I was taught to stitch as a child, by my mother and grandmother, as well as some lessons at school, although I have few memories of this – it feels as though I have always stitched! I have tried many forms of craft work through my life, including knitting and calligraphy, but my first love is embroidery, with dressmaking a close second.
My ‘day job’ has been teaching Biology in FE, mostly working with adults, but in 2013 I was able to leave this field and take up my embroidery full-time. However, the influence of Biology is always there in my interest in natural and scientific subjects and in replicating ‘the natural world’ in my embroidered pieces. I often wonder about genetics, since my father’s family includes Whitby jet carvers, and my great-grandmother on my mother’s side was a court dressmaker. Clearly there is a ‘craft gene’ in there somewhere (as well as the teaching gene I inherited from both parents!)
As an embroiderer, I have always loved traditional hand stitching and historical styles of embroidery. My mother is a historian, so perhaps this is genetics at work again. I have worked with many different styles of embroidery in the English tradition. The history of embroidery in this country is very strong, and we have several periods when English Work was known throughout Europe. Combining this with my love of costume, of showing people how such stitching is done, and of teaching the skills of the past, has led to my work in re-creating historical embroidery to show the public at venues such as Museums and Stately Houses.
I have been awarded various prizes for my work. Through the Yorkshire and the Humber region of the Embroiderers' Guild I won the Maggie Judges Trophy for Flower Embroidery in 2011, and the Yorkshire and the Humber Challenge Cup in 2012. In 2013 I was given the Constance Howard Award for Hand Embroidery in the Embroiderers' Guild Members Challenge.
Currently I lecture on various aspects of needlework, as well as running classes and workshops in traditional hand embroidery, both at my Studio in Hull and elsewhere. I am also to be found in costume at different venues demonstrating period needlework. (See the news section for details of classes, lectures and demonstration days). I also have items for sale, either kits or finished needlework pieces: please see the sales section of this website. A gallery of photos of my work is also there for your perusal, as well as my blog of my activities.
The main project I have been working on lately was to re-create a waistcoat stitched for Captain James Cook, by his wife, while he was away on his third voyage (1776-1779). Sadly, he was killed in Hawaii, so the waistcoat was never finished. I was able to recreate it and finish it, so we could see how it might have looked if he had returned to wear it to Court as Elizabeth Cook hoped. I have also made a replica of a Map Sampler stitched by Elizabeth Cook in about 1800, showing James' voyages in the Pacific Ocean. I hope to make a replica of another waistcoat stitched by Elizabeth Cook in the next few months. I also make other items of embroidered costume for myself and others.
If you have any ideas for my work, requests for lectures/workshops, commissions you want to discuss, or feedback on my work or activities, please use my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org I will be delighted to hear from you. Feedback about the website will be especially valuable, as I am hoping to update it soon. I hope you enjoy my work: if you do, tell your friends; if not, tell me!