Trevelyon’s Garden Pin Cushion – Finished!

This beautiful piece of silk on silk embroidery has been safely rolled up for months, waiting for me to find the time to finish the project. I started it way back in March, 2020 . Here is a link to the first post I wrote about the pin cushion.

I was inspired by three different historical references. First and foremost is a petticoat thought to have belonged to Queen Anne of Denmark held in the collection of the Burrell Museum, Glasgow. Having seen and photographed the petticoat years ago when I was in Glasgow, I had access to close up photos that I had taken. This helps enormously when I’m working on an historically inspired piece.

Secondly, a painting of Elizabeth Vernon, the Countess of Southampton, which shows a large  pin cushion her dressing table. Granted, it isn’t an embroidered pin cushion, but it is a very important part of getting dressed every day. Much of a woman’s dress, such as the one she is wearing, was held in place using pins. Just look at how many pins are in the pin cushion!

Thirdly, I again used botanical drawings from the Trevelyon’s Miscellany of 1608. It’s one of my favorite sources for designs as well as history.

In my imagination, the embroidery was meant to replicate a small piece of the petticoat that might have been found and turned into a pin cushion as a way to preserve the scrap of beautiful embroidered fabric.

It’s now been made into a pin cushion, filled with crushed walnut shells, trimmed with gold twist and ribbon tassels at each corner. It looks just as I imagined it would look. However, I’m not sure I’ll be putting any pins into it – ever!

Prince’s Thistle – a new crewelwork project!

I’ve been visiting the past more often during this time when we can’t go anywhere else with 100% safety. Through books, podcasts and research, I’ve travelled back to Tudor and Jacobean times and, on one of my travels, I came across the beautiful silver traveling canteen below. Isn’t it just stunning?

If you want to know more about the canteen and Bonnie Prince Charlie, a good place to start is here, at the National Museums Scotland website.

It’s believed that the canteen was a 21st birthday gift to Charles Edward Stuart. He brought the canteen with him to Scotland in 1745. The Duke of Cumberland captured the canteen on the field after the battle of Culloden in April, 1746. Cumberland then gave it to one of his aides, George Kepple, who kept it in his family until 1963. It was acquired by the National Museums Scotland in 1984, after a successful fundraising effort to ensure it remains in Scotland.

It is a beautiful object, with an association to one of the most romantic figures in Scottish history. (Sadly, the reality is less romantic by far…) Nonetheless, the thistle on the cup inspired me to created a new crewelwork design entitled “The Prince’s Thistle”.

Above is a color rendering of the design. As you can see, the stitches include my favorite – laid and couched lattice on the larger leaves. I’ll be using Turkey work for the top of the thistle, as have many other designers. There will be touches of silver in the design as a nod to the silver canteen and the workmanship of Ebenezer Oliphant, the silversmith who created the canteen.

The threads I’ll be using are my all time favorite threads from Catkin Crown Textile Studio – Heathway wool. I just love these colors! It’s going to be fun watching this come together over the next few months.


New directions

It’s been quite a while since I communicated with all of you. The Covid 19 pandemic has meant that, although I am keeping busy stitching, I didn’t feel up to communicating. The longer the uncertainty goes on, the more accustomed I am becoming to the uncertainty. Human beings are adaptable and I’m experiencing that right now. My mood has brightened noticeably in the last week and, even though I’m still not going out, I feel less overwhelmed and lethargic.

So, what’s been going on in my studio? So many different things! I’ll give you a brief overview today and then follow up with more details in upcoming posts.

Firstly, I decided (just before the pandemic started) to enroll in the National Academy of Needlearts Teacher Certification Program. Sadly, the NAN Assembly that was to be held earlier this spring was cancelled because of Covid 19, so I didn’t get to meet everyone face to face. However, we did meet online in a Zoom call (one of the first of many!) so I could get started. So far I love what I’m doing and the course looks wonderful! Even though I’m an experienced teacher, I haven’t had specific needlework teacher training and this program is going to refine and hone my skills. My counselor is the fantastic Marsha Papay Gomola, who also inspired me to take the course after being in one of her amazing classes at the EGA National in St Louis last year.

My first project is for a short, 3 hour class which is a little needlebook using crewel wool and linen. Below is a picture of the piece in progress.


A piece I’d been working on months ago has been finished and is ready to be made into a large pin cushion. Two things about this project have been difficult: taking photos of it that are clear and deciding what to use to fill the pin cushion. The red silk seems to be especially difficult to photograph and all of the photos are less clear than I usually will accept. It’s almost like the red silk glows and messes up the light!

As for filling the pin cushion, naturally I considered using some kind of fill similar to what one would use in a pillow. I’ll be making an inner cotton pin cushion which will go inside the red silk embroidered outer cover. I want there to be some weight to the cushion. I have considered hulls or flax seeds mixed with lavender. Any suggestions would be welcomed! I want whatever it is to be affordable. (I’ll be offering this class somewhere, sometime in the future …)

During the beginning of our shelter in place order, I worked for a long time on this wonderful sampler by Amy Mitten. I find that the concentration required to stitch counted work is the perfect way to distract my mind from everything I would prefer not to think about just now! I love this design, based on Dutch samplers. It’s called Tour van Holland and was my first foray into samplers.

A new direction I’ve taken is to chart samplers that I own. This all came about because a friend in my EGA group wants to stitch one of my samplers in particular. I asked the wonderful Nicola Parkman of Hands Across the Sea Samplers for a charting program recommendation and decided on Macstitch. It didn’t take long to learn how to use it and I find charting samplers completely absorbing!

Here’s the sampler my friend wants to stitch. It was worked by a little girl named Mary Parsons from Dewsbury, Yorkshire, UK. I love the verse! I’ve done loads of research on her and discovered why she’s included both a ship and a maze in her sampler.

Here’s what the charted sampler looks like on my computer screen. It’s such fun to examine the stitches and see what little Mary did here or there!

Naturally the colors on the sampler have faded, so owning the sampler, and being able to peek at the back, is very helpful when choosing a color palette! Here you see the threads in 100.3 silks but I’ll also be listing d’Alger and DMC threads in the chart. Now I just need to stitch up the model!

And lastly, for those of you who hung in there until the end, the news I’m most excited to share with you all is that I’ve been invited to teach at the EGA National Seminar in Chicago in 2021! I’m teaching three different classes and was honored and thrilled to be chosen to be one of this amazing faculty!

Until next time, please stay safe and well!