A Stitch in Time…

A stitch in time saves nine they say.

A week ago, I attended a masterclass of stumpwork embroidery in a shop called A Stitch In Time.

In fact I saved no stitches at all. I had hundreds of stitches to accomplish before the piece I was working on would be finished.

It will take AGES!

It’s a project that Master stitcher Jane Nicholas has designed for her new book on moths and butterflies: The Life-cycle of the Swallowtail Butterfly. The pressure in these classes is normally quite extreme with masses of homework that must be accomplished each night before we move onto new elements the next day in class and this class perhaps even more so if we hadn’t been fortunate enough to get an extra day for the class. We were thus able to take a breath and relax a little.

The challenge of this latest design is a caterpillar in vibrant lime green Au Ver a Soie silks, with navy and red stripes and obscenely small little red dots; another caterpillar (smaller) in navy, red and white with microscopic red dots; a chrysalis in green-tinted gold kid leather. And a butterfly whose wings beggar description: all in two shades of yellow, black, blue and red. The silks used are as fine as cobwebs, threads called Cifonda and with which I have a love-hate relationship.

We’re a loud and sparkly lot in the class: laughter, story-telling, eating morning and afternoon teas and wonderful lunches, celebrating birthdays, keeping up our flagging energies with bowls of jubes and jellybabies at the end of the day. We come from all parts of the island for this series of classes – some have been coming since 1994. It’s like a meeting of old scholars.

We joke that we’ll be doing this when we are on zimmer frames and looking at our work through glasses as thick as the bottoms of beer bottles. But the reality for me is that my sight has deteriorated massively since that first class many years ago. I hope I can keep going, hope that my stitches remain fine and small because there would be nothing worse than my work becoming less rather than more. Defeats the purpose of all those years learning.

But if not, never mind … the lifelong friends I’ve made will just have to fill the gap.