Stay the course …

I realise that it has been some time since I updated this blog but what can I say other than another complete lockdown, Christmas, some snow (yeah says the girl from the tropics), and then just like that the next term began. What a year 2020 was! I think I will choose to remember it as the year I had only one haircut.

I did receive a lovely ‘12 days of Christmas box’ as a Christmas gift. This contained 12 beautifully packaged individual small stitch projects each incorporating lovely antique linen and little embroidered elements, all created by Niki Franklin at ‘The Stitchery’. I had thought that I might have time to do some recreational stitching on these during the Christmas break but I actually only managed to start the first – a sweet little winter Robin – before having to return to my assessed embroideries. I will get them finished sometime I am sure.

I did have to make a huge decision over the Christmas break – should I abandon the 230+ hours that I had already put into ‘that box’ and start over again? You know how sometimes a piece just doesn’t work, it can look good on paper, you think it is coming along well, then all of a sudden you hit a point when you just know it isn’t right. Well ‘that box’ (which I wrote about in my last post) was it for me. Basically I had made it just to complicated, and rather than digging a deeper hole it was time to start again. So a new design, which still needed to meet the brief, a simpler approach and another 179 hours and ‘Une boîte de clair de lune’ or my ‘Box of Moonlight’ is done. I embroidered a Blue Moon scene across the lid as I don’t expect to be making one of these again!

Une boîte de clair de lune
A peek inside…

Another of assessed pieces I have been working on is a Tapestry Silkshading portrait. This is a Long and Short silkshading technique that works particularly well for drapery – that is fabric with folds. Traditionally this style of stitching widely used in ecclesiastical work. The RSN Future Tutors brief requires a figure with face, hair, hands, and possibly feet dressed in an outfit that has drapery and is in total about 12cm high. You may have realised by now that I like to have some connection to the subjects I chose to embroider, so for this piece I have brought together a combination of photos of my lovely niece in her high school graduation gown. By taking the upper part from one photo and the lower half from another I managed to create an image that met the requirements of the brief and still managed to show off both her lovely face and gown. The challenge then was to actually make my embroidery look like her, as this technique can often result in fairly cartoonish looking results. The image is entirely stitched in one strand of DMC stranded cotton and is another of those techniques that takes a long time to complete even a very small area. I am getting close to finishing this, just need to add eyebrows and eyelashes and other small details.

The techniques that I am currently working on include a Stumpwork figure and a Coronation Goldwork piece. The coronation goldwork brief requires us to select elements from the Queen’s, or Queen Mothers, Robes of Estate and work these in highly raised gold metal threads. The original robes were worked at the Royal School of Needlework and this is one of the very traditional techniques we learn. I am working through the design, drawing, and sampling elements of both techniques and plan to share more of these in my next post.

As we creep ever closer to the 12 months of lockdown milestone (or house arrest as my husband calls it, cause he can have a rest every day) it has made me grateful that I have been able to fill my time with stitching that keeps both my mind and my hands busy. Till next time …..

By Sally

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


  1. Oh my goodness, Sally! As if you don’t have enough to do! The outcome is spectacular! What a beautiful box!
    The draped figure looks lovely too. Can’t wait to see it all finished!
    We do miss your blogs but understand that you have a great deal to get done – and to a very high standard!
    I am enjoying the RSN Webinars. Seeing part of the collection and being filled in on techniques used etc is really special! It also reminds me of you plugging away at your pieces, far away! Keep up the good work. We look forward to having you back amongst us! Keep well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sally, as usual your work looks stunning! Thank you for sharing it with us. I still can’t believe that most of your time in the UK has been in lockdown. And I get the “house arrest”, with or without a rest, that must be what it feels like. You two are making the best of it. With love, Dee. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your box looks amazing, though it must have been a terrible decision to have to make to start again! Tapestry shading is something that has always intrigued me. Your piece as always looks lovely. It’s good to hear you are keeping safe and well in these challenging times.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Sally,

    Lovely to see what you have been doing during house arrest. Love that description! Also good to know you are keeping safe.

    Best regards Jennie

    On Sat, 13 Feb 2021 at 1:53 pm, Stitched up with Thread wrote:

    > Sally posted: ” I realise that it has been some time since I updated this > blog but what can I say other than another complete lockdown, Christmas, > some snow (yeah says the girl from the tropics), and then just like that > the next term began. What a year 2020 was! I think” >

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful to hear more about your course and how you are managing. I simply do not know how you do manage to fit all this stitching in, and then to redo your box because you were not happy with it! Phenomenal.
    I also enjoyed seeing your profile in the ASN Facebook page.
    We miss you at the guild but feel so proud that you are doing this wonderful course at RSN. Good Luck and love. Helen.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a brave decision to stop a project after so long and put it aside. It’s so hard sometimes but absolutely the right thing to do if that’s what your gut feeling tells you. The second box is lovely too and I love your the Southern Cross nod on the top!

    Liked by 1 person

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