Embroidery in Italy

Hello everyone

This week I would like to continue with the Italy adventures, share some of the beautiful pieces of embroidery done by the ladies of the Arco embroidery association, and talk a bit about embroidery in Italy.


Embroidery or Ricamo, as it is known in Italian,  is not new to the Italians – it is an ancient craft that has been passed down through many generations and it is common to see both young and old with a needle and thread in hand.  Needless to say they are very talented, expert embroiderers!  What I found so endearing about these ladies is the way they encouraged each others achievements – if one of the ladies has a particular talent she will teach all the other ladies, it is a matter of commitment and pride in their heritage to ensure that the art is passed on.  Below you can see some of the embroidery done by the ladies at the Arco assocation.


There are so many techniques used – to name a few:   Hardanger,  Ricamo antico, Ricamo classico, Ricamo bandera, Rococo, Reticello,  lace making, and of course my favourite punto pittura (stitch painting) An excellent source of information on each style of Italian embroidery can be found here.

I was thrilled to see that many of them did needle painting and whitework with colour, and had several copies of my books.  Despite the fact that they are in English, they use the pictures and follow along as best they can – awesome!  ( I hope to see my future books translated into additional languages to help with this.)  They loved the idea of adding color to the white work embroidery and were interested to know where the idea came from – I said that coming from Africa we don’t have formal traditions to follow, so tend to make it up as we go along!


In Venice I was fortunate enough to see some of the exquisite lace making, known as Burano lace and also to be gifted a stunning piece of lace, hand made by Giovanna in Arco.  The lace was still attached to the card that it was made on and it was not until I had painstakingly removed all the basting threads that I fully realized the extent of the work that goes into stitching every little bit of lace.  It now has pride of place in my studio, thank you Giovanna, it will be very treasured!



The Legend of Burano lace.    Legend has it that a long time ago in Burano lived a fisherman named Nicholas. He was beautiful and good-natured, and considered to be the most eligible bachelor in the area. All the girls wanted him but he had eyes only for Mary, his fiancée.  A few days before their wedding, Nicolò was at  sea fishing when he began to hear a sweet song. In short he saw that his boat was surrounded by a group of beautiful women: they were the mermaids.  However, Nicolò was not enchanted and in his mind stayed only the image of Mary. The mermaids were really affected by the love that Nicolò felt for his girlfriend and donated him a magnificent embroidery, created with the foam of the sea.  Nicolò gave the object to his the bride on their wedding day, and Mary, extremely proud of her gorgeous lace, set to work to recreate the lace. Hence, Burano lace was born!

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The island of Burano in the Venice lagoon is a magical place filled with small colourful houses, delicious cookies, small restaurants offering the best seafood … And above all, handmade lace!  The lace-makers are really an attraction of the island and even the biggest international fashion houses have often used this fine embroidery.  You can find more information here Martina Vidal

Burano lace in Venice

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Next time I will share with you the embroidery class in Verona.  Till then keep smiling and happy stitching.  Trish


Arco Embroidery Association

Hello Everyone

As you know I have just returned from a trip to Italy and there is too much to tell in one blog post so I am going to share it in stages.  This week I will give you a brief summary of our trip leading up to my visit to the embroidery association in Arco.

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We started off with 3 days in Rome where we happily re-united with my daughters Stacey and Tessa who live in London.   We stayed in a lovely Airbnb apartment right by the Spanish steps.  Of course we did all the touristy things like visiting the Vatican, St Peters Basilica, Trevi Fountain and the Piazza Navona Square.  Not only was this the start of a love affair with one of the most beautiful Countries in the world but also the start of an ever increasing waistline as we ate our way through mountains of delicious pasta and pizza at traditional, cafes and restaurants!


We then traveled by train to the charming city of Florence where my daughter’s and I did a cooking class in the Tuscan countryside and learned how to make pizza and gelato.

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The handsome Italian chef patiently persevered with my clumsy attempts to toss the pizza dough, finally waving his hands in the air in despair and telling me I needed to practice!

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From Florence we went by train to Verona the city of Romeo & Juliet, where we hired a car and made our way to Lake Garda.

The balcony of Romeo and Juliet

With the help of google maps we managed with great difficulty to negotiate the challenges of driving on the wrong side of the road!   We spent 8 days in lake garda at an Airbnb apartment near Salo – There are no words to describe the beauty of the lake and surrounding towns, hopefully the photos will give some idea of the stunning scenery?

Lake Garda Italy

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Whilst there I visited the Arco Embroidery association about an hour away.  Arco is a small town at the top of Lake Garda near the border of Austria.  The association consists of of approx 30 ladies who meet weekly in a small village hall just outside of Arco.



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Rewind a few years back –  I received a lovely email from Ilaria(who speaks English) on behalf of Giovanna, saying that my books had greatly helped the ladies with their needle painting and if I was ever in Italy they would love to have me as a guest at their association.  At the time I was touched by this message, and thought how wonderful it would be to visit this little village and meet these ladies but never thought it possible!

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I was warmly greeted with hugs and excited Italian chatter by Giovanna, Ilaria and her Mum who met us and drove me to the association.  Once there, I was overwhelmed by the heartfelt welcome of the ladies who had prepared tea, coffee, champagne and yummy Italian cakes and laid out their work in anticipation of my arrival.

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With Ilaria translating I recounted the story of Giovanna’s email and how I never thought it possible that I could be here –  Tears came into my eyes and in an emotional meeting of the minds, we all agreed that our common love of embroidery could overcome time and  space and allow us to meet, though thousands of miles away.   To be among these salt of the earth, Italian ladies and to witness some of their exquisite embroideries was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

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The President of the association

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Next week I look forward to showing you some of their embroideries and sharing with you a bit of what I learned about the traditions of their embroidery, how the art has been passed down through several generations and continues to be a major industry in the lives of both young and old today.

Meanwhile, wherever you are in the world keep smiling and happy stitching.

Ciao, arriver derci!







Shop on vacation

Hello everyone

Hope this finds you well?

Just a reminder that the shop will be closing next week on 28th June, last orders will be processed on the 29th.  The shop will be closed for the month of July as I will be away in Europe, teaching and on vacation with my family.  I will have limited email access whilst I am away so unable to reply to correspondence until my return.

Till next time, enjoy your summer, keep smiling and happy stitching.  I will be in touch on my return.



Chloe the cat is here!

Hello everyone

Hope this week finds you well?  Cape town is in the midst of gale force winds and torrential rain at the moment so I am wrapped up warm in my studio with all the windows tightly closed.   Hopefully the power does not go off……….

This week I am delighted to tell you that, at last, Chloe the cat is here!  I know many of you have been waiting patiently since the beginning of the year for a mate for Katarina.  Katarina has attitude but Chloe is the sweeter, gentler of the two – she is a ginger cat in lovely shades of golden brown which blend beautifully together and provide a lovely contrast against the white.


She was designed and illustrated by Jill Buckley of The Quilt Rat and amended to make it suitable for embroidery.  She is available as a pattern pack with pre-printed fabric, instruction booklet and needles in Trish Burr Embroidery shop and will shortly be available as a download in the digital store.  Please note that pattern packs do not include thread, but the floche needed is available in the shop.

There is a new Lesson in Whitework with colour  available – Summer Butterfly. She is stitched in royal shades of blue, red, gold and white and will allow you to learn the basics of whitework with colour embroidery from the comfort of your own home and to work at your own pace.  Summer Butterfly is a full kit which includes everything you need to stitch the project:  pre-printed fabric, instruction booklet, needles and threads.

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New Fabric

In addition to the white cotton muslin available we now have a natural shade of cotton muslin available in the shop.   It is a lovely shade of light cream with slight speckling on, which creates a lovely vintage backdrop for your embroidery.

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Shop on vacation

I will be leaving for Italy at the end of this month  for a 3 week holiday with my family and daughters from the UK.  I will be teaching a class in Verona and will be attending the Embroidery association in Arco, Trentino, which I am looking forward to enormously and plan to tell you all about it when I get back!   The shop will be closed from the 29th June 2017 and will re-open on the 27th July 2017.  I will not have access to my online shop or email whilst traveling so please place your last orders in the next two weeks to ensure delivery before we close, thank you.

Till next time wherever you are in the world, keep smiling and happy stitching.




My Wishlist

Hello everyone

Hope you had a fantastic weekend?  This week I want to tell you about a new feature in the shopMY WISHLIST.

I have a cousin in the UK who is quite a character – she once told me that she spends hours adding items to the cart in an online Fabric shop, looks at the grand total and says “Well that was fun” and then hits the delete button!  She calls it her Retail therapy, because even if she can’t afford it she feels like she has had her shopping fun.

My WishList is similar, in that you can add items to your wish list and come back to them later.  There is no commitment to purchase anything you can just add items as and when you feel like it, and you will have your own private little wishlist.  Its so simple, here’s how it works:

Click on the heart next to the Add to cart button, to add an item to your wishlist.

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A lavender blue pop up will appear. If you change your mind click on it again and it will be removed from the wish list.

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Click on your WISHLIST on the top menu and it will open your wish list, showing the items you have saved.  You don’t have to register an account to use this feature it is optional.  Once you have items in your wish list you can share this list with others (send a big hint to your husband or family for the next birthday present?) or post it on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter – that way all your friends will get the hint!

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You can also remove an item or add it to the cart once you are ready to buy.

Gift Cards.

On the subject of birthdays, presents etc there is another feature in the shop which allows you to purchase a GIFT CARD.


You can choose the amount you want to spend and add to the cart.  You will receive an email notification like the one below and you can forward this to the recipient to use whenever they want.  These gift cards never expire.

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For those of you who have been patiently waiting for Chloe the cat – the sister design to Katarina, the good news is the stitching is complete and I am working hard to get the instructions done.  She should be ready for sale by next week so keep an eye out in the shop.  For those who don’t know we have moved from ETSY to a new shop:


Till next time, keep smiling, happy stitching and remember “Stitching forever, housework whenever”.





New patterns

Hello everyone

Hope this finds you well and enjoying the start of a new week, at least Monday is done only 4 more days till the weekend!  As Dame Maggie Smith said in Downtown Abbey “what is a weekend?”


Giraffe With Barbara Streisand Eyes.

The long awaited Giraffe with Barbara Streisand eyes is now available as a pattern pack in the new store.  The pack includes a piece of fabric with printed outline, needles and instruction booklet.  I don’t normally say this but he is too gorgeous, every time I look into those eyes it makes me smile!  He/she was aptly named by a member at our Cape Town guild who commented “he has eyes like Barbara Streisand”!

You can find the Giraffe here.

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The pattern includes the usual step by step instructions.  There are only a few shades of DMC stranded cotton used to create this design.

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Full Kits

You will be pleased to know that I have increased the Full Kit section to include a few more kits which include thread.  Most of you know that I don’t include thread in the kits due to the fact that it is more cost effective for you to purchase them in your country of origin and also that when ordering thread for a kit there is often one that is not available, so it is difficult to keep stock of the required threads, but for those who prefer to have thread included here they are:  they include everything you need to stitch the project all you need to provide is your own hoop.

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An old favorite has been re-stitched and given a face lift – the Azure Butterfly in needlepainting is now available with thread here.


Spring in a teacup in whitework is  a new design  based on the larger Flowers in a teacup.  Full of fresh promise in lovely shades of teal, blue, lemon and gold, it is Now available here.

The complete lessons have also been given fresh packaging and updated instructions and are back in stock with thread included.


Lesson in miniature embroidery:  Vintage Robin and Pansy can be found here:


and Lesson in Miniature Needlepainting embroidery:  Little bird and flower can be found here.


I know shipping costs are a source of concern for many of you, there is nothing more discouraging than finding that your shipping costs more than the items you ordered? But you will be pleased to hear that I have established very reasonable shipping rates with a major International Courier company and this means you receive your parcel within 5 – 8 days instead of the delay of 2 – 4 weeks as was previously the case with International Airmail.  Depending on your country of origin the cost of International courier is only about $2 more than airmail post, or it can be the same price – see below.

The postal system has been proving more and more unreliable with parcels often getting lost en-route to the customer, and this is a source of frustration for both the customer and myself with many wasted hours (that could be spent in my happy place stitching new designs :)) searching for lost parcels.  Although I am currently still offering International airmail as an option at checkout, PLEASE consider choosing the courier option, it can be tracked online right to your door and your contents are insured, ensuring we all get a good nights sleep and you are happy with your order!


You can calculate the cost of your shipping before you go to checkout by using the Shipping Calculator in the basket.  Choose your country and put in your postal code and it will give you the options available:

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Meantime, wherever you are in the world, keep smiling, happy stitching and remember:

“Embroidery forever, Housework whenever.”  Trish