April 2021 newsletter

Welcome to April!

At last, just for a few days, we have the promise of a blissful warm summer – then the cold edges back in in time for Easter! Never mind, most of the wintry weather is behind us now, and second vaccinations are on their way. We can walk and talk with friends, with a coffee, meet in gardens, and, with luck, shops will re-open on 12th and life will edge a bit closer to ‘normal’. I’ve had to say goodbye to my two quilting holidays booked for this year, but it just means more holidays in 2022.

 I’m still booked for Sewing for Pleasure in June and the Festival of Quilts in late July, both at the NEC.  I’ve booked my hotel for a four-day visit to the Festival and I hope it is going to be bustling, with plenty more room to move around as well. I’m usually rushing from one hall to another, between teaching classes and meetings, so a bit more room to move about in will be great!

Organisations are starting to dip their toes in the water again and organise summer meetings and get-togethers, all COVID safe. Most, including Living Threads, are being more cautious about individual workshops and waiting until autumn or next year. I’ve booked halls for a couple of regular classes that I run and am looking to start teaching those in late May. I’ve been in touch with my regular students all through the year via Zoom and WhatsApp and we know our circumstances and how we feel about the COVID risks. Meanwhile, I’m starting to get booked for talks and workshops for 2022, so it does feel hopeful that we won’t just be using Zoom for the future. That said, Zoom workshops are a practical and easy to attend solution to Lockdown, although full day sessions are a bit wearisome.

I recently did a great workshop with Luke Haynes, about his approach to portrait applique.
It was very relaxed and great fun, very Californian. My half-completed result is shown here!

I’m doing a very complex quilt as a Sew Along run by The Quilt Show. It’s a huge intricately- pieced quilt with multiple colours and shapes. Lots of decisions to make and unpicking to do! I am doing it as a weekly sew along as it keeps me up to speed and I know it will be finished soon. Here’s what I’ve done so far ( on my new ‘design wall’)…

Marjie Kemper has sent this interesting link, to keep you absorbed over a coffee for the next few days or weeks –

When the Covid-19 pandemic began last year, many museums opened their (virtual) doors to everyone. For the first time, everyone could take tours of world-famous art museums and view beautiful, priceless pieces from the comfort of their own homes.

With travel restrictions still in place throughout most of the world, museums are continuing to share their collections virtually. Visit the address below to see 12 great virtual tours that you can take at your leisure.


Dorothy Downie writes:

I love to receive your monthly newsletter.  Your recent articles about button tins have made me smile. I used to keep my buttons in an overflowing tin and old tobacco tins so I could never find anything.  So one day I discussed with my husband and he had these lovely clear plastic boxes in his “overflowing garage” for ‘bits’.  He very kindly donated them to my cause and now I can see instantly what I have.  But it still means I normally have to go out and buy more buttons🤣. What the boxes lack in style is more than compensated by ease of use. 

I have two knitted cardigans awaiting a trip to Dutton’s for Buttons in Harrogate when I don’t have to stay local.  Attached is also a photo of one project awaiting just the right shade and size of button. I also have a back shot which I quite like although I am not really in love with the colour.  The joys of internet shopping!  

Thank you Sylvia Birch for sending this fine example of a sewing box: This is a much-loved sewing box which my dad made for my mum’s 21st birthday (1929). It is lined with my daughter’s wedding dress sample and filled with pieces of LT work and old lace and gloves. The pink pieced waistcoat was made for the first exhibition!

And from Janet Humphries:

Following my love of all things vintage I thought I would share a few words about my magazine collection. It all began on a wonderful trip to the annual Antique Textile Fair In Manchester where I spotted a pile of French magazines, La Mode and  Le Petit Echo de la Mode, the earliest dating from 1910. I was attracted by the lovely colour plates on the front page .Passing over £9.00 for three copies I couldn’t wait to start reading them on the coach journey home.
Since then I have amassed quite a collection, picking them up at car boot sales, Antique Fairs and even on holiday in Italy where I stumbled upon a collection of Aragon D’Ora (golden spider) and Mani di Fata(fairy hands) in a charity shop.
It’s quite an insight into women’s lives through the years, from having to endure the fashion for tight corsets in the early 1900s to stressing over stitching of the garments for your wedding trousseau.
Moving on a few years, married life was all about keeping the house spic and span with projects for cut work tray cloths and transfer printed tablecloths to be embroidered. There would be patterns for children’s clothing too.
Some articles would be frowned upon today as in this memorable comment.

Make sure that you apply your make up, tend your hair and wear a pretty dress BEFORE you start a sewing project just in case your husband arrives home early from his work. Remember to look presentable. (I think things have changed during lockdown)

Invaluable tips I have taken forward:
LAUNDRY …….add half a cup of turpentine to your whites.
To clean a fur collar squeeze the fur well in two basins of petrol until the dirt is out. Rinse well in plenty of clean petrol. Roll it up in a cloth and squeeze dry. Hang it up outside to dry thoroughly.
FASHION……petticoats are a nuisance when dancing. Tight fitting silk knickers are so much better.
AGONY AUNT……to enlarge a flat chest an oil bath should help but don’t expect results in a week. Deep breathing exercises coupled with arm flinging if practiced regularly should help.

These days we have it easy with most of us working with fabrics, yarn and threads because we want to and not out of necessity. If we need clothing it’s just one click away on the Internet and hey presto it’s delivered to your door the next day but ordering via a computer screen is not as entertaining as getting out these wonderful publications, thumbing through the pages and peeking at a bygone age.
Anyway must go, have to tend to my hair and make myself presentable.
Janet x


Our new Virtual Mini Exhibition of the ongoing  6” challenge is  “Nature’s Architecture” and it is now available to view on our website. There’s some lovely stuff, do have a look.

Virtual Exhibition – NATURE’S ARCHITECTURE – The Living Threads Group (livingthreadstextileartists.com) 

If you have any newsletter contributions, puzzles, recommendations, etc, do please send them to me via the Living Threads email address: livingthreadsgroup@gmail.com  or email me directly at gillitheokritoff@gmail.com It’s a hopeful time of year but we still need inspiration and amusement!

Meanwhile, don’t forget to check our website at: www.livingthreadstextileartists.com  or email us at: livingthreadsgroup@gmail.com  or check us out on Facebook.

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. The vaccine will eventually mean we can all meet up and share our stories and textile work.

Until May


Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor

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