Farewell December 2017 - One door closes another opens

December 2017 was a mixture of emotions, isn't every month! It was a fond farewell to Banbury and District Embroiderers Guild and an excited hello to new collaborations in the Stitching Kitchen.

The very last meeting of the Banbury and District Embroiderers Guild was held on 19th December, I was so sad to say goodbye to the group. I know I will see many of the members as individuals again very soon I will be sorry not to have the regular monthly meetings and workshops to share ideas and for me - learn - a lot. I have been a regular with the group for a short time only two and a half years some of the members have been with the group since it started in the mid 70s and I guess that was part of the problem, one I know other branches have too. Loyal members, but most of whom have 'done their bit'. Ann Lowe our Chair had been in post over 5 years, no-one can cope with that much committee membership no matter how lovely the members are!

I totally credit the group and the interesting speakers they have invited for kick starting my textile art passion, and for where I am today, stitching in my kitchen, running workshops and now writing this blog.....who would have thought it......things change.....a lot!

It was Judith Hammond, her stitched plastic carrier bag dresses and her infectious enthusiasm which got be thinking I would like to do a lot more work with a needle and thread. She presented her textile art journey with all her sketch books and progression from concept to the plastic bag gowns which reminded me of the joy in the process. I was hooked!

A few months later and the guild were working on cushions for the Capability Brown nationwide Embroiderers Guild exhibition. Our group exhibited at the very local and although not a Capability Brown landscape a wonderful garden and grounds at Broughton Castle. I loved putting my cushions together and using some newly discovered techniques such as fabric paint printing the background fabrics and free motion machine embroidery. I asked rather shyly if my work would be good enough to exhibit and was told in no uncertain terms that this was a fully inclusive project, the more cushions the better, it is a big castle with lots of space to exhibit. Photos of my two cushions and that of my daughter Nettie (she was 8 at the time of making).
Nettie castle cushion
The last speaker couldn't have been more different, a representative from John James Needles, I had no idea how many needles there are both in terms of type and sizes. Karen Perry explained which needles worked for which types of thread and project, how a good long eye is essential when doing ribbon embroidery and how matching the eye to the thread will help you use a wider variety of texture in your work. She gave us the history of the company, all the steel is from Sheffield and they are one of only 3 quality needle manufacturing businesses globally! I was completely dumbstruck by the end of the night but did buy a few variety packs for Christmas gifts and also some machine leather needed, as it turns out already useful as I have needed to repair a school bag since. It turns out you should also replace your hand stitching needle regularly too.... maybe when things get tricky you may have a dull, bent, corroded needle in your hand?? Who knew? But we also discovered that tic tac packets make perfect mini-sharps bins to collect your old and broken needles before recycling them.

Broughton waterfall

The day following the last embroiders guild meeting was my first collaborative workshop with Textile Artist Bev James. I met Bev a few years ago at a local fleece sale where she was doing hands on demonstrations of wet felting, my children and niece loved working with her and this year when I saw her she also had some of her eco-dyed scarfs with her. Having just had a speaker at BDEG about eco-dying it was great to chat to Bev about it and her enthusasm is infectious.

Bev loves a bit of uncertainty in her art and both felting and eco-dying processes have an element of alchemy about them. Once I had set up Stitching Kitchen she was the first artist I approached to deliver a workshop with me. Bev had a few ladies who wanted to try out some wet felting to form a bootie around a resist and I approached my contacts via social media and local Spinning, Weaving and Dying guilds and before we knew it we had a workshop.
Booties with Bev collage

We had a fabulous day creating baby booties, mine are now a Christmas decoration! One lady made slippers for herself, it was a good giggle and everyone achieved finished articles by the end of the day. Bev will be back in 2018 with more wet felting and if we can figure out how to plan it possibly screen printing too! If you would like to take part in a felting workshop in 2018 please complete the interest form and I can let you know when the next date is in the diary.