Easter Gift

Hello Everyone

Can’t believe Easter is here already haven’t we just celebrated Christmas?  I am always looking for a way to give back to you – my readers, students and customers.  To say thank you for your continued support, the encouraging emails and kind thoughts you send my way – YOU ARE MY INSPIRATION!

Here is a little gift for you, Bluetit & Pansies project.  You can stitch it for a friend or yourself,  share it, copy it or do whatever you want with it – the project is yours.   The complete pattern can be downloaded here: BLUETIT & PANSIES.  Be patient it is quite a big file so will take time to download.

Bluetit & Pansies

Bluetit & Pansies

Linen & Muslin fabric are back in stock.  Please note that any orders placed in the Etsy Shop will not be shipped till after Easter on 7th April.  Sorry for the inconvenience but the Post Office will be closed for Easter Friday & Monday.

Happy Easter to you all and till next time wherever you are in the world, remember “Embroidery forever, housework whenever!”  Keep smiling and happy stitching!  Trish

New Linen Fabric

Hello everyone

How are you, hope your week is going well?  This week I want to chat to you about linen fabric for embroidery.  For more information on linen fabric you can download the PDF here.

You may have noticed that the Irish cambric linen in the Etsy shop has been out of stock for some time.  As you know the good quality finely woven linen that our great Grandmother’s used has become scarce if not impossible to find.  Not all Irish linen is manufactured in Ireland but mainly now produced in USA and China.  There are still some weavers in Europe –  Belgium, France and Switzerland but it is impossible to source them without getting on a flight and doing some serious research.  There are many fine “church” linens still produced for ecclesiastical embroidery, and some surface linens such as legacy which are lovely for crewel embroidery/goldwork but none of them have that fine, very close weave that we require for needlepainting and whitework.  Below is an example of what I mean.

fine linen cambric

fine linen cambric

A few years ago I was fortunate to source a cambric Irish linen from a company in the USA and this is what we have been using up till now but unfortunately they have discontinued it.  The company informed me that “the last piece has arrived from our mill – unfortunately fine linen yarns are hard to get for this and there is not a great demand”.  (no demand what about us embroiderers!!)   I then got in touch with my friend Wollman Bastian of Zweigart Linens to see if he could help and his reply was: I am really sorry I cannot help since there are less and less weavers here in Europe, I would not have any idea where to get it.”

So began a search for a similar linen fabric.  For the last few months I have been in touch with every manufacturer I could find worldwide, including the luxury linen bed sheet producers to see if they could supply a similar linen.  I received numerous samples by post but the fabric was just not the same quality – too heavy and the weave too loose.  But this week I received a sample from Belgium that made my heart sing – it is just beautiful.  It is a Belgium linen known as batiste linen – you can read a definition of it here.  I mounted a piece into a hoop and tried stitching several bits on it and it is gorgeous!

The bad news is that it is pricey, notably more expensive then the previous linen which I used, which means that when the current linen stocks are depleted there is going to be a 5 – 10% increase in the cost of the whitework kits, this will happen gradually in the next few months.  My apologies but this is totally out of my control and I feel strongly about using good quality materials for our embroidery.  There seems no point in putting all that work into something of inferior quality.  I am sure you agree?

The good news is that the new fabric is an absolute joy to stitch on – and the company has assured me that it will be available on an ongoing basis.   The weft and warp are evenly woven and the weave is nice and tight so there is plenty of placement options for your needle and no holes.  Being 100% linen it springs back into shape when removed from the hoop and can be washed and ironed with a very hot iron without any damage whatsoever.  It is perfect for fine whitework embroidery but also sturdy enough to use alone without a backing fabric for needlepainting.  Below is a picture of the previous linen and the new linen.  I have blown these up 150% so that you can see the difference in the weave.  If you click on each picture you will get an even larger zoom.

The new linen fabric will be available by the metre/pieces as before in about May 2015, in the meantime I have managed to procure a 1300wt Irish Cambric linen which is a little finer than the previous 14HC and limited stocks of this will be available in the Etsy shop shortly.

Meanwhile, wherever you are in the world, remember “Embroidery forever, housework whenever!”  Keep smiling and happy stitching!  Trish

London Class RSN

Hello everyone

This week I am pleased to let you know that I have been invited as a guest tutor to teach at the Royal School Of Needlework, at Hampton Court Palace in London in June 2015.  This necessitated changing my flights to include an extra two days on the trip so am only able to offer a one day class – if you are interested in registering please see details here – Royal School Of Needlework.

To learn more about the RSN, history and present day you can read an article here, The Studio.

The photo below is courtesy of Sew Graceful Blogspot.

Royal School Of Needlework courtesy Sew Graceful Blogspot

Royal School Of Needlework courtesy Sew Graceful Blogspot

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to teach at such a renowned establishment, and of course to see the Palace first hand and indulge my love of all things King Henry V111 and his many wives!

That’s all for this week. Meanwhile, wherever you are in the world, remember “Embroidery forever, housework whenever!”  Keep smiling and happy stitching!  Trish


Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile

Hello everyone

How is your week going – the weekend is here!  Last night we watched the 2014 Annie movie and afterwards by youngest daughter showed me a video clip that was made in New York You are never full dressed without a smile.  It was enchanting – and made me think of how if we gave everyone we met a smile how it would lift not only others spirits but also our own?  Watch the video clip here and you will see what I mean.  It really made me smile!


You may also like to watch the Cape Town version here.

Of course what really makes most of us smile is sitting down with our embroidery – how it takes us into another realm away from all the stresses and routine of every day life.  When I was at BATB convention in Australia last year I often used to look around me at the 150 + people who were attending the convention, the non stop chatter, laughter and interaction between like minded people and get a little thrill.  People who don’t stitch could never understand the joy that we get from creating something beautiful?

I am often asked how I find the time to do so many projects – it is no secret I make time.  I am a master at taking shortcuts for anything involving housework, cooking chores, homework etc – if there is a way to save time doing this I will find it.  For example getting a ready made lasagne for supper and putting it into my own dish so it looks home made.  The time saved by these little deceptions can add up to an extra hour or two for stitching!  The other thing I have learned to do is delegate wherever possible – if someone offers to help with packing kits or cutting fabric say YES, and of course say NO to any non essentials like volunteering to cover books at the school library!  Where possible I arrange my day mentally in advance – for instance if I have to pick my daughter up from school at 2pm and need to get groceries or get to the shops I will leave half an hour earlier, do the shopping en route and then pick her up, one trip does it all.

Of course if your husband offers to cook the supper never, never say no.  Even if you don’t particularly like the way he cooks the chicken schnitzel – pretend to like it.  If he thinks he is a good cook he will be encouraged to do it again!

Thinking of saving time, in the new book Miniature Needle Painting Embroidery, I made a promise to save you time by providing ready traced outlines on fabric for each section in the book.  These are now available in the Etsy shop.  There are 5 pieces of cotton muslin fabric in each pack, with the outline for each project in that section, i.e. Portraits, Flowers, Birds and 3 for the Victorian Pansies.  You can find them under Fabric & Supplies here.

You may notice that I have made changes to my website, it has a cleaner, simpler interface which I hope you will find easier to navigate.

Meanwhile, wherever you are in the world, remember “Embroidery forever, housework whenever!”  Keep smiling and happy stitching!  Trish


Digital Downloads For Whitework

Hello Everyone

Hope you are having a good week?  We are experiencing a heat wave here in Cape Town 40 degrees today, so am shut up in my office with the air con on!

As promised to those of you who requested the digital downloads for Katarina The Cat and Chickadee, they are now available in the Etsy shop. 

I have received numerous emails asking when the fabric packs with pre-printed outlines for the projects in the new book Miniature Needlepainting Embroidery would be available.  I did promise these in the book for those of you who are nervous about tracing your own outlines onto fabric, and yes they are currently at the screen printers and will be available in the Etsy shop very soon.  The book has now been released in USA and the rest of the world and is available on Amazon or any good online bookshop.  Thanks to your support and lovely reviews it has reached the No 1 bestseller in embroidery this week!  (thankyou).

book cover

Meanwhile, wherever you are in the world, remember “Embroidery forever, housework whenever!”  Keep smiling and happy stitching!  Trish

Katarina Is Here

Hello everyone

How are you?  Hope your week is going well.  Am thrilled to let you know that at last the 3 new Shades Of Whitework kits are available for sale in the Etsy Shop.  Katarina The Cat, Chickadee and the long awaited Complete Lesson in Whitework – flower mandala.  This is the ideal design for learning the technique as it features several shapes that are repeated in the design therefore good for practice.   All 3 techniques, Needlepainting, Miniature Needlepainting and Whitework are now available as Complete lessons, which means you can learn the technique in the comfort of your own home.

Kits with or without thread.

All the whitework kits are now available with or without thread.  Due to the fact that I have to import the threads into South Africa, it is much simpler for you to purchase the DMC stranded cotton in your own country and the only other threads which these projects use are DMC Cotton Floche.

Threads & DMC Cotton Floche

Floche is a lovely soft cotton thread that is ideal for surface embroidery and very forgiving for satin stitch.  One skein of floche has approx 150m of thread on it which will cover approx 4 whitework projects.   Floche is imported from France and it is not always easy to obtain so I have decided to make the two colours that I use most in these designs, available in the shop you can find them here.  You will find a list of the threads needed next to the product description – there are approx 6 shades of DMC stranded cotton and 2 colours of Floche, for each project.   If you purchase the kit only without thread you can purchase the threads from your local Needlework shop or online and one skein will do a couple of projects, so really it is far more cost effective. But should you require the full thread pack this is also available as an option, however stocks will be limited to availability.  Some of the thread packs are not available right now I am awaiting stock.

DMC Cotton Floche

DMC Cotton Floche

Kit contents

The whitework kits all include a generous size of beautiful, high quality Irish Linen cambric fabric with a pre-printed outline, so no tracing required, an full colour printed instruction booklet and 2 sharps needles size 10.

Gutermann Threads

The Gutermann threads used for outlining in the miniature projects and also in the new book Miniature Needle Painting are available for sale in the Etsy shop.  Those of you residing in the USA may find these difficult to source as the numbering system is different to that of Europe & Africa so Mary Corbet of Needle N Thread kindly offered to source US substitutes for me and these are now listed next to the Gutermann threads in the shop.  You can read her article here, and the previous post here, thank you Mary!

Again if you purchase one small cop of this sewing thread it will probably last you a lifetime or certainly numerous projects.

gutermann outline threads USA 2015

Fabric for Miniature Needlepainting

Southern belle 200 count muslin is used for all the miniature needlepainting projects.  This is available from the Etsy store, and I am pleased to let you know that it is now also available in the UK from Mace & Nairn.  Cotton satin which is used for needlepainting embroidery is also available from Mace & Nairn in the UK and can be purchased from Threads In Bloom in the USA.

That’s all for this week. Meanwhile, wherever you are in the world, remember “Embroidery forever, housework whenever!”  Keep smiling and happy stitching!  Trish

Design Inspiration

Hello Everyone

How are you?  This week I would like to introduce someone who has become a  great source of inspiration for my Whitework designs but before we start there are three things I need to chat to you about:

1.  New Whitework Kits

Firstly please accept my apologies for the delay in the release of the new whitework kits.  We have been having recurrent load shedding (power cuts) here in South Africa and this has resulted in the printers and screen printers having to work around these power cuts so everything has been delayed.  This also applies to re-stocking kits that have sold out in the Etsy shop, so please bear with me they should be back in stock by next week.  As a side note I have found a new use for my battery operated Purelite magnifying lamp – it is good for standing on the kitchen counter and lighting up the area when cooking chicken on a two plate gas stove!  Who says us embroiderers aren’t resourceful?

2.  Book Review

Secondly Mary Corbet kindly did a review on the new book Miniature Needle Painting yesterday. You can read about it here:   In the acknowledgement section I asked her to “be nice to me Mary” and she was very nice, so thanks for that Mary!  One of the concerns that came up from readers in the USA is that the Gutermann polyester sewing thread that I use for outlining on miniatures seems to have a different numbering system in the USA to the European ones.  Rest assured that we are working on a solution and Mary Corbet has kindly offered to take my list with her to the shops this week and find substitute colours.  I will share these with you in a future blog post but they will also be listed next to the Gutermann threads available for sale in the Etsy shop.  More on this later.

3.  Whitework Book

Thirdly further to my announcement that I would be working on a book Needle Painting Birds Of The World – it has been decided by the publishers that this will require more time to produce as the projects are slightly larger and more time consuming and so will be delayed slightly and follow on from a book on “Shades Of Whitework.  I call it this to distinguish from pure white on white embroidery as I add touches of colour.   I am very excited about this one, it is quite diverse to needle painting but very freeing and the projects are great fun to work on.  This will hopefully be released late 2016.  To those of you who have written with requests for birds, your suggestions have been noted, thank you.

Which brings me to Jill Buckley.  Jill is a Canadian quilter, designer and artist you can read all about her here and in an interview for the Canadian Quilters Blog.  Jill designs the most stunning doodles, some of which have been built into the library of Janome Embroidery machines, and published in books to name a few of her achievements.  Like me she came into her own later in life and finally found her niche so we have a lot in common.  Her artwork has a lovely flowing composition which caught my eye whilst browsing for ideas on Pinterest and I soon got in touch with her to request the use of some of her designs for whitework projects.

Now you are probably not aware of the potential battle that goes on to gain permission from artists/photographers to use their artwork?  Not all artists are forthcoming some just say a flat NO, some ask for unrealistic licensing fees, and in one case I received this reply from the agent of a prominent nature artist in the USA:   “We are not interested its just too small a deal…”  there was no dear Trish or yours sincerely, just that, then of course there are those lovely, generous artists who are only too willing to share their work and Jill was one of those.  When I first approached Jill she was a little apprehensive but eventually agreed to let me use the outline of her cat, the result of which you can see below.

Having seen the completed embroidery of Katarina The Cat she agreed to let me use more of her designs and since then has actually been designing exclusive doodles for me to use in the new book, how lucky am I?  Of course I have to re-draw and adapt the original to make it suitable for whitework embroidery but the idea source is there and it allows me to spend more time on the designing and stitching, and less time on sourcing images.  I am in heaven!   I wish I could share them with you but of necessity they have to remain secret till the book release, but I am sure you are going to love them – there are lots of different, gorgeous designs, which have inspired me with all sorts of wonderful ideas for the final projects.

If you have a specific idea that you would like to see in shades of whitework let me know and I will certainly consider it.  Next time I hope to share with you how to overcome some challenges that people experience with needle painting, specifically long & short stitch.  Meanwhile, wherever you are in the world, remember “Embroidery forever, housework whenever!”  Keep smiling and happy stitching!  Trish


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