Crikey it’s blowing a gale and lashing rain outside, so it seems like a very good day to curl up and update the workshops on my website. Long overdue the little voice in my head is admonishing me and what can I say, for once it’s totally right. But I’m here now and have some really lovely workshops lined up over the next few months.
Firstly (and really excitingly) I’m going to be teaching in a wonderful new (to me) venue in April. I’m just thrilled to be teaching at the Wemyss School of Needlework in the tiny village of Coaltown-of-Wemyss in Fife. There are so many stories behind this wonderful school and I have a very personal connection to it as my ex mother in law Mary Birrell was ‘mistress’ at the school for 42 years. She followed in the footsteps of her great grandmother, Mary Webster, who was the very first mistress of the school when it opened in 1877. As a toddler, my daughter (and Michael, her teddy) used to spend many an afternoon there charming visitors, totally at home in the ‘skewing skool’ as she used to call it.
Stories from the Scullery
Wemyss School of Needlework, Fife
Saturday 4th April
This is a gorgeous day of ‘slow stitching’, nostalgia and sharing stories. This workshop is perfect for lovers of ‘vintage’ especially those who have childhood memories of licking cake mixture out of the mixing bowl and the smell of home baking and for those who would rather be distracted from the task of Spring Cleaning and put their time to much better use – and sew about spring cleaning
We’ll spend six glorious hours designing and creating a gorgeous textile collage inspired by old recipes and pages from my precious domestic science jotter. I’ll be raiding my supplies from my studio, The Purple Thread Shed, and will provide a fabulous selection of vintage materials for you to use throughout the day. I LOVE using old & used materials so I’ll be looking out boxes of old embroidered table linens, vintage cotton fabrics, some old quilt fragments, woollen blanket and whatever else comes to hand during my rummaging.
We’ll start the day by printing text from my jotter and recipes onto calico using an inkjet printer. If you’ve never done this before I warn you, it’s completely addictive. There are some wonderful pages to choose from, some real little gems that will bring inspiration and a real story to your piece. If you have some very special kitchen inspired handwriting such as granny’s favourite scone recipe you can, of course, bring it along to copy.
We’ll use this printed fabric as a starting point to piece together a scrappy collage of old and used fabrics. This is a lovely intuitive process and be warned – it will take much longer than you think! I’ll help you along the way and then you’ll be ready to start the lovely process of slow hand stitching.
I’ll encourage you to let this become a relaxed and organic process. I’ll show you how to highlight chosen words and phrases from your text with stitch and we can add further text using a typewriter to print on tapes. I encourage people just to start stitching. Once you get started, ideas will grow from there – I promise! I’ll help you to create balance and flow in your design through your stitching and bring all of these scrappy little patches together as one gorgeous piece.
Don’t worry if you’re not an experienced stitcher – running stitch and cross stitch are all you need but you can, of course, be more adventurous and I’ll happily share some of my favourite stitches. Neat perfect stitching is not the order of the day, a love of things old, washed and worn and making lovely personal ‘marks’ with needle and thread most definitely is!
Warning! (Who knew there would be so much warning required) Don’t for one minute expect to finish this on the day – hand stitching is really slow! However you will leave with a gorgeous project and all the ideas that you need to continue working on it in your own time at home. I’ll give you ideas for how you can hang your finished piece as it is and show you how framing will change the look completely.
Everything you need for the day is provided (apart from lunch) but if you may wish to use some of your own special bits & pieces to make your collage even more of a personal story – I’ll give you ideas of what to bring on booking.
The Restoration Yard, Dalkeith Country Park
Saturday 23rd May
With the wonderful weather we have come to expect in May (we kind of expect wonderful weather every summer don’t we? God bless us) thoughts will have well and truly turned to all things laundry. And when I say laundry I do, of course, mean sewing about laundry.
The background to your collage will be a piece of old ‘mangle cloth’ – beautiful linen fabric with that gorgeous red (or blue) stripe. If red’s not your thing, you can use plain linen or bring along a piece of your own.
Once more we’ll be inspired by domestic science notes, this time flicking the pages to those on starching, washing & ironing. There are Rules for Ironing (who knew) everything from tablecloths, to blouses to frilled pillowcases and instructions for ‘pegging out’ – I hope you knew to ‘stand with your back to the wind’! We’ll start by printing some of this rather delicious handwriting onto calico and this will become the inspiration behind your piece.
We’ll use this printed fabric as a starting point to piece together a scrappy collage of old and used fabrics. You’ll be working with a fabulous selection of old table linens and other vintage materials from my studio. By using old and used materials we are bringing their stories to the piece too!
Once you’ve created your ground you’ll start pulling it all together through the lovely process of slow hand-stitching. I’ll encourage you to let this become a relaxed and organic process using some old mending and needlework samples from my collection as inspiration. I’ll show you how to highlight chosen words and phrases from your text with stitch and how to add hand stitched ‘sketches’ to your work.
Don’t worry if you’re not an experienced stitcher – running stitch and cross stitch are all you need but you can, of course, be more adventurous. A love of all things vintage, of old, washed and worn is much more important.
You absolutely won’t finish this on the day but you’ll leave with a gorgeous project that you can stitch while you spend lazy summer days in the garden (oh there’s an idea for another workshop!)
Absolutely everything you need will be provided (apart from lunch) but I will give you some ideas of bits & pieces you could bring to create a truly personal laundry tale.
This workshop costs £70 for the day. Drop me a line to grab your space at our rather wonderful sewing table or find out more. I’ll also be teaching this workshop at Needle & Thread workshops in Lincolnshire in October – find out more.
These are just two of the workshops I’ll be teaching this year. You can check out my full programme at The Purple Thread Shed Takes to the road
I hope to see you sometime soon!