I, Bathya (and our travels)

There’s so much to write about I’m not sure where to begin! Let’s start with the most recent events and then go back in time.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9, I was fortunate enough to attend the workshop taught by Nicola Parkman on the I,Bathya sampler.  As you all know, I’ve only taken one class from the delightful Amy Mitten and worked a small bit of that sampler, so I am in NO way an expert.

I, Bathya Sampler

This workshop enticed me because Bathya stitched her sampler to be reversible. Years ago I purchased a German sampler from a reputable auction house in Germany and, when it arrived and I took it out of the frame, I discovered it was reversible. Ever since then I’ve been fascinated with how these samplers were stitched. When the chance to learn how to do this came up, I didn’t hesitate to sign up!

The Attic Needlework Shop

The workshop was sponsored by The Attic Needlework shop in Mesa, Arizona. The owner of The Attic, Jean Lea, is another one of those special people you meet in the needlework world. Her love of needlework and her customers is apparent in everything she did for us.

Nicola is a wonderful, talented teacher. She has multiple ways of explaining things so that everyone in the class can understand. I even watched her “walk out” the direction of stitching which was really helpful! She was always available to cheerfully help students during lunch time and after class. 

Nicola generously asked me if I wanted to do a short video with her about classes I’ll now be teaching in the fall. Here is a link to that video. What an honor!

Of course, what’s always the most fun in any class, is meeting all the people who are attending class with you. The group of women in our class were so friendly, helpful and funny! The room was often filled with conversation and laughter. If I needed help, I could ask one of my fellow students and they gladly stopped their own work to help. We are so lucky to be part of this thoughtful, giving community!

When doing crewelwork, silk shading, goldwork, or canvas work, I don’t usually think about what it looks like on the back side of the fabric. My threads rarely “travel” and I make the end of a thread as neat as possible, but I certainly don’t try to make the back look as finished as the front. However, that’s exactly what Bathya and many other girls did as a matter of course. 

Front of the spot sampler we worked on during class – this is Nicola’s completed one.

Band samplers were worked as an aid memoir, so when it came time to embroider for example, a ruffled sleeve cuff, the pattern was recorded on the band sampler. The embroidery on the cuff would have been viewed from both sides, hence the need for it to be reversible.

Reverse of Nicola’s spot sampler

It’s a fun brain challenge to think about what is being created on the back side as you’re stitching on the front side. I found I developed the ability to “see through” the fabric. 

Working out stitch path…

The most important skill to develop, and one I’m still working on, is planning out your stitch pathway. If you don’t pre-plan, you’ll find yourself  stuck, unable to continue embroidering reversible stitches.

In the class we spent a lot of time with graph paper and pencils thinking through and experimenting with the path our needle would take. The doodle cloth was our way of trying out our path with needle and thread on fabric. We were encouraged not to take out a mistake, but instead, to make a note of what went wrong in our stitch journal so we could refer to it later. 

It will be a little while before I’m ready to begin I, Bathya, but I know when I do begin, I’m prepared!

For those of you who want more information, here is a link to a video with Nicola and Gary Parr talking about I, Bathya. I understand the sampler will be released in the next year, so be sure to check the Hands Across the Sea web site!

Have you embroidered anything that’s reversible? Any tips for us you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below!

Mesa was one stop on what has been an astounding 4 week road trip. We traveled west from Iowa, then up to northern California, then down to Mesa and back home to Iowa.  We saw national parks, historic sites, museums, forests, mountains, and deserts. We met only warm, friendly people along the way. Most importantly, this road trip was a time for my husband and I to reconnect, relax and reflect on what this year has brought us and how well we’ve done through all of it. 

Relaxing at La Posada in Winslow, AZ

We arrive home on Friday of this week and that’s when I’ll be putting together a schedule of classes for the fall. I do hope you’ll join us in Ames, Iowa!

Next time I’ll write about a museum where I saw Native American quill work, bead work and Spanish goldwork. 

New Course at With Threaded Needle!

Announcing Trevelyon’s Miniature Pocket Course

June 1, 2019 – January 1, 2020

Registration closes May 15, 2019

This allows time to gather materials and supplies.


In the 17th century gentlemen carried currency, important papers, perhaps even secret love notes in a pocket or pocketbook. Such pockets were rectangular and flat. A gentleman’s pocket could be hidden in a deep coat pocket where it was safe from being lost or stolen. When a highly decorated pocket was pulled out amongst company, the embroidery would immediately demonstrate that this man was someone of wealth and refined taste. These pockets were valued by their owners and often mentioned in wills, inventories, and diaries. Museums all over the world have pockets as part of their collections. They are beautiful reminders of an elegant past.

The miniature replica we will be embroidering is only 5 inches wide and 2 ½ inches tall.

The design for our miniature pocket is taken from the 1609 Miscellany of Thomas Trevelyon.  It is made of white silk. The embroidery is worked in Au ver a Soie – Soie d’Alger silk, gold check and gold passing thread. 

The course lasts for eight months. Each month we will focus on one element of the design. Lessons are delivered via PDF with ample photographs to help you understand how to create each motif using the stitches and techniques I used to create my original pocket. There is a website expressly for students enrolled in “With Threaded Needle” courses and I am always just an email away if you have questions or need additional help.

Once your paid registration is received, you will get an email that includes a supply list, the pattern to transfer the design to your fabric and information on how to register on the web site. I will include both Au ver a Soie numbers and DMC numbers in the supply list. This is so students who may wish to create the cap on linen fabric with cotton thread have a list of supplies as well as those who choose to work in silk. The gold threads do not have an alternative choice. ** Please note, there is no kit offered for this course**

There will be resources listed for obtaining the threads you need. However, since students register from all over the world, I would suggest that you use the “With Threaded Needle” web site to communicate with one another about sources as well. I also strongly encourage you to use local needlework shops as much as possible.

The fee for the 8 month course is $80.00 US

You may choose to pay for the course in full or you may pay in 8 monthly instalments of $10 each month. Your first payment of $10 is due upon signing up for the course, due by May 15. You will receive a bill for $10 on the first of the month from July, 2019 through January 2020. Please note late or missed payments will result in cancelation of the course.

After you have paid for the course. please scroll down and click on the grey button entitled “Return to Merchant Page”. This will take you to the Welcome letter where you will find links to the supply list and information on how to register for using the web site.

Trevelyon’s Pocket Course

A few things I’ve learned…

Believe it or not, I’m really enjoying working on the Amy Mitten Sampler I started at her workshop a few weeks ago. As many of you know, I was not a big fan of counted work. It was difficult and I have struggled with it in the past.

In the past week I’ve been embroidering the sampler exclusively. As with anything, practice has improved my sills.

I’ve also learned (figured out) a few things along the way.

Since I rarely work from a kit, the idea of saving the ends of threads to use again wasn’t something I’d thought very much about. Amy includes 1 and ½ times the amount of thread in each kit that she uses to stitch the model. It should be more than enough. However, I may be making more mistakes that the more experienced stitcher, so I needed a way to save those ends to use later…just in case.

I decided to use my hole punch and put a hole directly across each color on the thread card for the ends. It works a treat for me!

Of course I make mistakes, and sometimes I don’t notice them until I’m quite a few stitches along. Rats! At first I used the eye end of my needle to take out the few stitches I needed to remove. One day, I was digging around in my little work box and my “stitch fixer” popped up to the top. I had totally forgotten about it! I hadn’t used it since I’d done my Canvas Work Module at the RSN!

This is a great little tool for pulling out stitches! If you look at the left end of the tool in the photo above, you can see an angled metal piece. that’s what pulls out the stitches.

It works almost effortlessly and doesn’t unravel the thread! It’s saved me a few time this last week! I picked mine up at Stitchville USA in Minneapolis, MN but I know if you look online you will find them.

Now that I’ve made good progress on my sampler and I feel more confident about my skills (meaning I won’t forget what I’ve learned!) I’m going to begin a new crewel work project.

If anyone has any tips for me concerning counted thread work, I’d LOVE to hear them!