Thursday, 22 October 2009


Short blue wool cape.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Hungarian Men

Inspirational commitment to embroidery is demonstrated by these Hungarian men. Would it be too much to hope that we might all look as good as this again? If all the time we spent fiddling with iPhones and PSP's and DS's and watching soccer fixtures and Top Gear and Jamie Oliver was spent embroidering, imagine how good we would all look. I think it could happen.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Fifty Year Old Scarf

This was done for the significant birthday of a friend. It is possible that there is too much going on here. I need someone to take these things away from me when I have done enough. I have used some silver metal thread here. It is difficult to work with, but gives an interesting, slightly ecclesiatical look to the patterns. Almost all Palestinian again, with just a few shapes made up myself.

There, no scroll.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

My Scarf

Apart from the casual scribbling of my shoes, this is the only thing that I have done that I can wear so far. My ambition is for us all to be able to go out embroidered as a family. It is longer than it looks in this picture, possibly a bit too long.
You can see that one end is not made from Palestinian patterns, it is a mess of my own.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


I wanted to do a picture, and include some idea of what these patterns were and where they were from. The picture came from a souvenir book published, as far as I can tell, by Japanese Christians. I would like to do another: an embroidered bulldozer. This was done in one evening, babysitting.

Shoes (Mens)

This was not really a project, it was just that I started sewing on my shoes whenever I had a spare minute. It did actually start as a repair.

Shoes (Ladies)

After the dress, I did the shoes. I realised that you could actually embroider anything that you could get a needle through. It was not easy though, and my fingertips were numbed for some time after this project. There is something wilfully stupid about doing this sort of work on a pair of very cheap pumps.

After they've been used a bit.

Dress 1

Having done samplers, I wanted to start on garments, actually sew something to wear. A dark wool dress was a nice thing to start on, it has a similarity to the Palestinian dresses the patterns are taken from. I worked on the made-up dress. It is a nicer shape than it looks in this picture.

(The great product that I first used on this is 'waste canvas', a mesh that you tack onto the fabric , sew through and then remove when the pattern is complete. It allows you to embroider a regular counted stitch on any fabric.)

Large Sampler

So, I started working from the book, "Palestinian Embroidery Motifs". Not unconnected with the post 'Tiny Sampler', I thought that since I was needing glasses to use cotton thread on 16 stitch per inch linen, I could make life easier if I used tapestry wool on what was about 6 stitch per inch linen. Also, I would get a much bigger thing to put on the wall. This is almost true. The sampler I made ended up about 1metre wide and 1.5 high. It covers quite a lot of wall.

Palestinian Embroidery

I discovered Palestinian embroidery at the fantastic Palestinian Costume exhibition at the old Museum of Mankind in London. in 1989. To tell the truth, it was this exhibition that made me aware of who the Palestinians were, and what a beautifully rich culture they possessed. The catalogue to this exhibition is still quite easy to find, look on Abebooks.
In 2007 I found "Palestinian Embroidery Motifs:A Treasury of Stitches, 1850-1950" , by Margarita Skinner and Widad Kamel Kawar, in the bookshop of the Victoria and Albert Museum. This is a fantastic book: photographs of a collection of stunningly beautiful dresses, technical and historical commentry. and over 200 motifs named, located geographically, and drawn up in diagrams that are easy to sew from. An unusual combination of a beautiful record and description, and a very practical guide for sewing. My copy is falling apart.

Tiny Sampler

This sampler had a purpose: I was just starting to wear glasses, and I wanted to see if I could do it , just one last time without. Sixteeen stitches to the inch, with natural unaided eyes!

Little Sampler

Then there was a break of several years when I did no sewing at all. I left some embroidery on a plane, and didn't start again.
When I did start to sew again, I did this little sampler, made up as I went along.

More Darwin

Diagrammatic representation of evolution as a result of variation due to mutation. Machine embroidery.

Monday, 14 September 2009


A machine embroidered portrait of Charles Darwin, with his first diagram of evolution as a tree , rendered in thread.

Friday, 11 September 2009


Using the machine, I started to do every King and Queen of Britain. I think I did five. I can't remember what these Kings are called, John Richard or Edward, probably.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Bishop Eaten By A Lion

Then I borrowed a machine, and just "drew" with it. I spent most of my time freeing jams and re-threading needles.

My Kidneys

After the first cross stitch pieces, I did some hand-sewn applique . This is my kidneys. I like the strange stain that mysteriously appeared on it.

Hybrid Crosses

Then I tried some hybridising.

And then, not wholly successfully, some over-embroidering.

Friday, 14 August 2009


A detail of the crosses. it took me a while to realise that all the stitches had to lie the same way.

Start at the beginning.
This is the first piece that I made. I found the diagram in an illustrated encyclopedia, but didn't know what to do with it. I was interested in it because it was literally a graphic representaion of factionalism. Then somehow I thought: sewing. Probably a vague recollection of chuch kneelers.I went into a craft shop and asked the lady how to do cross stitch. She explained, sold me the gear, and off I went...

Wednesday, 12 August 2009