Have Your Say

1st September 2023

A Dog and a Monkey?!

In this weeks’ Have Your Say we have a few needlework stories, a dilemma, a tale about a dog and Carol’s journey with a monkey. Oh, and a needlework recipe. We hope you enjoy reading the emails from our mixed goodie bag this week!

We open with a story from Marcia, who studied in the creative field because of her grandmother’s textile teachings.

‘My very earliest experiences in needlework originate from my paternal grandmother. She was an alterationist in the ‘40s to ‘60s at a major department store in downtown Indianapolis, USA. She would bring home scraps of exotic fabrics, silks, furs, linens, etc and save them for us to learn to make clothes for our dolls. She even bought doll clothing patterns for us.  

I learned to knit when I was about 10 years old and she asked me to show her how, in exchange for showing me how to crochet and do tatting. I still have her tatting shuttle. When I grew up, I majored in textiles and clothing at university because of her.

My maternal grandmother always had a sewing machine and did mending for us. I still have her thimble and the way I know which one is hers as opposed to my others, is that it has a little hole in it – you have to be careful not to poke yourself!’

We also received an email from Debbie that included some reminiscing and a dilemma she’d greatly appreciate any ideas/help for. 

‘I was never exposed to sewing as a child. My mum and nana were both knitters and both loathed sewing of any kind. I was always interested, so as a young adult I bought myself a second-hand sewing machine and taught myself to embroider.

A few years ago, I found a Sophie Digard scarf that I fell in love with but could never afford, so I decided to make my own. I’m not very good at drawing, so out came my collection of magazines to find a design to use. I found a pattern called Spring Harvest, which I then had to figure out how to adapt from wool embroidery to linen. 

Over many hours I created my scarf, which I love. Recently I took it out only to discover that it has some mildew! I have taken it to my local dry cleaners however he won’t touch it because of the raspberry/plum threads.’ 

If you are able to help Debbie with suggestions on how to remove the mildew from her scarf, send us an email and hopefully we can help point her in the right direction. 

Sometimes our stitching has to be put on hold for life events or in Velia’s instance, a dog named Luna! 

‘I have a new puppy that came to me via the Humane Society. A retriever and corgi mix, that I named Luna, who was doomed to be euthanised. I said, ‘no way, she’s coming home with me!’

Since last September, my embroidery, quilting, and doll-making have gone by the wayside. I used to spend days on end doing these things, and now? I am spending hours of pleasure talking to Luna, walking her, and making her happy, something I had not felt in such a long time. She sleeps with me, her little head on my shoulder, and if I move, she moves her body to be next to mine.’

Veila we love that Luna has shown you there are many ways to be happy and enjoy life one day at a time.

From a dog to a monkey – now that’s a line you never thought you’d read in a needlework newsletter! – Carol shares her story about a monkey that lives on her shoulder.  

‘I have worked in sales most of my adult life and there has always been a monkey on my shoulder. This is the monkey who constantly tells me about all the things I should be doing and things like ‘I told you so’. 

Well now I’m retired, sort of, and that monkey is still there. He’s now telling me that the stitching piece I just finished wasn’t as perfect as it should be.  

I started to stitch a book by Trish Burr, The Covid Journal, featuring flowers from Kew Gardens. The pages of the book were slowly piling up and I did quite a few more needle painted flowers than Trish recommended, but as learning needle painting is a process and the results are so rewarding, I wanted to take it as far as I could. 

To bind the book, Trish’s directions weren’t going to work because of all the additional pages I stitched, so while the cover looked amazing, I didn’t like how the pages of my book refused to lie flat.

That was two years ago, and the monkey hasn’t shut up since the day I ‘finished’ the book! I finally found someone who had done some book binding and they pointed me in the direction of a YouTube class. One day I unpicked the book from its binding and got to work fixing it, all the while the monkey firmly sitting on top. As I bound the pages one at a time, guess what?! The book is now perfect! 

Carol has now moved onto a ‘very complicated and potentially beautiful whitework project that the monkey is still overseeing’ but this time we hope he won’t have as much of a say!

Finally, if you ‘find it hard to visualise blackwork patterns on fabric or embroidered with different threads and colours’, Jane’s back with another recipe to help with just that.

Crazy Blackwork Sampler Recipe

‘I like to see my stitches on practise fabric with the threads before I embroider an actual piece. I have a notebook with plastic sleeves to hold practise samples. I like practising with samplers so I can hang them in my studio to inspire me as I design.’


  • Images of patterns
  • Fabric (with outside perimeter marked)
  • Various threads (‘I experimented with 6 strand cotton, floche, metallic and silk.’)


1. Choose motifs and borders that you might like to include. Stitch different blackwork patterns in the different motifs.  

2.  Pick a word or two to and see if this adds to your piece.

3. With random patterns, frame the motifs and construct an outside border for the sampler.

4. If desired, embellish the sampler with beads. (‘I embellished mine with black beads and abalone shells to tie the designs together.’)

‘The excellent thing about this sampler is that if you are not satisfied with either the look of the stitch or the motif, rip it out, and choose another stitch or thread. You don’t have to worry about damaging an actual piece. I hope you have fun experimenting!’

We hope you have enjoyed the reminiscence of our goodie bag this week. Maybe animals have been a part of your stitching journey? Or maybe you have something else to add to the conversation. Whatever it may be, we’d love to hear from you! Your emails help keep the cups of tea flowing…

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