Earlier this month I had a wonderful weekend at Bishop Burton College where the Yorkshire region of what used to be the Embroiderers Guild hold their summer school. It’s an annual event but it was the first time I’d attended. It was wonderful!
Bishop Burton is an agricultural college over near Beverley. During the holidays when the students have gone home other groups can hire out their facilities. There was a choice of four tutors, all with very different styles, I decided to learn silk shading.
Our tutor was Sara Dennis, she’s a tutor from the Royal School of Needlework and is also the textile expert on the BBC’s Repair Show. She is lovely, very patient, very good at explaining the technique and helping us where necessary. We had just the right amount of banter in our class.
We were starting an embroidery of a poppy. Our first lesson was how to put the fabric in the hoop, I was amazed how tight it went, she came round with a screwdriver to make sure the fabric wouldn’t shift. It was as tight as a drum!
We had a choice of fabric to work on, silk or cotton. The design was pre-printed onto the fabric which I think made life much easier. I chose to do my embroidery on cotton as it’s a bit more forgiving than silk.
Over the course of the weekend we learnt the basic stitch, how to blend colours, how to work out what order to embroider different areas in, how to work out the stitch direction and lots of tips as we went along.
They work you hard at summer school, we had to register by 3pm on Friday, we had an hour meeting our tutor and prepping work before tea and more teaching time after tea. We were in class all day Saturday, back in the evening and more on the Sunday!
They feed you very well too at the college, I think they’re used to feeding big strapping lads, we had a big breakfast, two course lunch and three course evening meal! I put on several pounds in a weekend…which of course doesn’t disappear as quick!
It was a baking hot weekend weatherwise, so on Saturday afternoon after an intense stitching time Sara suggested we had a short walk round the walled garden. It’s a beautiful and interesting garden, for example there was one corner with rows of different types of hedging, another area had plants with the RHS Award of Garden Merit. There were some interesting sculptures around too, I loved the quirky snail!
It was lovely meeting people from other guilds too, just to be amongst people who enthuse about threads and fabric. Anne Brooke was there as a student, she was the designer of Harold the Hare and also the Stitching 4 the soul books which kept so many of us going during the summer of 2020. She’s now doing the 52 tags project, a few had brought their tags along and I’d popped my Stitching for the Soul book in my suitcase too, she was delighted to see them all…as we sat outside on the warm evenings drinking wine and gin!
At workshops there’s always the issue of people working at very different speeds, I’m a quick worker and there’s always the conundrum of whether you have people like me sitting around waiting for others to catch up, or people get left behind, or the tutor ends up teaching the same thing several times. Sara had a good way of keeping us all together but ensuring everyone was busy. Those of us who finished a section earlier could start the stem and then the leaf, going back to the petals as everyone caught up.
So, this is my poppy, not finished but I’m well chuffed with it. Apologies for the slightly out of focus photo, I took about ten photos and this was the best!!
I just need to buy a six inch hoop to go in my lap hoop stand and I can get it finished. I was delighted to hear the Summer School is already booked for about the next three years, so it’s not disappearing with the demise of the Embroiderers Guild. I hope this will be an annual event for me.