August 2020 newsletter

I’m sorry but this is a shorter newsletter this month. The partial lifting of Lockdown and staycation bookings have meant that many people are away or out more, so there is little news to pass on this month. Last month we had lots of contributions, which was fun. I enjoyed reading about what other members were up to. I must confess that the end of July has caught me by surprise. I’m off to Bude in Cornwall for a week and have been thinking and planning for that, so I’ve only just realised that it is time to compile this newsletter!

The relaxing of some COVID restrictions has meant that I have finally had a haircut, Hurrah! Fringe trimming and root retouching is finally over and today I had a pedicure to sort my neglected feet. What a luxury! I’ve not been shopping in town, down to the pub or out for a meal yet, but I have managed to see family in bubbles and groups, and met friends in a very socially distanced way in a café. Lockdown has meant we are much more in touch with our neighbours and this has led to some pleasant evenings in the garden with them, sharing wine, beer and nibbles. Friendships forged through adversity…

All those hours of making masks are finally paying off and all of us who stitch have suddenly become very popular! I invested in some of those aluminium nose strips and soft elastic and made dozens of masks for family and friends. I’ve had fun delving into my stash and making reversible ones with spots and stripes, Kaffe Fassett fabrics and novelty ones. My husband prefers bandanas – he rather fancies himself as a noble highwayman – so I have sacrificed several of my favourite Fat Quarters of quilting fabrics to the cause.


Living Threads member Jennie Riley has been turning her mind to keeping us amused. She has set us an anagram challenge:
1 QUIN GUILT.                               2 MY ROBE RIDE
3 THE SLUT.                                 4 BELT HIM.
5 HANGS VILE DIRT.                    6 COIN CHUG.
7 PORK SHOW.                             8 BOH NIX TIE  IS

Answers next month, but to get you started, the answer to No 1 is QUILTING.


Another Living Threads member, Greta Fitchett, recommends something she has only just discovered, in Derby – the National Collection of Hydrangeas.

Greta flowers

The collection is in Darley Park and well worth a visit, there are about 800 bushes! This will fit in with the garden theme for the next Living Threads exhibition.

The park is extensive, there is a cafe and loos, and lots of seats if you want to take a picnic. Google Darley Park for more information.


I’ve no further news on future LTG workshops at the moment. Venues are struggling to work out how to deal with the restrictions. All my workshop classes around the country have been cancelled till the end of the year, and I was going on two quilting retreats, one to France and one in Northampton, but they have sadly been cancelled too.

I work at Coles Sewing Centre in Nottingham and we are going to cautiously start some half day classes again in September, but who knows how it will work out, with threats of second waves, etc.

The Festival of Quilts, my favourite event of a normal year, has been cancelled, but they are going to run a virtual version over the original days, Thursday 30th July – 2nd August, so you can still go online and see quilts, exhibitions, do some workshops and visit the online retailers. I shall be in Cornwall, but that won’t stop me checking it out!

I do miss handling fabrics and browsing for threads and stuff, but it will all come back and our craft and quilt shops have done a brilliant job of making it easy for us to shop well online.

The Knitting and Stitching Show is going to go ahead live, in a limited way, in October at Alexandra Palace. There will be fewer tickets, morning or afternoon slots, no galleries, but plenty of retailers and workshops. I think that will be the first planned event that will be live, not online.

The textile group Nolitex (of whom several are also LTG members) are sharing their latest exhibition virtually – as all their booked venues are currently closed.
Continuation of their virtual exhibition of ‘Rooted in the Wood’ commences Wednesday 5th August 2020, on Facebook and Instagram.”

Don’t forget to check our website at: or email us at: 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.

Until September!


Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor



July 2020 newsletter

Apologies for the slight delay to this Newsletter. I have been caught out in this drift of Lockdown days and the deadline for the Virtual Festival quilt competition hit before I was ready! I’ve had a frantic week of piecing, painting and stitching, but the form and photos have been sent off. Hopefully you will all be able to see the result next year in our exhibition!

Meanwhile, we hope you have all been well and preparing for an easing of Lockdown, as slowly as you wish. It is a little alarming to go out on the streets, those of us who are not shielding, and seeing people maskless and in throngs, all close together. It is far to early for most of us to feel confident of safety.

With this in mind, the Living Threads committee have decided to cancel the Preview Day and Autumn workshops, looking to reschedule them in the new year. The uncertainty and the restrictions placed on our venue have forced us to make this decision, with a heavy heart. We do hope you will bear with us and look forward to our workshop offer for 2021. Further news will be given in future newsletters.

The British Quilt and Stitch Village, where Living Threads were due to have a gallery, had rescheduled their Uttoxeter show for September, but they too have decided to cancel until next April. Again, they are uncertain how many people will want to run a stand or visit. Many traders and exhibitors feel that it is too early to be in large groups, despite how lovely it is to be at any gathering of likeminded people.

The textile group Nolitex are sharing their latest exhibition virtually – as all their booked venues are currently closed.

‘Looking Out, Looking In’, members’ reflections on Lockdown, will commence on Wednesday 1st July 2020 on Facebook and Instagram (@_nolitex).
Continuation of the virtual exhibition of ‘Rooted in the Wood’ commences Wednesday 5th August 2020, again on Facebook and Instagram.”

With our Living Threads exhibition looming in April (8th – 16th) next year, we are starting to realise we must get busy! Here are some examples of activities our members are getting up to:

From the Framework Knitters Museum website:

Helen B

Helen Brownett, Textile Artist & Technical Demonstrator at the Framework Knitters Museum in Ruddington, Nottingham, has designed her own version of a Covid-19 virus – and knitted it in 3D on an antique circular knitting machine. Helen put the finishing touches to the blue coronavirus by hand, adding pompoms on stalks to make her creation instantly recognisable.

Explaining her motivation to design and knit a coronavirus, Helen says: ‘I’ve always had an interest in knitting unusual things. Past projects have included the knitted bike you can see in the museum garden, an octopus and even a shed! Like so many people around the country, I’m staying at home right now and thought I’d use some of my newfound spare time to knit something that captures the spirit of the times we’re living in.’

A photo of Helen’s creation, posted on Facebook by Museum Assistant, Jan Perrett, has already reached over 3,200 people, with the museum hoping that the post will ultimately ‘go viral’! Says Jan: ‘It (Covid-19) is currently a symbol of fear, but I love the fact that Helen has created something beautiful out of something so horrendous.’


From Greta Fitchett:

Greta picture

I began a daily walk when we went into lockdown, and discovered woodland very close to home, and that we live much closer to the countryside than we realised. So after living in the house for 40 years it was a great discovery. It’s surprising how having spare time has taken me out of my normal routine and allowed the discovery.

At the beginning, in March, it was still wintry, trees with bare branches, but lots of birdsong and sunshine. Gradually the blossom came out, and it seemed to be a bumper year for this. The birds started to build nests, and gradually the leaves appeared. underfoot, wild flowers that grew ever taller, and swamped the paths. The bone dry earth cracked.

I had an email from the embroiderers guild asking members to embroider a 4inch square on the theme “Reasons to be Thankful”  These were to eventually be made into wall hangings for the NHS as a thankyou. My daily walk became the subject for my piece.  There is a birds nest (top left) and the ever present sun. I can do french knots now! To quote David Hockney “Do remember they can’t cancel the Spring”.

My watch still hasn’t been altered to BST!


Sue Wilson has been writing poems about her experience of Lockdown:

The Skip

We sorted out the workshop

Lots went in the skip

Old bodywork from cars gone by

all destined for the tip


One evening, it was still light

A knock came on the door

Please can I look through your skip

These things I’m looking for


What kind of things, we asked the chap?

What do you want them for?

To make some garden sculptures,

With that bodywork and door.


Ok we said, please help yourself

Take just what you will

The only stipulation is

When you’ve finished I’d like a “still “ { photo didn’t rhyme] !


The next day our neighbour asked

Is there room for 2 old printers?

Yes, we said, help yourself

But mind Dave’s glassy splinters


The lady who lives opposite

Said with a smile upon her lip

My old microwave has been replaced

Is there room for the old in the skip?


Then Jack, who lives just down the road

Telephoned to say

He’d got an old table and various things

Would they be in the way?


Then a lady, who has just moved here

Saw a toy tractor in the skip

Please can I have it for my Grandson

It’ll do him for a bit.


I feel that through this lockdown

Our community spirit has done

The trouble is the skip is full

We need another one.!!!


From Annie Nicholl:

I have taken the opportunity of no deadlines during the lockdown to finish a project I started some time ago, a Hawaiian sofa makeover. Most of my designs relate to places I have lived or visited and lovely things I have seen. One of my contracts with The British Council was in Japan running the Kansai offices in Kyoto and Osaka. While I was there I went on holiday to Hawaii, visited the quilt museum and saw people working on huge quilts with stylised patterns from nature. Then when I left Japan I was given a 3-piece suite from the Kyoto office which was closing and which I eventually had re-covered in a plain sand colour.

In the meantime I saw a film on TV called Ancestors set in Hawaii and in it I kept spotting a yellow and white quilt which I loved. Back in the UK and changing from mosaics to textiles I decided to make a sofa throw and cushions using traditional methods which would remind me of the TV quilt and Hawaii. I started it in the autumn of 2017 and kept putting it aside for different reasons but have now finally finished it. The four cushions have leaf forms from native Hawaiian species. The throw has an outer border with monstera leaves, an inner border with turtles and waves and a central panel with huge leaves and Hawaii’s national flower. Everything is hand sewn apart from the final stage of making the cushions.

While I have been working on various parts of the quilt and cushions, so many people have expressed reservations about the predominant use of yellow but it does fit with my living room and works well with my collections of ceramics. In order to get this project finished, I have neglected the garden, the cupboards, the hairdryer and the wristwatch but I am stubbornly unrepentant.

Don’t forget to check our website at: or email us at: 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!

Until August (!)


Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor



June 2020 newsletter

Three months now and the future is still very uncertain. I think we hoped the situation would be clearer by now. With shops due to re-open in a limited way, but no hairdressers, who is going to allow themselves to be seen out! Added to that, there will be no coffee shops, no toilet facilities and most of us will feel much safer staying home.

I popped along to the local garden centre this weekend to get some annuals and plants for the gaps in my borders. Queued, masked, disinfected trolley, I was all ready to fill my baskets with lovely salvias, hostas, veronicas and pelargoniums, only to find there was nothing, not one variety, left on the shelves.

I think I’ll have to make my own!

I’ve been sent a lovely little article by Janet Humphreys, on her efforts to keep busy and creative, which I shall share below:


Sadly our wings have been clipped and we are all mostly stuck at home, greatly missing our family and friends. At first it was ok, what an opportunity to be locked in to create “stuff “with no deadlines or classes to worry about. The weather was a problem though….too nice to be stuck inside my gloomy workshop (garage) so outside I went.

Everyday digging, ,weeding , planting seeds and watering and even making a small water feature for the patio. The cat is not happy about this turn of events as now, she has to stand on her hind legs to get a drink. Yes she has a drinking bowl in the kitchen but prefers any outside supply. Daft cat.

My poor nails are disgusting, broken and grimy with ingrained soil and I’m getting down the Christmas hand cream stash, trying to keep my hands from drying out completely. Gardening gloves never really work do they?

The result is one VERY tidy garden and a few new acquaintances as folks walk past, two metres apart of course.

On the odd cold and windy day I retreat inside and sort out my workshop whilst listening to the radio. Pop master is getting too hard (Ken Bruce on Radio 2) but the afternoon serial on Radio 4 has kept me going. Missing my 2 o clock fix of The Archers though. I wonder what Ambridge is doing in lockdown?

Whilst in the garden, I came across a piece of chicken wire and decided to try and make some 3D work. Starting with a bird shape I moulded the wire and then began wrapping and weaving. It was pretty tough on the fingers with a frantic search for plasters at one point. I incorporated a beak from an old hair slide, you see ,you have to improvise when most of the shops are shut.

Eventually after much snipping and moulding, I was happy with the result even though it’s not a named species, just a made up one, I can then decorate as I please.

Rummaging about, I came across a lovely felted sweater, (thank you Helen from Material Girls….I knew it would come in handy one day) which I cut and stitched over the “skeleton”. It was weird, as I began to stitch, I imagined the  bird coming to life, soft and light just as the little creature would feel in my hands. It was quite emotional.

The next morning I looked at what I had created and oh no….it’s legs are too long. Surgery will have to be performed so out comes the scalpel and wire cutters and he is opened up, poor thing. He recovered quite quickly and I didn’t need any P.P.E so that was a relief. The operation was a success. Hurrah.

The next layer was an old muslin scarf, dyed and stitched down to form the base colour. At the moment, I am stitching with one strand of cotton, straight stitch, by hand so this will keep me occupied for a while. Unfortunately I don’t have the right colour thread but a bit of silk paint dabbed on at the end should solve the problem but don’t tell anyone. His wings are ready to go on, then the next challenge will be the tail feathers.

Let’s hope you can meet him on his first outing at the Exhibition next April. Fingers crossed that it will happen and we can all meet up again.

Take care of yourselves, keep safe. Got to go … new solar fountain pump has just arrived yippee. 

Jan x

I have been visiting virtual galleries worldwide during lockdown. I’ve toured Salvador Dali’s weird fantastical villa, Gaudi’s houses, Egyptian tombs and currently I’m working my way through the V&A. They have tours of the Kimono exhibition, Dior and Vivienne Westwood. I’ve been watching Grayson Perry and visiting various artists via their websites. There is also a virtual Chelsea Flower Show and, on Netflix, the Big Flower Fight to provide some inspiration for our exhibition theme, and in this glorious weather we should be able to get outside and find our own sources and do some research.

We do still hope to be able to offer our Autumn classes and take bookings in August. We have a Preview Day organised for 1st August, but more about that closer to the time, when we know more about the virus restrictions down the line. Please keep an eye on the website.

Don’t forget to check our website at: or email us at: 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.

Testing for the virus is straightforward. I had an ear infection and anosmia and was sent for a test; the most difficult thing was negotiating my way around the Boots complex in Beeston to find the correct car park! Luckily my test came back negative.

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

Until July


Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor



May 2020 newsletter

Month Two of Lockdown and the world has shrunk in many ways, but our mood appears to be more outward than ever! Sewing for the NHS, checking on and shopping for neighbours, learning to WhatsApp and Zoom. These are all things we didn’t need to do before but are now vital and distract us from the negative. Let’s hope the world is improved by this experience and the community spirit is has engendered keeps going.

The Living Threads artists have hopefully been using the enforced lockdown and sunny weather to get outside and have a good look at their gardens, ready for the theme of our next exhibition in April 2021. It has been a joy to see the blossom coming out, the bees buzzing about and to hear the sound of lawnmowers. Aren’t birds noisy? With no traffic noise I’ve become very aware of what is going on in the trees and on the fences in my garden.

For those that enjoy machine stitching, there are an abundance of NHS projects to help make scrubs and masks. I have been making scrub caps out of an incredibly awkward antimicrobial fabric for Paediatric ICU at Queens, Nottingham. We have been thrilled to see the doctors wearing them and to know that they are proving useful. Facebook is awash with surgical scrubs making sites and groups. There are, for home use, even some no-sew mask patterns around, but if you have a machine they are very quick to make. My daughter is with us at the moment but preparing for a return to London soon, so is busy sewing masks for herself and partner!

Until Lockdown is lifted we as a Living Threads Group, cannot make any decisions but we do expect to be able to offer our Autumn classes and we will be taking bookings hopefully in August. We have a Preview Day organised for 1st August, but more about that closer to the time, when we know more about the virus restrictions down the line. Please keep an eye on the website.

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

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

Until June, or the partial end of Lockdown, whichever comes first!


Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor

April 2020 newsletter

Since our last newsletter the world has changed and we are all taking measures to isolate from those around us. Luckily many of us have internet and mobile phones, so can connect by Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp and see each other face to face or pass messages, sharing news and funnies. You Tube, Online classes and Facebook are serving us well for creative outlets and there is an endless supply of books and magazines available via the library straight to your computer or tablet.

Meanwhile, here at Living Threads we have taken the decision to halt our Summer School classes and hope to transfer everyone to Autumn dates. Your tutors will be contacting those who had their classes cancelled in March, to offer alternative dates, and we will be taking bookings hopefully in August. We have a Preview Day organised for 1st August, but more about that closer to the time, when we know more about the virus restrictions down the line. Please keep an eye on the website.

We will also be bringing in our new online payment scheme, so please bear with us while we get familiar with all this!

We are all hunkered down at home, planning work for our exhibition next year, which will be all about Gardens. Luckily the sun came out last week to encourage us all and it has been a joy to watch the blossom on the early fruit trees, the bulbs blooming and the shrubs budding up. Bees are buzzing and I’ve already been bitten by an ant! Now more than ever we can become more aware of the beauty of our surroundings and the joy of simple things.

For those of you itching to keep busy creatively, the fabric shops are still open online, so quilters, dressmakers and embroiderers can add to their stash of fabric and threads. Most shops catering to the textiles market are open virtually, so you won’t run out of supplies and it is good to support these small businesses, or they won’t be around when we come out of this bubble. I’ve found lots of Sew-Along projects online, Facebook has loads of embroidery groups sharing and setting challenges, and you can find commercial classes and organised virtual retreats.

Don’t forget to check our website at: or email us at: or check us out on Facebook

We wish you all a lovely, if isolated, Easter and the full dawn of Spring.

Until May,


Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor