Living Threads Newsletter – July/August

Welcome to the Summer newsletter. This is a combined July & August newsletter, so you will get a rest from me next month! As I write we are on the cusp of another heatwave, this one promising to be more dramatic than before….

I went to London on the Monday that London hit 32degrees and that was hot enough! I was meeting an old schoolfriend I hadn’t seen for 40 years and I was crabby and sweaty with the heat, just from the train journey. We decided that Kew Gardens would be ideal. Plenty of cafes and ice cream stops and shady trees. Perfect. We tried the Palm House, but the heat was too much like outdoors so fled to the more temperate areas. There is a Food themed series of galleries and installations on at Kew at the moment, as Tony Toon advised me. I’m afraid we were rather uncultured and avoided the galleries as they were not air conditioned! I did go to see the enormous lily pads:

Taking advantage of the heatwave and sunny conditions I have been doing some ice dyeing. In the US this is most commonly done in midwinter with plenty of snow, but it does work well with ice cubes. The ice, as it melts with the dye, has a way of dispersing the colours in the dyes and creating interesting chromatic effects and fabulous, unrepeatable patterns.

Here I soaked my pfd (prepared for dyeing) plain cotton in a soda ash solution, then scrunched it on a cooling rack over a cat littler tray to catch the melted dye water. I then piled the fabric with ice cubes (a large bag of ice from the supermarket costs £1.25) until it was entirely covered. Using a mask(!!) I sprinkled powdered dye over the ice. You can use several colours and overlap areas if you wish. I used a mixed dye called Lavender and you can see that the blues, purples and even reds came out in different areas. Fascinating!  Rinse well, press and have a think how you will use your unique fabric!

Onwards, taking advantage of the sun! I then researched Sun Painting. Not Cyanotype, this is just painting fabric with fabric paints and scrunching, manipulating or laying objects on wet painted fabric. The sun performs magical transformations, removing the paint from all the shadowed areas.

Watch Lisa Walton, from ‘Dyed and Gone to Heaven’ in this You Tube video:

In my samples below I used pre-dyed fabric, rather than white, and painted a mix of Jacquard metallic purple and translucent grape onto my yellow fabric and bright pink fabric, very wetly, but with a fair amount of paint as I didn’t want a wishy-washy effect. I then laid on and pressed down flat leaves, flower heads, old stencils and a load of washers from my vast collection (not rusty ones though – I’ll do that another day)

Then I just left it in the sun…

Here are the results. As you can see, the fern and flower heads lifted too much to get good effects and the stencils that I laid on didn’t make close enough contact with the wet fabric, allowing light to get in. However, the washers were amazing! I’ve also shown the back of the fabric as that is interesting too. Now I shall iron them and the paint will be set.

I get my dyes and fabric paints from Empress Mills, where I also get lots of fabric and really good quilt wadding. They are having occasional blitz sales over the summer so do subscribe to their newsletters. We’ve just missed the most recent one, but the website is well worth an investigation.

Living Threads member Annie Nicols has been busy with a beautiful mosaic – just gorgeous!

I love mosaics and have made a few but not done anything with them. I have ambitions for tables, pathways, etc, but they are still in my head. No doubt influenced by the huge Mosaics page I have on Pinterest…

Anne Bruntlett has been fascinated by “Wee Folk”:

Big Stories Told With Little People

Do you remember seeing Viv’s submission in the Study Group section of the exhibition? It featured a birds nest surrounded by twitchers or guardians made from wrapped yarn.

Seeing it took me back to reading the Mary Norton series ‘The Borrowers’ as a child and then, many years later, seeing the film starring Ian Holm and Penelope Wilton.

Tiny people have always held a large place in my imagination – perhaps because I am the smallest in our family!

Over the years I have managed to build a tiny collection of small fabric people, many of which have their own special story to tell.

My Godmother Aunt gave me my first little person, an embroidered brooch of an Italian lady with a basket on her head. Other brooches followed from the Portuguese mainland and Madeira. Then there were the tiny dolls from a fair trade store in Leicester and a bag of worry dolls from my daughter.

Guatemala was the source of the original worry dolls. Made from scraps of fabric and enclosed in a tiny bag they have soothed many children over the years by taking away their troubles overnight.

Mexican worry dolls are slightly bigger and are sold to tourists as brooches, or on headbands and bags.


I suppose one of my real treasures is a Nativity arpillera that I bought many years ago. I had often admired the work of the women who made Arpillera to raise awareness of the Desaparecidos, or behind the simple beauty of the stitched panels.

Several years ago I purchased a copy of ‘Felt Wee Folk’ by Sally Mavor and worked with my local church group to make our own Nativity triptych, with one dear lady excelling the brief and making a wonderful camel. The triptych came out of its storage recently to be rescued from the big throw out and now resides in our spare room awaiting a decision on the best place to store it for future tiny eyes to find it and appreciate the little people.

A local Quilt and Stitch show to look out for:

Lutterworth Stitchers would like to announce their 2022 exhibition – “Scintillating Stitches”. The exhibition will be held Tuesday 16 August to Saturday 20 August, at Wycliffe Methodist Church, Bitteswell Road, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, LE17 4EZ (just opposite Morrisons supermarket), and is open 10:00 – 4:00 each day, with Friday evening opening till 9:00. The exhibition illustrates the various avenues of stitch explored by members, with lots of the work being for sale. There will also be Demonstrations, Refreshments, Homemade Cakes and a Sales Table Area with an eclectic mix of all thing’s “stitch”.

Lutterworth Stitchers, is an independent creative textile group in Leicestershire. At the monthly evening meetings invited speakers provide inspiration from the textile world. Day Workshops are held  or members to further their skills. Social ‘Stitch Days’ are also held each month, where ideas and  knowledge can be exchanged in a very convivial atmosphere. Non- members are welcomed to our ‘Stitch days’ or as visitors to our evening meetings.

For more information please contact Wendy Bates on 07851 048677, or Kate Clarke 01530 262412

I do love to hunt out clips about the making of clothes and costumes. Some of you may have seen

The recent Biopic of Elvis and recall the fabulous costumes:

 Just as much as he was defined by his music, Elvis Presley was just as recognizable for his wardrobe. In Baz Luhrmann’s brand new film on the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis, his wife and four-time Oscar-winning costume designer and set decorator Catherine Martin were tasked with the challenge to bring the King’s threads to life. Hear what she has to say about the design process and how she was inspired for the project.

Watch the video discussion with Catherine below.

As most of you will know by now, Living Threads has had a re-shuffle and we have a new Chair – Maggie Ready – to steer us through the next few years and help us transition and plan our future. Many thanks to Viv for her sterling work, and all the hard workers on the previous committee. I shall stay on as Newsletter Editor unless someone else wants the job?

Most of us will now be meeting monthly to try to make the group more cohesive and collaborative as we plan how and where to exhibit, etc. We will share practices, show work in progress, discuss and critique, possibly bicker and squabble…!!

General contact for Living Threads will be through the

Your enquiry will then be forwarded to the relevant member. Maggie’s details are on the members’ contacts list. Please note that this is being updated at the moment and will be circulated shortly by Hazel.

That’s all for now. I’d love to be able to include snippets, images and news from members and subscribers. I’d love to hear of any local exhibitions, book reviews or recent experiences for my next newsletters.

Please send any items to: or

On our website you can find a review of many of the pieces in the Living Threads Exhibition 2022

Have a lovely Summer, enjoy stitching in the sunshine

Gilli Theokritoff

Newsletter Editor

March 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to March 2022!  Could Spring be just around the corner? We’ve endured everything just recently, with the storms, wind, rain, mild sleet and snowfall and even some wonderful sunshine. The birds and squirrels have been busy in my garden and have moved all my crocus and cyclamen bulbs, which are now sprouting in the lawn and pathways – everywhere except the flowerbeds! While isolating in October, when my husband got Covid, I potted up lots of tulips and I’m starting to see the fruits of my labours and the promise of colour to come. Tiny buds appearing on tree branches, shrubs starting to fill out, it is such an exciting time, just looking out of the window.
Hopefully the first stirrings of Spring will start to stir some creativity as well. I gave my first talk to a group (Lutterworth Quilters) in over two years and it was wonderful to see so many people all enjoying themselves over textile stuff. It was our first Quilters Guild regional day this last weekend and, again, brilliant to be surrounded by so many like-minded people all starting to feel inspired and excited at the prospect of returning to ‘normal’. Although many workshops will continue to be online, I can’t wait to be back in classrooms and community halls partaking in real ‘in the flesh’ workshops, with the chatter and communal enjoyment such occasions bring.

There are a number of events taking place this Spring:

For a lucky few, myself included, Arena travel have organised a trip to the Sitges Quilt Show in Spain, and a side trip to Barcelona and Girona. I’m looking forward to some lovely Spanish sunshine and plenty of quilts and embroideries, plus workshops from Janet Clare. Arena Travel do some fabulous UK knitting and stitching trips round the UK too, for those that don’t want to travel too far!
For knitters, felters, weavers, etc, there is the Spring Into Wool Festival at The Grammar School, Leeds, on 9th & 10th April, with lots of traders, demonstrations, workshops and galleries.

17th – 20th March sees the NEC, Birmingham, host three big shows in one – ‘Sewing for Pleasure’, the ‘Creative Craft Show’ and ‘Fashion & Embroidery’. The NEC website announces: If you have a passion for sewing, knitting, patchwork or stitching then Sewing for Pleasure is the place for you! Join us for the latest stitching supplies and plenty of ideas to inspire. Find must have fabrics, fabulous yarns, gorgeous patterns and threads – it’s an event not to be missed! 
Tickets to the Sewing for Pleasure show will also allow you access to the sister shows, Fashion & Embroidery and The Creative Craft Show. Visit the show’s website to see all the galleries, workshops, traders and stitching celebrities who will be there.

Closer to home, the East Midlands Contemporary Textiles group (of which I am a member) are having their first exhibition at the Artists Gallery, Friar Lane, Nottingham NG1 6DH, just below Nottingham Castle. Only for one week, so be sure to put it in your diary 22 – 27th March. Plenty of lovely bars and cafes nearby too!


Living Threads Exhibition:  “Gardens”

We are getting very excited for our forthcoming Living Threads Exhibition at Trent College, 30th March to Friday 8th April.  Here’s a piece by Janet Humphreys in anticipation:
Behind the scenes
We have all known it was going to happen at some point but the Exhibition is fast approaching. The hall is booked. Van, display boards, technicians and helpers are ready to go. Publicity is ongoing with flyers handed out at every opportunity and good old Facebook is spreading the word. The stewarding rota has been inked in along with demonstrations so no backing out now.

Plans for other things we hadn’t thought about are coming along nicely. Catering, the most important aspect has been booked so there will be tea and cake to refresh our lovely visitors.
For some, (I’m not saying who) work will be finished off during  midnight hours the night before “handing in day”. Frantic labelling, firmly attached please, with the correct name and title then phew, you can pass your pieces over to the hanging team and relax.

Countdown, just a few days before the big day. Paint the boards, hang the exhibits, it all seems so simple doesn’t it? There is a lot of debate. Does it look ok there? Higher up, lower down, get the hammer, put the nail in and commit. The mannequins are strategically placed. It’s a good job they can’t speak, being moved from one dark corner then into the light.

Stock the shop with treasures and hoover the floor. Step back and take a look. Yes it all looks amazing. At last ………. we can open the doors!
Janet Humphreys

Details of the Exhibition are available online at
To add a bit of colour and inspiration, here’s an online exhibition. Bisa Butler is a textile artist who makes life-size quilted portraits of black Americans, full of colour, verve and attitude. In this profile from CBS Evening News, Bisa is interviewed about just what makes her quilts so special:

Have any of you watched The Marvellous Mrs Maisel on the Prime TV streaming service? It is just starting it’s fourth series and has won endless awards, but for most of us textile lovers, it is not the humour, but the clothes that we watch it for. Set in early 60s New York, it tells the tale of a Jewish housewife and mother who goes into stand-up comedy. The costumes are amazing, so colourful, detailed and well researched. The outfits first series was inspired by Audrey Hepburn, the second by Grace Kelly and the third moved into the Beatnik times. This fourth series features some amazing hats!
There are lots of YouTube videos about the costumes and followers who try to recreate them. Have a look at ‘Making Mrs Maisel’s Red Dress’ – Morgan Donner reconstructs the famous dress, showing how to analyse the form and drape.


If you have a moment, look at the work of Amanda Cobbett, a British contemporary textile artist making exquisite free-machine embroidered sculpture inspired by nature. They are so lifelike it would be hard to tell from the real thing!

If you have any newsletter contributions, book or exhibition reviews, puzzles, recommendations, suggestions for topics, etc, do please send them to me via the Living Threads email address:  or email me directly at 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:  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 booster keeps us all safe from Omicron too.
Meanwhile enjoy the first glimpses of Spring
Until April
Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor


February 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to February 2022!  We are approaching the real depths of winter, just before Spring, and we can expect snow, biting winds and storms, just as those first tender shoots of Spring flowers are peeping out of the ground.

However, January proved to be less violent than usual this year. I’m keeping a keen eye on the temperature charts – but more about that later. I hate to see Magnolia trees tricked into blooming early and then see frozen buds drop, unfulfilled. The roads look their worst, with no greenery, black muck by the roadsides and bare earth. It has had me looking at holiday brochures as I see tanned people returning from Cape Verde and Lanzarote, not to mention the Maldives…

I have booked a holiday though! I am going on a quilting trip with Stitchtopia in March, to Sitges, Barcelona and Girona. It is my fourth attempt to get away on a quilting retreat and it looks like it will finally happen! Naturally the timing is all wrong as it falls right in the middle of two textile exhibitions I am exhibiting in. Stitchtopia are the craft wing of Arena Travel and do a range of special interest tours, including embroidery, cross stitch, knitting and crochet, both in the UK, Europe and some long hauls to Uzbekistan, Vietnam, etc. Sightseeing, relaxing and stitching, what could be better?

If you fancy a trip to London, why not visit The Stitch Show (previously the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show) at the Business Design Centre, Islington, London, 3rd – 6th March.  Lots of stalls, galleries and events…   Tony Toon tells me that Roberts Coaches will be running a coach down to the show on Saturday 5th March, with the pickup in Leicester at 8am, returning 7.30pm. Should be a great day out!

SOCK GALLERY  13th January to 26th February 2022
Currently running in Loughborough Town Hall is a textile exhibition at the Sock Gallery. Thanks to Janet Humphries for drawing my attention to it. What a lovely little venue! Apparently there are some lovely coffee shops nearby…

A Group Exhibition by Traverse 
Traverse is a group of five textile artists, based in a studio at The Old Print Works in Birmingham, who came together while studying Experimental Textiles in 2016 and began exhibiting the following year.
The name ‘Traverse’ came from a sense of moving across, looking or stepping sideways, trying to find different perspectives as we approach a theme – we may not all move in the same direction or use the same mode of travel. Within mixed media and textile art, we each have our favourites, including working with paper, metal, hand-dyed fabric, felt, 3D and fashion, using heat, print, paint, and stitch.”

Their work has been inspired by themes including ‘Destinations’ – special places and the beauty of the natural world and ‘Revealed’ – exploring hidden layers in both the physical world and their work itself. Their current exhibition work on ‘Senses’ reflects their individual approaches to the sensory world, including exploring sensory loss, optical illusion and how sensory experiences can evoke memories of place and time.
An important part of our ethos is to celebrate our diversity, share our various strengths and to grow together, working side by side. However, having recently lived through strange times in our world and working apart for over a year, we are celebrating coming together again to present this retrospective, which reflects not only work on our themes but also work produced alone, exploring loss, personal viewpoints and our emotional landscapes – together and apart.”
 #traversetextileart #debdaysewingroom (at The Old Print Works)

Meet the Artist and Demonstration Days  
January 15th and February 19th 11am – 2pm

Join members of Traverse in the gallery to talk to them about their exhibition and see them demonstrating how they work.

Not textiles, but maybe they will inspire you? Hodsock Priory is closed this year for winter viewings, but there are fantastic displays of snowdrops and cyclamens to be explore at Hardwick Hall, in the beautiful grounds. The Hall itself is closed until 12th February, but the grounds are accessible all year round.  

I’m starting a temperature quilt as a record of this coming year. It’s a new trend that seems to have caught textile enthusiasts over the last couple of years. You check out the highs and lows of your area’s temperature over recent years, to give you an idea of the temperature range. There are plenty of websites that do this, but I use, full Nottinghamshire records at: I use this to confirm the current day’s readings as well, to confirm my smartphone’s weather app. Perhaps you may have a barometer or outdoor thermometer and take your own readings? My husband loves this task but it usually descends into a “where did I put my glasses?” scenario!

As a quilter, I am making a quilt – well, two quilts actually. However, you can find knitted blankets, crocheted shawls, mosaics, cross stitches, embroideries and plenty of other variations. Try Pinterest to see what is out there. Being wary of copyright laws I am directing you to look for yourself, rather than publish unattributed photographs.

Depending where you live, and the colour variations you choose, the finished item can be very varied. Australian versions start hot and have the cooler temperature in the middle, whereas we are the opposite. Temperate climates have more subtle variations. Above is a quilt by Jo Avery and you can read her blog about it at the address above. She lives in Scotland and made hers as a distraction from Lockdowns and Covid. She has used the background as the cooler evening temperatures and the warmer applique circles reflect the daytime temperatures.

Mine will be done as a square in a square block, 3”, which should give me a quilt about 50“ x 60”, when I’ve done 365 blocks! I’m using greys and whites as my cooler colours, working to pinks and purples for the hotter ones, which will be the smaller square in the centre. To add further work, I’m making a second version with the hotter colours on the outside and cooler in the centre, so I have a different effect. I spent a whole day choosing my colours and fabrics and then cutting lots of fabric into 1.5” strips and bagging them up into their different temperature degrees. Now it is quite quick and easy to run up a couple of small blocks every day or two. And fun! Look how warm it was on 1st January! Do Google temperature quilts or blankets, but beware, there are lots of heated underblankets falling under that heading!

Natural Dyeing
After talking about Alice Fox in last month’s newsletter I dragged out some rust and other samples I made at a workshop with her. I was reminded of some printing I had done with the East Midlands Contemporary Textiles group, using natural plants and leaves. This led me to thinking about Natural dyeing. I then found Angela Daymond’s small book on Natural Dyeing and it is now on my to-do list. Angela lives in Lincolnshire and has recently moved to a new studio. She offers talks on natural dyeing, woad, kantha, etc and online workshops via Zoom. Her in-person workshops are on hold during the COVID situation.

Living Threads Exhibition:  “Gardens”
We are getting very excited for our forthcoming Living Threads Exhibition at Trent College, 30th March to Friday 8th April. We had a full members’ meeting recently, where all the finer details were discussed and all the entries for one of our collective group pieces were revealed. I can promise you a great show, judging by the gorgeous work we saw. The theme is “Gardens” and Spring should be in full swing by then, so it will be a great taste of the floral delights to come! Our Facebook site will have lots of teaser images in the run-up to the exhibition.

If you have any newsletter contributions, book or exhibition reviews, puzzles, recommendations, suggestions for topics, etc, do please send them to me via the Living Threads email address:  or email me directly at

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:  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 booster keeps us all safe from Omicron too. Everyone please try to enjoy the tail end of winter (snowdrops, hellebores) and keep creating.
Until March (daffodils, narcissi, tulips!)


Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor
Copyright © 2022 The Living Threads Group, All rights reserved.

January 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to the New Year, but yet another round of dire COVID warnings. Fingers crossed that the vaccinations and boosters will save us from another year like the last one. Meanwhile the warmer temperatures of the last few days are giving way to freezing blasts of icy wind and becoming more like the winters we expect. The Christmas tree needles have dropped, the baubles have lost their allure and all those new resolutions are being tested already!

The New Year, however, is a chance to set some good habits and plan for the future. To that end I have been looking at classes, both online and in person, to awaken our creative energies.
I’ve mentioned hand embroiderer Anne Brooke before but it is always worth having a look at her challenges and workshops. She is based in Brighouse, West Yorkshire and runs in person and online classes, as well as issuing 365 day projects and challenges. Last year it was embroidered tags/labels and previously a long scroll. Check out Instagram to see what people did @sew4thesoul. You can find details about Anne here:
Ann Bruntlett reminds me about Alice Fox – a favourite with us all. Have a look at  Alice is known for her rust and natural dyeing, slow stitching and use of nature. She also lives in West Yorkshire and runs in person workshops and online. There are some fabulous things to do with her.

Slightly closer to home, with in person workshops at her fabulous studio beside the Harley Gallery outside Worksop, is Hope and Elvis. Louise invites some of the very best textile tutors to her studios for all kinds of fascinating workshops. A fabulous lunch is provided too! Workshop tutors include: Mandy Patullo, Alice Fox, Cas Holmes. Macrame, collage, vintage textiles, collagraphs, wire work, all kinds of stitching.

Don’t forget to check out Crafty Monkies Rachel runs lots of online textile workshops from top textile tutors. I’m booked on one in February with Nicholas Ball, but they aren’t just quilting – bag making, free machining, creative sketchbooks, etc.

Domestika run a huge range of online workshops, from photography, calligraphy and rug making to all things stitchy. Try a new skill and see if it sparks your creativity!

When I do finally get out and about I plan a visit to the Ropewalk, in Barton upon Humber, North Lincolnshire DN18 5JT. The Ropewalk is a regionally acclaimed centre for the arts housing galleries, Sculpture Garden, Coffee Shop, and Ropery Hall – a venue for live music, theatre and cinema within a Grade II listed former rope factory. Other facilities include: a printmaking workshop; artists’ studios and meeting rooms available for outside lets. I know it is slightly outside our region, but the workshops on offer are delightful. I intend to book on one to make willow chickens and I’m really tempted by a mosaic workshop too. Others include nuno felting, jewellery design and upholstery!

The great news is that you don’t have to restrict yourself to local or UK courses these days. One of my favourite artists, Brenda Gael Smith, teaches fantastic 3hr Zoom workshops from Australia! If you do an evening workshop with her, you can watch the sun rise through her studio window! She is a quilter, working on colour, abstraction and improvisation, but any stitcher can do a class with her and learn so much, whatever your textile interest.

I’m booked to start a Photoshop Elements course with who run digital courses online from the USA. It’s not live, so no Zooming at 4am, but you get a series of instructional videos, forum chat, email guidance and projects to complete. I’m finally taking the plunge on courses 1 (beginner) & 2 (next steps). Plenty of further digital manipulation classes available. These ladies are textile artists first and foremost, so they know what will be useful to learn!

Rather than workshops, maybe you would like the gentle creative nudges available by subscribing to the (free) newsletter? Run by Sam and Joe, sons of the well-known textile artist Sue Stone, they seek to inspire creativity amongst stitchers. They also offer some creative courses but this January they will be offering a free creative project to all email subscribers, so I encourage you to join the community.
The Harley Open competition
Feeling challenged? Why not consider entering the biennial art competition run by The Harley Gallery. The Harley Open invites artists – whether professional or amateur – to submit their work for the chance to be included in this much-loved exhibition which will run from 6th August to 23rd October 2022. The Harley Open 2020 showed 124 pieces of art made by 102 different artists, all living and working within 100 miles of the gallery.

Entry details are as follows: “We are looking for 2D or 3D wall-based works, in any style or medium. Entries are accepted by artists aged 18 and over, from within 100 miles of the gallery (as the crow flies), and made within the last 2 years. You can enter up to two works, and entries cost £10 per work.”
Fabric at a bargain price?
Deborah Rees runs her own fabric shop from home, located in Selston, just off M1 Junction 27. She has a current offer of 20% off her ranges in January, with a special 3-day sale on 23rd, 24th and 25th of January  when there will be at least 100 bolts of fabric at £7 per metre, plus bundles of Mettler thread offers. Deb sells quality ranges, by Moda, Makower, etc as well as Aurifil threads, wadding and dressmaking fabrics and notions. She specialises in Moda Grunge fabric, a pure cotton with tonal variations – over 200 shades! Well worth a visit.She also runs workshops at a local venue and will be running a Tuffet-making workshop in May, so make enquiries soon!

Are dolls your ‘thing’? Not mine particularly, but I have been fascinated by the DeMuse dolls  designed by Nigel Chia. They are 16” tall and intricately put together by hand in incredible detail. Definitely not designed for children to play with. Watch the videos. You will re-think Barbie costumes! You can find him on Instagram @nigelchiaofficial New Year Doll Christmas Doll

Lastly, I’d just like to take a moment for us to remember Brenda Aldridge, a Living Threads Founder Member, who passed away at the end of last year. Here are some words from her daughter Jacqui:
Born 10th October 1932
Died 10th December 2021 aged 89 years
Leaves 2 twin daughters Jacqueline Yeomans and Alison Alldridge and 2 granddaughters Amelia and Heather Yeomans
In the late 1960s Brenda took a diploma course in dressmaking and tailoring at Ilkeston College. Once she completed her training she began tutoring dressmaking and tailoring for adult education at Parklands in Long Eaton and Friesland School in Sandiacre. Whilst working at Parklands Brenda made a number of friends, especially Dorothy Griffin & Jo Hebblethwaite. Dorothy and Brenda taught many workshops, as Brenda developed her skills into samplers and machine embroidery. Brenda became a founder member of Living Threads. She exhibited numerous works at Elvaston Castle, including an embroidery seaweed collar, waistcoats and the dresses she made for her daughter Jacqueline’s wedding. Not to waste anything, Brenda also made a christening robe from the spare wedding dress fabric.

Date for your diary:

Living Threads Exhibition, Trent College, Wednesday 30th March – Friday 8th April 2022. Start spreading the news…!

Check our website at:  or email us at:  or check us out on Facebook.

Please send any ideas, suggestions, reviews or contributions for the February newsletter to me via the Living Threads email address:  or email me directly at

Gilli Theokritoff,
Newsletter Editor

DECEMBER 2021 Newsletter

Welcome to December, and the first snow flurries over the weekend. I’m glad to say I was wrapped up warm inside, looking out on the cold white scenes outside. The COVID news seems to get worse every day, with the emergence of Omicron (sounds like an alien invasion doesn’t it?) but my booster is booked for this weekend. I survived my husband’s recent COVID infection so my immune system seems to be working, but I’m sure it could do with a top up.

Having been nursemaid to my sick husband in October, it has been his turn during November. Some of you may be aware that I fell off a stepladder (while tidying up my fabric stash) and severely sprained my knee and bruised my coccyx. Sound painful but it doesn’t encompass the myriad of other small strains and bruising that made absolutely everything difficult. Nurse Nicki had to bring a bed downstairs for me, wait on me hand and foot, drive me to doctor and physio appointments and do all the shopping and cooking, while still suffering through post viral fatigue. He’s been a real brick, but not necessarily a compassionate one. That has been the forte of all my visitors, who endlessly turn up to amuse me and raise my spirits. I’m so grateful to belong to such a fabulous textile community of mutual support and shared interests. I think COVID has taught us to treasure those around us and to forge links where we can. My WhatsApp groups have been fantastic, standing in for classes I haven’t been able to teach. Luckily I am finally making progress and can do more for myself. Hopefully next week I might be driving again.

Meanwhile, I’ve spent some time doing some research and hearing about interesting things.

Anne Bruntlett has sent me this link with some super examples of fabric books:
I think I might have found my next obsession!

Viv, our Chair, sent out some suggested Leicester-based exhibitions to members last month, but they have finished now. Likewise, the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, which I had to miss. However, one Leicester-based exhibition I will definitely get to is:

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience at Leicester All Saints Church
Have you ever dreamt of stepping into a painting? To become completely immersed in the work before you, making reality around you fade into the new world created by the artist? This is where you can!

It has been on for a few weeks but is now extending booking until 31st March 2022. Booking is required but there is plenty of space at the moment. A friend went recently and loved it. Huge galleries of giant images create a really immersive feeling and, at the end, you can take an optional Virtual Reality experience to go with it. (Seated in a chair, not lurching blindly round the room).


Visit – to find out about exhibitions and galleries around the country, and to read and see articles about what’s currently going on, indoors and outdoors, in the art world.
Join textile artist and writer Claire Wellsley-Smith as part of the Fashion and Textile Museum’s programme of on demand events. Claire discusses her new book Resilient Stitch: Wellbeing and Connection in Textile Art, in a pre-recorded conversation. The recording lasts about an hour and costs £5. Then you can treat yourself to her book or put it on your Christmas list.

Enforced rest has meant a lot of lying on the sofa watching TV. I started a Now subscription and have been enjoying Sky Arts Portrait and Landscape Artist of the Year re-runs. So fabulous to watch creative people capturing likenesses and views in so many different ways. Mainly paint, of course, but also stitch, lino cut, crayons, etc.
I’ve enjoyed Bake Off and Handmade, which have concluded now, but I hear that there will be two celebrity Great British Sewing Bee Festive Specials over the winter, so we have those to look forward to. They will have a new host, Sarah Pascoe, as Joe Lycett has stepped down. I’m expecting she will be a good host. I’ve become quite familiar with her comedy, having watched quite a lot of Taskmaster while laid up.
I’ve also become addicted to You Tube’s series of Haute Couture videos. Yesterday I spent nearly an hour watching the construction of Dior’s iconic red Bar coat, in mind blowing detail.
Truly marvellous engineering, such talent and understanding of drape and construction, perfection in sewing , tacking, etc.

You Tube’s Haute Couture also shows the runway shows from recent collections and lots of other detailed classic costume creations. Well worth a look.

I also love to check out Collosal ( – an arts and crafts images website full of fantastic inspiration and ideas. I’ve subscribed (free) which means I get sent a daily image, which I often set as a background on my computer screen. Here’s a crochet piece by Jo Hamilton, one of their featured artists.

When it comes to Christmas ideas, I was going to research lots of little things to put on your lists, but sadly my ability to sit at a computer was restricted, so here are some more books I fancy.

Textiles Transformed. Mandy Patullo uses vintage textiles and stitch to create gorgeous little pieces to treasure. I’ve done several classes and even been on a week’s retreat with her in France, enjoying the pleasure of slow stitching. I know I will love this book and all the images.

How To Be Creative in Textile Art. I don’t know anything about this book, I’ve not seen a copy, but I love Julia Triston’s work, so that’s good enough for me. I have attended one of her talks and done a workshop with her and she is a creative and inspiring teacher.

Last year I subscribed to a treat from Aurifil Threads. Each month I get a box of three 50wt threads on their 1300mtr cones in toning colours. I also took the plunge and subscribed to the 40wt threads too. I intend to phase out most of my other threads as Aurifil are just so yummy and have a huge colour range. The colours glow, the thread doesn’t fluff and it moves through the sewing machine like a dream.

I get my subscription from but they are also available from and other fabric and thread retailers. 2022 also features a variegated version, but I like Superior Threads King Tut or Wonderfil for variegated machine threads, as their colour gradations are so subtle.


Date for your diary:

Living Threads Exhibition, Trent College, Wednesday 30th March – Friday 8th April 2022. Start spreading the news…!

Any more reviews or New Year suggestions are very welcome, as I’m sure readers would appreciate some ideas and inspiration for 2022!. Please send them to me via the Living Threads email address:  or email me directly at
Everyone please enjoy the season and keep creating.

Gilli Theokritoff,
Newsletter Editor