A Right Royal Stitch Up

Yesterday, after weeks of excited anticipation and a super early start, I packed my handbag with embroidery snips, hoop and some knitting for the journey (sadly forgetting the sarnies), and set off for Hampton Court to spend a day at the Royal School of Needlework.  The task was mastering the basics of blackwork, helped by the unflappable Flo Collingwood and her appropriately seasonal Blackwork Rabbit design.

"Hampton Court Palace"

Hampton Court Palace

Despite living within a few hours of London all of my life, I had never visited this important historic site before and was struck by it’s grandiose and deserted calm at 9am on a Saturday morning.  Luckily we were given detailed instructions on how to find our allocated meeting room as the vastness of the grounds and building would have made self navigation a near impossibility.  Apart from a lone security guard at the entrance gate it felt like I was the only person there so asking for directions would not have been an option.

"Hampton Court Palace leaf decorated gateway"

Hampton Court Palace, just a side gate, nothing special!

Our workshops for the day were within the palace itself and walking through the building it struck me just how cold inside life would have been for Henry VIII and his wives and staff living in such a dark, stone lined building.  Luckily our workshop was modern, light and airy, perfect for a day of stitching.

Time flew by (as it has a habit of doing on such days) and when we finished at just after 4pm I had a nearly finished rabbit and loads of ideas of how I might incorporate this embroidery technique into my artwork.  I love its graphic quality and the way it uses pattern to create form.

"blackwork rabbit design"

Nicky Barfoot’s interpretation of Flo Collingwood’s Blackwork Rabbit Design

So all in all a thoroughly enjoyable day in lovely surroundings and thanks to my friend Liz who fortuitously packed two bread rolls for lunch, and the ice cream vendor in the gardens, I didn’t even go hungry.  With a long bank holiday weekend coming up I can see myself spending a bit of time leafing through my life drawing sketchbooks poised with thimble and stranded cotton in hand, probably humming “Bright Eyes” to myself as I do it.

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