All Stitched Up! | Issue 131

30th March 2018

Hi There,

Whenever we have something to celebrate, usually there has been a sacrifice, or a price paid to enable us to arrive at the point of celebration. It makes sense therefore, to honour the sacrifice before enjoying the celebration.

Many of us will have observed this year’s season of Lent where we chose to sacrifice something in the 40 days leading up to Easter Friday. This sacrifice is intended to allow us to focus on our relationship with God without the distractions of worldly desires. Traditionally, the sacrifice made was to abstain from eating meat, but now often extends beyond food to include such ‘vices’ as alcohol, sugar and electronic media. At the end of Lent, it’s not uncommon to celebrate the return of what we’ve abstained from with a feast. But, without first honouring the sacrifice of Lent, there’s no reason for the celebratory feast.

In Christian churches, Good Friday is the day that honours the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. His resurrection is then celebrated on Easter Sunday, just three days later. Without Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for each of us, there would be no cause for celebration on Easter Sunday.

The same is true for our needlework – before we can enjoy the celebration of a finished piece, we have to honour the sacrifice of the time, talent and resources that made it possible.

On some level, we each get to choose how we use our time, what we apply our talents to and where we allocate our financial resources. For many of us, each of those areas of our lives is applied to our stitching. But, as there is only so much of each to go around, this ‘sacrifice’ does come at the expense of other pursuits – even if it is only housework!

On this Easter weekend, when the concept of sacrifice and celebration is forefront on our calendars and minds, we should remember to take a moment to honour the sacrifices that makes each of our celebrations possible, no matter how big or small they may be.

Benefits of Needlework
A Mind that Soared: Hazel Hall 1886-1924

Hazel Hall lived in Portland, Oregon and her short life was one of quiet achievement. Described as an exuberant and sensitive child, illness and injury confined her to a wheel chair around the age of 12. She left school and continued her studies at home; enjoying the work of poets and philosophers.

Hall lived with her parents and two sisters. Most of her time was spent in an upstairs room, the window her only outlet to the world. Hall trained as a seamstress and took in commission work to support herself. She created bridal robes, christening gowns and dresses, for a wealthy clientele, adorned with beautiful fabric embellishments, which were a harbinger of the finely crafted poems that would emerge as she got older.

Her eyesight began to fade in her twenties and as daily needlework became more difficult, she turned to writing poetry.

Many of Hall’s poems are steeped in needlework imagery as she used simple, domestic inspiration to inspire her work. The small physical world she inhabited shaped her writing, and a cannon rich in homely, familiar objects, is her legacy.

The Long Day

I am sewing out my sorrow
Like a thread, wearing it thin;
It will be old and frayed to-morrow,
Needle, turn out; needle, turn in.

Sorrow's thread is a long thread,
Needle, one stitch; needle, two.
And sorrow's thread is a strong thread.
But I will wear it through.
Then not only will sorrow
Be old and thin and frayed;
But I shall have tomorrow
Something sorrow has made.

~ Hazel Hall, 1921 ~

‘The Long Day’ written three years before she died, uses needlework imagery to great effect. By likening sorrow to a long, strong thread we can see the seamstress working hard to wear her sorrow down and make it thin and old and frayed, maybe in the hope that she will break it?

The poem also speaks of hope. Tomorrow will come and she will have something that sorrow has made. Something tangible to emerge from a small room, with a window to the world.

Hall’s poems were published by various periodicals during her lifetime to much acclaim. She also published two books, with a third published posthumously in 1928.

If you would like to read more click HERE

Needlework News
Inspirations Calendar - April Project
For those living in the northern hemisphere, hopefully by now Spring has sprung and you’re enjoying the sights and scents of flowers in bloom. Perhaps, you might even see a windflower or two, just like the ones depicted on the April calendar project aptly named ‘Windflower’ by Susan Porter.

Windflower is a superb raised embroidery study of graceful blooms, and if you missed out on enjoying the project when it first appeared in Inspirations #89, which has since sold out, you can now purchase it as a digital pattern.


Needlework Competition – 10 x 10

If you’re thinking about entering the Inspirations ‘Stitch Your Heart Out’ needlework challenge this year, but you’re not sure what to stitch, you might be interested in the 10 x 10 category.

To celebrate our 10th Beating Around the Bush and issue #100 of Inspirations, the themed category for SYHO 2018 is 10 x 10 which means, you can choose any technique, any threads, any fabric, and stitch anything you like, with the only criteria that it must keep within a 10cm x 10cm square and be your own design.

For full details and to download an entry form, click on the link below.

‘Stitch Your Heart Out’ Entry Form

Cultural Icons & Embroidery
Embellishing pre-painted canvas or photographs using a needle and thread is not a new idea, but the subject matter that Mexico-based textile artist Victoria Villasana has used in her recent work, is something we have not seen before.

In a series of pieces posted in an article by MyModernMet, Victoria starts with black and white portraits featuring pop and cultural icons, then using brightly coloured wool in geometric and polka dot patterns, highlights the subject’s clothing, jewellery, and eyes.

The result gives colour, dimension and new life to photos that many of us may recognise and can now enjoy in a whole new light.

To read the article click HERE or to see more of Victoria’s work on Instagram click HERE.

Featured Project
Sunflowers and Daisies by Helen Eriksson
Embroidered blankets are an evergreen, popular item in the world of needlework. If the gap between blankets appearing in an issue of Inspirations stretches out too far, inevitably we start receiving emails asking, “Where are the blankets!?”. So, for all the blanket fans out there, the project ‘Sunflowers and Daisies’ by Helen Eriksson in issue #97 is very much for you!

There are some flowers that always make you smile and sunflowers and daisies seem to do that better than any other.
The first thing that you notice when admiring this project, is the realism Helen has achieved in her flowers. This is no easy feat at the best of times but is made even more impressive considering this has been stitched onto ivory wool flannel using predominately wool embroidery, which is not usually known for its intricacy.

This is where you start to appreciate Helen’s skill and experience as a needlework artisan, as her selection of stitching techniques and thread choices really bring this project to life.

Ribbon embroidery gives the olive leaves lift and form, creating a wonderful sense of reality, as does its use in the centre of the pink blossoms. The stranded cotton is used for all the French knots that blend together in an array of different colours to create the spectacular centres of the sunflowers and daisies themselves.

All in all, this is a wonderful example of how the refined use of carefully chosen thread textures, colours and different stitches can come together in harmony and re-create some of the most radiant and decorative of flowers.

Helen Erikson has been an authority in the art of ribbon embroidery for many years, with her work first appearing in Inspirations Magazine right back in issue #7 (1995) with the project Bed of Roses.
It was Helen’s keen interest in gardening and her love of flowers that drew her into ribbon embroidery, as she was determined to learn how to make them using a needle and thread.
Fast forward to today, Helen is now semi-retired after enjoying a celebrated career as needlework designer, artisan, teacher, author and much valued contributor to Inspirations over the years.

Thank you for all the joy your projects bring us Helen – and in the case of your fabulous blanket, if the radiant light coming from the flowers you have beautifully stitched is not enough to keep us warm, the luxurious wool of the blanketing will do the rest!

Make Your Own Sunflowers and Daisies

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Sunflowers and Daisies by Helen Eriksson is a cosy woollen blanket adorned with a circlet and bouquet of sun-loving flowers.

Inspirations Issue 97

Sunflowers and Daisies

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Sunflowers and Daisies includes everything you need to re-create this stunning blanket: Wool flannel, water soluble stabiliser, embroidery threads, ribbon and needles. NOTE: Kit does not contain cotton fabrics or piping.

Sunflowers and Daisies – i97 Kit

Looking for More Helen Ericksson?
Bed of Roses

Bed of Roses by Helen Eriksson from Inspirations #7 is an elegant velvet evening bag sprinkled with golden roses.

Inspirations Issue 7

Perfect Petals

Perfect Petals by Helen Eriksson from Inspirations #94 uses gleaming silk ribbons in shades of cream, blush pink and lemon to create this luscious swag of superb roses.

Perfect Petals – i94 Kit

Perfect Petals

Autumn Harvest

Autumn Harvest by Helen Eriksson from Inspirations #71 is a graceful spray of flowers and berries in beautifully blended shades of gold, olive green, brick, terracotta and cream.

Autumn Harvest

Inspirations Issue 71

Garden Party

Garden Party by Helen Eriksson from Inspirations #70 showcases a whole garden of beautiful silk ribbon blooms in this floral sampler.

Garden Party

Have Your Say

Stories of Gratefulness

Inspired by Ann Voskamp’s book ‘One Thousand Gifts’, All Stitched Up! #128 (HERE) encouraged you to start counting the things you're grateful for - from the seemingly mundane right through to the absolute miraculous. And count you did! We were overwhelmed by the number of responses we received and hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as we did – they will inspire and challenge you and may even bring a tear to your eye…

Heidi Aurich

My gratefulness list will start with your newsletter. I had read Ann's book ‘One Thousand Gifts’ some time ago, but it's lessons are so easily forgotten. When I couldn't sleep last night and was mumbling and grumbling in discontent, I opened up my mailbox and there was ‘All Stitched Up!’ talking about being grateful! Coincidence? I think not! Thank you for the reminder.

Isabel Laurance

What a wonderful newsletter to wake up to this morning, ALL completely Inspirational! A great article about counting our blessings. We have so many blessings to ponder in the midst of the less than happy news that bombards us from every angle. You have certainly demonstrated that your magazine inspires many people - keep up the great work! It is fantastic to hear of so many other likeminded people who share the love of preparing and collecting materials then stitching with them.

Turning little bits of fabric into marvellous works of art is surely a pastime that brings contentment and happiness without bounds.

Jo Tucker

The beginning of my Grateful List:

That my dog is on her way to being healthy
My Embroidery Community
All my beautiful, colorful threads and the people who provide them
Inspirations Magazine

Kimetha Young

Thank you so much for your wonderful opening to Issue 128 on Gratefulness. I have read Ann’s book and it is challenging and humbling. I accepted her recommendation to make note of all the blessings and grace received over time.

I am now up to 1710, written in two journals. I look back over all the needs and extras that have been provided for me and my cup runneth over.

Margo Steley

After visiting a very poor third world country recently my list of things I am particularly grateful for has taken on a different perspective. So my list begins like this:

Family and friends
Reasonably good health and readily available health care
Adequate good quality food
Clean water supply
A secure and comfortable roof over my head
The ability to have a vote in a democratic election

I consider myself most fortunate and grateful to have all of the above, which allows me to have the time and inclination to enjoy all the other activities that give me so much pleasure - gardening, stitching, cooking and riding my motor bike being but a few

Mrs Humbertson

The one gift I am so grateful for, was the gift of waking up from a terminal operation four years ago and smelling God’s fresh air after six weeks in hospital.

Marty Campbell

I'm so pleased to see you reference ‘One Thousand Gifts’ as I purchased it just yesterday! I'm making my 1,000 Gifts list in a wonderful computer program called ‘SwordSearcher’ so I can begin each day's list with a thanksgiving scripture and incorporate it into my Bible Study. So far I have 10 Gifts listed, not all to be shared, but the list looks something like this:

March 8 – ‘I will praise the name of God with a song and will magnify him with thanksgiving’ (Psalm 69:30). I am grateful to You, Almighty God for: Showing me the beauty in this world that You created; Giving me eyes to see, ears to hear, and for fingers that work as they do; The Internet and the fun to be had there.

March 9 – ‘Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms’ (Psalm 95:2). I am thankful to You, my Merciful Father for: Giving me a taste of Your love, reflected in the love of my friends.

Thanks for bringing ‘One Thousand Gifts’ up. Maybe we'll have a big Thanksgiving Feast!

Edna Taylor

I just have to say that your newsletter really resonated with me because all too often I look at the negatives - the lack of time, the busy schedule, working for seven attorneys, my husband working long hours, having to find time to clean house every weekend, the sick kitties, the money spent at the vet and then at the specialist… however, what I need to see in that list is the fact I have a wonderful job that allows me to afford the kitties and the stitching and sewing, we have a nice house to live in, I am healthy enough to clean it myself, I have a loving husband, our house is full of love with lots of furbabies we have saved over the years and I have a beautiful sewing room that I DO find time to get into and stitch or sew, and no matter how fleeting that time is, it calms me and makes me happy.

I am very blessed and THANK YOU for reminding me that I need to recognize how truly blessed I am.
Living with deliberate gratefulness for what already surrounds us is a learned skill, and like anything, practice makes perfect, so if you’re yet to find your ‘grateful rhythm’, keep counting and watch your season of content unfold before you.

What Are You Stitching?
The abundance of blooms showcased in Helen Eriksson’s ‘Sunflowers and Daisies’ inspired us to celebrate some of the many fresh-from-the-garden flowers that have been created by the needles and threads of our All Stitched Up! Community. Sit back and enjoy a walk through our spectacular botanical garden…
Andrea Ocello | Italy
‘My love for embroidery has its roots in the history of my family as my Grandmother, Giuseppina, founded an embroidery school in Librizzi at the beginning of the 20th Century. Although this planted the seed of embroidery in me, it didn’t find the right conditions to grow until I met an experienced embroiderer in 2009 which proved to be fundamental in my needlework journey as she encouraged me to cultivate my interest, helping me to bloom and grow.’

‘During that same year, I was bed ridden for a long time due to illness. To while away the time, I decided to pick up a needle and, keeping in mind the techniques I saw at my Grandmother’s Embroidery School, I started embroidering a curtain in the technique of traditional Sicilian Drawn Thread. Then in 2011, after completing High School, I devoted myself to embroidery entirely. I began to purchase any kind of magazine that would allow me to learn as much as possible - I did not even worry about the language in which they were written as what interested me was mastering new techniques and improving those in which I was already skillful!’

‘My constant and passionate study has led me to specialize in three types of embroidery – Sicilian Drawn Thread, Threadpainting and Whitework.
I believe that a successful work of art needs an inspired soul, a place where the mind and the spirit can meet and I find this space in classical music.
Each of my works has been created with the sweet and powerful voices of Callas and Damrau. Their performances are the fundamental inspirations from which I largely draw. I completed these Threadpaintings of an orchid from the Cattleya family last June, with the drawing coming from a botanical book dating back to 1893.’

Andrea, your story and stitching are etched with history and inspiration and are a both a beautiful testimony of your passion and enthusiasm for all things needle and thread related.
Carolyn Standing Webb | USA
‘Several years ago I decided to design and stitch a set of smalls and a liner for a wooden basket. It features Peter Rabbit's Garden stitched in the bottom and around the sides of box with a seed packet pin keep, a carrot scissors sheath, and a scissors fob with a rabbit.

The basket has stitched seed packet pockets that can hold small sewing tools. I was able to find printed fabric that matched the seed packet pin keep and pockets so each of them are lined with fabric that features the vegetable pictured on the front. I finally finished them this year so now my complete set is displayed with my other sewing items.’

Carolyn, you’ve managed to capture the delight of Peter Rabbit’s Garden in a practical yet whimsical piece that balances form and function. What an absolute delight!
Elena Baranenkova | Poland
‘I live in Warsaw, Poland and when I was just six years old, I started knitting and embroidering. By the time I was 16 I was sewing clothes for myself, my Mum and my sisters. I am now a teacher for practical and technical classes for girls.’

‘Eight years ago I saw Silk Ribbon Embroidery for the first time and was really impressed! It sparked my interest to learn about it and other similar techniques.

Most of all I love the work of Di van Niekerk, with my ribbon journey started from studying her books.’

Elena, your Silk Ribbon Embroidery is colourful and true to form and we love the sense of magic and whimsy the fairies found at the bottom of your flower garden bring to your work!
Maria Hofstetter | Switzerland
‘I started to love the art of hand embroidery at a beautiful place outside of London in the Hampton Court Palace.
There we were right on top of the tower in a bright room amongst a small friendly classes – it felt like we were part of the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty and, of course, there was a prince who taught us!
Owen Davis taught us how to stitch knot gardens with flowers, hedges and waters fountains.’

Maria, what an enchanting picture you painted of your time at Hampton Court Palace! Your knot garden is equally as enchanting

Have you got some stitching that looks as if it’s fresh-from-the-garden?! We’d love you to share it with us. Email photos of your abundant blooms and a few details about your stitching journey to

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Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

‘Aurora’ by Christine Burton from Inspirations #97 features timeless crewel designs on a handy, zipped pouch.

Inspirations Issue 97


Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

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Auora – i97 Kit

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This Week on Facebook

 By Catherine Laurencon

 How wonderful is this bullion Lavender? I can almost smell it.

"Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice."
~ Napoleon Hill ~
What's On
RSN Exhibition

The Royal School of Needlework’s Embellishment in Fashion

Royal School of Needlework
Hampton Court Palace Surrey, UK

Needlework Show & Sale

2018 Woodlawn Needlework Show & Sale

Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey House
9000 Richmond Highway Alexandria, Virginia USA

Hanging Thread: Featuring Laura Tandesky
San Francisco School of Needlework & Design
Suite 604/360 Post Street, San Francisco
The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries
Art Gallery of NSW | Upper Asian Gallery
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
Quilt Convention & Expo

The Australasian Quilt Convention & Expo

Royal Exhibition Building
9 Nicholson Street Carlton, Victoria

14 TO 21 APR | 10:00 TO 4:00
Unchartered | Textile & Mixed Media Works from Collective Notions

Steps Gallery

62 Lygon Street Carlton South, Victoria
Shoreline Stitchers’ Showcase

Shoreline Stitchers’ Showcase | A Judged Needlework Exhibit & Boutique

South Coast Botanic Garden
26300 Crenshaw Blvd Palos Verdes, California

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