ISSUE 205, SEP 27 2019
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Hi <<First Name>>,
The Barossa Valley in the Inspirations hometown of Adelaide is renowned internationally for its world class wines and quality produce. However, this German settled area also has a rich tradition in folk crafts.

Recently some of the Inspirations team had the joy of revisiting the traditions of women’s folk crafts of the Barossa Valley at the ‘Kinder, Küche, Kirche’ exhibition that was held in the Jam Factory at Seppeltsfield Winery.

Translated to ‘Children, Kitchen, Church’ the exhibition featured work by contemporary female artists in response to the historical folk crafts and cultural traditions of the German migrant women who settled in the region.

Although much of the original craftwork of the area was utilitarian in nature, such as darning and mending, their skill and creativity was also applied to commemorative projects that celebrated significant events in family life.

The techniques and applications used by these early settlers such as embroidery, whitework and lacemaking, have been thoughtfully reinvented to not only give a nod to their origins, but also give them a new home and sense of purpose in the 21st century.

For example, the exhibition featured a piece titled ‘Relationship Status’ which used the design and style of a traditional embroidered text sampler but, instead of commemorating a marriage or anniversary, it had a stitched ditty about navigating online relationships. Another piece featured delicate lacework that had been dipped in glass giving it a delicate but modern appearance.
Overall the exhibition cemented the fact that traditional techniques and applications can successfully be preserved whilst also being reinterpreted for a modern generation.
We’d love to hear how your time with needle and thread either reflects or reinterprets traditional techniques passed on by family or culture. Email us your story of preservation and/or reinterpretation to – we can’t wait to hear from you!
World of Needlework
Is it Art?
We came across an interesting article the other day on the My Modern Met website HERE about how the history of Textile Art constantly reinvents itself. Indeed, Art history itself is a subject which has undergone momentous change since Vasari started writing the ‘Lives of the Artists’ in Renaissance times, and the history of textile art is just as fluid. But there were points raised in the article which made us wonder.

Textile creation, and with needlework in particular, has skated on an uncomfortable line between art and craft for centuries. Although it was practiced by professional Guilds during Vasari’s time, he was instrumental in ensuring that a division was felt between the ‘high arts’ of painting and sculpture and the lower arts, into which embroidery fell fair and square. As time went on, and needlework became regarded as ‘women’s work’, its status fell even further. No longer even considered art, it became the preserve of the feminine, the domestic and the private.
In the past century, there have been struggles by the likes of William Morris and others to raise needlework and textiles back up as a form of art.
A William Morris design (source)
As more and more creative practices earn the moniker, including photography and digital creations, it seems very surprising that textiles and embroidery haven’t fully managed to shake the less important, domestic mantle that has been placed on them for centuries.

All of these points were raised in the article, that then went on to give a brief description of what art or textile art in particular was defined as. An object with no intended use was how it was described. This raised the first flag in our minds. It then described several techniques that are now being practiced as textile art, including weaving, knitting and crochet, and embroidery. In a hoop.
Woven art (source)
By these definitions, a beautifully embroidered book cover might not be regarded as textile art, as it has both an intended purpose and it isn’t displayed in a hoop. What about a tote bag or table runner? Or an item of embroidered clothing? If a piece is created and then instructions provided for someone else to recreate it, such as we have in each issue of Inspirations Magazine and our books, does that preclude it from being regarded as art? Does textile art have to be ‘free form’ or can it utilise traditional, structured techniques like Hardanger, cross stitch or cutwork?
The Linnet by Nicola Jarvis | A Passion for Needlework Factoria VII
This article raised many questions for us simply because, just as traditional needlework has endlessly and unfairly been relegated to the position of poor second cousin to the likes of painting, drawing and sculpture, it now feels like traditional forms of needlework and any embroidered item with a utilitarian purpose is at risk of being relegated even within its own family.

Art is all around us and despite this desperate human need to apportion rank to different things, it is still an artificial construct. We’re pleased that textile art, including embroidery, is finally being recognised as art, but that doesn’t mean it should only permit specific things. The article stated at the end that textile art is fluid, changing and encompasses so many things. That should include the piece you currently have in your hand. If it is beautiful to you, it is indeed art.
Needlework News
Inspirations Calendar | October Project
Add a little style to your storage by creating ‘All Tied Up!’ By Gioja Ralui from Inspirations issue #94 – a delightful fabric tray featured as the October project in the Inspirations 2019 calendar.
Stitched with an elegant punt’e nù heart design onto ivory linen with matching thread, the design is completely hand sewn as a flat piece then tied at the corners with grosgrain ribbon to create a tray. Now available as a digital pattern.
All Tied Up!
Rare Inspirations Magazine Issues Now Available
Due to a recent change of location in one of our warehouses, the move unearthed some rare out of print issues of Inspirations Magazine that are now available on our website.
Check your collection and if you are missing any of these issues, today is your lucky day!
Be quick – with limited stock available and high demand expected, these back issues will not last long.
Inspirations Issue 81
Inspirations Issue 82
Inspirations Issue 85
Au Ver à Soie Thread Samplers
Last month we released a range of thread packs from Au Ver à Soie to give everyone an opportunity to experience using the Rolls Royce of silk threads.
To help bring out your best, always try and use the best.
The response has been terrific, and this is one of those products that really just sells itself thanks to the highly refined manufacturing techniques used by Au Ver à Soie and the fact that silk threads are incredibly strong, beautiful to use, and come in a range of vibrant, striking colours.

If you are yet to try Au Ver à Soie, these thread packs are a perfect introduction, but be warned – you will get hooked!

For those who are already Au Ver à Soie converts, well you know what to do!

Oh – and we have been told the metallic thread packs are particularly popular around Christmas time, so you might want to beat the rush.
> Shades of Pastel - Soie Perlée
An exquisite assortment of 6 x Soie Perlée threads in coordinating pastel hues presented on wooden spools – are they threads to use, or have on display as part of your sewing room décor? Decisions, decisions…
Shades of Pastel - Soie Perlée
> Shades of Summer - Soie Perlée
Pack of 6 x Soie Perlée threads, this time in a range of bright vibrant colours reflective of summer, so striking and so bold you can’t help but feel happy just looking at them.
Shades of Summer - Soie Perlée
> Shades of Metallic - Metallise Tressé
An irresistible collection of sparkle and delight, 6 x Metallise Tressé threads in silver, black, white, bronze, copper and gold to give you the ultimate experience in the finest of metallic threads.
Shades of Metallic - Metallise Tressé
Featured Project
Golden Wattle & Coastal Banksia by Julie Kniedl
How do you make a tiny, delicate yellow puffball flower with embroidery thread? Or the contrasting textures on a seed pod? These challenges were successfully taken on by Julie Kniedl in her rendering of two beloved Australian native plants, Golden Wattle and Coastal Banksia, featured in our book Botanica.

Golden Wattle

During the middle of winter, grey days are enlivened when wattle shrubs and trees begin to bloom with an abundance of vibrant, yellow blossoms.
The golden wattle, acacia pyacntha, Australia’s floral emblem, has delicately fragranced flowerheads made up of tiny flowers with little petals and prominent stamens that give the flowers their pompom-like appearance.
To make the small, puffball flowers with a plentiful coverage of stamens, Julie used filigree beads as a base. As shown in step-by-step photographs in Botanica, the wire stem for each flower head is first threaded through the bead which is then covered with short lengths of stranded silk attached in pairs.
The lengths of silk are couched to the bead through the perforations, and once attached, the strands separate easily to help fill out the flower head into a plush sphere.
The buds are formed using the raised embroidery technique of slips. Here, the slips are embroidered with French knots, cut out and stitched together over the end of a wire that forms the stem. The wired leaves are shaded with long and short stitch, and all elements are assembled onto the main stem by wrapping the wire stems together.

Coastal Banksia
Coastal Banksia is a masterpiece of integrating stitched and natural elements.
The stitched elements themselves are so realistic it’s not immediately obvious which is natural, and which is stitched.
Banksias are renowned for their striking seed cones and narrow leaves that spiral around the branches. The coastal banksia, Banksia integrifolia, has dark green leaves with a silvery-white underside that, unlike other banksia varieties, are smooth-edged rather than serrated.
Julie used stranded silk to stitch the wired leaves for her piece, including a contrasting underside for the upturned leaf, hinting at the natural growth of the plant where flashes of the pale colour can be seen here and there on a tree.
The construction of the seed cone is particularly intriguing, and as always, the instructions for making your own are supported with detailed diagrams and photographs. Wool threads are used for the French knots that form the knobbly surface without follicles, worked in sections onto pieces of felt that are stitched together and padded to create the cone shape.
The follicles are wired clamshell shapes, also worked with wool threads, with golden brown colours used for the open follicles that still contain seeds. They are made separately and stitched to the prepared cone in close rows. The wired base of the seed cone and leaves are carefully secured to a small branch to complete this stunning sculptural piece.
Both the Golden Wattle and Coastal Banksia are, along with all of the projects in Botanica, a testament to Julie’s attention to detail and creativity. Her skill in both devising the structural foundation of her pieces and showcasing the colours and forms in the natural beauty that enriched her world, became central to her artistic expression.
Make Your Own Coastal Banksia & Golden Wattle
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Botanica | The three-dimensional embroidery of Julie Kniedl
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
Stunning seed pod and leaves of a banksia by Julie Kniedl from Botanica. The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Coastal Banksia includes everything you need to re-create this magnificent banksia: Fabrics (unprinted), wool felt, wires, embroidery threads and needles.
Coastal Banksia
A graceful stem of wattle with fluffy yellow flowers, leaves and plump buds by Julie Kniedl from Botanica.

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Golden Wattle includes everything you need to re-create this stunning wattle stem: Fabrics (unprinted), wire, beads, embroidery threads and needles.
Golden Wattle
Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step details on how to create these projects, please refer to the book Botanica.
Looking for More Australian Flora?
Native Colour
Native Colour by Bev Stayner from Inspirations issue #73 features the intense colour of Australian native flora, captured in raised embroidery.
Native Colour
Inspirations Issue 73
Old Friends
Old Friends by Jan Bergman from Inspirations issue #88 is a glorious dimensional basket of striking proteas and grevillea.
Old Friends
Flower Power
Flower Power by Judy Stephenson from Inspirations issue #58 is a lifelike stumpwork study of a flowering gum.
Inspirations Issue 58
The Great Escape
The Great Escape by Erica Frame from Inspirations issue #19 is an award-winning blanket, featuring the silken blossoms of Australia's native eucalypts.
The Great Escape
What Are You Stitching?
Of the many subjects the Inspirations Community put their needles and threads to, there is often a focus on botanical studies and this week we’re sharing some of these with you. We hope you enjoy a walk through our Botanic Garden…
Flowers for Elizabeth | Kim Spry
‘Well what a delight, I have finally finished Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O’Connor from Inspirations issue #51! I started this piece on 9 March 2010 and somewhere along the way it was placed in the to-do cupboard. I took this piece up again on 25 July 2019, and finally finished it on 8 August 2019, so nearly 10 years later, that must be a record!’
‘I used mostly the DMC version of stranded cotton, as I had many leftovers from previous work. I enlarged this piece so that I could frame it – although that might take another 10 years! As I was closing Inspirations issue #51, I flicked through and noticed that I had also completed both Cockatoo Apple by Judy Stephenson and Leaps and Bounds by Rae Wilson in 2008. I might just go back through all the Inspirations and see what else I need to embroider!’
Kim, we love that you came back and completed the stitching you started in 2010! It’s never about how long a piece takes us to complete, but rather the joy we find in laying each stitch along the way. We look forward to seeing what Inspirations project you put your needles and threads to next.
Irises | Lilian Muir
‘I started my journey in embroidery when I was very young. At school in Zimbabwe, my siblings were all good at sport, but alas I was the girl who always came last.
My enjoyment and successes were in art and needlework. My grandmother was an accomplished seamstress, where I learned so much.
After school, I moved to live on a farm, where life was hectic and full of ups and downs. My three wonderful children took up most of my time, so there was not much time for serious embroidery. In 2001, my family moved to the UK, where I am now retired and living in Yorkshire. Here I have a whole new life - I have stitching, art and fabulous grandchildren to fill my days with joy! I have joined a group of ladies in Stamford Bridge, who are currently making a Tapestry/Embroidery of the battle of Stamford Bridge. It is stitched in the style and spirit of the Bayeux Tapestry and there has been a lot of interest expressed in our progress. Shirley Smith designed the Iris for which I won the competition at our Embroiderers Guilds Region Day, where the category was to complete a flower beginning with the letter I.’
Lilian, we can think of nothing better than our days being filled with stitching, art, grandchildren and most importantly, joy! We love that you found success with needle and thread at such a young age and that it’s accompanied you on life’s journey all the way from Zimbabwe to the UK.
Tulips | Edna Sanabia
‘I was born on a farm in North Dakota but have lived my whole adult life in Santa Barbara, California. I clearly remember my first embroidery - one summer when I was about eight years old, I was getting under my mother’s feet, so she handed me an embroidery kit and showed me how to do an outline stitch. The entire motif was done in one color and one stitch. I worked for hours at a time and after a few days brought it to my mother finished. She was impressed and entered it in the local fair.
It felt great to be recognized but that’s not what kept me stitching, I just loved it from the very beginning!
I have eight sisters, grandmothers and lots of aunts. There was always quilting, crochet, gardening, knitting and much more making going on, many of which I learned, but embroidery was always special to me. My favorite technique is surface embroidery and needle painting and I love the freedom of design.’
Edna, we love that from the rich history of making you were surrounded by as a child you found the discipline that suited you most – embroidery. It has served you well over the years and we think your tulips are simply stunning!
Vintage Flowers | Sue Cork
‘I live in rural Lincolnshire in the UK and have been interested in embroidery since 1964. I was 10 years old and saved my Great Aunt's embroidery stash from a bonfire when my family were clearing her house. Over the years I have dabbled in all kinds of techniques, mostly self-taught from books and magazines. Until Inspirations magazine came out, most magazines in the UK confined themselves to cross stitch and although I have done plenty of that too, I wanted something more complex. I started doing lots of Hardanger and moved on to other Whitework, Blackwork, Crewel, Freestyle and Needlepainting, Stumpwork, Goldwork, Samplers and Silk Embroidery - in fact if you name it, I have probably given it a go!’
‘This piece is about 9 inches (24cm) square and was a vintage silver iron-on transfer by Deighton's dating from about the 1960's or 1970's. These silver transfers were designed to be used on dark fabrics. The choice of colours and stitches was mine and uses DMC or Anchor stranded cottons and a mix of stitches, really just a needle painting, mostly in long and short stitch some of which are padded with stitches rather than felt. I do feel that there are lots of lovely old designs out there that could really come to life using modern threads and techniques.’
Sue, it’s amazing to think that your journey with needle and thread started with saving an embroidery stash from a bonfire. It proves that great things really can come from small beginnings! With your flowers bright contrast against dark fabric, your stitching reminds us of the work of Helen M Stevens.

Have you put your needles and threads to a botanic study? We’d love to see it! Email photos of what you’ve created along with a few details about your stitching journey to
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What's On
Stay informed of upcoming needlework events taking place all around the world in our new What’s On page on the Inspirations Studios Website HERE.
If you’re holding an event or would like to suggest one to be added, we’d love to hear about it. Email us the details at
© 2019 Inspirations Studios

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