The long awaited RSN Jacobean Crewelwork class is finally underway, and like so many others before me, I have been so immersed in the work that there has been little time to blog. So let’s start with a view from the classroom window.

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The very fact that I am getting to stitch inside Hampton Court Place thrills me so much. As I walk in and out each day, some times through very circuitous routes, I am gradually learning my way around. Having my lunch in the grounds each day is also another opportunity to explore.

There are a total of 6 students in my class, along with one Tutor (Lisa Bilby) and one Future Tutor assistant (Nikki Fairhurst).  I consider myself very lucky to be in this smaller class as there are 30 students in total undertaking the Intensive Jacobean Crewelwork Module and, due to the numbers attending this year, the RSN actually have 3 classrooms running concurrently with each of the other two classrooms having 12 students, two tutors and one assistant. The students have come from all around the world as well as locally, and there are 28 women and 2 men.

I felt I was reasonably well prepared for the class – with grateful thanks to those who have blogged about their experiences. I had my design mostly ready and this was approved with only a few small suggestions for additional elements.

The days absolutely fly past and I find myself amazed when the end of the day arrives as it feels as if I have just arrived. Officially the teaching period each day is from 10 am to 4 pm with a tea room break for elevenses, and a lunch break at 1 pm. Homework is set individually and expected to be completed each night.  I will try give you a short synopsis of the days activities, but so much is going on everyday that my mind is a whirl by the evening.

Day 1

Drawing up and having approved a final design, choosing colours of Appleton’s yarn, making multiple copies of the design, using one copy to produce a colour plan, another copy for a stitch plan, and finally producing a ‘clean’ copy and turning it into a pricking. We also stretched our fabric ( provided in the starter kit)  on to the Very Large slate frame. This involved a lot of hand sewing with strong buttonhole thread, and a very large and sharp Bracing needle for stitching the string down between the sides of the work and the frame.

 Day 2

Tensioning the fabric in the frame ( somewhat tight ), pouncing the picking, hand painting with a fine brush over the pounced dots  (the most nerve wracking thing so far), brushing and banging away the excess pounce. Working through the design to determine which areas to work first and which later. The RSN favours completing the larger areas and lower layers such as trellis work first. Then finally, after really tightly tensioning up the fabric in the frame, applying the first stitches to the design on the fabric.

Day 3 and Day 4.

The Tutors want to be sure that each stitch has been individually demonstrated to us, so they move around the students discussing the stitches, the placement, the best way of working. Demonstrating is done either on either the actual work or perhaps sampling over on the edge of the piece. Remember that everyone has an individual and different design. As student our work in the class is both completing areas of stitching and leaning more stitches. Home work is to complete any areas of stitching we have commenced or stitch where the same stitch occurs elsewhere in the design.

The real fun is getting the large slate frame to and from home. Thankfully the weather has been fine and sunny so I have not had to worry about rain. I had made a padded cloth Wrap for my frame before I came to the class and this has proved invaluable in making it easy to transport my frame and work back and forth. It has been so popular that other student have resorted to buying Iorning board covers ( these are available in one of the Palace gift shops) to emulate the effect of the wrap.  In a later blog I will give details of the dimensions etc.

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