City and Guilds Samples – Textured stitches

Firstly, a short apology as to why you haven’t heard from me for so long.

My self discipline has really taken a nose dive over the past few months. Mostly this is due to the huge amount of remodelling we’ve been doing. Each project has a vast number of decisions to be made and I’m experiencing “decision fatigue” according to my daughters. I don’t know if it’s a real thing, but I certainly am tired at the end of every day and I often haven’t done much at all except make a few choices about stain color or door handles and sort through closets and boxes deciding what to keep or not. You would think – that with my studio all finished – I could ignore the rest of the house when I’m in my studio but, sadly, I can’t.

However, the kitchen is now finished, we’ve now unpacked ALL the boxes from Germany and life feels more settled. As a result, I’ve been spending time in the studio creating and stitching the last few weeks.

And now, one of the projects I’ve been working on in my studio.

The City and Guilds course I’m working on requires 10 samples using the various techniques we learned at the beginning of the course. Each sample project has to show my source of inspiration, design development, materials, time, cost and evaluation. All of this is recorded in a large sketch book. The final piece has to be mounted in a manner that is appropriate to the finished piece of textile art. Additionally, students are encouraged to find a theme for all 10 pieces if they can, that tie them together.

Living in the home that my grandparents built and my parents lived in, I decided on Stewardship as my broad theme. This encompasses the careful, responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. In my case, this includes the house, the land, the trees, the garden, the heirloom pieces of furniture and the family traditions.

My first piece uses textured stitches and acorns. Our home is on two and a half acres of oak woods and there are acorns everywhere. In the autumn it’s easy to step on them and find your feet going out from under you! As I swept them up from the front walk one day, I took time to really look at them and noticed how beautiful the caps of the acorns are. They have the most delicate fringe all around the edges.

I decided to draw the acorns and then turn those drawings into stitch. Below are the three drawings I decided to use alongside the acorns I drew. It’s amazing how much more confident I am drawing things since I started the City and Guilds course!

I chose a grey even weave linen for the fabric. The thread was a little bit more complicated to find. I tried different embroidery threads, including Oliver Twists silk machine thread and Soy Luster thread. In the end I decided to use Oliver Twists Viscose cord, unraveled.

It’s cord that’s been twisted and I untwisted it so I would have bumpy thread to use. This gave the stitches a lot more texture.

I decided to mount the acorns on the fabric so the stitch appeared to be the shadow of the acorns.

Happily, my tutors, Tracy A. Franklin and Julia Triston, liked my work and I passed the first of the 10 samples! Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a long time know that doing something this “out of the box” and non-traditional isn’t what I usually do. But that’s the point of the course – to stretch myself. And I must say I’m loving it! (I haven’t, however, given up on the traditional historical things by any means!)

8 thoughts on “City and Guilds Samples – Textured stitches

  1. I’m also studying level 2 with Tracy and Julia, and I too have had to take time off (mine for health reasons, but I do not envy you all that remodelling!! ). I have recently finally finished my ten samples and started on my final project. Keep up the good work – this piece is gorgeous!

    • Hi Heather,
      Thank you so much! The course is wonderful and Tracy and Julia are such fabulous, challenging tutors. Best of luck with your final project!

      Liebe Grüße,

  2. I love how you took something from nature that many of us consider a nuisance at times, and translated it into stitches. The displaying of both the original and your interpretation together gives a viewer the chance to follow along on your path of thought while interpreting nature. Love the final product.

  3. This is wonderful, I look forward to seeing the progress as you go along with each lesson 🙂 . I’ve thought of doing the course but it is so very long! In the end, what do you hope to get out of it? I was recently at the Lacis Museum in California and got to study a piece that you had written a piece about. Was nice to hear your analysis!

    • Hi Natalie,

      Thanks! It is a long course but it’s really challenging me (and teaching me!) to be more independent and original in my designs, stitch choices, thread choices…to create something that reflects who I am apart from any historical of traditional influences (which I love!).

      Liebe Grüße,


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