August 2021 newsletter

Welcome to August and the limited freedom from Lockdown. It’s not a lot different for me – still masked and sanitising, but I’ve allowed myself a bit more freedom, seeing friends and family. Some of you have braved going further afield and holidaying around the UK. I cancelled my trip to France, in case it red-listed and I had to isolate in a hotel – I object to the cost, but worse is the thought of being confined to a budget hotel room with no balcony and basic food left outside the door!

Whatever your situation, I hope you have been able to enjoy some of the benefits of a relaxation of the rules, or at least been outside in a garden or park during the summer.

Our Living Threads Virtual Exhibition #3 – Brooches – is now available to view on the website

Do go and have a look at the fabulous entries, tiny and exquisite.

Our intrepid members have been out gaining inspiration for the upcoming exhibition next April.

Julie Williams writes: I went on holiday to East Yorkshire and stayed just round the corner from Flamborough Head. Beautiful part of the country (and Puffins too, at Bempton Cliffs!)
I was lucky with the weather so I went to Burton Agnes Hall and Gardens.
As well as an amazing 1598 house there are woods, water and extensive gardens.
It was a glorious hot and sunny day- the gardens were absolutely beautiful, I took lots of photos and did a bit of sketching,  (with our next year’s exhibition in mind, of course)
I love a bit of topiary, not so much the peacocks and mythical animals, but skillfully manicured, neat shapes and Burton Agnes has a fabulous topiary avenues.
Such a lovely day, if you’re ever over that way, don’t miss it!

Jane Marrows has also been travelling:

I thought you might like some pics of a garden in Sussex which I have visited many times and again on my birthday in June, which may be of interest to members this summer. It is a favourite place of mine. It is Charleston Farmhouse nestled beneath the South Downs at West Firle, East Sussex. It is the modernist home and studio of Bloomsbury Group Artists, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Some of the 20th Century’s most radical artists, writers and thinkers gathered there, including Virginia Woolf. The garden continues to evolve from the original redesigned planting by Roger Fry the art critic and family friend of the Grants, in 1918. It opened to the public in 1986. It is modest in scale but delightful and personable, being absolutely crammed with herbaceous plants which spill over the edges of the narrow gravel paths.  A delightful pond, rectangular lawn, sculptural garden ornamentation and a larger lake complete the living painting. It is filled with the flowers Bell and Grant loved to paint.

If you are in the South East this summer do take time to visit. There is a beautifully restored barn on the site which houses a fabulous cafe bistro with plenty of outdoor courtyard seating. Enjoy!


Janet Humphrey didn’t venture quite so far and has a lovely gallery and café to recommend:

Now that we are all getting out and about a bit more, I thought that I would mention a place that I like to visit for coffee and cake and it’s not too far away. Strelley Hall is a period building set in Parkland in the splendidly preserved Strelley Village. There are a number of walks that take you through to D.H Lawrence country.
Above the Mulberry Tree Cafe you will find the Hay Loft Gallery, an independent Gallery specialising in picture framing and conservation plus a display of original artworks and prints.

Gallery open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday 10.30 -3.30
Sat nav.NG8 6PE

Anne Bruntlett has stayed closer to home and spent time researching BATS! It’s all a bit batty!
Advance warning: there are lots of links that you can choose to follow/read/just look at the photos/ignore completely!

It started with a new phrase I picked up while looking at medieval herbals … ‘bat books’. Then it was the search to try to find out exactly what a bat book was, who used it, why and how. It certainly sent me back down the rabbit hole and into a different part of the warren.
It seems that bat books were the medieval medical version of NHS on line or the crib sheet used by those people who sit in a room somewhere and question you if you ever have to ring 111.
The book format is somewhat similar to that of an ordinance survey map which could be unfolded easily to access the information. When not in use the book was folded over the belt of physician as he went out on his rounds, and it hung down (like a bat) and unfolded it’s pages like a bat opening its wings.
‘In 2016, the great codicologist Peter Gumbert called them “bat books” – “because when in rest they hang upside-down and all folded up, but when action is required they lift up their heads and spread their wings wide”. The text is upside down so that the book is legible when it is hanging from the girdle.’
Fascinating stuff and definitely a potential way of presenting the fold up page that I am working on at the moment.
By this point I am well and truly lost deep in the maze of the warren.
Next up was a modern artist who makes miniature medieval style books – and I thought that I worked small until I saw this work!
Miniature ‘medieval’ books
Then it was a look at other medieval fold out books. These were more like a cross between an almanac with instructions on the monthly agricultural tasks, and a calendar showing daylight hours and the saints/zodiac signs for each month.

And all this began with a bat!
Does that remind you of the present predicament we are in with the lockdown? It was mooted somewhere along the line that the virus began with a bug that originated in bats in China!
I remembered seeing images of bats carved in some of the samurai houses in Japan where they were used as good luck symbols.
Whatever you think of bats I reckon we could do with shining the Bat Light and getting help of Batman to keep all the covidiots from spreading the virus any more, enabling us to escape from our bat caves!

Wow! That’s a bit of academic research! I came up with some lovely images of bat shaped pages.

Greta Fitchett has been exploring her pincushion…

My Lost Needles

I have always been careful to put my needle away when I have finished stitching with it. Over time I found myself fetching a new needle from the packet and couldn’t understand where my needles were disappearing to. Over many years I used the same pincushion until the top started to tear. Peering inside I could see lots of pins amongst the sawdust and started to pull them out. Then a few needles appeared that were buried deeper. Finally, a magnet was used to lift the metal out, and I was amazed at what had disappeared under the surface. Too many pins to count, but over 80 needles! Some of them were very tiny and I was sure I hadn’t used them. Maybe they were from the previous owner, as I did buy it at a jumble sale!

I’m just back from the Festival of Quilts, at the NEC. Four days surrounded by people – I was nervous but I think we all felt incredibly safe. We were tested, masked, sanitised and double-jabbed so we would be very unlucky to fall ill as a result of the event, but it was so worth it! Wide aisles, lots of sitting down space, sanitised conditions and fewer people gave us a lovely atmosphere of calm. The joy of seeing other textile lovers, smiling behind their masks, greeting friends they hadn’t seen for two years, admiring the fabulous artwork, competition quilts, galleries, cafes and retailers was wonderful. I came away restored and exhausted!

Don’t forget to check out the new Virtual Exhibition of Brooches on the Living Threads website

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 It’s a gorgeous time of year, with sunshine and gardens, but we still need some tips and interesting or amusing snippets!

Everyone please stay safe and keep creating. We will get through this and come out the other side. Full vaccination will eventually mean we can all meet up and share our stories and textile work.

Until September,


Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s