the workshop

Yes, I know, it’s Wednesday and I’m only just getting round to posting.

The Ashmolean workshop went well. Gareth and I got there on FRiday afternoon and after struggling to find a parking space on StGiles, we finally met Jude, who was lovely. Setting up Friday afternoon and laying the room out ready for the next day made for so much less stress.

Also, Jude put Gareth straight. He’d been telling me all week that because I was working at the Ashmolean I would have to make an effort to dress like a grown up and categorically not wear my tapemeasure skirt or flowery socks. Jude laughed at him and told him all about how Grayson Perry had been there recently to lecture, and had worn a rather fetching little bo peep ensemble. On saturday I wore my tape measure skirt and flowery socks.

Gareth did help a lot though, he printed out all the handouts and made the frames for class.

ashmolean display

It turned out that the fact we couldn’t have the big room was a good thing, as I could hang things up on the coathooks. I thought my basket of veg dyed wools looked yummy


There were seven students in all, including the lovely Ann Rippin, who brought me a lovely little set of cards with medeival textile patterns on it (luckily I had a big bag of broken jewelery for her to play with).

I had packed a tin of homemade macaroons, I always figure people are more likely to forgive the odd mistake if I feed them.

I kept the initial talk to a minimum, figuring people are there to sew. And then we split off into groups, with some people going to see the amazing Kevin Coates exhibition which the workshop was tied too, and others sitting round the big frame with me and going over the basic stitches


I cut the waste canvas up at the end of the day so everyone could take thier practice home (note to self – get everyone to write thier names next time so I can work out whose is whose)

Ann was inspired by the amazing unicorn jewel Kevin had made for his wife, Nell(her sketchbook puts me to shame) she posted some progress when she got home

There were dragons and Griffins and a turtle, and a lovely wierd little thing, some great work. I’m hoping everyone sends me picture or links once they finish.

And I started a Lutrell cat-slug, chosen because several people had problems getting thier heads round the idea of curving laid and couched work, so I sat and did the curve of his spine


The curvy spine is easy once you know how, but I’m learning with this one as well. I’ve never tried striped laidwork before, and it’s forcing me to do some fiddly curved couching.

~ by opusanglicanum on February 26, 2014.

18 Responses to “the workshop”

  1. I wish I were nearer to you!!!

  2. It will be lovely to see the cat-slug grow, and I’m so pleased the workshop went well!

    • I’m both pleased and relieved! my own personal cat-slug says hes help by giving it lots of authentic cat fur. (one lady at the workshop complained her blank canvas was a bit branstoned, I explained that he’d done the most spectacular fall off the table whilst I was cutting stuff – he spilled about 50 reels of cotton all over the floor!)

  3. Oh, the workshop sounds like it was fabulous. I’m very jealous! Maybe one day…

    (As for the cat-slug, I have to say I was hoping he was a cute little stripey T-rex…)

    • I think the name give cat-slug away really. Ive been going through my lutrell files trying to give things descriptive names so I can find things easier. there are some very odd names, I’m having great fun.

      you know if we’re ever at an event at the same time and you want tips you can come sew with me, right?

      • That would be lovely, thank you! Now, if I can just wrangle some reenacting time this year…

      • I’ll be at tatton, though maybe only the Saturday, and I’m going to see if I can wangle my way into bosworth with rosa mundi, but I’m not really sure about anything else right now. Probably won’t go all the way to Tewkesbury unless Gareth desperately wants to visit his friend in bath

  4. Hello,

    I have been enjoying your blog for a long time now! You amaze me!

    I am a long time natural dyer and am thinking about creating embroidery thread in the ancient colors for folks who don’t wish to mess about with plants and pots. I would offer the skeins on Etsy and at the occational SCA event.

    Would you be willing to tell me about the materials and thread styles/twists/thickness or point me towards the places to research?

    There is so much information out that that I get bewildered and head back to my pots where it is safe.

    I knit and weave and such but not much beyond an occational dip into crewel.

    Thanks for sharing what you do and your writing which always makes me laugh at your turn of phrase.

    All the best,


    • thankyou

      I’m, assuming by your spelling and SCA membership that you’re american, and to behonest I dont know anything about american suppliers. I’d suggest asking the historic hand embroidery group on facebook what suppliers they’d reccomend, as they’re mostly on your side of the pond. My best suggestion would be to get your hands on a hank of something like appletons crewel, which is a fiarly standard embroidery wool, send it to your weaving wool supplier and explain that you want something as close as possible, ask them to send samples at least a yard long (nothing in yarn terms) and do a few sample stitches with the likely looking ones to see how they work up. or get an embroidering friend to decide which they like best.

      if you want to sell you really need to be looking at the weaving/knitting suppliers as it really isn’t cost effective to buy embroidery wool and dye it to sell on. A lot of other wools work perfectly well, you just need soemthing fine enough

      the antependium was done with a 3ply weaving wool from handweavers studio in london (just google them) and I use thier 30/2 silk for dyeing and embroidery. I dont dye floss because its a nightmare – I get veg dyed flloss from mulberry dyer instead

      the latest batch of wool I dyed, which I’m using for workshops is texere yarns (also google, its millshop in bradford) it’s thier wool city 2/16wc kniting wool, which is remarkably similar to appletons crewel wool

  5. This is so awesome.

  6. I am so happy for you! Sounds like your seven students learned a lot, you all had fun, and perhaps the Ashmolean peeps will have you back for something else, like maybe your costumes and hats.

    Ann’s sketchbook is definitely awesome. Perhaps she can help you with illustrations for your new book? Self-publishing isn’t so scary. You – as author – get a discount, of course, so you can print up a bunch of books and then sell them at events you attend, like reenactments.

    • I’m already in negotiation wiwth Jude, so fingers crossed. And today I heard from the weald and downland museum that ten people are signed up for that one.

      I’m thinking at the moment that I fancy doing a set of smaller books, perhaps starting with one on laid and couched work that includes designs for a certain number of projects – the designs could be used either for reenactmnet purposes or adapted to modern things, and this would give it a potentially far wider audience

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