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Crewelwork Robin for Loveday

The crewelwork, red breasted robin is directly in the middle of the Loveday tree. Sitting proudly with his bright red and orange breast all puffed up, he’s a real show stopper!

Of course, the red breast is the part of the robin everyone will glance first so I wanted to stitch it as beautifully as possible.


I decided to place all my stitches ‘pointing’ to the center red dot, accentuating the concentric design. As always, I outlined each part of the motif with split stitch. I really think my satin stitch looks better when the edges are defined with split stitch. As I worked each ring of the breast, I had to tuck the beginning of some stitches behind the one next to it.

This means that, at the beginning of the stitch,  my needle would come up on the inside of the circle, just underneath the previous stitch and, at the end of the stitch, the needle go back down directly next to that previous stitch on the outside. By hiding the beginning of the stitch underneath the previous stitch I could accommodate the greater diameter on the outside without squeezing the stitch on the inside of the circle.



On the outside of the outermost circle the stitches got very small (see in the photo above). The trick here is not to crowd your stitches. Give the thread room to expand to fill the space, smoothing it down if necessary with your laying tool a little. Crowding the stitch will fill the space but it also prevents the thread from laying flat and produces an uneven surface.


The bottom of the robin is worked in the same way as the sparrow. Each of the small, dark brown areas is done with slanted satin stitch and the spaces in between filled with tiny seeding stitches.

The feathers at the top of the robin are worked in long and short shading and, I admit, this was the most fun. To work these small areas using shaded stitches, I filled just about all of the shape first with the lighter color of taupe. Then I had the freedom to put the darker stitches where I wanted them to be without worrying about a gap between the colors. I also used some very, very short stitches to go around the tight curves.


The finishing touches were the eye – complete with a white bead – the beak and the little feet grasping the branch on which he’s sitting.


The finish is getting ever closer and next time I’ll show you the leaf above our robin’s head.



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Fabulous Embroidery Tours

I received an email a few days ago letting me know about the tours planned by Phillipa Turnbull through The Crewelwork Company. You may remember I was able to join the first part of a Lady Anne’s Needlework Tour a few years ago and had a wonderful time!

The schedule of tours coming up over the next year looks fabulous, and if I weren’t a teacher whose holidays are dictated by the school calendar, I would begin saving my money right now so I could join one of these tours!



Here’s what’s on offer.

The Scottish Highlands Needlework Tour

20 June-1 July 2016 – See the wild North of Scotland and visit an abundance of Highland Castles. Starting and finishing in Edinburgh. Classes with Phillipa Turnbull and Meredith Willett. Fly to Edinburgh. £5,850.

Lady Anne’s Needlework Retreat

17-27 Sept 2016 – Our signature retreat starting and finishing in Appleby, Cumbria. Featuring the fabulous Muncaster Castle. Explore the Lake District and Scottish Lowlands. Classes with Phillipa, Meredith Willett & Jacqui Carey. Fly to Manchester. £5,500

Spring Residential Needlework Retreat

3-11 March 2017 – An intensive, workshop-focused residential retreat, staying near Lake Windermere in the beautiful English Lake District. Classes with Phillipa Turnbull, Jenny Adin-Christie and Nicola Jarvis. Fly to Manchester. £3,950

Four Nations Needlework Tour

15-30 June 2017 – Featuring castle visits and workshops in all four British nations. Starting and finishing in England. Classes with Phillipa Turnbull and Meredith Willett and guest tutors Nicola Jarvis & Jenny Adin-Christie. Fly to Manchester. £8,750


What’s included in the price? All of this!

• Tuition from first rate teachers

• All materials and instructions required for workshops

• Loan of all the necessary frames and equipment required for workshops

• All hotel accommodations for the stated duration of the tour, and all coach travel

• Meals as stated in the timetable

• All entry fees for castles, country houses, museums, and other special excursions

• Refreshments during workshops and lectures

Of course you’ll need to get to the relevant airport (Manchester or Edinburgh) but once you’ve arrived, your hotels, food and entertainment are all organised and paid for! I just LOVED knowing each day will be full of stitching, friends, great food and interesting places to see!

To download the brochure with all the details of the trips click on this link to The Crewelwork Company website.

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Holding the Needle!

Many of you may have noticed that missives from The Unbroken thread aren’t arriving in your inbox as frequently as they were previously. There is a very simple reason for this: I am SUPER busy at school this autumn! For the first time in at least 15 years I am teaching two new courses – one in a new subject – and I’m the tutor/homeroom teacher for 24 brand new class seven students (every one sweet and wanting to do his or her best in school).

The new courses are Class 7 English and an Abitur level music course. The new challenges are fun, sometimes frightening and, up until now, overwhelming (I feel like a first year teacher all over again after 37 years of teaching and I’m a LOT older now than when I began teaching!)

All this means that when I’m not preparing for school, I’m stitching on the Loveday Crewelwork piece to meet my deadline. This leaves little time for writing.

However, all that said, I just had to share this discovery with all of you!

Some of you will remember that I had a lot of trouble a few years ago with pain in my hands and wrists while stitching. For the most part, I’ve felt great since making a few changes. Lately, with all the computer work for school, I’ve started to have some pain again and weakness in my hands. I can’t always open a jar, carry a heavy plant pot with one hand and – most importantly – hold on to a needle firmly.

And, dear readers, I’ve found a simple, effective and cheap solution. It doesn’t involve doctors, medicine, braces or splints – just a pair of rubber gloves!


Last week I simply couldn’t hold the needle firmly enough and my hands were getting fatigued. I needed to keep stitching so I ran across the street to the grocery and bought myself a pair of size small rubber gloves: the kind you wear when you do dishes (except I don’t). I bought a small size so they would fit snugly. I then cut the tips of the thumb, forefinger and middle finger of the gloves off each glove – right and left. It took bit of trial and error to get the right length but as long as you start with a longer length than you need, it’s easy to cut them off to be shorter.



I then slipped them over my thumbs, forefingers and middle fingers of each hand and tried a test stitch. And then another and another and another and I was away! The needle was firmly held between my fingers, I had no tension in my hands from trying to grip the needle and I didn’t drop it.

It’s been a week since I started using these “finger tips” and my stitching goes more quickly, I fumble the needle less often and I have more control of the needle than I did before.

Please let me know if you try this and if it works for you. I’m sure someone will eventually market some kind of “Needle Grabbing Finger Tips” and make a fortune but I love the idea that this is cheap and it works! Now, back to stitching easily and free of tension!

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