Lovely Lady, please go to Gutter Lane Embroidery

Spring into Summer

21 March 2020

This is going to be a challenging spring and summer.  Needle, thread and cloth have always been a comfort in stressful times.   The little house was created by my daughter for her grandfather when she was five.  It hangs above my  computer desk flanked by the two she stitched for her grandmothers at aged three.  Stitching is, and always has been, the "go to" activity in my home.

I have just created a facebook page for Gutter Lane Embroidery.  I plan to post something here and there as often as I can.  

Mystery Lady

18 March 2020

The origin of this lovely picture of a woman enjoying a stroll through a walled garden is a mystery to me. The embroidery is framed within a fire screen which appears to date from the early 20th century. There are inked guide lines visible behind the trees in the background which are worked in counted thread techniques and on the pavement, indicating it was perhaps traced from a pattern. The flower borders are a riot of colour composed of small pieces of appliquéd fabric and very effective surface stitchery. The young lady’s pretty face is gently padded and her delicate features are carefully stitched. Her brown hair is shades of brown stem stitch smoothed into a fall of tight French knots. If you happen to recognize this young lady, if you can identify the source of the design (it may have come from an early fancy work magazine), please let me know.


14 March 2020

The date for the conference has been changed, so although I was leaning towards not to attend, the organizers made the decision for me.  Now, does the new date fit? 

On a different note, the box that holds all the samples from my RSN years has been travelling around the basement since we moved here. It has been sitting out in plain view for a while but I only opened it this morning. On top was my first attempt at blackwork. The design was based on "The Peacock Skirt" by Aubrey Beardsley, a poster my sister was fond of, which hung on the landing in our little house. Now it brings to mind the ship from Star Trek 2009...


13 March 2020

About a month ago I decided I would benefit from attending a conference in Nottingham, UK.  I don't usually pay much attention to the news (it's always very alarmist) and somehow the threat of a global pandemic didn't register.  Flights, trains, hotels all booked and so far the conference is still on.  Normally, any danger to my own well-being is a minor consideration, you can't live under a bushel, but in this case it has been very difficult to make an informed choice.  As of today the conference is still on and if the organizers cancel, so be it.  But if it goes ahead, would it be irresponsible for me to go?  I'm not thinking about my contracting the virus, almost everyone will at some point - I'm careful but I'm not immune.  If and when I do, I will self-isolate wherever I am.  I'm thinking that if I unknowingly come in contact with someone who has it and I might inadvertently pass it along.  The decision may well be taken out of my hands between now and then.  In the meantime, there are always plenty of embroidery related things to do.

Where to begin...

12 March 2020

Does anyone start with the basics anymore?  The little accordion book pictured was developed over twenty years ago to teach at my local guild as a reference for the different types of surface stitches. Each page features a variety of one type of stitch:  chained, looped, crossed, knotted, filling, etc.  It seems just too basic now with all the tutorials available at the stroke of a key but it is still one of my favorite little projects.

Royal School of Needlework

11 March 2020

I have been an embroiderer for longer than I care to remember...  The Royal School of Needlework has been popping up in conversations a lot lately.  The School has changed enormously since I was an apprentice.  At that time, it was a small operation located in an early Victorian terraced house on Prince's Gate opposite Hyde Park in South Kensington.  When friends ask about my experience there, I have to say I treasure very happy memories.  However, as you can imagine, although the training I received was "to the high standard of workmanship for which the school is known",  the RSN at that time bears little resemblance to the world wide business it has become.  Just for fun here is the letter of acceptance I received in 1974.  I still have the thimbles (one for each hand) and the little leather case my dad made for me to carry them in.  I never used them, but the long sleeved overall and the scissors were well worn out by the time my apprenticeship was successfully completed!

Goldwork Bracelet

10 March 2020

So busy, I'm late starting March!  Seminar project instructions have to written up and piloted before kits can come together.  The compass is done, the cherry is on its way and the bracelet still needs to be piloted.  It hasn't had the response the compass and cherry have, but I think it will be the most fun.  I have stitched it again, I always do before writing instructions, to make sure I have all the photos I need.  There are four separate sections in the bracelet and there are several fillings to choose from and several combinations of colours as well.  The latest is purple and gold.  Come back soon, I'll post again tomorrow.

The Golden Compass

25 February 2020

The compass was a popular motif in the late 16th century when adventurers from England were exploring the New World.  I've just finished the instructions for the class which will taught in Boston during the EGA Seminar in September.  

A "Handpicked" Project

17 February 2020

Unsurprisingly, I find a great deal of inspiration from the past and the Tudor period is a limitless source.  The entwined Tudor Rose and Pomegranate symbolized the union of two powerful nations in the marriage of King Henry the VIII of England and Katherine of Aragon of Spain.  The joy didn't last long and but the beauty of the rose and pomegranate can still be found in manuscripts, architecture, jewelry and other artworks of the time.  It has proven to be a popular motif and was chosen by Inspirations Magazine as the "handpicked" design for Issue #105.  The kit for this project is available at:

Filigree Heart

5 February 2020

Sometimes things happen by happy coincidence.  I was trying to put together a simple beginner class in metal thread and it got out of hand... so a two day project instead.  The coincidence is that it happened so close to Valentine's Day.  It goes out to all the extra special women who have brought joy to my life through their love of stitch.  To Catherine, Merydie, Jayne, Pat and Heather...  And to everyone who finds and shares

ad partum gaudium cum acu et filo

Time passes so quickly when you're stitching

1 February 2020

What better way is there to pass a long, cold and dreary winter?  I haven't settled on a name for this blue and green, silk and metal thread flower.  When I do it will go onto the workshop page with a few more details.   I've designed and framed up three more projects, all ready to go.  Spring will be here in no time!

The Old Mill

21 January 2020

This beautiful wool and silk cross stitch picture was embroidered by my great grandfather.  It had come to Canada when the family emigrated in 1912, but had been rolled up in a draw and forgotten for many years.  My grandmother wrote the card and attached it to the back when it was finally framed in 1972.

Not quite there...

17 January 2020

The Tudor rose is well on its way, one more day and it will be done.  There are some odd combinations of leaf colours, but changing colours makes the stitching more interesting.  It will be quite stunning when the silver highlights are in place.

Just finished

13 January 2020

The small version of the honeysuckle is very pretty. Now on to the large version of the rose. Check back on Friday to see if I can get it done!

On my list of things to do

11 January 2020

The Queen's Needle Case project for the EAC Seminar 2020 in Halifax has been given the green light, so now the work on the project kits can commence.  

Also, the third and final project in the 16th century botanical series based on the wood cuts in Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues "La clef des champs" is now on the workshops page.  If you have any questions about Marigold, or any of the projects, please email [email protected]

So close...

10 January 2020

Not quite done, just some outlining to go but it worked up beautifully, much better in real life than this picture!  Look for the detail images and a little more information on the workshops page this weekend.

Happily back to work 

6 January 2020

The Le Moyne marigold is finally back on the trestles and is working up quite well.  The goal is to have it finished by the end of the week, then on to the third Bacton flower.  I had thought to do the foxgloves but maybe the Tudor rose would be a better choice?

A new workshop has been added 

27 December


If you are interested in learning all about St. Faith's historic treasure, the Bacton Altar Cloth, please see the information added to the workshops page and email [email protected] for further details.

Bacton Altar Cloth: St. Faith's Elizabethan Treasure

19 December


I'm just putting the final stitches into the Bacton Marigold. I have also been working on the course outline. There is so much more to this treasure than one might at first expect, so the class will cover aspects of history, fashion, literature and art as well as the all important embroidery.  Detailed information about the two day course"The Bacton Altar Cloth: St. Faith's Embroidered Elizabethan Treasure"  will be posted on the Workshops page very soon.  

Sampler Sundays with Gary and Vonna

18 December


Lately, I’ve really enjoyed listening to We Talk Fiber while I stitch. Vonna and Gary have been exploring the history of Samplers and it has been very informative. Historically, stitched samplers included motifs, illustrations, stitches and text relevant to the circumstances of the youthful stitcher who created it. 

This is a sampler of a newer generation.  It is, with her permission, based on images in my daughter’s high school sketchbooks.  The chaotic tangled design incorporates full drawings, doodles, unrelated elements of text - memes - some are personal but many are recognizeable to youth in the first decades of the 21st century.

Bacton and Lemoyne Marigolds

13 December


It's been a busy couple of weeks with very little time for stitching.  Moving into the studio is a slow process.  I have found a little time to experiment with the Le Moyne and the second Bacton motif is also underway.   I like to work on two projects at once.  If I get into a problem with one, I can always take a break and stitch on the other.   

More news about the Broderers' Crown

8 December


The most recent article will be published in issue 16 of Medieval Clothing and Textiles, a journal published by Boydell and Brewer in April 2020.  The cover of this issue features a detailed colour illustration of one of the Broderers' original embroidered garlands.  The article includes a history of the election garland tradition, an account of the reproduction process supplemented by several photographs and diagrams, and a survey of other extant embroidered livery company garlands.  For more information about this issue and its contents, please go to Boydell and Brewer's website, look for the series Medieval Clothing and Textiles, then find issue 16.  There are many more articles that may be of interest including one on the Bayeux Tapestry.

A qualified success

4 December


After soaking the cloth for a day in tepid water, I was able to remove the larger areas of dried glue quite easily.  The thinner edges were a little more stubborn and required a bit of encouragement.   Where the glue had seeped under stitches, it needed to be removed carefully with tweezers.  The cloth soaked for about 48 hours and lost a bit of its vibrant colour but that was probably due to the novice dyer - my first and only attempt - not knowing how to fix the dye properly.  Lesson learned though - keep a very tidy workspace and put the glue away as soon as it's done with! 


2 December


Jade R is a highly recommended conservation quality glue and I used it in constructing the Broderers' Crown. I recently used it to put together the Dove ornament and very carelessly left it on the desk.  It tipped over and leaked copiously onto a piece of hand dyed and stitched cotton.  I didn't notice until a few days later when it was quite dry.  Now I will find out just how removeable it is...


28 November 2019

Selecting the colours for the project is always the most difficult part of the design.  As a rule, the colours required are rarely on hand. However, the marigold seems to be the exception.  Experimenting with the layering of metal and silk is next...

More project design

25 November 2019

The new studio/classroom is under construction and should be in use by the new year.  While it's still underway, new projects are being prepared so that through the long, cold, snowy winter, embroidery will be the priority.   This is a detail of the latest design in progress will be stitched in the same layering and applique technique as used on the Broderers' Crown - invenire gaudium.


21 November 2019

The third and last flower in the series based on Le Moyne's "La clef des champs" is the French Marigold.  The first step is to sketch the outline in pencil.  Next, a line drawing will be developed using graphics software so it can be manipulated to record stitches and threads in a format that is easily revised.  The other flowers in this embroidered triptych are the Eglantine (to be taught at BATB) and the Sweet Pea which will appear in Issue 105 of Inspirations Magazine).

A sprig of Pansy

19 November 2019

The pansy is finally finished and it stitched up beautifully.  Instead of the silver chamblet fabric the 16th century embroidery was worked on, a plain ribbed silk fabric was used for the ground.  Of course, one of the details that makes the original recognized as a garment worthy of Elizabeth I, is the silver woven into the cloth.  By adding touches of silver plate the modern reproduction sparkles too - not as much as the original, but it is still very eye catching.

A sprig of Pansy

13 November 2019

The pansy is working up very nicely, the colours are vibrant and the little fly adds a touch of whimsey.  Highlights of gold and silver provide some sparkle.

Remembrance Day 2019

My Aunt was a WWII veteran

Lt Col HJT Sloan (1917-2016)

On the 60th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands, a surprise viewing of the Bouquet of Remembrance and Celebration in its new home at Het Loo Palace

My Dad was a WWII veteran

WST Sloan (1920-2018)

He served as a coder on the HMCS Morden. The Morden had a reputation for rescuing survivors of sunken or sinking ships. During the nine month period September 1942 to June 1943, Morden rescued 357 shipwrecked souls from the Atlantic.  A talented watercolour artist, he painted a collection of ships from the Canadian Navy.

Liberation 75

9 November 2019

Just recently, someone reminded me that 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian soldiers in May 1945. 

During the war, the Netherlands Royal Family found refuge in Ottawa where Princess Margriet was born. In gratitude, the Royal family began to gift the City of Ottawa with thousands of tulip bulbs every year and the annual Tulip Festival was born in 1952. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the festival, a permanent sculpture of 50 golden tulips was presented to Princess Margriet in “Remembrance and Celebration”.

This unique sculpture was designed and engineered by artist Merydie Fjarlie.  It was stitched by Merydie and a dedicated team of skilled embroiderers over a period of 16 months. Each beautiful tulip was decorated with motifs embroidered in gold threads using the traditional technique of gold work.

Below are two of the fifty individually embroidered blooms, the torch and the poppy and an excerpt of John McCrae's 1915 poem, 

"In Flanders Fields".

Take up our quarrel with the foe

To you with failing hands we throw

The torch; be it yours to hold it high

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders Fields.

A sprig of Pansy

7 November 2019

We have started the  new series with a line drawing of the P​ansy motif as it appears on the skirt panel with a couple of flies and a butterfly.  The pansy was a popular flower during Elizabeth's reign, it was also known as heartsease.  The technique used for the flowers is a seed stitch in silk thread blended to create the delicate shading.  Some petals are highlighted with gold passing in chain stitch.  The insects are, for the most part, encroaching satin stitch with details in straight stitches.

The Lost Dress of Elizabeth I

5 November 2019

In celebration of the new exhibition at Hampton Court featuring the Lost Dress of Elizabeth I, we have decide to create a series of embroideries based on the motifs appearing on the panel.  Butterflies, birds, animals and even sea creatures feature prominently.  We'll keep you posted on our progress.

Just finished

4 November 2019

The Peace Dove will appear in Inspirations Magazine Issue 108, November 2020.  White silk, bright check, plate and passing threads in silver with Swarovski crystals and touches of blue.