June 2021 newsletter

Welcome to June!

Apologies if this reaches you a few days later than usual – I have been enjoying our fine bank holiday sunshine! I hope that those of you who feel ready have been meeting up with friends and family. No hugs yet (if ever!) but it is so good to see people ‘in the flesh’.

I have managed to resume one of my weekly patchwork classes and we were all so happy to be with others who shared our enthusiasm. We’d been keeping in touch via Zoom and WhatsApp but nothing beats being in the same room, showing off our quilts- projects, etc. (Cardigans on, all windows opened!) This week I’m reuniting with three friends for a sit and sew day. We haven’t planned our sewing yet, just the shared lunch contributions!


The garden is taking up more time at the moment. I’m sure it’s the same for all of us. I went to the garden centre to get some Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle) and was told that they don’t stock it anymore – “it’s a bit old-fashioned” they said. I was horror-struck. It’s one of my favourites and we have a new garden bed I imagined filled with those froths of yellow fronds and the fabulous leaves that catch raindrops. I did manage to get some from www.Crocus.co.uk and I’m very happy, if a little out-of-date…

The recent weather hasn’t been too kind for gardening, a bit cold and wet, so I’ve looked indoors too. My daughter is a fiend for houseplants and has showered me with cuttings and cacti. I’ve discovered a great app for my phone – Planta – which tells me when to water each plant and sends me reminders. For the first time in my life I can honestly say all my houseplants are thriving!


If you fancy a real visit to a gallery but London and David Hockney at the RA are too far, how about the Harley Gallery where you can find ‘Same Sea, Different Boat’. The 5 metre embroidered textile chronicles peoples’ lives during the pandemic.

www.harleygallery.co.uk/whatson , Harley Gallery, Welbeck Estate, Worksop S80 3LT.  It’s a great venue, with artists workshops, café, garden centre, artisan bakery and shop, etc. Well worth a visit!


I’ve discovered a new Zoom workshop website. Have a look at www.domestika.org  for interesting classes – drawing, illustration, photography, design, etc. I’ve signed up for a watercolour florals course at the moment, so of course I’ve just had to visit Amazon and buy a lovely box of watercolour paints! It’s a bit like Craftsy, but more European and much more varied.

Last month I mentioned that I was doing a Crafty Monkies Sketchbook course with Gary Mills. It’s just a 3 part, 90 minute boost-your-creativity course, and you don’t work in sketchbooks at all! Gary has you work fast, so you don’t get time to ponder, you just belt out ideas and mix colours and get them down on pages and scraps. You get the videos to access later. For the colour module we turned all our mad scrappy pages into long rolls of collaged bits, which looked great when finished. I really liked his accessibility and simple approach. The next module is Collage Doodles. Can’t wait. All are available via Crafty Monkies, and you can access the recordings if you can’t join live.


I’ve not been sent any news or contributions this month – everyone is obviously concentrating on their gardens. 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 joyous time of year and but we still need some tips and interesting  or amusing snippets!

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 July,

Cheers

Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor

May 2021 newsletter

Welcome to May!

Lambs in the fields, tulips in the gardens and all the showy blossom on the trees, combined with sunny days and little rain have really brought home the changing season.

With life feeling like it might open up soon and the sun shining, I think that many of us are looking outwards again. Many of us will be double vaccinated soon, and although not planning many trips abroad at the moment, we might get out and about a bit more.

Spring is sprung and the garden is looking more inviting for us all. Maybe it is time to get some inspiration for next year’s exhibition? Or our Collaborative gardens project? Both are due for completing by the end of December, so I, for one, need to get thinking! Museums are due to open up again in mid May, but I, for one, will avoid the crowds for a while yet and continue to enjoy artworks virtually. I missed the Gees Bend Quilts exhibition in 2019 but I’ve been looking at https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/article/ra-magazine-gees-bend-quilters to see the early Improv techniques of the Deep South. I’m hoping David Hockney’s new exhibition “the Arrival of Spring” at the Royal Academy, featuring his prolific iPad artworks, will be available online too – although nothing beats the scale of his last exhibition where you felt you were in the woodlands with him.

I haven’t been to any shops yet, unless you count Deb’s Fabrics, in Selston, which is in Deb’s own house. She has a huge range of quilting cotton fabrics, suitable for dressmaking too, wadding, threads and plenty of interesting whatnots. The fabric has taken over her house! You can find her via Google, or www.debsfabrics.com  I’ve had coffee or a refreshing elderflower cordial in the garden with a few friends – on our new terrace – and visited the local library. However, come late May I shall be getting back to teaching some classes. Past students have asked me to organise a weekly class for them, so I’ve booked a hall and been COVID-inducted. I’m currently trying to find a convenient small hall to do occasional workshops over the summer. I must get my website organised so that I can advertise them!

Julie Williams has been busy during the last few months of Lockdown:

I’ve tried various online workshops and courses over the past year but by far the most enjoyable has been Laura Kemshall’s Sketchbook Challenge.
Many of you will know how talented Laura is, and both her work and her videos are amazing.
Is my sketchbook ever going to be complete, I wonder?
Whenever I open it there’s something I can add, change or even paint over and redo the whole page…… so maybe not.
This week, using one of the pages as inspiration, I’ve dyed and printed a piece of calico, next step- some hand stitch.”

Julie’s sketchbook


Gorgeous stuff Julie!  I haven’t done much sketchbook stuff since I completed my City&Guilds diploma, but I have signed up for a series of monthly sketchbook workshops by Gary Mills, via Crafty Monkies. For those people less familiar with sketchbook working than those following Laura Kemshall, this might be very accessible. A 90 minute class, monthly, on a different topic. I shall report back next month, after I’ve done the first session.

I’ve also been following Anne Brooke’s #52tagshannemade on her website www.annebrooke.co.uk

For 2021 the challenge is to make weekly embroideries to put on gift tags, inspired by different stitches.

I’ve particularly enjoyed her #sew4thesoul challenge of 2020 and I’ve made several lengths, with bees as my inspiration. (Bees are my current obsession and tailor nicely into the theme of gardens too!)

Anne Batchelor writes:

Hi to all at Living Threads. I was a member many years ago but still keep in touch. Did a zoom class…hate them….on Boro work, but it was excellent. My interpretation made into a glasses case. I hope you are all doing well and I miss Nottingham and The Living Threads Group. Sometimes pop up for courses and your excellent exhibitions. Love to you all Ann Batchelor xx

Rolfie Clennan has been looking online:

 I have a recommendation for you. It’s a You Tube site I found recently and was totally hooked. It’s ‘The Last Homely House’ and the English woman who does it quilts, sews, knits, cooks, gardens, dyes and crafts generally. Kate is really lovely, and watching her videos is like sitting chatting to a friend. I highly recommend the site as I have to all my friends!

Have a look and see what you think. At the moment she is auctioning a quilt she made and donating all the money to support a friend who is ill. Such is her following that it has reached over £4000 on Ebay.

Well, on behalf of the newsletter I researched The Last Homely House, which is a You Tube blog/style subscription to a country lifestyle – full of bees, ducks, sewing and knitting. She also has a website with shop https://www.thelasthomelyhouse.co.uk and you can find her on Instagram too. Sit with a cup of coffee and be transported to a homely life the North of England!

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 and but we still need some tips and interesting or amusing snippets!

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 June (!!)

Cheers

Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor

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.

https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours


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

CHECK THIS OUT!

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

Cheers

Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor

March 2021 newsletter

Welcome to March!

Although the temperatures have dropped in the last week, we have longer days, the sun is slightly higher in the sky and the bulbs are edging through the earth. The promise of Spring is upon us, always an exciting and hopeful time. Coupled with the planned “Roadmap out of COVID” we have good reason to expect better things from 2021.

Despite feeling buoyed up by the prospect of seeing friends more easily I have also found that I am apprehensive about the prospect! I have got so used to being isolated that it will be a major change when we are able to mix again. It looks like that is still a way off and there is time for us to get used to the idea, but once everyone is vaccinated I am hopeful that my teaching classes will return and I can meet up with all the patient students in my Zoom and WhatsApp groups!

The British Quilt and Stitch Village at Uttoxeter Racecourse is postponed from April again this year, Sewing for Pleasure has been moved from March to 24-27th June at the NEC and the Festival of Quilts is to go ahead 29th July – 1st August. The Halls will be bigger, classrooms larger, no catering in the halls and extended opening hours to allow easier movement around. Limited entry numbers and restricted class sizes mean that the anti-virus measures will be foremost to keep everyone safe. The teaching programme is more or less finalised and tickets and workshops go on sale in May.

Actual workshops and meetings are still a way off, but I hope that we will be able to announce something in the next few months for all our patient Living Threads followers. We need to see how the virus behaves, but I am looking forward to shops opening again, being able to touch fabric when choosing. It hasn’t stopped me buying online though!

Last month we focused on Jane Marrows and Sally Marsh’s Button tins.

Here’s one from Cheryl Percival, who obviously had to eat a lot of toffees to free up the space!


Janet Humphrey has a gloriously retro original ‘60s sewing box, filled with vintage goodies – she says:

“I thought you might like to include my vintage collection of sewing needles and other paraphernalia too, bought from various places. I love all the old packaging and laugh at some of the prices…..e.g. a buckle trim for 1/6d”.


When it comes to favourite tools we like to use, Judith Burnett sent us this:

“As promised – a favourite tool – a battery operated eraser by Derwent. I had seen this in art shops but thought it was one of those gadgets that was ‘style over substance’. When I did finally buy one I realised just how useful a tool it is! Small detail is easily and efficiently erased, not necessarily because it’s a mistake. I was further convinced when I saw one nestling in the pencil tray of last year’s winner of the Portrait Artist of the Year! “

I remember being given a battery-operated pencil sharpener, which I thought was fantastic and used it for years. Nowadays I prefer mechanical pencils so it has dropped out of use. I wonder where it is …?

Jane Marrows tell us: my favourite gadget and what it can do – it is my tailor’s tack foot. It creates lovely textures that can be left uncut or trimmed to make a raised surface. Great for stitching grids and framing areas of specific textile interest.

Annie Nicoll writes of her favourite tool: “My favourite creative tool is the humble pencil. It is the start of all the projects I work on, as drawing is the principal discipline that I spent my formative years developing. I have always loved graphite and its flexibility in terms of freedom and control and the immense pleasure in seeing the project’s initial phase come to life on paper. Once the idea becomes a visual reality it can go in any direction using any medium”.

Thank you all for contributing, great to see!

I’m sorry to hear of the upsets in the Embroiderer’s Guild and hope that something can be salvaged for the local groups to reform and enjoy stitching together. In the Quilters’ Guild the groups are larger and more autonomous; they have less financial pressure and have managed the transition to online meetings and learning, which provides some income.

Last weekend I attended Quilt Con Together, the Modern Quilt Guild USA’s virtual quilt show. It was well organised and visually exciting, indeed sometimes bedazzling! I only did one workshop online, because they were awfully expensive, but it was worth it… Usually Quilt Con is held in reality, at a different venue in the US every year. Next year it is Phoenix. Maybe I ought to save my pennies….

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 bleak time of year and we all need some tips and interesting or amusing snippets!

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 April

Cheers

Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor

February 2021 newsletter

Welcome to February!

We have all had our first doses of snow, making the land look beautiful and the sound muffled, but at the same time adding to the isolation. On the plus side the nights are getting shorter, but there is not much else to feel very positive about in this bleak winter! We hope some of you are getting your first vaccinations by now and more will come over the next month and onwards. I’m hoping for mine in April some time. My late May quilting holiday to Italy isn’t feeling quite so likely to go ahead, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

This month will be a shorter newsletter, I’m expecting, as I’ve not had much response to my request for snippets of news or recommendations of good tools, classes, visits, etc. I’m sure we are all in COVID fatigue! I’ve not got much in my diary, apart from a couple of Quilters Guild talks and a possible workshop on using a quilting computer programme EQ8. I will be visiting www.craftymonkies.com to book some upcoming workshops. Gary Mills is doing one on Mindful Stitching Journals on 20th Feb and Sarah Payne is exploring Sashiko Stitching on 27th Feb, for those interested!

Sally Marsh sent me a photo of a something recently gifted to her – chocolate sewing stuff! I hope they tasted as good as they looked Sally!


Sally has been busy, as Jane Marrows will testify :

“Sally kindly gave me a copy of the book ’The Button Box’ by Lynn Knight, for Christmas. You may know it! It traces the story of women at home and in work and associated needlework and dressmaking and is inspired by the author’s ‘grandma’s buttons as they scattered from their Quality Street tin’.
It just so happens both Sally and I have our families’ Quality Street button tins, mine was my Mum’s. Just thought it might be interesting if other members shared pics of their button ‘tins’ also…”


I too had a Quality Street tin as a button box, inherited from my mother-in-law, much to the annoyance of her daughter! Unfortunately I dropped it recently, cascading buttons everywhere and denting the tin so it wouldn’t close again. I’ve since re-allocated my buttons into various pots, according to size, colour, etc and I’m still finding errant buttons in odd corners of my workroom, from that earlier episode.

Button boxes used to be such a thing of wonder, a resource from harvesting and recycling old clothes and the jackdaw tendencies we all have to bright, shiny objects. Many hours could be passed with small children exploring the contents.

I used to have a wool shop when I lived up North and used to buy novelty plastic buttons “in the white” from a lovely old man in London’s East End. I would dye them at home on the kitchen stove, with Dylon dyes, then paint details on them. I had pineapples, strawberries, palm trees, all sorts of shapes which I sold in the shop during the ‘80s. Sadly I have very few left…

Viv has drawn my attention to a newsletter/magazine fron the South East West Region of the Embroiders’ Guild. It features articles from some well known textile artists. You may need to subscribe to read it (free) but it is worth it. The link is: sewregionmagazine.com

Recently our Region of the Quilters Guild (Region 10) has made the (temporary?) decision to switch to online distribution of its regional magazine Cobwebs. This is mainly due to the lack of income from meetings and workshops versus the cost of printing and postage. I do think this is the future for at least the time being. I have always kept all my old copies, as they contain contact details, diary dates, adverts and articles I may want to refer to again. Now I have opened a folder on my computer’s Desktop to save the pdf copies so that I can find and review them again.

I’ve not got much booked for February workshop-wise. I’ve been working on the fishes that I did with the CraftyMonkies workshop (www.craftmonkies.com)  with Nicholas Ball last month. I’m enjoying making my shoal of glistening silver fish. If you look on Instagram at #shoalsewalong you will find loads of different fish in all shapes, sizes and fabrics, which people are showing.

I’m progressing with a few Block of the Month and Quilt-Alongs that I have been doing for a few months. It’s my birthday this month so I’m waiting to see what I may get as a surprise and we are going to try out a few restaurant Meal-in-a-box schemes for birthday celebrations. I’m particularly keen to sample the Rick Stein ones, which are very reasonably priced. We might also share a tapas one from Bar Iberico with our daughters via Zoom. I might do a couple of cookery workshop Zooms and I fancy a wine tasting one too…

On TV there is Landscape Artist of the Year, from Sky Arts via Sky or Freeview. Fabulous to watch the different artists at work, same goes for The Great Pottery Throwdown on Channel 4. I also see there is another series of Make: Craft Britain on BBC4 and iPlayer, which is really worth watching.

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 March

Cheers

Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor