Alison Larkin Embroidery

Historical Embroidery in Full-size and Miniature

Newsletter, June 2020



We are living in strange times! One of the things I was taught in microbiology at University rather more years ago than I care to think about was that we were overdue for a new pandemic. I think right now I would rather it had continued to be late……
Still, we must manage with the circumstances we have been given, I guess. At the moment I still have a few bookings for lectures in September and beyond, which may go ahead. I am waiting to hear from the various organisers. The monthly Sewing Groups are on hold for now: teaching embroidery is difficult with social distancing rules, and my main venue, Charterhouse Hall, is problematic because of the age and vulnerability of their residents. I plan on contacting the Master at some point, probably about September, to discuss if and how we can go forward. I don’t want to change venue, because Charterhouse is a good place, but it may be they have to put a stop to use of the Hall because of the hygiene aspects, given their residents.
I want to get back into my 1-day and 3-day classes as well as the monthly sessions, but only when the virus allows! For the moment there will be no monthly Sewing Group sessions until at least September. I will be in touch again in August to keep you all posted. I hope to start running day classes again in 2021, and I will be organising dates later in the Autumn and publicising them, provided that meetings are allowed by next year. The venue will depend on circumstances, so I will be notifying that as and when too.
It is very much ‘watch this space!’, I’m afraid, but that is all we can do right now, except KEEP STITCHING!

Follow-up to the above: Discussions with The Charterhouse have shown they are happy for us to start classes again from July! So the Sewing Groups will be re-starting in August, the gods and COVID-19 willing! Friday Group will restart on August 14th, and the Thursday Group will restart August 27th. Please contact me if you would like more details.

Timing sucked a bit on this! Lockdown set in 2 weeks after publication day, so all the events we had planned for the book launch had to be cancelled. We hope to get back to things at some point, but in the meantime both Jennie and I are doing as much as we can online. The USA edition came out on May 23rd, and we’ve been told it is selling steadily. There have been several good reviews, including one by the Embroiderers Guild South-East-West Region which is available online:
Thank you to Anne and her colleagues for the shout-out!

We also had articles in the May issue of ‘The Stitcher’s Journal’ an excellent quarterly magazine about embroidery edited and published by Caroline Zoob. Jennie wrote about Jane Austen, embroidery, and the book, and I wrote about my work on the Cook Embroideries. You can get more details about The Stitcher’s Journal here:

Jennie has done a couple of talks on Zoom, and we are planning a joint session online for the Jane Austen Festival. This should have taken place in Bath in September, but the live event has been postponed until next year. Instead they are planning an online event, and I will circulate details as soon as I have them. If anything else develops I’ll let everyone know.

I had a birthday recently, and with physical shopping off limits, Chris and I went surfing. We found treasure! In Stratford, Ontario, Canada, believe it or not. It’s amazing how far one can reach online.
In Stratford is a rare books shop, which was advertising a copy of The Lady’s Magazine from 1816 – WITH ALL THE EMBROIDERY PATTERNS! Whhheeeeee!

After a brief email exchange, it was mine, was posted over to the UK and duly arrived – a few days late for the actual day but I was expecting that. It’s a good copy, except that the front and back covers have split off. The rest of the pages are fine, with solid binding, but it does need to be handled carefully in case it splits. And the patterns are lovely! Once life is back to something resembling normal I will take it to be repaired, but I have managed to photograph the patterns.

Here are a couple of them, and my little brain is already churning…. The central motif in the first one would make a lovely needlecase. And those borders……

Lady’s Magazine, January 1816
Lady’s Magazine, August 1816

One aspect of lockdown has been time to think and plan, and to get jobs done. One major job I have been working towards, but rather dreading as well, has been re-vamping my website, which was horribly outdated. I know very little about designing and running a website, which was part of the problem with the old one, which my brother had set up for me several years ago. Trouble was, I didn’t know how to do much with it.

So in the end I decided to ditch the old one and start again, using WordPress. I’m still no expert, but WordPress is easy to use, and in fact it has all gone pretty smoothly, and much more easily than I expected. So my new site is up and more or less running! There is still work to be done: it needs a calendar, and I’d like to sell books and kits, so I need a shop, but there is a site online which is gradually accumulating posts, widgets and such.
Do have a look:

If you have any suggestions or comments, there is even a Contact Me form! I’m gradually adding things to it, with assistance from the Gurus (aka niece Gemma and her hubby David), so it will continue to develop over time. Gemma tells me a website is never finished anyway. I would be grateful for feedback!

I am also hoping to add a sign-up system on the website for Newsletters like this one. I have sent you this because I have your email but if you would prefer not to receive newsletters, please let me know and I’ll remove your name from my list.

© Alison Larkin, June 2020. Images in this newsletter are only to be used elsewhere with my written permission.

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