November 2020 newsletter

Well, the leaves are almost all fallen, the temperature has dropped, the clocks gone back and the nights drawing in. Before long it will be dark soon after 3pm and fires will grackle in grates throughout the land…

Nottinghamshire has just moved into Tier 3, but soon maybe the entire country may face a further Lockdown. Prospects look bleak, but luckily we have an interest in fabric, texture and colour that should lift our spirits somewhat. Now that the garden has gone to sleep you have no excuse not to return to your sewing station and enjoy some stitching, lacemaking, knitting or whatever other creative outlet you feel inspired to do.

I’ve struggled to get busy with my art quilts but have been finishing off a lot of projects, doing quite a few Blocks-of-the-Month that I have to subscribed to and making masks. Guess what will be in most of my family Christmas parcels this year! We have a couple of new babies in the family  via my nieces, so I’ve been busy with making playmats for them. I also got inspired by those fabulous autumn leaves outside my window and have started a wallhanging.

Gilli wallhanging

The Quilters’ Guild has been running talks and workshops via Zoom, which I have been enrolling on. Today there is a talk by Kaffe Fassett on colour and last week was a delightful talk by Christina Cameli on creating texture through simple free machine quilting. There is a talk every month, from different speakers, usually from the US, who are much more switched on to using Zoom in this way.

I’ve also booked on a 90 minute workshop on Quilt-as-You-Go techniques and one with Jo Avery to do freehand dandelion clocks!

If you are a member of the Quilters’ Guild you just go to the website and book that way, or, for non-members, you can access these at

There are plenty of other sites offering online workshops in embroidery, quilting and other textile crafts. comes highly recommended and of course you can’t get better than the Royal School of Needlework: . I’m sure there are plenty of others and if you have attended any and enjoyed them please let me know for future listing, or, better still, write a review for the newsletter!

Joan Pilkington has written a lovely piece on her lacemaking adventures:

Over 40 years ago I was given a felt doll and fabric to dress her as a lace maker.

To my shame she has languished in a drawer for all those years with my saying ‘One day’ every time I opened that drawer.

This year Covid-19 has meant that my husband and I needed to self-isolate! This would be the opportunity to tidy and remove things from our cluttered home! On opening ‘that drawer’ I decided that rather than Spring Cleaning the ‘one day’ had come to transform the doll into a lace maker; a long overdue project and a much more enjoyable activity!

‘One day’ stretched to four weeks! I knew where to find the folder with patterns for dolls clothes, saved from Home and Country magazine dating back many years, also the tiny bobbins and the book by Ann Collier (Dolls and dolls houses) providing lace patterns for different sizes of doll. I had to adapt the patterns as my doll was ‘an in between size.

To give the doll’s body shape, I made a corset, followed by pantaloons and petticoat, made with old fine linen fabric bottom edged with lace using threads: 100 Brok and 36 Tanne (gimp) Next the dress was made. Snap fasteners were invented in 1885 and so if the doll was late Victorian, these could be used to fasten the back of the dress, rather than buttons. Lace cuffs and a front piece extending to a back collar were made using adapted patterns from Ann Collier’s book and threads: 100 Brok and 12 perlé (gimp). Narrow ribbon formed a belt. Small pieces of fine glove leather were used to make little shoes tied with very narrow ribbon. A lace cap for her head using threads 80 Brok and 12 perlé; and a small bead and metal cup added colour as a broach at the neckline. The shawl picks up the red in the dress and is made using a shiny, unknown thread similar in thickness to 50Tanne. The design has holes surrounded by gimp close to the edge suitable for threading ribbon and this ribbon has been used to secure the shawl to the doll.

The chair and pillow stand have wooden bobbins as legs and chair back. The pillow is stuffed with paper straw. With only 8 bobbins I have used Kat stitch for the lace on the pillow. The bobbins have been spangled with tiny beads and a thread has been threaded through the spangles and anchored to the pillow to keep the bobbins in order. In Sweden a folkdance forms this stitch by the movements of the dancers. They carry threads that are wound around giant pegs in the ground. The pin cushion is stuffed with emery filings. The pins are fine, small-headed, longer than I would have liked. The heads are too large on the shorter pins used for Bruges lace. I found a piece of slate in my garden to use as a base for the doll.

As the weather has been so good during the ‘lockdown’ due to Covid 19 and I have been making lace in the garden. This gave me the idea to photograph my doll amongst the flowers to give the exhibit its title.


Judith Burnett has brought the garden inside for a bit of inspiration – “playing with seedheads, as brushes, to make marks with Indian ink -and some added colour”.

If you have any newsletter contributions, puzzles, recommendations, etc, do please send them to me via the Living Threads email address:  or email me directly at We do all love to see what others have been up to, or hear news related to our love of textiles.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to check our website at:  or email us at:  or check us out on Facebook.

The website has been brightened up, with new additions – so do go and have a look.

Soon we will be adding the new contributions you will hopefully all make to the Gardens 6” Challenge!

We wish you all a speedy recovery if you or family have been unwell or had Covid-19, and that the rest of us manage to avoid it.

Everyone please stay safe and keep creating. We will get through this and come out the other side.

Until December!


Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor

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