Monday, 7 November 2016

Moving forwards

At our recent AGM - much to think about after Ann Lowe's
talk on what was needed to keep our branch viable.
Even though Banbury & District is a small branch of dedicated stitchers, with wide-ranging interests, we nevertheless do seem to be able to package many varied activities into what the Embroiderers' Guild describes as "mixed-media and textile art". We on the Committee are continually mindful that times change - as do fashions and tastes - and even with a younger membership emerging, many members are also constrained by age and/or infirmity, particularly in the winter months. 

So this year, our AGM took a somewhat different form, allowing time for members to put forward suggestions for keeping the branch viable, which has been of paramount concern for many months. Changing Committee roles will mean fresh input, and offers of help with meetings (members sharing necessary tasks) will certainly help. Being a rural group has its problems - and we must rely on everyone to spread the word as to who we are and what we do: meetings with speakers, workshops and sewing days. 

This Blog is not a 'private members only' affair, so do please forward any post to friends or acquaintances and encourage them to sample some of what we offer. And for those who are still mystified by what a 'blog' is: an abbreviated form of 'weblog' originating in the 1990s, it is digital version of a newspaper or newsletter (without the constraints of 'copy-fitting') and with the huge advantage that links to external websites or other online information can be provided for readers at the click of a button - or rather mouse.

MOVING ON: Autumn activities have been fascinating, with members kindly providing outlines of what we have enjoyed. So even this blog has a communal slant.

Watching the secrets of 'Folding Boxes'
(image courtesy Caroline Walker
Of our September workshop, Clare Boomer wrote: "Well, there was an 18-month delay between Ruth Smith’s talk and her workshop ‘Folded Secrets’, but it was well worth the wait! Ruth brought with her some of her amazing collection of ‘Zhen Xian Bao’, folded paper pockets made and used by the women of some minority peoples in China to store their embroidery threads and work in progress.

Chris Walker demonstrates the basic folded box structure
(image courtesy Carolyn Walker)
Having cut our paper to size first it wasn’t long before we were marking, folding, and gluing according to Ruth’s instructions. We learnt that the women in China can achieve perfect-looking cubes and folds without the benefit of rulers, setsquares or even glue, instead using a starchy rhizome to create a bond. Pritt Stick was slightly easier to come by and worked well for us!
Once we had constructed several foldable trays, Ruth showed us the basic twisted cube, which miraculously pops out when the paper is coaxed in the right way. This provided the perfect base for decoration using paints, gel pens or paper cuts. The finished item could be used on a card or as a gift, for storing seeds, CDs, or other small flat items. I suspect there will be several workshop attendees who now share Ruth’s obsession for these beautiful yet functional items!" Editor's note: Clare has written many items for both this Blog and our e-newsletters but unfortunately our meetings now clash with her other activities. We wish her all the very best.
Yvonne Brown's work took one's breath away.
Hard on the heels of 'Folded Secrets' (have you completed your project yet?) came a fascinating evening talk - no title - outlined for us by Rose Kirkaldie: "Yvonne Brown is one of life's over achievers, like Napoleon. She does not have an army, just two sewing machines. But the imagination and superb quality of her work was there for all to see.  
More inspiration.
The volume of her work was immense!  Her natural pace is fast forward, as practice makes perfect - always several practice samples.   But  nothing succeeds like sucess.  Secure in the knowledge that she has mastered a technique, Yvonne goes on to create variations on a theme, through colour and textile differences.  Each change made a  quality stand out.  All a bit over-powering, as a more modest stitcher, but a pleasure and inspiration to see Yvonne's work, that of a true textile artist." 

Editor's note: I discovered that Yvonne focussed particularly on medieval floor tiles as an inspiration, and that I had a book of hers to which I have referred many times in my personal work. A new edition has been recently published, available at a reduced price by clicking this link.


'Top Table' at the Regional AGM - new regional committee
had much to discuss
Testing the water: In preparation for our own AGM, our Chair Ann Lowe (with three of us in support) decided it would be useful to attend the regional AGM in Newbury, which occurred a couple of weeks before our own branch event. The reason? We are not the only branch struggling to maintain numbers, and find sufficient members to serve on a committee and thus keep our group 'legal'. It was sad to learn of branches closing, others struggling - and evidently this phenomena does not apply solely to the Embroiderers' Guild but to many other hobbies and activities. It was nevertheless a marvellous day, and as ever good to meet with creative people from far and wide.

SEWING DAYS: Support for these relaxing days (four hours including our own picnic lunch) fluctuates - not always the same people - and there's no obligation to attend. They offer such a marvellous opportunity to get to know each other, catch up on our own personal projects, or work on a Branch challenge; and even swap information on techniques. The last couple of sessions have revealed some interesting work.


Hannah stitching a 'sewing day' project, though not the
one she describes - just in case .....
Hannah Parrish (a regular attender) wrote: "I am working on a project as a wedding gift – so it is all a bit secret but I can share with you fellow stitchers; the recipient doesn’t know one end of a needle from another so won’t be likely to stumble on this.  I spent the morning creating ivy to climb the end wall of the barn, using dissolvable fabric held in a sprung embroidery ring. I used brown free machine embroidery stitching to form the vines and then changed to a dark green thread to work small leaves on the vine.  Once completed I washed the stabiliser away and dried the ivy, once dry I couched the ivy into place.   I discovered this dissolvable material while speaking to another branch member at another stitch day, it is a great way to share ideas, gain inspiration and learn from others about techniques and products to add another level to your stitch!" Editor's note: this image shows Hannah busy at work on another project and not the wedding gift she describes. She is a most prolific sewer. 

Work in progress - stimulated by Margaret Wilmore's
Norfolk adventure at Cas Holmes' workshop.
Margaret Wilmore arrived with a folder of pieces she had just created at a two-day workshop with Cas Holmes in Norfolk. Using a variety of techniques, magazine images were turned into 'cloth' by lightly rubbing them with baby oil! Some had the appearance of fragile lace. All were absolutely beautiful. She spent the BDEG Sewing Day assembling what will become a stitched panel when it is finished. For anyone wanting to explore the varying techniques, take a look at pages 37-39 of 'The Found Object in Textile Art' by Cas Holmes (Batsford, 2010).

Ann's work in progress - only the motif bottom right has been
stitched so it dissolves into the background.
Ann Somerset Miles started a piece entitled 'Autumn Glory' - stitched paper collage, also using digitally manipulated magazine images, adapting a technique she developed for producing a series of five A4 framed panels for an exhibition at an art gallery in West Yorkshire. For this Autumn panel, a background image (two in this case) formed the 'stage' upon which other autumn-related collage motifs were superimposed. The scans were made at high-resolution, added to an A4 frame (size-constraint removed), then printed on 45gsm Daler Rowney artists' layout paper. Once dry, a momogami technique was used to scrumple the paper, then fusible web was used to apply the print to a muslin oversize base. The motifs were scanned, resized/proportioned and printed on a single A4 45gsm sheet before applying fusible web to the whole sheet. A scalpel was used to cut the motifs and, after applying to the background, each will be stitched into place so that they appear to dissolve into the hedgerow.

(permission obtained to
publish this photo)
The Young Ones: oh how marvellous it was to watch Issy and Netty produce their halloween pieces. Each had planned their design and knew exactly what they wanted to achieve. Both were already (age nine) proficient with the use of a sewing machine, and it was joyous to see the concentration on their faces as they drew, cut and stitched. Issy completed her project (pictured), Netty suddenly realised that pre-planning what had to be sewn under something else could cause difficulties if not considered in advance. Something we can all neglect.
Well done Issy!



Even Northern Rail are spreading the word!
Inspiration is all around us: no matter what our individual speciality is relating to stitch and mixed media creativity, I am sure we each have an individual method (or methods) for recording ideas, techniques, experiments and anything else about which we are passionate when it comes to embroidery. A small satchel is useful with notebook, pen/pencil, small paintbox and water-brush, and even a mini sewing kit. For spur of the moment recording, what better than a digital camera - or, easier still - a smartphone or iPhone? Either are perfect for step-by-step photos of work in progress, spur-of-the moment quick snapshots, or closeups of ephemera that can become the basis of many a stitched project: stones on a beach, a rough sea, lights reflected in a wet pavement, still-life flowers or fruit, a stormy sky; whatever grabs your fancy. It would seem that spreading the word is not a solitary affair, either, as demonstrated by the image above, which could not have been captured by your Blog Editor had she not had her iPhone in her hand when waiting for a train in Manchester recently. As it pulled into the station, she realised that in her hand was not so much a phone, more an on-the-spot tool for preserving the unexpected. 











Monday, 5 September 2016

Gaining inspiration and new experiences

asm's 'Paper-Cloth' collage
Sometimes, BDEG members want to expand their boundaries and follow specific inclinations. Apart from all that we individually gain from or Branch evening talks, workshops, and even sharing techniques through our sewing days, there are often opportunities to attend workshops organised by outside organisations. A small group of us met together at Oxford Summer School at the end of July 2016, each gaining an insight into new techniques. This is a particularly well-run and friendly organisation with many participants returning regularly - sometimes to courses available in the Spring and Autumn.

Waiting for its treasure
Jan Weedon undertook a new and unusual course recycling old books: "From discarded library to delightful treasures” tutored by Heather Hunter. Participants used specialist cutting equipment to cut through the pages. Jan says that bit was quite difficult as it didn't take long for the blades to become blunt! 


Jan's old library book in progress






The space cut away would depend on how much depth would be needed. Some people used various items, one was a little boat. “We were shown many ways of decorating pages also different techniques with the books. One such technique made folders within the book, these were very technical! Some did turn out splendidly. There are some wonderful ideas on line - try googling “altered books”; which will result in some lovely images!”

Not your usual patchwork!
Ann Lowe (along with Elaine Langer and Margaret Wilmore) experienced textiles with a difference. Ann writes: “The workshop I did was entitled ‘Patching and Piecing’ with tutor, Lis Mann. A few people attended  thinking it was going to be traditional patchwork and it certainly wasn't!  I already knew Lis's work and knew it would be different and definitely push the boundaries which is what I wanted and I wasn't disappointed.

Scary to achieve, but an interesting effect
We started the first day dying and painting assorted pieces of fabric moving on to printing with blocks and other items such as string corrugated paper etc. Lis then gave us a choice of the techniques she uses for us to start sewing the fabrics together. The first step was cutting a piece of cotton to the size required (mine was approx A3 size); we then choose our colour pallet and cut pieces placing and pinning them randomly onto the cotton slightly overlapping the edges. These were then machine zig zag stitched in place, which for those of us used to more formal piecing and working with bondaweb to hold things in place was quite a challenge! My blue picture shows this first stage. 

Once stitched it was then cut up and re-sewn approx 4-5 times!  Although scary the effect was really interesting as it blended the colours together. We then printed onto the fabric and added a sheer over the whole piece, free machining it into place. The swirls on my orange piece were printed on and I have free motion stitched swirls onto sheer fabric (shown next to my orange piece) which will be added at the next stage. The orange piece is near completion, but I still have some printing and maybe more sheer layers to add. I found it a very enjoyable few days and Lis Mann a tutor who encourages you to find your own direction with gentle encouragement.”

One of the easier techniques, though this is far from perfect!
Ann Somerset Miles had always wanted to learn bookbinding so jumped at four days with tutor Janina Maher at a new course, ‘Bookbinding for All’. So much to learn, and what magnificent results were obtained by the diligent students. Unfortunately, Ann was not one of these! She writes: “I was ill throughout the four days but still wanted to attend. Janina was so kind, helping me achieve something. Illustrated is a little book I managed on my own! Bookbinding is a very physical activity and I quickly discovered that I do not have the strength in my hands for these skills. Once back home, I was determined to achieve something, and resorted to some collage backgrounds I had made at another workshop with Janina on ‘Paper Cloth’ at the Spring OSS in March. 

Actually using something I had created and turning it into a finished piece has given me a tremendous boost. I photographed the mixed-media-paper-cloth base (see top photo), printed it onto an A4 sheet of 45gsm layout paper, then scrunched and ironed it. Fused to muslin and machine-stitched around the component ghostly floral images, it became the perfect background for an A4 panel  - a piece now framed and awaiting display at the end of September in an art gallery in Todmorden, west Yorkshire, where I exhibit much of my work. This is just one of five pieces celebrating William Shakespeare and his work. This panel is from A Midsummer Night's Dream - I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows.”

Next year will see Oxford Summer School in a new venue just off Oxford’s Eastern Bypass. Log into their website so you can be kept informed of the many and diverse courses and other activities, which run from 24th-29th July, 2017.

Monday, 25 July 2016

A miscellany of activities

BDEG Chair, Ann Lowe (right) with Jan Weedon sampling 
our strawberry, cream and shortbread feast last week

BDEG has had a fascinating range of activities ongoing throughout the Summer months since I blogged about attending the EG AGM in Manchester in May, on your behalf. Regular monthly evening meetings with a speaker, Saturday tutored workshops and our informal Sewing Days which provide us with a marvellous opportunity to get to know each other. With an ‘under-staffed’ Committee, we’ve each taken on a specific role - sometimes we overlap and you may received duplicate information - though better to have too much than insufficient. (And volunteers for the 2016/17 year would be appreciated.) 



Screen shot of our Blog heading; much to discover
We have marketed ourselves and been able to attract a number of visitors, and new members, which obviously helps to keep the Branch alive and flourishing. Everyone is welcome - we’re a friendly lot whether taking up stitching for the first time, or wishing to explore new techniques, frequently with the help of friends - “how did you do that?” And for those mystified by what a BLOG is (I get some strange looks when I mention it); the word is short for WEBLOG - more than a newsletter; it’s an online compendium of news AND many other online links, all in one convenient place. In other words: “A blog is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web (www. ….) consisting of discrete entries (‘posts’) typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first”. Why don’t you explore some of the links to the top and left of the screen, settle down and enjoy discovering the many facets and intricacies of our 'Stitching Matters'.


It wasn’t all strawberries! Our latest evening meeting (July 21st) was just such an occasion where we were informally sharing textile techniques with each other, led by our own Philippa Moggridge, who brought along some samples of historic seeds packets printed onto fabric. She demonstrated how we could turn these into hand-stitched samplers, providing us all additionally with a duplicated well-illustrated and annotated stitch guide. Some of us had brought materials along which had been purchased at exhibitions which we didn’t know how to use. Those who were experienced in their use, ably demonstrated. (Editor's Note - I'll add a list of some of the most popular products and how to use them to a new section on the Blog, as soon as I have a spare moment.)

Carolyn looking exceptionally elegant in her chosen hat.
Discovering the Potential of Manipulation (written by member, Carolyn Walker): Wendy Hughes arrived at our March meeting laden down with hat boxes and bags stuffed with an array of exciting items.  Having started out as a painter of landscapes and following a rather unrewarding background in education she found herself teaching in an art college with an Aladdin’s cave of textiles. Here she started experimenting with fabric, finding ways to form something three-dimensional from something flat whilst exploring her love of colour.  Initially inspired by shell forms, she discovered the properties of bias-cutting and playing with structure.  She started with a bird’s wing made from triangles and formed trellises with polyester organzas and canes;  edges were left rough creating a fragmented quality.  Mixing different fabrics and incorporating strimmer wire produced exciting and unexpected forms. The natural progression from these experimental structures was to make exciting and special hats. Now promoting herself as a ‘milliner’ she undertook a formal training in millinery with royal hat-maker Philip Somerville where she was asked to make a hat for the Queen (albeit not in her normal flamboyant style). Her work has now come full circle and she is creating landscapes by manipulating a variety of fabrics and exploring the qualities produced by buckling, folding, dyeing and hand stitching.  She loves the contrasts achieved between flat and shiny, light and dark, smooth and textured and the ways different fabrics react. Wendy was generous with information on how she works, handing round items for us to look at closely - a most enjoyable evening.

Anne Griffiths works in both large scale, as here,
or at almost miniature size.

Our April Meeting (21.04.2016) offered us ‘Stories in Stitch’ provided by Anne Griffiths - a textile artist with a wide range of interests. We were privileged to experience a slide presentation accompanied by many examples of her work which ranged from diaphanous hangings to small stitched pieces. (Anne will will be returning in November 5th to run a workshop for us.)

Such intricate work was demostrated by Jennifer -
waxed piece on the left was married to a paper page.

















A week later, Jennifer Collier ran a most unusual ‘Experimental Textile Workshop’ where paper, or a paper derivative, was the basis of everything we made - using melted candle-wax. An inexpensive iron kept solely for this purpose is essential, as is protection of work surfaces, but some of the results were glorious, using a cornucopia of materials that Jennifer provided for us. Having created items that were semi-transparent (rendered so by the hot wax), Jennifer demonstrated how to use machine-stitching to create finished pieces. A revelation indeed.



Philippa sets up the projector and checks it for Fiona's presentation
Nature Predominates … Our May evening meeting (19th) offered us a Power Point presentation by Leamington-based designer/maker, Fiona Metcalfe, whose speciality is working with textiles and paper, combining screen print, stitch and collage.  Fiona is  particularly interested in birds and nature and enjoys experimenting with colour using recycled materials to create layers and depth of image. Her talk demonstrated her past and current work, explaining what has inspired and influenced her.  It particularly focussed on screen prints and stitch work, handmade books and cards. 


Vast sketchbooks and loose sheets of coloured drawings were the basis of
Susan O'Grady's stitched pieces.
'Personal Approach Fabric Painting with Machine Embroidery' - a long title for another outstanding evening meeting, on June 16th, focussing on the work of Susan O’Grady. Her work is painterly, focussing very much on sketching which she translates onto fabric. Fabric collage and machine stitching provide beautiful works of art.

We are a friendly group and welcome visitors to our meetings

ALL VISITORS WELCOME AT ANY OF OUR MEETINGS, WORKSHOPS AND SEWING DAYS. Participating charges are very modest and differ according to the nature of the meeting, and status of the attendee. All charges maintained for next year without increase: Branch membership - £25.00 per annum. Workshops - £25.00 paid-up BDEG members, £35.00 everyone else. Evening Meetings - included in membership fee for BDEG members, £5.00 per meeting for EG members (please bring your EG card), £7.00 per meeting for all other visitors. A maximum of three meetings are allowed in a year for visitors who are not BDEG members. Sewing Days - free to paid-up BDEG members, £2.00 EG members (please bring your EG card), £4.00 all other visitors. This may seem complicated but has been calculated to cover the necessary costs.

NATURE ENGAGES - it would seem that topics connected to the natural world are a constant source of inspiration to anyone working in textiles. So many ways to interpret what we see around us on a daily basis. BDEG member, Clare Boomer, produced this stunning and unusual cushion for the Broughton Castle ‘Capability Brown’ project. (Right now, the cushions are on display until 17.08.2016 in the window of the former Moss Bros in Banbury High Street - at the top end of the pedestrianised section). And Clare’s cushion is to feature on the front of next year’s BDEG Programme.


A fascinating book that should be on the shelves of every textile practitioner
‘TEXTILE NATURE’ by Anne Kelly will whet your appetite even further for engaging nature, so do obtain a copy of her new book, just published by Batsford. Anne tutored a workshop for us in May 2015; her calm and gifted approach encourages the most amazing work from participants and ‘Textile Nature’ fits perfectly into this blog post. The natural world - the basis for creativity, bringing the outside into your indoor workspace. As is apparent in Anne’s teaching, suggested approaches to creating a new textile piece in many formats are paramount, giving the reader freedom to adopt whatever approach best suits their chosen topic. Copious examples are given, not only of Anne’s delicious work, but of many contributors, professional and amateur. Click this link to purchase a copy


A tiny mixed-media folding book, typical of Anne's work
using vintage books, recycled textiles and much stitching 




Thursday, 12 May 2016

Manchester and the EG AGM

Much chatter amongst delegates prior to the start of the AGM
It was a privilege to be able to represent our branch (Banbury & District) at the EG AGM last Saturday. And what a marvellous experience it was. Though numbers were evidently down on last year's event (held in Birmingham), members had travelled from as far afield as Kent and Cornwall along with those from other regions, as well as those from 'up north'.

EG Presidents, Jean Littlejohn (left) and Jan Beaney (right)
chaired the AGM with humour and expertise.
The beauty of the location was that the conference centre is attached to the hotel where I stayed overnight, allowing easy access to not only the theatre, but also to the exhibition and refreshment room. We were asked not to take photos in the theatre (a good thing I had done so before this stricture was placed upon us). So I cannot show you images from the two excellent talks, given by experienced speakers Susie Vickery (awe-inspiring) in the morning, and in the afternoon, Sian Martin, whose mantra captured the imagination: "watch what is happening in your hands, and that will indicate what to do next".

Discussion on the platform (I was
able to have a long and rewarding chat
at the end of the AGM with both Jean
Littlejohn (right) and Gill Drury (centre)
Apart from all the usual AGM business - with a business plan that now encompasses trustees with specialist skills, there was the opportunity to look at work submitted by Guild members in various categories - amongst which was our own Ann Lowe. These items could be photographed, though their presentation did not make for ease of good images.

Just marvellous to see work by
young embroiderers.
Equally fascinating were the presentations given by the award winners, many of whom are young teachers who certainly know how to inspire their students. Most notable to my mind was Hannah Maugham's comment, :as educators, you should never stop learning." How very true. Full details will be in the minutes of the AGM in due course - you will need to log in to the Guild website to access them. I really enjoyed the opportunity to network with other members, for as a small rural branch, we can become all too isolated from our national organisation. I am now contemplating the possibility of attending the 2017 AGM, which is to be held in Edinburgh.

Monday, 2 May 2016

All bagged up!

Ignominiously packed, ready for transporting to Broughton Castle.
After months of hard work, our exquisite cushions - created in celebration of the 'Capability Brown'  project - have made there way to Broughton Castle where members Ann Lowe, Gill Manthorpe, Julia Swift and Em Coventry have distributed them so they are seen to best advantage all around the castle. Take a look on our BDEG website - they look so beautiful.

The castle is well worth a visit - but
during May and June, follow the
cushion trail.
Details of the actual exhibition are on the Broughton Castle website - 1st May to 3rd July. You'll need to check the days on which the castle is open.

Ann L in full swing with
her cushion project.
It seemed sad to see them go, bundled into bin bags (!) after having watched their conception and creation during our regular Sewing Days, which have now become a part of our Banbury & District branch calendar. The next two opportunities are on Friday 27th May and Friday 24th June, 10.00-2.00 (bring a packed lunch). They offer a really relaxing few hours when one can stitch and chat without pressure; ideal to get to know one another, or greet visitors - even members from other groups or branches. 

A folder of inspiration, divided
into many sections - for those new to
stitching, or more advanced
and seeking inspiration.
We meet at St.Mary's Church Hall, Wykham Lane, Broughton, OX15 5DT - (just off the Banbury Road). There's no need to book - just come along with something to create. It may be that you have discovered this Blog through a Facebook link and would like to participate; just arrive - you will be more than welcome. We also have a collection of folders with stitching prompts if you have not stitched for a while, or need some inspiration. Not just embroidery, but mixed-media textiles art using a range of techniques and materials.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Stitch Potential is EVERYWHERE - just look!

Cushions collected whilst travelling abroad 
It's nearly three weeks since my last 'Whichford Pottery Indulgence' and you might wonder what on earth a pottery has to do with stitching. It's one if the places to which I gravitate when mental sustenance is needed prior to a long and tricky creative job on the computer. Instantly, today, two appliqué cushions from the far east - adorned with kantha running-stitch - had me kneeling on the floor capturing them photographically.

My line-sketches are
are usually free-machine
stitched on calico, then
used as appliqué motifs
I find images for stitching everywhere - odd angles, shapes, plants, patterns. I don't go looking for them; they almost come running! Strange - I probably would not sit and sketch, or even write, if I were at home. I need that external stimulus and sense of pleasure at tasks already accomplished, away from a normal routine. 

Every table in the Straw Cafe is adorned with simple flowers
grown in the pottery display areas. Inspiration for more
sewing when each is enlarged photographically and
converted to stitch in any number of ways










So I'm re-charging the soul-cells at the pottery, and the body with food, in the relaxing and friendly 'Straw Cafe' - a  beetroot and feta cheese on honey-drizzled toast, served with a delicious side-salad grown on the premises. And herbal 'balance' tea: floral, with rose-petals, coriander seeds, cardamon pods and a whole lot else. Moleskin and iPhone in conjunction: there's plenty of sewing happiness to come from today's trawl. (post created by ann somerset miles). 

URGENT NOTICE for BDEG MEMBERS: DONT FORGET THE 'SEW REGIONAL' DAY IN ABINGDON THIS SATURDAY (16th April) and the EMBROIDERERS' GUILD AGM IN MANCHESTER ON SATURDAY 7th MAY. 


Wednesday, 6 April 2016

All visitors and friends always welcome


Preparing for an evening meeting: 
tables and work out, and enjoying coffee.
We are a very friendly Branch with members of all ages and abilities, from beginners to experienced stitchers with an ever-growing interest in mixed-media creation. That aside, there is a bright thread running throughout our group: a thirst for knowledge and a belief that continually discovering new techniques and exchanging thoughts, threads and suggestions IS REALLY A VERY GOOD IDEA. 






Beautiful cushion created by Hanna P
(a newcomer to our group)
Hence the introduction earlier this year of our informal Sewing Days which have drawn everyone together in happy camaraderie. We have either been working on a group-goal (currently we are finalising the 'Broughton Castle Capability Brown Cushion Project'), or those who preferred to pursue their own stitching have done so. It was thought by the Committee to be the perfect opportunity for those who had missed tuition in basic embroidery skills, whilst at school or college, to seek gentle help on a one-to-one basis. Learning is an ongoing aspect in life, is it not - do we ever stop?



Picnic lunch (essential!) with time to chat ensures
the Sewing Days are equally productive and enjoyable.


The good news is that these informal Sewing Days are to continue - on three Fridays (29th April, 27th May and 24th June - all from 10.00am to 14.00 hours at St.Mary's House, Wykham Lane, Broughton, Banbury, Oxon, OX15 5DT. (Wykham Lane is a one-way road and should be approached off the B4035). Parking in road (please don't block residents' driveways). Bring a packed lunch, tea, coffee and biscuits provided and a simply minuscule fee for attending the session. There is to be an additional Sewing Day, on Thursday 21st July, though this is to be an evening surprise - details to follow. Topic for the coming months for those who love challenges?  Announcement to follow: on this Blog or our Website, by Email or in the E-news. (The two latter methods go to members only, whereas the first two encompass non-members.) ALL NON-MEMBERS are welcome to any of out events, and particularly to the forthcoming 'Sewing Days'.

An opportunity to play - a new technique which was fun but messy -
and we did all finish with something we could use in our future work.



An exquisite cushion component
stitched by Clare B
Finally, for this post, please explore the Blog and its new possibilities: more links to useful external websites (see left - and once you have finished looking at any of these links, just click your back-button to return to this page.) All the topics in the left hand column have links to other aspects of Guild endeavours. But three's also a NEW ASPECT to bring you further joy: Any of the topics at the top of the Blog - just under the heading - will take you to an additional page in which we will be posting information in greater depth. These were only created today (6th April) and time is running out. Please keep returning here - and if your find it useful, do click the 'Follow' button. And until next time, wherever you are, enjoy your stitching. Here's an example of a perfect machine-stitched tree (free-motion embroidery) which is to become a crucial part of the Broughton Castle cushion collection. We will post the dates when these will be on display at the castle in due course.




Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Stitching Days - work, relax and chat

Margaret W working on a
complicated but very
beautiful cushion layout
What a success our recently introduced informal sewing days are proving for members and friends alike. The opportunity to work on the cushions we are creating for exhibiting at Broughton Castle (near Banbury, Oxfordshire) from 1st May to 3rd July 2016 has been a delight: no pressure, but time to get to know each other as well as 'work'. All in support of the largest exhibition across the country our national Guild has ever produced. Originally conceived to be part of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the Guild extended its search for venues across the country with beautiful landscapes and gardens to delight the eye.

Ann SM decided to create a
stitch sampler out of
paper napkins and old jeans
The Banbury & District branch of The Embroiderers Guild - formerly Cherwell Valley - with its wide age range of members with equally divers interests are producing some eye-catching and cleverly executed cushions. But not all of us have used these stitching days to work on the Broughton project - some of us are exploring sewing by hand or machine as a medium that is new to us. We have one final day fixed - on Friday 18th March, from 10.00am to 2.00pm. Venue: St Mary's Hall, Wykham Lane, Broughton, near Banbury, OX15 5DT. All are welcome; bring a picnic lunch and spend a few relaxing hours in pleasant company. Maybe include in your bag a note book and a piece of fabric with needle and threads - though we have supplies to share.