All Stitched Up! | Issue 125

16th February 2018

Hi There,

Did you know there’s a difference between busy and fruitful?

Busy is having a great deal to do while fruitful is producing lasting results.

Each requires the same process and evokes the same feelings while we’re in the midst of them, but the outcomes can often be poles apart. Busy can see us expending a lot for little result, while fruitful sees us focused on an end goal and eventually achieving it.

As we mentioned last week, the Inspirations Studios office is currently busy, beyond busy some days! There are times we feel lost in the busyness and wonder whether all the tasks we put our hands to actually make a difference, but then there are moments when we realise that all our collective busyness has indeed produced fruit.

The release of a new issue of Inspirations Magazine is one such time. Each issue bears the fruit of many of our busy moments and this week we start unpacking Inspirations #97 for you - we hope you enjoy the fruit of our labours!

While we think a great way of being fruitful is by picking up needle and thread, we’ve realised it’s still possible to be busy with our stitching rather than fruitful. So, it’s probably worth reflecting on the time you’re spending stitching - is it fruitful or are you simply busying yourself with the process? Given our hectic schedules, time to stitch is often fleeting, so make sure you make every moment count!

Inspirations #97 Out Now

Inspirations #97 Out Now

The first issue of Inspirations Magazine for 2018, aptly named ‘New Horizons’, is finally out. Come with us as we explore new and bold ideas to elevate your needlework beyond your current thinking. Inspirations Editor-In-Chief, Susan O'Connor, explains further:

‘New Horizons seemed a perfect moniker for the collection of projects featured in issue #97, including some that explore, and explode, traditional concepts on how certain techniques are worked.’

‘The project Gillian featured below is a perfect example, who would think that working traditional Blackwork patterns with vibrant colour could be so spectacular: and, if it is coloured, should we still call it Blackwork?

Marguerite is a three-dimensional beaded white daisy that elevates
beading to a new level by incorporating a padded base over which the beading is worked – such an ingenious and wonderfully contemporary take on a traditional technique. That is just the beginning, there is so much to explore and enjoy in issue #97; it’s a wonderful way to start the year.’

Inspirations #97 showcases projects from first-time contributors, plus returning all-star favourites including Jane Nicholas, Irina Rudneva and Catherine Laurençon, just to name a few.

Featured Projects

Gillian by Maria del Valle Olivera

For a project to appear in Inspirations Magazine our team spends so much time getting it ready for publication it becomes part of our family. For three months we live and breathe the eight projects in each issue and when it came to Inspirations #97, the project ‘Gillian’ created quite the discussion within the office. And it had nothing to do with stitching!

First let us tell you a bit about this magnificent hare. Gillian by Maria del Valle Olivera is a beautiful blend of traditional blackwork with the contemporary twist of using coloured threads. The design itself has been created in a style similar to Assisi embroidery where the background is filled with stitches and the main motif is outlined but not stitched, a bit like a stencil. Maria then went one step further and embellished the body of the hare with elegant floral motifs using surface embroidery, accentuated with gold metal thread.

The blackwork elements have been created using three different blackwork stitch patterns. One for the background area, one for the ground or floor and another for the shading of the hare. Where in traditional blackwork shading is achieved through varying the weight of the threads and stitch density, here Maria cleverly uses colour to achieve the same result.

With the finished piece measuring 24cm x 22cm (9 ½” x 8 5/8”) and stitched on 25 count antique white Lugana, the scale makes it a comfortable size to work and easy on the eyes.

Maria is a first-time contributor to Inspirations, but in the true meaning of an ‘overnight success’ her debut has been years in the making.

We first met Maria in 2012 when she spent thirty-three days stitching non-stop to meet the deadline for her entry in the Stitch Your Heart Out competition.

She finished just in time for her friend, who was flying to Australia, to bring it with her from Spain and hand deliver it. Maria’s efforts were well rewarded as she was the deserving winner of the Grand Prize that year for her piece ‘Rosita’.

LEFT: 2012 winning entry ‘Rosita’ RIGHT: Maria del Valle Olivera

Now… what was it that everyone in the office was discussing about our beloved hare ‘Gillian’? It seems no-one could agree on what her facial expression was saying! Some of us thought she is striking a ‘come hither…’ alluring pose, for others it was a disapproving stare, the rest of us were thinking she was just looking for the next spot to hop! What do you think Gillian’s expression is saying?

One thing we did all agree on however, was how brilliant Maria’s artistic design and needlework skills are. Her work is so striking that each piece is truly memorable.

DID YOU KNOW… ‘Gillian’ the hare is named after Maria’s friend who hand delivered her winning entry in the 2012 competition, which in turn led us to discover Maria’s amazing talent. Thank you, Gillian, for both introducing us to Maria and for giving our hare such a beautiful name.

Make Your Own Gillian

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Gillian by Maria del Valle Olivera is a fabulous hare combining elegant surface embroidery and blackwork with colour.


Inspirations Issue 97



Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Gillian includes everything you need to re-create this beautiful hare: Fabric (unprinted), embroidery threads and needles.


Gillian – i97 Kit

Looking for More Hares or Rabbits?


Friends by Anna Scott is the perfect project for a novice stitcher, featuring an adorable bunny and duck.


Inspirations Issue 69

Bunny Love

Bunny Love by Jenny McWhinney is a cosy wool blanket emblazoned with four adorable bunnies and flower motifs.


Bunny Love

Hugs & Kisses

Hugs & Kisses by Libby Vater is a delightful bassinet rug with a cute appliquéd rabbit in a cottage garden.


Hugs and Kisses

Hop to It!

Adorned with the cutest bunnies imaginable, Hop to It! by Jenny McWhinney is a handy fabric roll, designed to keep all those indispensable baby accessories close at hand.


Hop to It!


Inspirations Issue 70

What Are You Stitching?

Seeing a magazine come to life is one of the many things we love about what we do here at Inspirations. It’s one of the moments we realise our efforts have all culminated to create something beautiful.

But what do we love even more? Seeing projects from the magazine brought to life through the needle and threads of the Inspirations ‘family’!  

This week’s ‘What Are You Stitching?’ celebrates just that – the projects from Inspirations that have been given the necessary time and talent and now exist beyond the pages of the magazine…

Rustle of Winter | Issue #37

‘I was encouraged to try embroidery by my very talented older sister about seven years ago and I'm so glad she convinced me I could do it! I attended a term of classes and that gave me the confidence I needed.  I loved ‘Rustle of Winter’ by June Goodwin and couldn't resist having a go myself. I love doing Stumpwork and Threadpainting and now have enough confidence to stitch my own designs. Jacqueline Wright – Australia’

Jacqueline, what a gift your sister gave you – the joy of needle and thread! Your attention to detail and careful stitching shows a talent beyond the few short years you've been stitching - we look forward to seeing what's next next on your stitching journey.


Rustle of Winter

White Elephant | Issue #42

‘I fell in love with embroidery in Year 10 when we had to make a sampler of all different types of embroidery stitches. From then on I was hooked! My mother and grandmother were both excellent embroiderers, so I guess it runs in the family. I just hope that my daughter will follow in our footsteps. She does some simple embroidery now, so I’m hopeful.’

‘I was very interested in the intricacies of the project ‘White Elephant’ from Inspirations #42, so marked the pattern in the magazine which was then put away until I retired. Once retired from work, I was looking for something else to do apart from patchwork, knitting and crochet so I pulled issue #42 out again.

Some of the stitches it required I had not done before, so it was a challenge I could not ignore.

I improved in these stitches as I went along, but many of them were far from perfect. I have been working on it on and off over the last 18 months or so, picking it up when my interest was piqued again. This is by nowhere near the professional appearance that was in the picture, but I had a sense of achievement when I finished him, and it has been worth every stitch. He now resides with my daughter-in-law who supports ‘Save the Elephants’, so I thought it an appropriate present for her. Sincerely, Ann Veitch - Australia.’

Ann, what a beautiful gift for your daughter-in-law. We love that you were willing to take on the challenge of White Elephant and think your elephant is as every bit as professional as Alla Akselrod’s original! Your well-deserved sense of achievement is the fruit for the time and effort you poured into this piece.


White Elephant

Oliver Twist Temari | Issue #62

‘I visit family in New Zealand most years and love to spend time with branches of The Embroiderers’ Guild while I am there.  I have found a number of groups and appreciate the ladies as they have such a wealth of knowledge and experience they willingly share.

We all use the same stitches, but it is amazing how differently they are used by people from another country and how different ideas catch the imagination.

This is my interpretation of ‘Oliver Twist’ from Inspirations #62 and it is certainly a talking point whenever it is on display! Kind regards, Joyce Bargh – UK.’

Joyce, what a fruitful way to spend your time in New Zealand – gathering a wealth of knowledge and experience! It’s amazing how we can connect with others as we find a common bond in our love of all things needle and thread related. Your blue and white rendition of Oliver Twist is simply striking - no wonder it’s become such a talking point!


Inspirations Issue 62


Oliver Twist Temari

Les Hirondelles | Issue #89

‘While waiting for the Stawberry Fayre kit to arrive, I stitched this bird of Catherine Laurençon’s. It was very pleasant to stitch! A bientôt (see you soon), Françoise – France.’

Françoise, what a fabulous way to use your time waiting! We love your version of Les Hirondelles and look forward to seeing Strawberry Fayre once it’s complete.

A Simple Life | Issue #92

‘I fell in love with bullion embroidery years ago at a quilt show, bought patterns and the appropriate threads and went crazy. The first thing I did is still unfinished as I can’t decide if I should frame it or make a cushion. Then I made three pillows, one for me, two for gifts and by the time I finished them I was no longer in love.

I thought the love affair was over, but then came Inspirations #92 with the lavender pillows! My heart started racing.

I had some mottled even weave fabric given to me and decided to use it and give it a go. Whilst it gave me fits, I got it done. I should have stopped while I was ahead, but I decided to make piping and a hidden placket zipper. What was I thinking?! The piping came out ok, zipper not so much, but still, I’m pleased with the finished result. I’m now working up my nerve to do the all-white version on tan even weave. Wish me luck! Joanne Crane - USA.’

Joanne, we're honoured that Inspirations was able to rekindle your love for the Bullion Knot. With results as beautiful as yours, the all-white version of A Simple Life will be no trouble at all!


Inspirations Issue 92

Have you brought something from the pages of Inspirations to life with your needle and thread? We’d love to see it! Email photos of your stitching along with a few details about your stitching journey to

Inspirations #97 Kits & Patterns

New Horizons Beckon…

If you have fallen in love with the designs featured in Inspirations #97 and are looking to expand your needlework horizons, projects from this issue are now available as Ready-To-Stitch kits and Digital Patterns for your stitching pleasure:

Issue 97 - Digital Patterns


Browse Patterns from Issue #97

Issue 97 – Ready-To-Stitch Kits


Browse Kits from Issue #97

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You May Have Missed

Proud Peacock

Proud Peacock by Alison Cole is a stunning peacock encircled by a stumpwork garland.


Proud Peacock


Serendipity by Susan O’Connor is two colourful pinwheels with Elizabethan inspired flowers and fruits.


Serendipity | Rose and Heartsease


Serendipity | Strawberry and Cornflower


Woodland by Jo Butcher is a charming scene of foxgloves amongst birch trees.



This Week On Facebook

Magical seahorse

This beautifully stitched mouse is by Irina Embroidery

  “Make this a positive and fruitful day… unless you’ve made other plans.”

~ By Patrick Driessen ~

What's On


Woven Histories
Hannah Ryggen | Woven Histories

Modern Art Oxford

30 Pembroke Street Oxford, UK


Circle Exhibition
Jeanie Baker’s Circle Exhibition
Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens
Brisbane, Queensland


Portrait Exhibition

San Francisco School of Needlework & Design Stitch at Home Challenge | Multi-Media Self Portrait Exhibition

San Francisco School of Needlework & Design
Suite 604 / 360 Post Street San Francisco


Bridging Stitches
Bridging Stitches / Un pont entre les points | EAC Seminar 2018
University of Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada


RSN Exhibition
The Royal School of Needlework’s Embellishment in Fashion
Royal School of Needlework
Hampton Court Palace Surrey, UK

22 TO 24 FEB

The Art of Needlework
Moorings Park Auditorium
120 Moorings Park Drive Naples, Florida

24 FEB

Fiber Fest

Fiber Fest | Artisan Textiles, Embellishments, Unique Fibers & Wearable Art!

Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum
703 South 2nd Street La Connor, WA USA

1 to 4 MAR

Knitting & Stitching Show
The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show
Olympia London
Hammersmith Road London, UK


Needlework Show & Sale
2018 Woodlawn Needlework Show & Sale
Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey House
9000 Richmond Highway Alexandria, Virginia USA

7 MAR to 6 MAY

Circle Exhibition
Jeanie Baker's Circle Exhibition
Bundaberg Art Gallery
1 Barolin Street Bundaberg, Queensland

10 TO 13 MAR

Stitches from a Golden City

St Patrick’s Hall
Dawson Street South Ballarat, Victoria or 0407 817 025

17 TO 22 MAR

Grampians Texture 18
Halls Gap, Victoria

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