Trevelyon’s Gold Cap – grapes!

I know I’ve been neglecting you for a while and it’s because I’ve been dealing with all the other things life throws at us sometimes. But now things are a bit calmer and I am happy to report that, although I haven’t been writing, I have been stitching!

Trevelyon’s Gold Cap is almost finished! I put the spangles on to create the little bunches of grapes and the piece looks delightful. Those little spangles just sparkle in the sunlight…and in the candle light as well.


Attaching spangles to a piece of metal thread embroidery can be done in two ways: using only thread and stitching the spangle or using a tiny piece of purl or check. I decided to use black check.

To attach the spangle using check, you must cut the check into a piece that’s smaller than the spangle, otherwise it will completely cover the spangle. The spangles I’m using are tiny, measuring about ¼ inch or 1 cm.

You bring your thread up through the middle of the hole of the spangle and then through the piece of check and lastly, down back through the hole of the spangle.  In this way the piece of check holds the spangle in place. It also adds texture and dimension to the spangle.

dsc_2282 The addition of all tthe bunches of grapes not only filled the gaps but added another texture to the piece.

The last thing to finish now is the border at the bottom, which you can just see in the photo below.


My plan, when it’s all finished, is to outline the design with the same gold twist and the black and gold twist used in the stem. I’ll frame this piece, although it could be made into another miniature cap…but I’d need to embroider three more sides! Maybe in the future…

Today – right now in fact – I’m in the airport flying to France for a short holiday with our best friends from the USA! I’ll be visiting the Bayeux Tapestry and, depending on internet connection, you’ll be hearing from me!

City and Guilds: First assignments!

My City & Guilds course has begun and it’s been fun to get started! One of our first assignments was to work an assortment of samplers to demonstrate our knowledge of specific embroidery stitches. The layout or design of the samplers is up to us, but we need to show that we understand how to do the stitches.  In addition to a more traditional stitch sampler, we’re to do a contemporary sampler.

For my traditional sampler I chose one of my favourite combinations of fabric and threads: a brown even weave linen with white, brown and red cotton floche. This reminds me of the Swiss and French traditional embroideries that I’ve seen. In fact, I used a similar fabric and the same thread on a project called Winter Linen which you can read about here.


Because there is no design, I’m free to play with the different stitches, arranging them as I like on the fabric. Creating different patterns by combining stitches is really fun and something I’ve not done enough of before.


My French knots are of different sizes, determined by how many wraps I make and/or how many strands of thread I use. There is a list of stitches we’re to use for this first sampler, only a few are shown here. There isn’t a prescribed order or layout of the stitches, so I have complete freedom! Wheee!


The second part of each sampler assignment is a contemporary sampler. For this we’re to explore different fabrics and threads. We’re encouraged to use material that aren’t typically used in embroidery. Well, I loved that challenge!

I went to the craft/fabric shop nearby looking for boiled wool, thinking that the texture of boiled wool would be interesting. They didn’t have the colour I wanted – in fact, they had a very limited colour selection and none of them appealed to me. Rats.

Sometimes, what was a frustration turns into an opportunity and, in this case, it appeared in the shape of a roll of cork fabric. Yes, that’s right – cork fabric. A super thin layer of cork is fused onto a very light knit backing, creating a flexible and stitch-able cork fabric. How cool is that!


The threads I’ll be using include Oliver Twist hand dyed rayon threads, some silk yarn left over from making my RSN tassel and twine that’s been un-twisted into single strands.

The plan is to cluster the stitches in the different natural shapes on the cork fabric, highlighting the natural shapes with the textures of the various threads.

The challenge will be stitching onto the cork fabric. It isn’t difficult to get a needle through but I imagine holes will be left if I put a stitch in and then take it out so I’ll need to be sure of my stitch placement. Tension will also be something to consider since the cork fabric will accept the thread differently from a fabric made of fibre. I’m looking forward to experimenting! Watch this space to see how it all works out and, if you have ANY experience in working with cork fabric, please let me know!

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.