Peonies and Pear Tree

1st March 2019

Peonies and Pear Tree

By Nancy Williams

After enrolling to attend Nicola’s class ‘Peonies and Pear Tree’ at Inspirations’ needlework convention Beating Around the Bush last year, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

I fell in love with the picture in the catalogue, but I’ll admit I didn’t take in the full description of the class, so eager was I to work with Nicola and try out the piece. So, when I received an email from Nicola prior to the conference asking if I wanted her to send me the silk to frame up before the class, I agreed. What a wonderful surprise when it arrived and what a lot I had to learn.

I hadn’t realised that the design was pre-printed onto the silk, so I arrived at the class with my silk tightly laced to my slate frame, having no idea at all what we were going to do with it. And then I saw the original. Oh, my goodness! I couldn’t stop looking at it, exploring every detail with my eyes. The piece ticked every single box in my list of embroidery loves – sparkles, colour, stitch variety, beads, sequins and bling. What more could a girl ask for?

Nicola teaching at Beating Around the Bush 2018

Nicola’s instructions were detailed and comprehensive, but she kept emphasising to us that if we wanted to stitch more or less, we were most welcome to do so. Because of the underlying colour, if you felt that a part of the design didn’t need as much embellishment, you could leave it off without detracting from the finished piece. On the other hand, I felt that some of the elements which Nicola hadn’t embellished on her original would benefit from a little more, and that was perfectly fine also.

As a person who constantly starts ridiculously large projects in the blind belief that I will live to 550 years old in order to finish them all, I was so pleasantly surprised at how achievable this exquisite piece was. With enough carefully placed stitches, and the glorious addition of beads and sequins, our printed silks came to life before our eyes.

But stitching this piece aside, I must comment on what a delight it was to have Nicola as a tutor. Her patience, her humour and her truly beautiful personality made the three days just fly.

As I worked the regal, playful birds in the design, I could see Nicola’s own passion in every stroke and every stitch.

If you haven’t yet had the pleasure and privilege of doing a class with Nicola, then I cannot recommend it enough. However, if that opportunity isn’t available, her personality is undoubtedly infused in her designs. Stitch one, and it is almost like you’re stitching with Nicola by your side.

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