Alison Larkin Embroidery

Historical Embroidery in Full-size and Miniature

Brace Yourselves – I’m back!!

It has been quite a long time since I have done anything much to either my website or anywhere which applies to my embroidery business. My apologies for that, dear readers, but I plead other concerns! The last year and a half have been something of a trial. First of all, my best-beloved Chris was diagnosed in January 2022 with a rare cancer in his cheek (trust him to do ‘weird’), which necessitated a number of clinics and other hospital visits, and quite a lot of angst.

I did manage to keep some stitching going, working on a replica of a panel originating in Hong Kong. It was commissioned in the 1950s by a soldier who had been serving in the Korean War, and his family wanted a replica made. It was a lot of fun to do, stitched on silk in silk thread, and with a photo of the soldier in the centre, and the flags of the UK, USA, Korea and the UN. Interesting to work on, and it gave me something to focus on apart from Chris’s situation.

The original embroidered piece, with faded silk
The replica, using silk matched to the original colour

Chris’s treatment (mainly radiotherapy) was progressing steadily, and he was coping fairly well, when I got called for my routine mammogram. That’s when the excrement really hit the air-moving equipment! I was recalled for an ultrasound and a biopsy, and diagnosed with breast cancer! We had something of an “OH, S–T!” moment at that point. I think 2022 is best forgotten, please. The main lesson of that year is DO NOT SKIP YOUR MAMMOGRAMS, LADIES!!! I had no symptoms at all, but if it had been left to next time, three years from now……

Since then I have been having my own treatment as well. Chemotherapy to start with, which was not pleasant, but did mean I lost my hair and quite a lot of weight. Those of you who know me personally will know that I had the weight to lose! Then surgery, and my own radiotherapy. Now all I have left is a few months of mild, preventative chemotherapy, which is not giving me a real symptoms, thank the gods. Plus the usual tablets for 5 years. So I’m on the mend, with luck.

Sadly, the same was not true for my best-beloved. His cancer started to regrow, and no further treatment was possible. I lost him in early July this year. Chris was a very special man, and I miss him hugely, but life must continue, and at least I have my embroidery work to focus on. I’m gradually sorting the house and the paperwork, but it’s a slow process.

My other half and best support!

One thing that was important to both of us during the bad time was being positive. We tried hard to see good things in what was happening – like managing to lose weight at last! I don’t recommend chemo as an obesity treatment, though. Inevitably we had our down moments: it was a bit annoying that just as Chris recovered from his treatment enough to think about getting out a bit, I started to feel cr-p thanks to my chemo. The important thing was not to have ‘down’ moments at the same time, and it worked. Each time one of us felt down the other was there to give a hug. I miss Chris’s hugs. I tried to keep active as far as I could, and the general verdict from the medics is that it was a great help.

My main aims now are to rebuild what I was doing, get back into the swing of embroidery things, start doing events again and refocus my kit collection. Possibly work on ideas for another book? And to get out of 2023 as fast as possible, please! So I will be doing more, and posting more, I hope, updating stuff and being more active. I do have a guardian angel to help me along: he has grey curly hair and rickety knees.

It’s been 10 years recently since I gave up FE teaching to work on the embroidery full-time. Working from home was handy during Covid lockdown, and very useful while Chris and I have both been hors-de-combat. I’ve enjoyed every minute of the 10 years, except perhaps the last 18 months or so. Now I need to get back to that enjoyment , get back to reaching out to folks, and get back to creating.

I had a great day recently with a lovely group of students at Leeds Central Library as part of Heritage Week. A half-day workshop using the 1798 sprig design from the Lady’s Magazine. it went very well, everyone seemed to enjoy it and I certainly enjoyed getting back to teaching. The feedback was good too, and they have asked me to do another in December. I did some useful think ing about kits ideas on the train over as well. Now I need to think about Xmas designs for the next workshop. It’s good how things are picking up again, almost without anything from me, it’s just happening. Maybe the rickety-kneed one is up to something….

Brace yourselves, folks, I’m back! Or at least, I’m getting there.

2 thoughts on “Brace Yourselves – I’m back!!

  1. Argh, what a year!
    I’m so sorry for your loss, as though cancer treatment wasn’t already hard enough.
    But it’s good to have you back, and I hope that the rest of the year will treat you more kindly.

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