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, pleas stay safe and well!




















Catkin Crown Textile Studio is open!

Those of you who have been reading “The Unbroken Thread” for a long time will know that one of my all time favorite wools is Heathway Merino Crewel Wool. I love the huge variation of colors, the soft hand, the strength (so it doesn’t fray or shred), how easy it is to do long and short shading, how crisp chain stitch looks and in general how pretty it looks on the fabric.

The three images you see here have all been stitched with Heathway Merino Wool.

A while ago Pearsall’s stopped carrying Heathway wool. A company called
Catkin Crown purchased the wool and committed to continue producing and carrying it for all of us who love it so much.

This morning I got an email from them announcing the opening of their online store. Catkin Crown is located in the UK and ships worldwide. I’ve already ordered wool from them for kits and their service is quick and inexpensive.

Simply click on the image (of the cat) below to go to their online shop. When you get there, click on “Shop full of Woolly Goodness”. Doesn’t that sound nice?! You can choose your currency in the upper right corner of the home page, which is very helpful. There is also a page about shipping costs and current Covid 19 restrictions (they can only ship once a week but are still shipping).



Isn’t this a beautiful color? It’s call Lagoon – I’d like to be lying next to a blue lagoon just now!

And this is call Daffodil – the same bright yellow as the daffodils outside my studio window!

While you’re on the Catkin Crown website, click on the “About Us” link where you can read about Hazel and Steve, as well as Catkin Crown Textile Studio.

Simply click the cat and enjoy exploring and shopping with a cup of coffee or tea!


Catkin Crown Textile Studio


Trevelyon’s Garden – fabric and first stitches

It’s been an unsettling few weeks. Not long ago I was taking care of one of my darling granddaughters and planning to go see the other darling granddaughter at the end of March. Now I’m not going to see either one of them for some time until we all feel it’s safe for all of us. I am thankful every single day that we live in the age of technology that allows me to see and speak to my family all over the world. It makes such a difference to be able to connect so easily to one another. I hope all of you are safe and staying isolated as much as is possible given your circumstances.

Last time I wrote about this project there weren’t many details to share! Since then – thanks to having LOTS of time inside to stitch- I’ve finished the project and am getting ready to assemble it. However, I want to share the process with you so, one step at a time…

Most of my needlework is historically inspired. In this instance, I’m using motifs from Thomas Trevelyon and have been inspired by a stunning piece of needlework in the Burrell Museum, Glasgow. When I was in Glasgow a few years ago I was lucky enough to see the piece. Its an embroidered red silk petticoat or skirt. You can see it on the museum’s website here.

England, London (place of manufacture)
circa 1610-1620
silk, silk, metal, hand-stitched
overall: 910 mm x 3130 mm
Woman’s skirt in red silk satin embroidered with silk and metal threads in a border pattern of scrolling stems with flowers and insects. Historically said to have been made by Mary, Queen of Scots for Elizabeth I of England, but the style of embroidery is of a later date.

Apparently, the piece was later made into a panel – possibly an altar front – so it survived for us to see today.

Imagine, I thought, if it had not survived in such fantastic shape and had been cut up and made into smaller items, such as a pin cushion. We know that embroidered fabrics were reused over and over due to their value. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility that something this fine could have been made into smaller items if it had been damaged.

Following this imaginary path, I decided to use red silk for the ground fabric and the silk and metal threads I showed you last time.

Transferring the design to the red silk wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be, due to the dark color of the fabric. I’m fortunate enough to have a fabulous LED lightbox and it makes transferring so much easier!

I backed the silk with calico to support the stitching and then mounted it on my slate frame. Then it was time to stitch!

Beginning with the strawberries, I, again, referenced the petticoat for stitch inspiration. The strawberries on part of the petticoat have tiny hair like stitches all around the edges. I decided to use that same idea, but use a DMC Diamant gold thread rather than silk.

Here’s the first strawberry with the little gold straight stitches along the outside edge. You can see the pencil guidelines for where I’ll change the shade of pink/red when I stitch the French knots. I’ve never had such trouble getting accurate color shots before but this red is proving tricky. Still, it’s so lush and beautiful in real life I don’t mind!

The first strawberry turned out just as I hoped it would! Sadly, the color of the red silk makes it very difficult to get good photos; the red of the fabric (on my monitor) is closer to the photo above, not below.

Next time, leaves and more!