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ISSUE 247, AUGUST 14, 2020
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INSPIRATIONS. ALL Stitched Up!
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Hi <<First Name>>,
As we contemplated the props required for a recent photo shoot, a copy of Weldons Encyclopedia of Needlework came to mind. Originally published in 1935, it is a comprehensive 876-page guide to all things needle and thread.

It opens with the book’s only coloured photograph of ‘Phlox’, promising that, ‘This embroidered Flower-Piece is an inspiring example of the beauty that can be wrought by those who study this Encyclopedia.’
The copy of the book that accompanied us to the photo shoot, whilst in remarkable condition considering its age, has pages that have yellowed over time and a spine that is struggling to hold its pages as tightly as they’d once been held. And that got us thinking about whose hands had held the book previously to ours and what they’d achieved with needle and thread after pouring over its pages.

Were the pages poured over in a home, school or workplace perhaps by a student, teacher or someone engaged in the practical work of embroidery, or were they simply appreciated by someone who admired fine handwork and all things needle and thread?

Whilst your guess is as good as ours, it speaks to the heritage that those who have gone before us have handed down in terms of tradition. From the tools that were listed as equipment necessary to the pursuit of all things needle and thread, the Stitch Compendium – complete with a drawing of each stitch in progress that look remarkably similar to those that are included in the pages of Inspirations’ publications - right through to the Embroidery Section that devotes itself to 36 specific embroidery techniques still used today, it’s a book that’s almost as relevant now as the day it was published.

Given the popularity of working with needle and thread and the wonder it still brings to those consumed by its passion, it would seem the publishers hopes have indeed come to pass – ‘that this Encyclopedia will be a joy to all who use it and will do much to sustain and further the gracious Needle Arts’ – and that’s a heritage we can all be proud of.
 
Have Your Say
Your Favourite Gadgets - Part 1
Thank you to everyone who wrote in after reading our article on gadgets from All Stitched Up! issue #242 – the response has been overwhelming! It seems that stitching gadgets are some of our most treasured items as well as some of the most unusual we own. This week we begin Part 1 of sharing some of your wonderful feedback.
Jo Britton
‘This picture is of a darning mushroom that was given to me by my grandmother once her hands became too arthritic to sew. I should think it is at least 80 years old. I can’t say I use it much, but I do treasure it as a remembrance of her.’
Lalah Tillinghast
‘Somewhere lost in my sewing room is a darning egg that I received from my mother and that she got from her mother. As I am 85 years old, I can't even guess at its age. It is black and the ‘egg’ part is about the size of a duck egg.
It was meant to be used inside a sock or stocking to shape it for darning, which is what I use it for still (when I can find it).
Having spent my early years on a farm right after the Depression and during WW2, I learned not to throw away anything that could be mended. I still mend before giving up on any piece of clothing, from socks and underwear to my best outerwear.’

Thank you, Jo and Lalah for reminding us about this once essential tool that every stitcher would have in their kit. Back in the day darning mushrooms (or eggs) were used to extend the life of socks well beyond their first hole. Within our own team here at Inspirations we have at least one member who still darns using her mushroom. And just imagine the delight that could be elicited if we each took a darning mushroom and started to darn our socks, stockings and leggings in all kinds of fabulous colours!
(source)
Marjorie Collins
‘During the Depression, my dad took one of mom's large empty thread spools and hammered five or six small finishing nails around the centre opening. With wool and a crochet hook, my sister and I would make yards of tiny tubes that we would wind into rugs for our doll house (made from a cylindrical Quaker Oats box) or fashion them into animals.

We would also change the wool as we used up bits of mom's leftover stash resulting in a rainbow of colours.
Many an hour was spent making hot-plate mats, winter caps and many other magical items that our young minds devised.
While I don't believe I still have mine, seeing the photo of your Knitting Nancy brought back floods of fond memories of the 1930s and ’40s.’

Marjorie it sounds like you and your sister were quite the crochet artists back in the day! Lovely to hear how such a simple tool and needlework technique can lead to hours of constructive creativity.
A Knitting Nancy from the 1970s
Jane Evans
‘In 1958 my Granny gave me this crochet hook made of bone when she taught me to crochet. We made the pincushion in needlepoint that summer, too. These are always nearby when I stitch. The granny square Afghan was my many-years-in-the-making project.’
Your crochet hook is a treasured heirloom Jane, we’re so pleased to see that not only did you keep it, but that it’s still in active use all these years later.

It really goes to show how the tools used to be made to last. It makes one wonder whether the plastic crochet hooks of today will still be usable in 60 years’ time.
Linda Fenton
‘I did not have a fancy Knitting Nancy. Mine was a wooden spool with four nails at the top. I remember making knitted tubes which I would sew into rugs for my doll house.

The oldest gadget that I have used is a wooden darning egg which I bought at an antique store 60 years ago. I used it to darn my husband’s socks for many years. It was the first object in my collection of old needlework tools.

I also have a 17th century Dutch silver filigree tape measure in the shape of a hat. The cockade is at the end of the tape.”

Collecting antique and historic sewing tools is a wonderful hobby Linda, probably made all the better by the fact that these items can still be used. Even if your collection is just made up of those items handed down through several generations, they can offer a precious link to the past.

Thanks again to those who have written in so far. We’ve really enjoyed reading about all of the memories and stories which these simple gadgets have brought up.
 
Needlework News
Sajou Pinwheel & Bobbins
This week we’re excited to be releasing the first of our Sajou products which we’ve sourced for your needlework pleasure. If you haven’t heard of Sajou before or are unfamiliar with their story, here is a quick history lesson:
The Sajou embroidery brand originated in Paris in the 1840s, founded by Jacques-Simon Sajou. After winning awards and becoming renowned for the quality of its products, over the next century the company passed through many hands until it eventually disappeared around 1954 and the once household name was all but forgotten.
Fortunately, writer and passionate embroiderer, Frédérique Crestin-Billet, decided to revive the Sajou brand in 2004.
Combining her own expertise in both embroidery and collectibles with the name’s historic marker as a quality sewing and haberdashery brand, it is little wonder Sajou has once again become synonymous with gorgeous sewing paraphernalia.
If you ever have the opportunity to happen by Maison Sajou in Paris, the shop is nothing less than a magical cave filled with endless treasures.
While we can’t quite replicate the same experience as an actual visit, what we can do is bring you some of their products to hopefully go some way towards capturing that magic.

Sajou Pinwheel

The Sajou Pinwheel is a practical pin holder, filled with 40 French-made, glass headed dressmaker’s pins. What sets it apart is the adorable vintage image of a little girl sewing up her dolly’s dress on the front.
The combination of the high-quality pins and the delightful image makes this pinwheel one you’ll want to keep away from covetous hands!
Sajou Bobbins
This box of Sajou Bobbins is absolutely adorable. Filled with 15 tiny wooden bobbins, no more than 2.5cm tall and adorned with the characteristic Sajou vintage imagery, we couldn’t think of a better way of storing leftover threads.
Although, these bobbins would be a practical addition to any sewing tool kit, the suggestion of one of the team to just ‘have them in a jar to admire’ seems equally as appropriate!
Thimble for scale
We’ll be releasing some more Sajou products in the coming weeks, but in the meantime be sure to order your pinwheels and bobbins soon. It’s rare for products this cute to stick around for long…
New Book | Modern Kogin
Kogin embroidery originated in northern Japan during the Edo period which ran from 1603 to 1868. It was developed to help reinforce threadbare fabric, however the wonderfully simple geometric motifs have stood the test of time, and kogin has become a technique very much in favour today.
However, rather than this counted technique being employed for utilitarian purposes, it is now used to decorate a whole range of items from purses to placemats, bookmarks to brooches.
The effectiveness of the result hides just how easy it is to master this technique. All that is required is the ability to count and a basic love of geometry and symmetry.
Originally published in Japan, the book Modern Kogin has now been fully translated and contains all of the patterns and instructions to make a range of featured items, including all of the steps to successfully construct each project.
Inside you’ll learn how to prepare the thread and fabric and how to read a kogin chart. It won’t take long to master the basics, so you’ll be embarking on one of the 25 included projects in no time.

If you’re after a project which is modern, easy to do and wonderfully versatile, then look no further than Modern Kogin by Boutique-Sha.
Digital Pattern | Sitting Pretty by Phyllis Maurer
If the book Modern Kogin has piqued your interest in this technique, you’ll be thrilled to know that one of our favourite kogin projects from Inspirations is available as a digital pattern.
Designed using the traditional Japanese combination of indigo and white, ‘Sitting Pretty’ from Inspirations issue #62 is a chair cushion worked entirely in the kogin technique, making use of many traditional motifs.

Sitting Pretty is worked on a brilliant blue evenweave ground fabric. After you’ve spent many glorious, meditative hours completing the design, it can then be finished with a twisted cord and constructed into a striking chair cushion.
However, although we are all aware that this variation of sashiko was designed to be robust and hardwearing, we would hope more time would be spent admiring this wonderful piece than parking one’s behind on it!

You can purchase and download the digital pattern for Sitting Pretty right now and start enjoying the pleasure of this gorgeous traditional technique.
 
DIGITAL PATTERN
Sitting Pretty
 
Knitting a City
While at present we might not be able to travel as much as we used to, it doesn’t mean we can’t continue to admire the idiosyncrasies of the various cities around the world that make them unique. Knitter Jake Henzler decided to immortalise one of his favourite cities, Copenhagen, in a fabulous knitted blanket.
Copenhagen as you’ve never seen it before (source)
After living in Copenhagen for a year, Jake fell in love with the pastel-coloured buildings with their picture-perfect windows and geometric shape. He realised they made an ideal subject for a knitted block, and the ‘Copenhagen Building Blocks’ pattern was born.
A Copenhagen Cushion (source)
Don’t fancy knitting a blanket? These blocks can be made into scarves, cushions or anything else you can think of which might require squares. And if you haven’t quite had enough of the cuteness factor, you can check out more of Jake’s designs on Instagram HERE.
 
Featured Project
Poppy by Hazel Blomkamp
You’ve fallen in love with the pattern, you’ve started reading the instructions and suddenly you stop short in a panic. Up until the section entitled ‘Order of Work’ for Hazel Blomkamp’s latest masterpiece, Poppy from Inspirations issue #107, you’ve felt pretty confident. But then you see the words ‘freestyle stitched background’ and suddenly, you’re just not sure.
Hazel Blomkamp is well known and well-loved for her intricate, crewel-style, surface embroidery projects. For anyone who has ever worked one of her pieces, you’ll know the satisfaction that comes from the myriad different stitches, weaving techniques and beaded details.
Poppy continues Hazel’s already tried and true tradition, however, this amazing project asks you to take one further step, into the unsettling world of ‘random’.
It seems almost counterintuitive, but random stitching is one of the most difficult forms of stitching one can do. It does seem that no matter how hard you try your random stitching will start to form patterns as if your hand and needle combined simply have a mind of their own.
Why is this? Why is it so difficult to avoid forming squares or circles, as Hazel has insistently pointed out? Why is ‘irregular’ just so difficult?

There is clear psychology behind this. The human brain is very good at seeing patterns which, back in the day, was a vital survival skill when living out on the plains. If we failed to recognise that the shadowy shape amongst the long grass was a hungry predator, we wouldn’t be around long enough to regret it.
Freestyle stitched background
However, while pattern recognition was vital for our survival back then, today that same skill makes it exceedingly difficult not to fall into the habit of seeing and creating patterns whether we want to or not.
The unusual texture of ‘Poppy’ is achieved by the monochromatic array of background stitches which are worked right at the outset.
Hazel has provided eight different stitches to use when creating the background, but to really achieve the effect, no one stitch should be repeated too much or too little, and no area of pattern should be too uniform. Sound easy? For most of us, the answer is a resounding no!
There are several creative ways you could approach this, from writing a list of the stitches and putting a tick next to each one as you work a section of it to ensure you aren’t favouring one over another, through to just acting on instinct and letting your eye tell you what comes next.
For those stitchers who are really uncomfortable with the idea of freestyling, using Hazel’s model and referencing the detailed close up photography in the magazine as a guide can help.
However, the thing to remember above all else is that we are predisposed to see patterns and therefore, even if you haven’t created a pattern intentionally, our eyes will still find one (even if it isn’t there!). There’s no point in worrying about what is psychologically instinctual. Ultimately, if it looks beautiful, if you’ve enjoyed the process and if you’re happy with the result, then you have achieved success.
The truth about Poppy is that the brilliantly coloured plumage of Poppy herself actually forms the focus of this exquisite piece. As soon as you start to work her, your freestyle stitching will visually drop back to where it belongs and your eye will be caught by her glittering gaze instead.

Your mind’s need to see order will be satisfied by the clear patterns within each feather, and the careful combinations of colours, stitches, beads and crystals which make up Poppy’s shape.
It isn’t often you’re instructed to just ‘let yourself go’, so the idea can seem daunting to those of us used to following the steps carefully, just as they are laid out. But here’s your chance. Thread your needle, choose your stitch and go for it!
As soon as Poppy is complete, you can be satisfied by the knowledge that the next time you see a pattern asking you to ‘freestyle it’, you’ll be able to dive in head first without anything to fear.
Make Your Own Poppy
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Poppy by Hazel Blomkamp is an elegant candle screen featuring a flamboyant bird with engaging stitches and techniques.
 
PRINTED MAGAZINE
Inspirations Issue 107
 
 
DIGITAL PATTERN
Poppy
 
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Poppy includes everything* you need to re-create this fabulous bird: Fabrics (unprinted), embroidery threads, beads and needle.
 
READY-TO-STITCH KIT
Poppy
 
Due to popular demand Poppy kits are currently sold out. The good news is that more stock is on its way. The not so good news is that due to sourcing lead times and current delivery delays, there is an expected wait of 4-6 weeks. Thank you for your patience.

*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the magazine/digital pattern.
Looking for More Hazel Blomkamp?
Clive the Chameleon
Clive the Chameleon by Hazel Blomkamp from Inspirations issue #100 is a fabulous chameleon with opulent beaded camouflage.
 
PRINTED PATTERN
Clive the Chameleon
 
 
DIGITAL PATTERN
Clive the Chameleon
 
Winter Sunset
Winter Sunset by Hazel Blomkamp from A Passion for Needlework | Factoria VII features a magical palette of gentle pastels and intricate stitch techniques to create the fascinating surface on this square footstool.
 
PRINTED BOOK
A Passion for Needlework | Factoria VII
 
Papermate
Papermate by Hazel Blomkamp from Inspirations issue #84 is a beautiful paperweight with floral Jacobean design.
 
PRINTED MAGAZINE
Inspirations Issue 84
 
Sweet Savour
Sweet Savour by Hazel Blomkamp from Inspirations issue #78 is a beautiful, beaded pomander with Jacobean inspired embroidery.
 
PRINTED MAGAZINE
Inspirations Issue 78
 
What Are You Stitching?
Hazel Blomkamp is a fan-favourite designer among readers. No matter how exquisitely complicated her designs and no matter how much stitching commitment they require, it seems you can’t get enough of her projects. And just look at the incredible results. We will never cease to be amazed at just how wonderful your finished Hazel projects are. Here are a few to swoon over…
Susan Cuss
‘I thought I would send in some photos of my latest finished piece: ‘A Sherry for Jack’ by Hazel Blomkamp on silk dupion. I love Hazel's designs and had a lot of fun embroidering this piece.’
‘As I used only the supplies I had in my stash, some of the colours are not the same as the original. I also changed a few of the filling stitches. My old eyes had a bit of a problem with some of the fine details, even with my magnifying light. Hopefully, my new glasses will help with that!’
‘The finished piece is a bit larger than the original, too, shown above in a 12” hoop. I'm now looking forward to stitching another of Hazel's wonderful designs. Hmmmm, which one will I choose?’
Well you have plenty of options, Susan! And no matter how quickly we stitch them, Hazel just keeps producing more and more designs. Well done for not allowing the fine details to beat you and producing such a fantastic result.
Mavis Brown
‘I have completed three of Hazel Blomkamp's designs. They were a challenge but lots of fun to do. I learned a lot of techniques working them.’
‘Maureen the Owl was definitely a challenge!’
‘I got started on Hazel’s projects because I took her class at Beating Around the Bush in 2016. That opened my eyes to the endless possibilities both in my stitching skills and also in tweaking traditional designs.’

What an incredible series of finished pieces, Mavis. They might have been a challenge at the time, but the results speak for themselves.
Joan Clark
‘This is Maureen the Owl by Hazel Blomkamp. She took me months to do with a house move in the middle of it. I loved doing her for all of the challenges she posed. I had never done needleweaving before to this extent and had never made bead flowers.’
‘I did have problems with how to do some of the stitches. I emailed Hazel and she was so helpful. I really enjoyed doing Maureen and although it could never match up to Hazel’s work, she looks good on a white wall in my conservatory.’
‘I’d like to do another of Hazel’s embroideries from her Crewel Creatures book but I’ve not decided yet which one.
I just wish we could create more hours in the day. I wonder how many stitchers have said that?!’
Every stitcher we’ve ever spoken to, Joan! Maureen looks fabulous and when you have decided on the next project, we do hope you’ll send in some pictures.

Have you ever stitched one of Hazel’s designs? Or is there another designer you just love? Whoever you follow and whoever’s designs you stitch, we’d love to see your work. Send in your pictures and a bit of a story behind your piece to news@inspirationsstudios.com
 
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You May Have Missed
Sea View
Sea View by Jo Butcher is a peaceful scene of grasses and flowers overlooking the ocean.
 
PRINTED MAGAZINE
Inspirations Issue 107
 
 
DIGITAL PATTERN
Sea View
 
 
READY-TO-STITCH KIT
Sea View
 
Summer Days
Summer Days by Jo Butcher from Inspirations issue #101 is a delightful garden in full bloom with busy bees flying to and from their wooden hive.
 
PRINTED MAGAZINE
Inspirations Issue 101
 
 
DIGITAL PATTERN
Summer Days
 
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields by Jo Butcher from Inspirations issue #99 is a glorious meadow scene filled with red poppies and golden wheat.
 
PRINTED MAGAZINE
Inspirations Issue 99
 
 
DIGITAL PATTERN
In Flanders Fields
 
Woodland
Woodland by Jo Butcher from A Passion for Needlework is a charming scene of foxgloves amongst birch trees.
 
PRINTED BOOK
A Passion for Needlework | Deluxe
 
How to Sew a Meadow
How to Sew a Meadow by Jo Butcher from Inspirations #83 is a charming stitched meadow worked onto a painted background.
 
PRINTED MAGAZINE
Inspirations Issue 83
 
This Week on Social
 
These are a wee bit cute! Created by @itosino_mori
 
We'd chair another pun but there have been a lot recently. Jimena Occasional Chair from Anthropologie.⁠
 
Quote
‘The heritage of the past is the seed that brings forth the harvest of the future.’
~ Wendell Phillips ~
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 news@inspirationsstudios.com
INSPIRATIONS
© 2020 Inspirations Studios

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