Saturday was the day of my workshop on ‘Stitches with Stories’ and last week was busy with making sure I had enough of the varied threads and fabrics for the group to use to work their samples.

Sample of Mountmellick work

Mountmellick embroidery

I had planned the session to be a mix of telling the stories around the styles’ development and of practical activity, learning the stitches and working them in a small, typical design. The social contexts, and the reasons for development of these types, Mountmellick, Parma and Sorbello, were similar though at different times and in different countries. Wealthy and well-connected women created embroidery techniques that could be learned by the poor in their region to earn desperately needed money to help support their families. A crucial factor was that the initiator is not only ‘invented’ the embroidery and taught the skills but also used their status and connections to develop viable markets for the finished product.

Embroidered Parma motif

Motif in Parma embroidery

In contrast, the final one we explored was Broderie Glazig, which is a continually evolving style originally used for embellishing the garments worked and worn by the ordinary people of a specific area in Brittany. Definitely brighter and livelier than the restrained colour schemes of the household linens intended for wealthy patrons!

Motif from Glazig embroidery

Typical Glazig motifs

The day sped by, so much so for me that I completely forgot to take any photos of the many works in progress. Hopefully some of those there will send me pictures of their finished samples. Now to start looking forward to the next Workshop; a complete contrast as I’ll be offering different ways to get a third dimension above, or below, the flat surface of canvas work.

Embroidery on the the TV

A visual treat last night for embroiderers!  Very encouraging to see embroidery so definitely presented as an art, and one at which the English once led Europe. I researched, at a fairly basic level, this wonderful ecclesiastical work while doing my City and Guilds and it was great to see those familiar vestments – Syon, Bologna, Butler-Bowden – brought so vividly to the screen. Presenter Dan Jones was clearly entranced both by the beauty and the high technical skills involved and set the works in their historical and social context with insights into their significance.

Detail of bologna cope, three kings

Detail of Bologna cope from Needleprint

This picture is from Needleprint blog where there are some more beautiful images.I’m certainly going to make time over the next few days to watch this again on iplayer and will be hitting the pause button to closely examine some of these amazing embroideries.Flowers in Mountmellick embroidery

I’m having a good time working some samples for the workshop I’m offering in a couple of weeks.  Yesterday was Mountmellick Day and working white on white with the different textural stitches was very relaxing.  It’s a very straightforward style of embroidery and works up quite quickly; good for household items such as this soon-to-be lavender bag.