Worcester Stitch and Textile Art Group Worcester Stitch and Textile Art Group

Monthly meetings

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Blackwork a Twist, Liz Almond

04 April 2023

It was another busy morning at Perdiswell, with 54 members working on their own projects and items for Croome, including mini-workshop sessions by Julia R and Sian K. The Red Dress exhibition was the talk of the room, following the sell-out event of the previous week.

Our ‘Bring and Buy’ was extremely successful, keeping Christine M and Alison C very busy as we seized on the treasures, leaving it till later to wonder what to do with them!

Our speaker was the highly popular Elizabeth Almond who teaches, and designs for publications all over the world.  On her return visit, she focussed on the secrets of blackwork – its history from Chaucer and the Tudor Court, all the way to contemporary creations, and busting a few myths along the way.  Liz began by introducing us to an exquisite stitched panel, based on a life-size brass rubbing from the tomb of Sir Hugh Starkey that was her own blackwork epiphany.

An approachable and enthusiastic speaker and teacher, her talk was peppered with examples of the techniques and scope for utilising some very simple stitches in myriad ways.  Blackwork doesn’t have to be black, and it certainly isn’t limited to counted thread styles of fabric.  She passed round dozens of beautiful pieces, each one meticulously stitched by Liz, all the while dispensing great practical tips for any stitcher, whatever their preferred approach. Who knew that pencil marks can be removed with Vanish carpet stain remover?  (Other brands may work etc, but Threads takes no responsibility for any experiments!)

Rather than talking about colour theory in abstract terms, Liz illustrated the effects of changing colour and density of threads, and advised on the need to ensure balance in designs. Obviously, we all nodded when she counselled us, before starting any project to lay out thread and fabric, to pause, consider and re-consider our colour schemes before reaching for our needle and hoop.  Warning against pale shades that are lost against fabric, she also recommended subtle toning shades for edging stitches to provide elegant definition.  Hopefully this stitcher will remember the advice at the start of her next project. She recommended products and candidly highlighted pitfalls, especially on checking colour fastness, regardless of the fabric or thread brand.

This was Liz’s third encounter with Threads, first on Zoom, then her visit last March, and she remarked again on the buzzing atmosphere of enthusiasm and positivity of our group, congratulating all the members on our success in growing the group to our current total of 78. 

Liz’s website has lots of ideas and inspirations, lots of lovely patterns to buy and a huge selection of ‘freebies’ to enjoy: https://www.blackworkjourney.co.uk/index.shtml