All Stitched Up! | Issue 135

27th April 2018

Hi There,

There’s something about new.

Whether it’s the seldom experienced, but always familiar smell of a new car, the pristineness of a new piece of linen just waiting for its first stitch, or that perfectly wound skein of thread yet to be separated. What is it about new that we find so enticing?

Is it the untouched perfection or maybe the infinite possibilities that wait on the other side of new? Perhaps a little of each.

Sometimes we put aside new things thinking they’re for special occasions, but we think they’re better used for special people.

So go ahead, break that new skein of thread, pierce the crispness of that new piece of linen and see what adventures wait on the other side of new!

This week’s issue of All Stitched Up! sees us launch the next issue of Inspirations. A new issue with so many pretty possibilities.

What waits on the other side of this new issue for you?

Is it a new technique? A designer whose work you’re yet to put needle and thread to? Maybe it’s appreciating the allure of fabric and thread from someone else’s point of view?

Whatever it is, we hope you’ll embrace the adventure that awaits you in Inspirations Issue 98!

Inspirations #98 Out Now!

Producing an issue of Inspirations magazine is a bit like hand-crafting a present for someone special then gift wrapping it and posting it to them. Once all the excitement of creating the present and sending it off is over, next comes the waiting. Waiting. More waiting. Until finally the package arrives, the recipient opens the gift and hopefully it delivers the joy and love intended.

Today is that day for us as we go public with our latest ‘gift’ to all our faithful and adored members of the Inspirations community. The new Inspirations issue 98 is officially out now.

With the theme ‘So Pretty’ one can either assume the title was chosen as a result of the comments our team made when admiring the project on the front cover ‘oh that is so pretty!’ or the number of times one is heard saying ‘so pretty’ when looking through the projects inside. Both of which are the case!

Along with all the prettiness, in this issue Inspirations Editor-In-Chief, Susan O’Connor shares some wonderfully poignant thoughts on the topic of inspiration itself when she poses the question: what inspires you?

‘Inspiration comes in many ways and from many sources but what exactly is it?

There does seem to be something truly mysterious about inspiration; it cannot be controlled, doesn’t come just because you need it, cannot be earned or bought but leaves the inspired with an incredible sense of pleasure and wellbeing. It is almost like some enchanted gift!
The most magical thing about inspiration must be its ability to change not just the thinking of one individual but to have a flow-on that has
a positive effect on many others. Perhaps the greatest gift is not just to be inspired but to have the ability to inspire others!’

The ability to inspire others is exactly what each issue of Inspirations magazine strives for, and from all the team here at Inspirations we hope all the pretty things within issue #98 will bring forth the enchanted gift of inspiration into your life.

Needlework News
Inspirations Calendar – May Project
The winner of the coveted prize to appear on the front cover of the Inspirations calendar for 2018 was the humble lemon. But oh, what a glorious lemon this one is! Stitched to perfectly replicate the real deal, Susan O’Connor’s life-like study of this yellow citrus is as zesty and attention grabbing as the fruit itself.

The lemon is from ‘Harvest’ by Susan O’Connor from Inspirations #63 which is a series preserving the fresh, wholesome beauty of favourite fruits and vegetables by capturing them in stitch. Featuring cherries, asparagus and of course our hero lemon, the digital pattern includes project requirements, instructions, stitch diagrams and design outline for all three.


Inspirations #98 Behind the Scenes
A lot goes into ensuring each issue of Inspirations lives up to its name as the world’s most beautiful needlework magazine. We thought it would be fun to show you a few photos of what it looked like behind the scenes during the production of issue #98:

We captured the exciting moment when Ellaine starts receiving and unpacking the projects for the next issue.

Sometimes we’re lucky enough to take our team meetings out of the office to some beautiful locations that are also used for photography.

Fiona styling everything ready for the gorgeous shots of ‘Double Take’.

Mike and Kristian hanging out with the fairies in the enchanted garden.

There are lots of photos taken that never make it into the magazine, like the one above from ‘The ‘Frog Prince’ project which was shot among some iconic Australian chocolate frog delicacies. While the shot was never used, the chocolate frogs certainly didn’t go to waste - the crew loved them!

Issue 98 even benefited from the of help our canine friends – on the left Lucy the boxer is placated with treats by Amanda during a shot of Hazel Blomkamp’s cushion ‘Fantasia’ (Hazel is a HUGE boxer fan) and on the right Aspen the Labradoodle lends a helping paw at the Inspirations office one weekend.

As always, a HUGE thanks to everyone involved behind the scenes and on the front lines to ensure each issue of Inspirations is as beautiful as the last.

The Magic of Handmade Fans
In issue #94 of the Inspirations newsletter HERE we shared an extract from Anne Laure Camilleri’s article about the work of contemporary ivory-turner and fan-maker Sylvain Le Guen that first appeared in Inspirations Magazine Issue #90.

Since sharing his work via print, we’ve recently discovered that his work also appears on YouTube in moving pictures. Step into his atelier and learn how his love of this art form comes to life, by clicking HERE. You will be informed and inspired as you watch the mystery and magic of this ancient craft unfold before you.

Featured Project
Double Take by Helen M. Stevens

Silk. Just the mention of the word conjures up a raft of images and emotions. Luxurious. Feminine. Silk road. Silk worms. Silky smooth.

Silk. Such a wonderful material to stitch and create with. Vibrant colours, highly reflective, richly textured.

These are just some of the reasons Helen M. Stevens has spent years refining and perfecting the art of designing needlework masterpieces using non-twisted, flat, high sheen silk. Inspirations has been the beneficiary of many said masterpieces, and we’re honoured to welcome Helen back with her latest piece ‘Double Take’ in issue #98.

Double Take paints the scene of a dainty, contented finch perched on a sprig of honeysuckle alongside a hawk-moth – who is perhaps flying dangerously close to within striking distance of said finch. Or perhaps they are just friends?

Whatever your interpretation, Helen has even provided two colourways so you can truly make it your own piece. The first colourway features the more subtle hues of champagne and pink commonly seen in the Northern Hemisphere chaffinch, along with the accompanying elephant hawk moth, adorned in moss green and pastel pink.

For a more striking rendition, you can use a rainbow of colours including deep reds, citrus yellows and ocean blue to form the plumage of the Australian Gouldian finch. His mate, the Walker’s hawk-moth, is a more subdued fellow with beige and coral wings.

Then there is the option to mix and match your finch and moth to achieve whatever outcome you desire; the designs are exactly the same with the only difference being the colours used and placement there-of.
Expert Tip

Looking at this honeysuckle flower from the design above, at first glance it appears Helen has used two different shades of peach silks. In-fact it’s exactly the same colour and still uses two strands in the needle, the only difference is the direction of the stitch which changes. And here-in lies the secret:
When using flat silk threads such as Piper’s, changing the direction of the stitch alters how light refracts off the threads, varying the finish.
Detailed instructions as to the direction of each stitch used by Helen is included, or if you’re feeling brave, you can experiment with this and achieve your own variation in shading.
Expert Lighting
To help bring this stunning project to life within the pages of the magazine, Double Take was photographed inside a gorgeous rustic greenhouse at Al-Ru farm (a frequently used location for Inspirations).

This provided beautiful soft, even light which allowed us to portray the wonderful sheen of the silk as if you were there in person.
Make Your Own Double Take
The Inspirations ready-to-stitch kit for Double Take comes complete with all the Piper silks you need to create either of the colourways featured in the magazine.

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Double Take by Helen M. Stevens is a charming silk embroidered finch resting on sweet honeysuckle, in two colourways.

Inspirations Issue 98

Double Take

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Double Take includes everything you need to re-create these beautiful birds in either colourway: Fabrics (unprinted), embroidery threads and needle.

Double Take (both colour-ways included)

Looking for More Helen M. Stevens?

Ulysses by Helen M. Stevens from Inspirations #72 captures the fragile delicacy of this superb butterfly and the blooms of the Christmas bush.


Red Robin

Red Robin by Helen M. Stevens from Inspirations #67 features a charming scarlet-breasted robin amongst a garland of foliage and berries.

Red Robin

Sweet Nigella

Sweet Nigella by Helen M. Stevens from Inspirations #48 is a superb botanical study of lacy foliage and flowers stitched in lustrous silk.

Inspirations Issue 48

Have Your Say

New Conversations
As we launch a new issue of Inspirations, we thought what better time to start some new conversations?! This week we hear from Cate, Sharon, Katie, Jacquie and Sherri who are hoping someone in the Inspirations Community might be able to point them in the right direction.
Cate Longley | Storing Threads
‘How do people keep and store the half-used threads during a project – not the uncut skeins, but the left-over pieces from one area that will be used in the project again? I keep ending up with a mass of tangled threads!’
Sharon Salu | Travel Itinerary
Please let me know of anything in Stockholm to see that will help me indulge my love of everything needle and thread related. I’ll be there early July.’
Katie Morvay | Needlework Inventory
‘I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy the All Stitched Up! newsletters every week. I was a long-time subscriber to AS&E and have subscribed to Inspirations, all the issues of which I still have. My question has to do with a form you published years ago. I believe it was in Inspirations and was regarding how to record where someone would like their creative materials to be given - such as giving embroidery threads to a granddaughter. Could you please tell me in which issue this was published? Thank you so very much!’
Jacqui Armitage | 100th Anniversary of Armistice
‘I was wondering if the readers of Inspirations were planning to mark the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day on 11th Nov 2018 with work created by individuals, groups or societies in any form of embroidery, weaving, tapestry or patchwork. It would be wonderful to see displays of work in local churches and cathedrals, decorating them for this momentous occasion, especially as it really will be Remembrance Sunday.’
Sherri Harris | Travel Itinerary
‘Inspirations is indeed an inspiration! Thank you for all that you do for those of us who enjoy hand work of all kinds. I have a favor to ask readers - in July we will be taking an extended trip / cruise and will visit multiple ports including Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh before hopping over to Guernsey and then heading for Amsterdam and Bruges. We will also spend several days in London.
As needlework enthusiasts, we are anxious to bring home souvenirs of our trip, whether it be lace, floss, silk thread, ribbon or Irish Linen.

We would be ever so grateful for any local knowledge from the ‘across-the-pond’ Embroidery Community!’

If you have something to add to one, or maybe all, of these conversations we’ve started, you can continue the conversation by emailing We know Cate, Sharon, Katie, Jacquie and Sherri would love to hear from you!

Inspirations #98 Kits & Patterns
Venture into the New…
Now is the perfect opportunity to find something new, make something new and try something new using Inspirations issue #98 as your guide. To help your journey into the new, all the projects from this brand-new issue are available as digital patterns and ready-to-stitch kits.
Issue 98 - Digital Patterns

Browse Patterns from
Inspirations #98

Issue 98 – Ready-To-Stitch Kits

Browse Kits from Inspirations #98

What Are You Stitching?
This week’s ‘What Are You Stitching?’ continues our celebration of the new - the work of the needles and threads from those stitchers who are new to All Stitched Up! Annette, Françoise, Judy and Julie-Anne, welcome to the Inspirations ‘family’, we’re so glad you joined us!
Annette Rich| Australia
‘Sunflowers are among my favourite blooms! We have now retired to town after farming for years, and one good cropping year this lonely sunflower grew where the previous year had been a Sunflower crop. I look at this and think the lonely Sunflower is thinking ‘Where are you all?!’

‘‘The sunflower below is stitched with Brazilian threads. That was some years ago and I now have a new vision of this design working on silk fabric with silk threads slowly being embroidered with a few changes. I’m going to call this new embroidery Follow the Sun.’

Sunflowers have a way of brightening even the dullest of days and, Annette, we thank you for brightening our day with the sunflowers you’ve crafted with needle and thread!
Françoise Dufresne | France
‘With French being my native tongue, I have to use Reverso Translator to visit your website and although it can prove difficult, your beautiful magazine is worth it!’

‘I would like to share the photos of my work from ‘Flowers for Elizabeth’. Although the book by Susan O’Connor is no longer available in English, I was able to get a French version from Editions de Saxe. Even though I don’t understand everything because of the language barrier, your magazine is still a great source of Inspiration! Françoise.’

Françoise, what a treat it must have been to find Flowers for Elizabeth in French! Your stitching is every bit as precise and opulent as Susan’s original.
Judy A Freidel | USA
‘I always enjoy the wonderful stitching in your weekly newsletter! I am an artist living in Arkansas in the USA. I work in colored pencil, ink and fibers. It is an ongoing quest for me to try to incorporate my drawing into my fibers, and my fibers into my drawings. I love embroidery, applique, beading and quilting and even try my hand at weaving sometimes.’

Judy, it’s look like you’ve succeeded in your quest to incorporate your drawing into your fibers, and your fibers into your drawings! Your pieces are magical and whimsical and have the ability to transport us to another world. If you’d like to enjoy more of Judy’s whimsy in both line and stitch, you can find her website HERE.
Julie-Anne Rogers | Australia
‘I went on a wonderfully relaxing craft retreat for a weekend in the Hunter Valley last year. No tuition, just crafty women getting together doing their art and crafts. I sat outside on the balcony looking at the wonderful scenery before me and decided to recreate it on a doily that I had bought in an Op Shop.

I did a wash of colour on the background with acrylic paint, let it dry and then drew straight onto the fabric with a fine felt pen. Lastly was the embroidery. All done while relaxing in front of the view - a wonderful weekend!’

Is there a better way to spend a weekend than indulging your love of needle and thread with a group of likeminded women? We think not! Julie-Anne, your doily is a lovely reminder of a lovey weekend away.

If you’re new to All Stitched Up! and are yet to show us what you’ve created with needle and thread, we’d love to see it. Even if you’re not-so-new, what have you been waiting for?! You can email photos of your stitching along with a few details about your stitching journey to

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