…and just like that it is the First Day of Spring

Where have the first three months of the year gone? With all of the madness going in around us I think it is time to take a deep breath and try to see the brighter side. For me it is that there will be even more time for stitching.

Unfortunately, as of Wednesday afternoon, the Royal School of Needlework has had to close our classroom, so for the remainder of this term we have moved to online classes. We will each be working from home, using online groups to keep in contact, and our brave tutors are going to try to inspire and keep us moving forward to complete the pieces that are currently underway. It’s a whole new world for both the students and the RSN, but for an institution that will be soon celebrating its 150th year, what is a new challenge but an opportunity to change and grow.

The major piece that I am currently working is a shaded Blackwork stitched portrait. Blackwork can be so very time consuming and I am quickly realising that this piece is likely to take a lot longer than any other I have completed so far on this course – yes even longer than that pesky Goldwork I just finished. I am learning so much with this piece, including that the portrait I have chosen to stitch contains all of the elements that make getting a realistic and lifelike portrait particularly difficult. Along with the expected eyes, nose, lips and hair, my portrait includes glasses, teeth, an ear with earring, floral clothing, and a lovely network of character lines across the face. I did set myself a challenge!

I am doing a lot of stitch sampling and then reconsidering/redoing constantly in an effort to get all of these elements to look just right.

Stitch sampling for Lips and Teeth, an Ear, and Eyes and Glasses

Along with the stitching that fills so much of my day I had been looking forward to a family visitor and getting to catch-up, but like for so many others, that is not going to be possible now.

I am still trying to take in some of the beautiful countryside around this part of the U.K. and to celebrate Spring here are some photos from the gardens at Hampton Court Palace.

The Palace has also closed its doors to visitors as of today, but the gardens will remain open and provide a wonderful place to breathe some fresh air – I am so lucky to live near here and have this to escape to. I hope you are enjoying your local open spaces as well.

Take care and stay well.

By Sally

Passionate embroiderer who loves to learn and pass on fine hand embroidery skills.


  1. If anyone can do it, you can! Your trial pieces look really good! Look forward to seeing the finished piece! Who would have thought you’d be doing everything remotely, right there beside the RSN! So fortunate you are so well set up “at home”. Enjoy the gardens. My orchids have come out in full bloom! A joy to behold especially now that we have to stay home.
    How the world has changed. Take care. V

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Incredible lips Sally and the eyes looked at me very discerningly. I was reading about Queen Victoria , her daughter and the RSN just yesterday. And then your blog highlighted, as you say, big changes for the tutors. It is wonderful that you have the gardens and parks in Spring nearby. Stay well and safe. Sounds like you won’t be bored . Kindest regards, Joanne

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  3. It is very interesting to hear of the way in which the RSN will cope with its classes with all the restrictions now in place because of the virus. I loved your photos of all my favourite spring flowers in the garden and I’m so pleased that you are able to walk in the gardens and enjoy it all. Your embroidery for the Blackwork section of the course is shaping up so well. Lovely to hear from you. Keep well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love all your work Sally, but this Blackwork is something else! So glad that the Hampton Court gardens are still open; our beaches closed at midnight last night, can you believe it. One day we will all have time together, it’s just a surreal time at the moment for everyone. xx

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