Coming up on The Unbroken Thread

A few of you may know that my life has changed enormously since March, not all by choice. In a nutshell, I have stopped teaching in school. To say this was a shift is an understatement and it hasn’t been without difficulty. If you’re really interested in why and how and all the details, check out my website Not One More Thing.

What this means for you, as a loyal reader, is that I will be able to share the things in my life that are new and exciting. And having things to do that are new and exciting is JUST what I need!

Firstly, I am embarking on the City and Guilds Level 2 Design and Stitched Textiles Course. I applied for and was accepted into the course run by Stitchbusiness in Durham, UK. The course is taught by Tracy A. Franklin and Julia Triston.


When the email arrived accepting me into the course, I felt just like a school girl again – I’d done well and made it through!

“Hi Kathy

Many thanks for your application form and images via email for a place on the Level 2 Certificate in Stitched Textiles.

Tracy and I have looked through your application form and are impressed by your work – stunning images!  

We would very much like to offer you a place on the above course to commence in September 2016.  If you would like to accept our offer, please do so by email.

Then the next stage is for us to send you some paperwork to complete and return to us.  We shall also send an invoice to you which will include the application fee.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Julia “

Here is an overview of the course taken from their website, Stitchbusiness.

This course is taught over three terms and is ideal for those with some basic experience of working with embroidery and textiles, offering a good foundation of skill level.

For the Design Unit you will complete the following:

  • practical exercises on Colour
  • exploratory exercises of Line and Mark-making techniques
  • investigations into the relationships between Shape and Form
  • experiments on Surface Texture

you will present these exercises, experiments, drawings and your findings in a sketchbook

For the Embroidery Unit you will complete the following:

  • a portfolio of traditional and contemporary stitch samples, experiments and techniques
  • a set of 10 resolved samples developed from the design unit
  • a completed item of embroidery using innovative techniques, also developed from the design units
  • a completed item of embroidery to show only hand embroidery techniques

Throughout the course you are expected to show use of a wide variety of threads and fabrics, experiment with a range of traditional and contemporary embroidery techniques and demonstrate different methods of presentation and finishing.

I’ve long wanted to learn more about design – colour, line, shape, form and texture – and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. The course can be taken as a long distance learner – which I certainly am, living in Berlin, Germany! I know Tracy and admire her enormously as an embroiderer , teacher and author. Julia I know through her books and her website.

I took an online course from Dionne Swift in the spring entitled Developing Sketchbooks and loved it. This prompted me to have the courage to apply for a course that would involve doing more “art” in addition to my embroidery.

Additionally, I’ll be traveling to London for two days in November to see the Opus Anglicanum exhibition at the V&A, to take a course with Sarah Homfray on the techniques of Opus Anglicanum and to hear a lecture entitled “English Medieval Embroidery Unpicked” given by Glyn Davies, the exhibition curator.  You will get a full report – probably two – on what I see and learn.


In late October we’re going to Normandy and Paris so I’ll be writing about the Bayeux Tapestry – again for those of you who’ve been reading The Unbroken Thread for a long time.


I hope to visit Au Ver a Soie while we’re in Paris and/or Masion Sajou while we’re in Versailles but am still checking out if that’s even possible! Anyone with information, please let me know! I’m sure there will be other embroidery things in France I’ll see and write about but they are as yet to be discovered!

Lastly, I’ll finish the Trevelyon’s Gold Cap and the Pineapple Crewelwork piece and already have in my head an idea using a completely different design from Thomas Trevelyon to make a different miniature item.

So that’s what’s coming up on The Unbroken Thread…maybe I won’t miss teaching as much as I thought I might.


Pineapple: Long and Short Shading

There are leaves at the bottom of the pineapple that I decided I would embroider using long and short shading. When I first started to embroider, long and short shading was so difficult and I was usually unhappy with the results. However, like most things, practice has improved my skills and I now enjoy it! Attending the workshop with Owen Davies also helped to refine my skills and to remind me of things I knew but don’t put into practice all the time!


Whenever you’re embroidering a motif in long and short shading you must always outline the shape with split stitch. The tinier the split stitch the more defined the motif will be and the better the finish on the edge will be. Owen is the master of tiny split stitches!

The other thing to remember is that the first layer of stitches should go quite deep into the area you’re stitching. The longer/deeper the first layer is into the shape, the better the subsequent layers will blend together.


Before I begin any long and short shading I always put in stitch direction lines. You can see them in the photo above drawn in pencil. I use a Bohin chalk pencil for marking fabric. When you change direction, remember that short stitches allow you to change the direction. Sometimes the end of a short stitch will be covered by the next long stitch.


When I come to put in the second layer, I like to make the stitches nice and long again. There are “longer” and “less long” stitches but I would say none of them are really “short”. When I first attempted long and short shading, I had the worst difficulty with it because I made the short stitches too short!


The third layer goes quite deep into the second layer (actually it probably goes into the first layer of stitching but by the time I get to the third layer it’s covered by the second!).

You can see the leaf on the left doesn’t come to a point in the design. This leaf seems to be coming from underneath the fruit so I purposefully didn’t come to a point with the shading.

Next up will be the stem using…you guessed it!…stem stitch!

Trevelyon’s Gold Cap – only grapes left!

All the leaves and the stem on the body of Trevelyon’s Gold Cap are now finished! All that’s left to do are the clusters of grapes and the border at the bottom. One of the things I’m not happy with are a few of the points where the stems meet. At the bottom right of the center stem you can see a little curlicue coming into the slanted stem and there is a space there. Not very attractive. Also the curlicue coming off the stem coming out of the top black leaf on the left.


I’m thinking I should have put in the small curlicues first and then laid the longer stem piece. I may go back and redo those bits. I’m thinking about it but haven’t made a decision yet. However, I know it will bug me when I look at it in the future, so I probably will redo those little curlicues.


Those little mistakes aside, I love the effect of the Antique Twist on the stems! The piece is more dramatic than it would be done all in gold.


The gold loops you see in the photo above were done with passing thread but were not done in small pieces and then plunged: I took a long piece of passing thread stitching it up and down at the points where the thread goes through the fabric, thus saving me the headache of plunging and securing lots of tiny pieces of thread.

I did try the same technique with the Antique Twist but it comes untwisted too easily and doesn’t work. Rats!

Next will be eight clusters of grapes. I’ll use spangles for those and a tiny piece of check thread in the center. The question is – should I use black or gold check? Please let me know what you think!