November 2020 newsletter

Well, the leaves are almost all fallen, the temperature has dropped, the clocks gone back and the nights drawing in. Before long it will be dark soon after 3pm and fires will grackle in grates throughout the land…

Nottinghamshire has just moved into Tier 3, but soon maybe the entire country may face a further Lockdown. Prospects look bleak, but luckily we have an interest in fabric, texture and colour that should lift our spirits somewhat. Now that the garden has gone to sleep you have no excuse not to return to your sewing station and enjoy some stitching, lacemaking, knitting or whatever other creative outlet you feel inspired to do.

I’ve struggled to get busy with my art quilts but have been finishing off a lot of projects, doing quite a few Blocks-of-the-Month that I have to subscribed to and making masks. Guess what will be in most of my family Christmas parcels this year! We have a couple of new babies in the family  via my nieces, so I’ve been busy with making playmats for them. I also got inspired by those fabulous autumn leaves outside my window and have started a wallhanging.

Gilli wallhanging

The Quilters’ Guild has been running talks and workshops via Zoom, which I have been enrolling on. Today there is a talk by Kaffe Fassett on colour and last week was a delightful talk by Christina Cameli on creating texture through simple free machine quilting. There is a talk every month, from different speakers, usually from the US, who are much more switched on to using Zoom in this way.

I’ve also booked on a 90 minute workshop on Quilt-as-You-Go techniques and one with Jo Avery to do freehand dandelion clocks!

If you are a member of the Quilters’ Guild you just go to the website and book that way, or, for non-members, you can access these at

There are plenty of other sites offering online workshops in embroidery, quilting and other textile crafts. comes highly recommended and of course you can’t get better than the Royal School of Needlework: . I’m sure there are plenty of others and if you have attended any and enjoyed them please let me know for future listing, or, better still, write a review for the newsletter!

Joan Pilkington has written a lovely piece on her lacemaking adventures:

Over 40 years ago I was given a felt doll and fabric to dress her as a lace maker.

To my shame she has languished in a drawer for all those years with my saying ‘One day’ every time I opened that drawer.

This year Covid-19 has meant that my husband and I needed to self-isolate! This would be the opportunity to tidy and remove things from our cluttered home! On opening ‘that drawer’ I decided that rather than Spring Cleaning the ‘one day’ had come to transform the doll into a lace maker; a long overdue project and a much more enjoyable activity!

‘One day’ stretched to four weeks! I knew where to find the folder with patterns for dolls clothes, saved from Home and Country magazine dating back many years, also the tiny bobbins and the book by Ann Collier (Dolls and dolls houses) providing lace patterns for different sizes of doll. I had to adapt the patterns as my doll was ‘an in between size.

To give the doll’s body shape, I made a corset, followed by pantaloons and petticoat, made with old fine linen fabric bottom edged with lace using threads: 100 Brok and 36 Tanne (gimp) Next the dress was made. Snap fasteners were invented in 1885 and so if the doll was late Victorian, these could be used to fasten the back of the dress, rather than buttons. Lace cuffs and a front piece extending to a back collar were made using adapted patterns from Ann Collier’s book and threads: 100 Brok and 12 perlé (gimp). Narrow ribbon formed a belt. Small pieces of fine glove leather were used to make little shoes tied with very narrow ribbon. A lace cap for her head using threads 80 Brok and 12 perlé; and a small bead and metal cup added colour as a broach at the neckline. The shawl picks up the red in the dress and is made using a shiny, unknown thread similar in thickness to 50Tanne. The design has holes surrounded by gimp close to the edge suitable for threading ribbon and this ribbon has been used to secure the shawl to the doll.

The chair and pillow stand have wooden bobbins as legs and chair back. The pillow is stuffed with paper straw. With only 8 bobbins I have used Kat stitch for the lace on the pillow. The bobbins have been spangled with tiny beads and a thread has been threaded through the spangles and anchored to the pillow to keep the bobbins in order. In Sweden a folkdance forms this stitch by the movements of the dancers. They carry threads that are wound around giant pegs in the ground. The pin cushion is stuffed with emery filings. The pins are fine, small-headed, longer than I would have liked. The heads are too large on the shorter pins used for Bruges lace. I found a piece of slate in my garden to use as a base for the doll.

As the weather has been so good during the ‘lockdown’ due to Covid 19 and I have been making lace in the garden. This gave me the idea to photograph my doll amongst the flowers to give the exhibit its title.


Judith Burnett has brought the garden inside for a bit of inspiration – “playing with seedheads, as brushes, to make marks with Indian ink -and some added colour”.

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 We do all love to see what others have been up to, or hear news related to our love of textiles.

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

The website has been brightened up, with new additions – so do go and have a look.

Soon we will be adding the new contributions you will hopefully all make to the Gardens 6” Challenge!

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 December!


Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor

October 2020 newsletter

Autumn has finally settled in and the summer days are over. Welcome to warm socks, scarves and slippers, hot drinks and cosy nights. Also to longer evenings inside as the light disappears early, leaving us with more sewing time maybe?

We are still caught in the stranglehold of COVID19, with some areas in total lockdown and all of us somewhat confused about what we can and cannot do, so we are hunkering down and leaving the streets, cafes and bars to the younger generations. While we have this time on our hands we might expect to be able to spend our enforced leisure following our creative impulses, but for many of us these have dried up.

Talking of finding creativity hard work in these strange times, Julie Williams shares her current project:

Over the past few (weird) months, I‘ve found that I have plenty of ideas and initial enthusiasm for producing work.

But, every time, after starting, I quickly lose interest, abandon what I’ve started and move on to something else.

However I’ve just done this Lino cut, these are ‘tryouts‘ on paper and fabric.

Now I need to find better background fabric and then decide how I’m going to add stitch.

Work in Progress……I hope!

Julie W

Annie Nicoll has been busy too:

After the long haul of completing my sofa makeover, I decided to go back to mosaics. I had received a commission for a mosaic to go into my friend Joy’s new kitchen. She was having all the doors made to match her Art Deco living room doors, so that was my starting point for the design. I decided to do a triptych as it would be easier to transport. So after nine weeks of cutting, cementing and grouting, it is finally finished. The only problem now is how to get it to Joy’s house in Spain. The original plan of a trip to collect it keeps getting put off due to the combined difficulties of Covid 19 and Brexit. So probably I will get to keep it for a lot longer than I imagined.

Annie N

Viv Denscombe has a great report here:

A Yarn and a Half

I’m a member and committee member of Cosby Quilters….even though I have never actually completed a real quilt in my life – the nearest I have come to it are wall hangings, but I’m still allowed in!

Last year one of the local Cosby ladies came up with the idea of Yarn Bombing the village and asked as many Cosby groups and individuals as possible to take part. The exhibition ran concurrent with the annual Cosby Victory Show, so we had many passing visitors. It turned out to be a great success and so it was decided to repeat the idea this year.

The theme this year was ‘Childrens’ Story Books’.  It turned out to be an even greater success and demonstrated a really wide and diverse collection of knitted, crocheted, felted and, basically, anything and everything that could be created with yarn.

Many of the stories were well known favourites including Peter Rabbit, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Harry Potter, Rapunzel, Noah’s Ark, and Jack and the Beanstalk (created by our very own Sue Wilson).  Cosby Quilters entered Jungle Book.  There were also more modern stories – which I must admit (not having any Grandchildren) I hadn’t heard of, including The Scarecrows Wedding.  The Wedding, in addition to the full-sized knitted scarecrows, complete in their full wedding attire, included various animals including a cow – complete with cow pat and flies!

In addition to the main stories being told in yarn, many of the lamp posts, telegraph poles and basically, anything that didn’t move, was dressed in yarn flowers, wraps, animals and 3D items inspired by nature.

It was a really incredible display of talent, enthusiasm and dedication.

Next year’s event is themed ‘Up, Up and Away’ to coincide with Cosby’s final Victory Show….I’ve already heard murmurings of ideas and they sound incredible….hopefully see you there….

If you have any newsletter contributions, puzzles, recommendations, etc, do please send them to me via the Living Threads email address:  We do all love to see what others have been up to, or hear news related to our love of textiles.

I’ve not got much to add. I was gearing up for starting classes again, only to have to pull the plug on them. Theoretically they can go ahead, as they come under the educational exemption, but it feels all wrong in the current climate to be bringing possibly vulnerable people together, even all suitably distanced, etc. I’m learning my way around Zoom workshop teaching and filming tutorials, but it wont be the same. I miss the connection with my fellow stitchers and the communal fun we have!

Sadly also, we have made the unwelcome decision to postpone our April 2021 Exhibition at Trent College until Easter the following year. Things are too uncertain at the moment and the planning and preparation cannot be done without teams meeting up and working together – not something we can count on being able to do for the foreseeable future.  We are planning a Virtual Exhibition of small pieces of work going up on the website and Facebook in December and will have photos of the 2019 exhibition on there as well soon.

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

It has come to our attention that not everyone has been refunded for bookings made for classes which we rolled over from March 2020 and since we can’t see when classes can re-start we want to clear the slate! Please contact your tutor directly and provide details and banking info if you are in this situation.

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 November!


Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor

September 2020 newsletter

The end of summer is upon us and the weather has turned cooler – there’s still the chance of an Indian summer to come, but meanwhile I’m looking forward to the plums and apples we are harvesting. In fact, the cheeky resident squirrel has taken all my Victoria plums but luckily the neighbours have plenty to share. One of the fortunate sides of Lockdown has been how much community support there has been and the forging of strong relationships with neighbours.

Lockdown is still going on for some areas of the countryside and we are all taking a cautious approach to venturing out into the wider community. Mask wearing is prevalent, and it has been interesting to spot the home-made ones! So many fabrics, so many styles.

Last month Living Threads member Jennie Riley 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

I hope you all had a go. I couldn’t get them all, but now here are the answers!


Janet Humphreys has contributed this interesting piece:

Jenny Ashmore and I spent a lovely morning eco dyeing using plants picked from the garden. Working outside in glorious weather, we spread out the leaves and flowers on pre scoured and mordanted fabrics then rolled them tightly around sticks and metal cans. These were steamed whilst we had our lunchbreak then unwrapped.

It was so exciting unreeling the fabric….is it going to be a slushy mess or a success? We were quite chuffed with the results. Rose, geranium and acer leaves all worked well.

Jenny is planning to use her best pieces in a stitched panel and I am making “arty” aprons with mine.

A recommendation for you from Sally Marsh, if you are travelling down south the Sunbury Embroidery Gallery. It’s a beautiful gallery and café, with its main emphasis on embroidery, but featuring guest exhibitions from a range of associated artistic crafts, such as illustration, jewellery, etc. It is in Sunbury-on-Thames, not far from Hampton Court. Well worth a visit of you are in the area, and so good to know that there are art galleries featuring textiles at last.

We are still considering what to do about our workshops and classes in the New Year. Some groups are starting to get together and others are waiting until next summer! Venues remain a problem until they work out how to work with multiple different users. I don’t think many venues or groups can cope with meetings of larger numbers, properly socially distanced.

I’ve attended a Zoom patchwork workshop, which was great. I didn’t have to cart machines and fabrics to a venue, everything was to hand and the presentation was very professional. It was live, so we interacted with our tutor well. However, after six hours I realised I had hardly moved all day!

I’m looking into how to organise teaching by Zoom, because I think it will be a requirement for some people for a long time to come. Nothing beats being all together and sharing knowledge and opinions, but it is a worthy addition to the teaching offer.

The Knitting and Stitching Show is going to go ahead live, in a limited way, 8 – 11th October at Alexandra Palace, London. Tickets are on sale now for morning or afternoon slots; no galleries, but plenty of retailers and workshops. Details from

One of the retailers there, and a favourite trader of mine is Linladan. They sell contemporary and vintage ‘60s linen threads, kits, embroideries and other wonderful stuff. When the linen textile industry came to an end in Sweden the Linladan ladies found a whole load of haberdashery supplies which they have sorted through. It’s all so gorgeous!

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 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 October!


Gilli Theokritoff, Newsletter Editor

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