In the autumn of 2015 I travelled to London to attend The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, London. I had signed up for a number of workshops, two of which by the RSN, a Blackwork and a Goldwork workshop. Even though they were only 1.5hrs I really enjoyed the experience and learning new embroidery techniques, having previously only done Cross-Stitch. I picked up one of their Day Class brochures and signed up for a Whitework Day Class at Hampton Court Palace in the autumn of 2016 so I could combine it with another visit to The Knitting and Stitching Show and make the most of my time in London.

I totally loved doing the Day Class. I learned so much and the atmosphere was really nice and friendly. Being at the Palace was a major bonus for me. As an archaeologist and historian, I just love being at the Palace, it is such an inspiring environment for me. It still feels very special every time I step through the doors, especially in the morning when you are in the Palace before the tourists arrive. It is very magical.

In the Day Class pack which came with my Class kit, there was a brochure for the Certificate and Diploma course. It looked like something I would really enjoy doing. However, it would be a big commitment for me, not only to pay for the course but also the added expense of travel and accommodation costs as I don’t live in the UK, not even taking into account the need for enough annual leave days to be able to take the time off in the first place. I decided to take three more day Classes in the spring and summer of 2017 before making my final decision, and to try the techniques taught during the Certificate. I also chatted to several C&D students about their experience, which was very useful. It didn’t take long for me to make up my mind.

I started my first module in October 2017 and finished the Certificate course in August 2019. Because I don’t live in the UK I can’t attend classes weekly, or even monthly. I usually plan a couple of weeks a year when I can come over and attend several classes that week, and two of the techniques I have done as a Summer Intensive. It is really great that the C&D course is so flexible, so I can fit it around my own work/life commitments. When I do come over I try and book the same days of the week so I do see the same Tutors, even though I still end up seeing about six to eight different ones. Getting the benefit of all of their embroidery knowledge and experience, as well as their wide variety of suggestions for my work, has definitely been an added bonus for me. The class atmosphere is always very nice, I have met so many lovely fellow embroiderers and I always look forward to my next ‘embroidery retreat’ week at the RSN.

Looking back, I especially loved stitching the Canvaswork design. It was inspired by a picture of Glencoe in Scotland, which means a lot to me, and I found it so much fun to stitch. It taught me the importance of the image I chose. For all of my future designs I will pick a design, which is meaningful to me as it makes the stitching so much more fun, whichever technique it is. I definitely found Silk Shading the most difficult. There is so much involved in it to make it look good, whereas the stitch itself is actually rather simple. It really took me a while to get in to the swing of things. The C&D Tutors’ encouragement helped a lot.

Since finishing the Certificate last year, I have started the Diploma and I am now working on my Blackwork module, a design of The National Wallace Monument in Stirling, Scotland, and on my Appliqué module, a vintage railway poster design of the Peak District. Due to Covid-19, I have been working on my projects from home and I have done an one-to-one Online Lesson. I can’t wait to get back to Hampton Court Palace though for some real class-time as soon as it safe to do so.

On my social media you can find me as ‘The Stitching Sheep’ and on the different platforms I share a lot about my experiences at the RSN as well as progress pictures on the pieces I am working on, so you can continue following me through my work for the Diploma.

Instagram: @stitchingsheep

Twitter: @stitchingsheep

Facebook: @stitchingsheep