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A Stitch-a-Long for MH 1656 – My Beloved’s Gift

I will be leading a Stitch-a-Long for the beautiful band sampler MH 1656 – My Beloved’s Gift. The SAL will start in November and I will be posting a band a month. Whilst this will not be a workshop as such,  I will be sharing tips and tricks along the way and helping those stitching with me. For more information about the sampler please visit her webpage HERE

I will not be setting up a separate Facebook Page but will post each month in Our Samplers Years and the HATS Facebook page and the HATS blog on our website.

AVAS d’Alger & a 100/3 conversion for higher counts of linen.


Bathya – a reversible band sampler

 

I am so thrilled to present to my stitching sisters my finish of the reversible band sampler “Bathya” (you will need to click on the photos for them to open fully).

Every single stitch has been a joy. To achieve a truly reversible finish much thought and planning has had to go into each band. It has been like a jigsaw puzzle. A brain challenge !! However, once the stitch path was worked out my needle flew.

Bathya is a very special sampler with an amazing history -please see this video where Witney Antiques talk about the sampler shortly into the film.

She is also featured in many reference books.

Would you like learn how I stitched Bathya?

I will only be teaching Bathya on three occasions – the first in November at Fobbles in Cumbria, England.

As soon as the workshop was announced it was immediately oversubscribed so I will be running a back to back workshop. There are a handful of places left on Monday/Tuesday, November 4th/5th, 2018. Contact Beverley Trembath sooner rather than later if you are interested in attending.

The only other occasion I will be teaching Bathya is on a visit to the US probably in June 2019. This will be at Sassy Jacks Stitchery and The Attic Needleworks.

Bathya stitched her sampler with 15 vibrant shades of silks, ingeniously devising stitch patterns and motifs. These colours are taken from the front !!!

There is so much to delight in her sampler. She used a wide repertoire of stitches of varying intricacy. The stitches include two different versions of reversible cross stitch; one forms a cross on the reverse with a vertical stitch on the left and the other a four sided stitch on the reverse.

She also used double back stitch and diagonal double back stitch. These stitches appear plaited from the front and as two parallel rows of back stitch on the reverse, you might know them as closed herringbone.

Other stitches used were double sided Italian stitch; alternating double back stitch in groups of three, which represents the Trinity; detached buttonhole; french knots and satin stitch.

Bathya’s whitework bands are particularly elegant. Narrow whitework bands were an important part of a stitcher’s repertoire, they were used on collar bands both as an adornment and as stiffening so that the collars would stand proud.

If you would like to learn the techniques needed to re-create this stunning sampler please contact either:

Beverley at Fobbles in the UK
Kimberly Young at Sassy Jacks Stitchery in North Carolina
Jean Lea at The Attic Needleworks in Arizona


A forthcoming workshop

I will be at Sassy Jacks Stitchery in North Carolins teaching three x 2 day workshops on August 16/17, 18/19 & 21/21. This informal “off the cuff” video talks about the sampler and the workshop. There are 1 or 2 places still available.

 


Are you sitting comfortably?

This morning we have a post from Tom Suddes, a golfing friend of my husband. During Tom’s naval career he was known as “Snaps” as he was the Queen’s official photographer when on board the Royal Yacht Brittania.

Tom is a great dinner party guest as he has some wonderful tales to keep us all entertained. The first time I met him and was seated next to him he was surprised when rather than asking him about the Queen and the Royal family I asked him about his “housewife”.

This is what he told me in his own words together with another story that touched me.

“I joined the Navy to see the world, what did we do? We learned to sew!”

I joined the Royal Navy in 1964 when I was 15 years and 1 month old, wow what an adventure!


I went first to HMS GANGES, a boys training establishment of 2000 boys on the River Stour near Harwich. For the next 12 months our time was divided between learning a trade, studying Maths, English, Mechanics and Naval History, but the best bits were playing sport, sailing and pulling (a naval term for rowing). This was great fun, although the training was very strict with little opportunity not to achieve.

On day two of this great adventure, we were introduced to washing our clothes by hand and began our instruction in sewing, yes sewing! Not what we expected. We were issued with our kit and every item was marked in black or white ink to ensure we didn’t ‘lose’ anything. Amongst the items issued, perhaps most unusual was the ‘housewife’, a small blue rolled-up piece of cotton with pockets containing all our sewing kit, complete with needles, thread and thimble.


So, we joined the Royal Navy and our first task was to chain stitch over our names on the housewife, using red embroidery cotton. At first this tedious task seemed silly and insignificant. We were expecting to handle fire arms, learn to march and throw ourselves into REAL military activities. But sewing?

This delicate work had to pass inspection, with very few first attempts meeting the high standard demanded by the instructor, a World War II veteran Chief Petty Officer who knew every trick in the book (and a few more besides!). As any seamstress will know, the ‘needlework’ demanded patience and great attention to fine detail. On hindsight, it is obvious that it was a cunning test to see who could use their hands, had the patience to tackle something new and different, to achieve the unthinkable – perfectly crafted chain stitch! You might think some would lose interest or give up but everyone was keen to succeed and the pressure was on; with needle in hand we persevered and eventually passed the test.

Some were hampered from the start, I remember one messmate by the name of Van Der Westhuizen. He was one of the smallest in the class and yet his name tallies were so long they were in two rows! At the same time what would ‘J Day’ do once he completed the task in record time? Would he volunteer to help his fellow mess mate? (Team spirit, an essential element to naval ethos and military life was never far away).

52 years later I still have my precious housewife with a number of rusty needles and little cotton, but no buttons left, The housewife is intact and I still have the thimble; the red chain stitching is still there too!!

“My first night away from home”

Picture the scene, some 40 young, 15 year old boys away from home, most for the first time, lying in single beds arranged in perfect line down both sides of the dormitory style mess deck. The floor is highly polished parquet tiles, there is a silver polished dustbin (never used) in the centre of the room, and everything is stowed away ship shape and ‘Bristol fashion’.

We had already received instructions on how to make our beds. White cotton sheets were to be fitted with pristine hospital corners, topped with squared off pillow cases, ‘itchy’ wool blankets that probably came off the Mary Rose, and all covered with an attractive blue and white counterpane sporting a large naval anchor embroidered in the centre (standard RN issue).

Our instructor, now in the twilight of his career, immaculately dressed in full naval uniform and cap is slowly pacing around the mess deck speaking in a loud, strong voice, complete with cockney accent. He is listing clear, concise instruction for tomorrow morning and what he demands of us.

We are lying on our backs, sheets pulled up to our chins, hands and arms by our sides, like sardines in a tin we are lying almost ‘to attention’ in bed. We hang on the instructors every word, keen to miss nothing, there is a great deal of anticipation in the air, we have just joined the Royal Navy.

“…and tomorrow morning you will awake at 0600 to ‘Call the Hands’ where you will go to the wash room to shave, shower and then dress in the Number 8 uniform you have just been issued with this evening. Having dressed, you will muster outside the mess deck on the parade ground ready for my inspection at 0630 before going to breakfast…..” boomed the Chief Petty officer with his imperious tone. But as he continued his dialogue, pacing around the room something caught his beady eye and his stopped in his stride……

”you Boy, what’s your name lad?” Said the instructor in a loud voice.

“Shaw, Sir” replied the startled young man, lying in bed.

“Shaw, eh?, well Shaw where’s your sheets and pillow case?”

Shaw looked shocked and replied in a weak, timid voice “Sheets Sir?”

“Yes, my son, your sheets and pillowcase, don’t you use sheets and pillowcases at home Shaw?” continued the Instructor with his intimidating voice and Cockney accent.

“No Sir” replied Shaw “we don’t have any at home”. At this point I have to highlight that some boys who joined the RN in the mid 1960’s were often from poor homes, orphanages and had joined the Service hoping to find ‘a family.’

Everyone in the mess deck is staring at Shaw and the instructor, thinking he must be in deep trouble, Day 1 and already not following instructions. I am certain the Instructor is bound to give him a clip ‘round the ear, take him outside or have some other form of ‘private conversation’.

I lie in great anticipation, eyes popping out like chapel hat pegs, waiting for the first ‘lesson’ in military training.

“Right Shaw, get out of bed” replied the instructor, but this time his voice was soft, friendly, encouraging and sympathetic.

We all anticipated the worst for Shaw. HMS GANGES had a reputation for being a very disciplined training establishment with the highest standards of behaviour and conduct.

But no; what followed was a brilliant lesson in HR which I remember to this day and which I took with me, and used, throughout my 46 years service.

“Right son” continued the Instructor, in a friendly, almost hushed and fatherly tone, “this is what we do every night when we make our beds, first you take a white sheet and put it on the bottom, like this, then on top you put another sheet. After one week, we take the bottom sheet off and wash it by hand. Don’t you worry about that, I’ll show you how to do that later. Then you put the top sheet on the bottom and the third spare sheet you have, that goes on the top, nice and clean like. OK?”

“Yes Sir” replied Shaw nervously.

“Then we put the pillow in this pillow case, makes it nice and soft on your face.” The Instructor continued to make the bed adding the itchy wool blankets and counterpane, tucking in the corners and edges, just so.

Shaw stands, dressed in his newly issued naval pyjamas, motionless but following the fatherly instructions.

“Now then my son, you just slip into your bed and see what it feels like”.

Shaw obeys and immediately a smile comes to his thin, pale face.

“Now how does that feel like? Nice and soft, better than those rough blankets, eh?” Invited the instructor.

“Yes Sir”

“Well now Shaw, every time you make your bed, you do it just as I showed you, and you and I will get along just fine, do you understand son?”

“Yes Sir”

And in a flash it was back to business.

“Right boys he resounded! Now, about tomorrow morning, when you muster on the parade ground…….” and off he went, back into auto, back into his strong, commanding voice, walking around the mess deck continuing his instructions one after the other.

We couldn’t believe our ears. Not at all what we expected to happen. Here I saw at first hand this experienced, long serving war veteran looking for the first opportunity to give a struggling beginner a helping hand. Clear instructions, followed by a simple demonstration and guidance for the future, superb.

I don’t know what happened to Shaw, whether he stayed in the Service or left for pastures greener. But, on reflection those first months of training were littered with other examples of good leadership, training and care. How lucky I was. Here is a picture of a typical messdeck at HMS GANGES in 1964.

 


Book Review

We were thrilled when we learnt that Nancy Nicholson was bringing out a new book called “Modern Folk Embroidery” published by David and Charles, and are quite privileged to see a preview of it.

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What a wonderful book it is, jammed packed with 30 inspirational projects including pin cushions, samplers pictures, cushions and a lovely folk doll that any child would love to own.

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It contains instructions of all the tools and materials needed to complete these wonderful projects. A very easy to understand Stitch Library of all the stitches needed to complete the projects.img_2389

 

What I like about the stitch library is that the stitches are all contained within each stitch family e.g. Button Hole Stitch Family. Each family of stitches shows drawings of stitches in that particular family along with beautiful photos of examples from the book where the stitches are used.

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All the projects in the book have full step by step instructions plus further suggestions that could be made by using other stitches in the book.

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What I also like is that the book also contains all the templates needed to complete each project at the end of the book.

Overall it is a wonderful book of 130 pages that every needlewoman would love to have amongst her craft books and they will find many projects that they would love to make. It would make a wonderful present for yourself or a wonderful Christmas present for friends.

Available in the UK from November 16th and the US from November 24th it can be pre-ordered from Amazon or other book sellers and needlework stores.

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A book review – Early Style Hardanger by Yvette Stanton

Very few of us become proficient at a craft by instinct. If we wish to learn we need to find out as much as we can about the materials we need; the tools to use and the correct way to use them. Needlework is not just a question of a needle and some thread, but of which needle and what kind of thread, and how to use them once chosen. There are a multitude of stitches and techniques to discover and master.

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I am a self taught needleworker and through Yvette’s earlier books I have become competent in Hardanger,  whitework and drawn thread work. I have come to appreciate the simple elegance of white on white. When there is no colour to distract, the pattern and texture formed by the stitching really comes to the fore.

I have been eagerly awaiting delivery of Yvette Stanton’s new book “Early Style Hardanger” since its publication was announced, and I have not been disappointed. This is a must have book for a needleworker’s library.

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Normally I dip into books but I have been totally enthralled from the 1st to the 160th page, all of which are packed with over 1500 colour photos and diagrams.

There is so much to enjoy including a fascinating section on the history of hardanger. I found the chapter comparing the early style Hardanger and the modern day version particularly interesting. Early-style Hardanger is quite distinct from contemporary Hardanger. This historical style of embroidery has traditionally been used on the women’s clothing in the Hardangerfjord region, and was designed to emulate needle-made lace of the 1600s and 1700s.

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The Projects chapter has 10 gorgeous projects that tempt. The small projects make wonderful learning pieces culminating in a traditional apron. The projects have well written finishing instructions and the pattern sheets come in a separate pack at the back on the book.

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The section on “Stitches and Techniques”  opens with “where to start” which explains how to read a chart, the stitching order and how to find the starting point, all important basics that can often be overlooked.

Yvette guides the reader through this comprehensive section with right and left handed step by step stitch and technique instructions that are extremely clear and easy to follow supplemented by well drawn out illustrations.

Early Style Hardanger is now one of my “go-to” stitch reference books and can be found on my “special shelf” within arm’s reach of my stitching station.

The book is now available through needlework stores, and direct from  YVETTE.

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Yvette Stanton is the publisher and designer behind Vetty Creations. Yvette is a highly respected tutor accredited by the Embroiderers Guild of NSW, and teaches embroidery classes, specialising in whitework at shops and guild groups around Australia.

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A Visit – Part 2

Yesterday we looked at church vestments and the work of the Truro Cathedral’s Sewing Guild. The guild also cares for the altar cloths at the Cathedral.

Altar cloths are  used by many religious groups as a sign of respect towards the holiness of the altar, as in the Catholic Church.

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Cloths can also be used to protect the altar surface or to beautify the altar.

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The use of altar-cloths goes back to the early centuries of the Roman Catholic Church. By the fourth century, during the celebration of Holy Communion, the altar was covered with a white linen cloth. Symbolically, the cloths represent the purity and the devotion of God’s Faithful, and the linens in which the body of Christ was wrapped when he was laid in the tomb.

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In the Roman Catholic Church the custom of using three altar-cloths began in the ninth century. The reason  being that if the Precious Blood should by accident be spilt it might be absorbed by the altar-cloths before it reached the altar-stone. There are four symbolic colors: red, white, violet and green, while black is sometimes used for funerals.

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Red symbolizes the color of fire to represent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and times when the work of the Holy Spirit is emphasized. During Holy Week it represents the blood of Christ. Red is also used for ordinations, church anniversaries and civil observances such as Memorial Day and Thanksgiving.

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At Truro Cathedral there is a magnificent red altar cloth “The Angels and the Censer” which I was able to study in close detail on my visit.

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I am trying to find out more about the altar cloth, when it was made and who did the originally embroidery. I will be visiting the Courtney Library shortly to carry out some further research. I do, however, know that the altar cloth was repaired in more recent years by Sheila Landi of The Landi Company.

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If you are interested in textile conservation Landi’s book “The Textile Conservator’s Manual” is worth adding to your library.

Truro Cathedral has some altar cloths on permanent display. (The photographs have been taken through glass)

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Besides the grandeur of the Gothic architecture and the magnificence of the stained glass windows there is much to see at the Cathedral. Tucked away in a small corner of the Cathedral next to the books of remembrance is a small sampler – on every visit I take time to read it and say a prayer.

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TRIVIA

For over nine hundred years, Cornwall was part of the Diocese of Exeter. The sheer size of that Diocese meant that the Bishop of Exeter was a rare visitor west of the Tamar, and there was a growing pressure from the leading Cornish Anglicans during the nineteenth century to create a separate diocese for Cornwall.

In 1877, after 30 years of intense lobbying, the Cornish Diocese was re-established at Truro. The Diocese of Truro covers the whole of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly plus two parishes in Devon!

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The site chosen in Truro for the Cathedral was where the Parish Church of St Mary’s stood. Since at least 1259, and probably before, there has been a Parish Church of St Mary located on this site. When Truro was chosen it was assumed that the Parish Church would be completely demolished to make way for the Cathedral. However, the architect John Loughborough Pearson, argued and eventually gained permission to keep at least part of the old Parish Church. He cleverly incorporated the South Aisle of the church into his design for the new Cathedral.

Truro Cathedral was the first cathedral to be built on a new site since Salisbury was started in 1220.

Edward White Benson was the first Bishop of Truro (1877 – 1883). He was previously Headmaster of Wellington College and then Chancellor of Lincoln Cathedral. It was his vision and energy that really established the new Diocese of Truro and the building of this wonderful Cathedral. From 1883 until his death in 1896 he was Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1880 Bishop Benson created the ‘Service of Nine Lessons and Carols’ which for over 120 years has formed part of the Cathedral’s traditional worship on Christmas Eve.

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