The reason for starting the Stitching Sheep is because I love needlecraft and embroidery in particular and I wanted to share it with more people than just my immediate family and friends. The problem, however, with enjoying something so much, is that you want to keep doing it and as a result don’t give yourself to write a post about it. That is what happened to me last weekend.

I was back at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court for two more day classes and I had an absolutely fantastic time. Both of the classes were taught by Helen Richman, who I had met before doing my silkshading day class. On the Saturday she taught the ‘Secret Garden’ her own design featuring stumpwork and ribbonwork. You can see the finished design on her website The Bluebird Embroidery Company. On Sunday she taught an introductory class in Jacobean Crewelwork featuring a design by Lizzy Pye of Laurelin who is on maternity leave and therefore was unable to teach the class herself.

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My workstation

The classes were very different. The ‘Secret Garden’ was a mixed ability class featuring quite a few students with a lot of experience in embroidery, some of whom had actually done the certificate course. It was really nice to hear their experiences and to hear about the embroidery (& cake) groups they were part of. One of the students actually came up to me asking wether it was me who had stitched the pheasant as it was recommend to her by Facebook! I didn’t think the Stitching Sheep would spread so quickly but it has!

We learned 5 different ribbon stitches, and I was able to practise my silk shading techniques on the stumpwork petals. It take quite a long time to complete each pettal, as there are so many different steps to complete. This why we were only able to complete on petal during the actual class. Nine more to go (as well as two leaves)! This is why the pictures of my work at the end of the day don’t really look like much. Once it is finished I will of course share it on here!

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The Secret Garden at the end of the day

During lunchtime I was able to take a sneek peak into the room where they are teaching the summer intensive in Crewelwork, which was really fun but scary at the same time as their designs all looked so amazing. The RSN shop featured some really good crewelwork books because the summer intensive was on. I bought a copy of Crewel Twists by Blomkamp and Crewel Work by Tracy A Franklin, to get some inspiration for my own crewel work design. I also bought a copy of Raised Embroidery by Kelley Alridge and Goldwork by Hazel Everett as they had been on my wishlist for ages. I also bought my slate frame for the certificate course so I can make a bag for it during the summer and get some trestles organised.

The introductory Jacobean class, logically, featured quite a few beginners, which resulted in me feeling like the experienced embroiderer for change! It gave me a lot of confidence. I was able to complete a bit more of the design during the actual then normal because I stitched faster than others. This has never happened to me before as I am a rather slow stitcher!

This class also covered quite a lot of stitches from trellis to chain stitch and from long & short to raised stem stitch. It was really fun to learn new stitches and already get to practise them before it all become real during my certificate course. It really helps doing a day class (or more than one) beforehand as you quickly learn the pittfalls of each stitch so you know what to watch out for next time. As a result I don’t see the final result of this class as my best work ever but as a learning curve towards the certificate class.

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The crewelwork design at the end of the day class

One of the pittfalls I quickly became aware of is when working the trellis  and the battlement couching stitches. It is really difficult to keep them straight and at the correct angle. The crosses or the small straight stitches can move your nice straight lines out of alignment very quickly (which our tutor Helen warned us about). However, also the stitches you work around the edges of the area covered in trellis or battlement couching stitch can move them out of alignment! It is important to constantly keep an eye out the check whether they are still aligned correctly, as unpicking the wool is not always as easy.

It is also very difficult to cover all of the design-lines as they were drawn on rather clearly to make them easy for us to see. I think I need to start practising painting the lines on my prick & pounced designs to make sure I can get them nice and thin so they are not difficult to cover!

Working with wool is also very different then working with stranded cotton or silk as the hand-died wool varies in colour and thickness. The varied thickness is apparent in the open stitches (such as trellis) but because wool is more flexible and can be compressed it is easier to do long and short stitches in wool rather than in stranded cotton as it gaps are more easily filled up.

After the weekend I have kept on working on the Jacobean Crewelwork design and I have already progressed a little bit further. I will of course share the finished piece one it is done!

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The crewelwork design last night
Posted by:Marlous

10 replies on “Back at Hampton Court

  1. Both of your pieces look very good so far, and I look forward to seeing the finished pieces. I agree that it would be wonderful to be able to take a day class or two to get your hand and eye in for the certificate classes, however like so many others it is too far for me to get there from Australia. I loved reading the bit about the intensive class as I hope to be doing the four intensive certificate classes at HCP next year. So much planning and practice stitching to do before then. Where do you stay when you are visiting The RSN? I need to make bookings. Thanks for sharing and all the best.

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    1. Thank you! You are very brave doing the four intensives next year as I am sure it will be hard work doing them back to back! I will be doing the Canvaswork intensive next year so I might see you there! I like to book an airbnb as it is cheaper and there is more flexibility. Check out my post about my silk shading class from the 5th of May as it has a link in it to the airbnb I stayed in. Another one I would recommend are the Garden Rooms in Teddington. However, do let me book first!!!

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  2. It sounds like you had a lovely time, with two great classes.
    You will find the painting of design lines is quite difficult- I’m going to try and find a finer paintbrush than the one they supply in an attempt to get finer lines on my goldwork piece!
    I found trellis work was one of those ones that got easier with practice and knowing your tension well.
    Can’t wait to see the finished pieces! And I’m so glad I’m not the only one who struggles with blog writing and stitching!

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    1. I actually bought a couple of fine watercolour brushes (0, 2/0, 3/0 and 4/0) and some winsor and newton watercolour paint yesterday to have a practise as I know that I really don’t have a steady hand for painting. I’ll draw a design in pencil and then try to trace it in paint. Helen suggested to use a paint colour to match the design or the fabric to make it less noticeable, i.e. use a yellow ochre colour for goldwork. But I don’t know whether that is allowed!

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  3. I wish that I had taken a crewel work course before starting the certificate – it does help to know the pitfalls before you start. Your trellis work is particularly neat, look forward to seeing the finished results.

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    1. Thank you! I am really glad I did as even when I am working on this small design at home I am constantly learning things, which hopefully prevents me from making those mistakes again, or at least realising it sooner so I am still able to rectify it!

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  4. I just discovered your blog through hillviewembroidery and I have really enjoyed reading through all your posts 🙂 You will really like the books you got, I have a few of them myself and they are excellent. I wish I could take classes at the RSN, it’s just so far away from Canada 😐

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    1. Thank you Dima! I know, I am really lucky even though from a European perspective I am not close either as I have to cross borders and it requires plane/train/ferry and accomodation! Some of my friends think I am mad for travelling that far for a course! I am always amazed to see people from the States attending day classes, as they have often travelled to London specifically for the RSN! On Sunday there was someone from New Zealand! Is the RSN satelite in Williamsburg not an option for you? At least it is a bit closer?

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