Today our regular guest blogger Julia Little, tells about the joy of re engaging with a needle and thread….over to you Julia.
As Alber Elbaz said, when he recently stepped down from the creative reins of Lanvin, “Maybe we are no longer the industry of newness, because that was taken by technology, but we’re still an industry of a man and a woman, of a thread and a needle, of fabric and a dream”.
Whether you enjoy doing embroidery or think you are rubbish at it, let me tell you about ‘writing (and drawing) with a needle’. It’s a refreshing way to enjoy the calm of the craft, but in a modern way, without getting all screwed up about whether you are doing the correct stitches or using the right needle. Take a piece cloth, old or new linen or some silk you have had for ages and anchor some words to it in thread. It could be a few thoughts, a name or some poetry, the colour combinations alone are enough to make you rummage through your needlework box or run to the haberdashery shop for inspiration.
West Londoner, Rosalind Wyatt is the queen of writing with a needle. She trained at The Royal College of Art in Textiles and then went on to do a BA in Calligraphy. Her love of stitch and the written word has led her to various commissions and many exhibitions, including our friends at The New Craftsmen and Jude Law’s a fan after she embroidered his 2013 Hamlet performance shirt with words he spoke from the play.
I met Rosalind last week at a weekend course she was teaching at the beautiful country house estate, West Dean College in Sussex. Originally the home of poet and surrealist art collector, Edward James, but now in trust for the purpose of art and craft learning. The house is filled with art and tapestries that take your breath away, and at this time, the gardens were covered in autumn golds and reds. Cosy bedrooms and vast, light art rooms, made for a relaxing and creative stay.
Rosalind’s class was instantly fun as she told us to “park judgement and love every stitch”. She taught us the basics of handwriting with a needle and thread, and not to be hard on ourselves about getting it perfect. From there on, each of us happily flowed with our own personal projects and scripts, with Rosalind helping and encouraging all the way. Projects ranged from an old family poem, written decades ago, to a tribute piece to Frida Kahlo’s work.
There was a beautiful Christian Dior silk scarf being personalised with the finest words on the edging. My friend produced a fabulous piece of red stitched handwriting on the sleeve her pinstriped navy jacket, so cool. I usually have little patience, but I had no sense of time as I happily worked on a piece of grey linen, using line drawings of shops and writing addresses underneath (sounds a bit weird, but it made perfect sense to me!). By the way, did you know, if you ever want to convert a photo into a line drawing, there are several amazing Apps that do just that – perfect for copying in pencil or stitch.
Rosalind’s work is exquisite and has taken years to perfect. In the short time that we had on our course, her calm encouragement and positive, creative influence taught us more than just the method of her work.
And beyond the actual stitching, we were totally enthused at the prospect of other ideas – on scarves, linen dresses, inside coats, framed pieces, and also by trips to vintage fairs and haberdashers’ shops, on the lookout for coloured threads and vintage fabric. The projects are endless. Have a go, it doesn’t have to be perfect, just ‘park your judgement and love every stitch’.See Rosalind’s amazing work, or to discuss a personal commission, or to put your name down for one of her courses, do contact her at Rosalind’s website here