It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to do even a full day craft course, let alone a multi-day one which is always a great treat. As you can probably guess from the number of RSN Day Classes and other pieces I’ve done I find taught classes and workshops really a lot of fun. Thankfully for even what used to be obscure crafts, the international sharing brought around by the internet has made people aware of some of the beautiful work and techniques out there, and I suspect encouraged the publication of ever more specialist texts.
This Goldwork & Silk Shading Monogram was a Royal School of Needlework day class (well, two day class would be more accurate) that I took nearly two years ago! The good news is that it does seem to still be running at Hampton Court and possibly some of the satellites so if you do feel inspired maybe there is still chance to catch it.
As well as the more intensive embroidery qualifications, the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) runs regular day classes as a way for people to try new techniques or get an insight into what it is like to study with one of the world’s most prestigious hand embroidery schools. Occasionally, the RSN teams up with other organisations to put on special classes on either different themes or different skills.
Recently, the RSN ran a series of classes at the Fashion Museum in Bath, with designs based on items on exhibition there. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Needlelace day class, stitching a small butterfly/dragonfly/questionable insect as inspired by a motif on an embroidered Elizabethan woman’s waistcoat.
Silk shading is a wonderful technique, often better known as ‘thread painting’ for the huge complexity of colours and shading it can involves, for creating very lifelike pictures. Typical subjects are the obligatory twee flowers and wildlife. Bonus points if they wouldn’t look out of place in an English country garden.
Although silk shading is one of the techniques covered in the RSN’s Certificate course, I had already signed up for this day course before I’d decided to do the Certificate and figured there’s no such thing as too much stitching!
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I don’t know how I’d managed to miss this fantastic institution on last year’s visit to California, but just in case all the wonderful quilt stores haven’t wowed you, or the amazing world of lace, San Francisco has yet another gem very well hidden away on top of Tiffanies, the SF School of Needlework & Design.
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It’s New Year’s Eve and traditionally the time for decrying all the disasters and misery of the past year and making promising about slinking into the next year with perfectly coiffured hair, two dress sizes smaller, speaking six new languages whilst simultaneously completing an MBA and running an ultramarathon.
I’m not entirely sure whether to write 2016 off as a year of disastrous underachievement. There are still five billion works in progress that haven’t really progressed as much as they should, there are still projects and designs that haven’t made it off the pages of sketchbooks and the stash monster looks like it may be making territorial gains.
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When one of my friends announced she was getting married, I knew I wanted to do something special and handmade for her present. When I saw Sophie Long’s ‘Roses Heart’ embroidery kit, I knew I’d found the perfect project.
I first tried ribbon embroidery at one of Sophie Long’s day classes (working on a larger ribbon heart design) and immediately fell in love with the technique. It looks incredibly effective and grows very quickly, ideal for making gifts to a short deadline. Another bonus of ribbon embroidery is you don’t need to obsess over every stitch; if you accidentally fold or twist the ribbon when making flowers, it just adds some variety to their texture and structure rather than looking like a mistake.
One thing I wasn’t expecting to see when I check my emails this weekend was one from Bluprint, the online ‘crafting’ website, announce its imminent closure. Bluprint is what Craftsy came to be following its takeover by NBCUniversal.
I’ve been debating for a while when would be a good time to publish several of my posts that have been languishing from trips I took back when international travel was still a routine part of my job. As things tentatively start to open up, in those countries at least, perhaps now is a good time to give some airtime to two truly excellent fabric stores in Italy.
After my burst of inspiration to finish the embroidery for my canvaswork piece, I ended up signing up to a few craft courses, one on sock knitting, the other on lace embroidery, to try and learn a few new things. A matter of days later, everything was cancelled, but I did at least have the chance to go to a class and, as for the rest, we’ll try again later…