Therapy Puppets


Just prior to the start of the Pandemic I was due to collect the last of these Puppets, but the meeting was cancelled.

I now have all 21 Puppets we have made and will be sending them off to the Organisation who distribute them to Therapists all over the Country.

These Puppets are used in Therapy with children, giving them “safe distance” as they may be unwilling to speak directly to the Therapist but will tell their problems or worries to a Puppet.

Thank you to the following members who joined me in making these Puppets:

BARBARA BARR – HAZEL PARTRIDGE – ROBINA ORCHARD – JULIE BURCHETT AND “One Other” who did not give me her name but left her Puppet on the workshop table.

To find out more take a look at the website:


Report and photo thanks to Vernice C

Therapy puppets

Sue Hobson – What is a Quilt?

What is a Quilt?

Sue Hobson introduced her talk, What is a Quilt? by explaining that she came from a family of sewers but had followed a career in science.  She explained that pre Covid she had been a judge for quilts in the US and UK. 

SH Sue Hobson

 Sue went on to explain the different types of quilts, how they are constructed and their history.  I did not realise they were worn as protection under armour and the oldest dated back to 1718 in the UK.  The oldest quilts in the US dated back to 1740s and it was the  Welsh and North Counties settlers who brought their skills from the UK and there is a very strong link that the Amish learnt/copied from them. Whilst in Europe the Amish did not use quilts, they only used quilts once they had moved to the USA.

Sue handed round a cotton flour bag from the 1930s which had been produced to encourage ladies to buy the flour for cooking and then cut up the bag to make a quilt with the colours and designs changing regularly.

Sue then went on to show us a wonderful selection of quilts from the American Museum near Bath, the Festival of Quilts at the NEC, Birmingham and the Quilt Festival at Houston, Texas.

The final images were of the 2021 Best of Show at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC and the Best of Show at the Quilt Festival which will take place in Houston in late October 2021.

Louise Nichols – Lino Printing on Fabric

Louise Nichols was our tutor on Tuesday and she showed us how to cut lino and print our design on fabric.  It was the first time we had got together for a workshop for nearly 18 months and fortunately the weather was kind to us so we could have the back and front doors open and sit outside at lunchtime although we wore masks when walking around the hal

Louise introduced the day by explaining the various steps she planned, talked about inspiration and the options open to us.  In her work Louise mixes lino printing with applique and stitch and suggested we might like to do the same which is why the images of members’ work do not show a completed project as we didn’t have time to add any stitch.

After we had chosen our design, done a sketch, drawn it onto tracing paper and then transferred it onto the lino Louise talked about the various tools and inks.  The hall was incredibly quiet as everyone beavered away to create their block.

The fun part came after lunch when Louise showed us how to prepare the inks and add them to the roller before printing them onto fabric.

What a great day and to think we took away a selection of prints together with the block so we can use it again in the future.

Thank you Louise – I learnt a lot!

This is a link to Louise’s website:

Report and photos by Ros

M A Katritzky – The Needlework Collaboration of Mary Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick

We welcomed M A Katritzky, Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences at The Open University, as the first speaker for our new group., Textiles & Stitch Around Marlborough.

Dr M A Katritzky set the scene by introducing us to these two talented ladies, their difficult relationship, how they had learnt their skills and how they had established a collection of 16C embroideries and textiles which are now over 600 years old.

Today these embroideries and textiles can be seen at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal Collection at Holyrood House in Edinburgh.

Dr M A Katrizky talked in detail about the five 12ft high hangings depicting Virtuous women to be found at Hardwick Hall. 

Virtuous women, 5 large-scale appliqué hangings:
              Penelope between Patience and Perseverance
              Zenobia between Magnanimity and Prudence,
              Artemisia between Constancy and Piety
              *Cleopatra between Fortitude and Justice (*LOST)
              Lucretia between Generosity and Chastity

Details and image of Lucretia hanging can be seen on the National Trust website:

Conservation of Lucretia and Penelope hangings from the National Trust Textile Conservation Studio in Norfolk

These hangings were patchworked from old velvet and silk ecclesiastical and court vestments and it is known that Bess always had at least one embroiderer on her payroll. There were also a large number of non-religious embroideries.

At Oxburgh Hall three composite hangings can be found, the Marian, the Cavendish and the Shrewsbury. There is a wide selection of animals, birds, insects and an ape placed on a bench holding a mirror.

Victoria & Albert Museum’s images of the Oxburgh Hall collection

During her talk Dr M A Katritzky asked us to consider if thoughts had been expressed through textiles, why the specific women had been chosen for the Virtuous women hangings and if Mary and Bess’ relationships had had any influence on their work.

We are very grateful to Dr M A Katritzky for sharing her in depth knowledge of Elizabethan embroideries and hangings with us and for helping to get our new group off to an exciting start.


M A Katritzky’s recommended further reading:

Michael Bath, Emblems for a Queen, the Needlework of Mary Queen of Scots. London 2008.

Susan Frye, Pens and Needles: Women’s textualities in early Modern England, Philadelphia 2010.

M A Katritzky, “Virtuous needleworkers, vicious apes: the embroideries of Mary Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick”. In: Birgit Münch et al, eds. Künstlerinnen: neue Perspektiven auf ein Forschungsfeld der Vormoderne. Petersberg 2017, pp. 48–61.

Santina Levy, The Embroideries of Hardwick Hall, a catalogue. London 2007.

Santina Levy, An Elizabethan inheritance: the Hardwick Hall textiles. London 1998.

Margaret Swain, The needlework of Mary Queen of Scots, Marlborough 2013 (1st edition: 1973).


Due to copyright I have not been able to show any of the images M A Katritzky shared with us in her talk but hopefully you will use the links provided.





The images above are from Wikipedia



Everyone was very excited to meet up for the first time in 18 months   What wonderful weather so we were able to have all the doors open and enjoy each other’s company.  After the speaker I took a few photos which have now been circulated in a Press Release to announce the new group.

IMG 2263

Members were asked to bring along a piece of work which they had done during lockdown and these photos were all included in the Press Release.

Diane Ann
Diane & Ann

Clare has decided to stand down from the Committee and her position of joint Chair with Ann.  We are all extremely grateful for everything you have done for the group especially in this last year when you have been deeply involved with the setting up of the new group.  What would we have done without you when it came to researching GPDR and all those other challenging topics?  We will miss you but will look forward to seeing you at meetings and seeing all the wonderful projects you are planning.  I understand that you are now going to be in charge of the tea rota so watch out everyone , you have been warned!

Clare Ann 1 1
Ann Clare 1
I had to include this photo of Ann & Clare !

Report and photos by Ros and Lindsay

Angie Hughes – Inspiring and unforgettable “Waterworld” workshop

It is not very often that you spend a Monday morning listening to a truly inspirational and talented textile artist.  Our June workshop unfortunately had to be taught over Zoom but Angie Hughes was extremely well organised and she shared a wonderful variety of techniques with the theme of “Waterworld” with emphasis on using soluble materials.

Angie sea weeds inspiration 2
Sea weeds for inspiration

Angie started by showing us an image that she was using as inspiration for the workshop and talked about various textile artists she admired and who used soluble materials in their work.  She then went on to show us various videos which showed the use of soluble material and film.  The first was of a grid of nine different squares to practice the different options for creating using soluble fabric and emphasised the importance of ensuring that everything connects otherwise when soaked in water you will be left with a pile of thread rather than a structured design.

Angie Grid 2
Grid for water soluble practise

We were shown how to make various sea related components which we could then bring together on a background.  The first was a fishing net, then various types of seaweed and finally shaped barnacles.  Angie then talked about making covered cord and adapting them to make them more like knobbly seaweed.

During our tea break Angie introduced us to various books which showed the use of soluble fabrics including those written by Jan Beany, Carol Shinn and Meredith Woolnough.

Finally everything had to be brought together on a background which was covered with free machine zigzag stitching and Angie talked about the possibilities of attaching the various seaweeds and barnacles.

Water finsihed
Bringing all the elements together on a background

This was such an enjoyable and informative morning and I know everyone took away with them so many ideas and techniques to add to their work.

Thank you Angie

Write up and photos Ros

Apologies for the quality of some of the photos, they were taken off my laptop!  Hopefully better things to come in the next few months.

Angie’s website:

Angie’s Facebook page:

Angie’s Instagram:

Suzy Wright – Exciting Textile Artist using colour, colour and more colour!

On Thursday 10th June we had a fabulous talk by Suzy Wright, an inspiring and colourful textile artist.

She described growing up in Dorset and her early years at school where, diagnosed as dyslexic, she received very negative feedback from her teachers. The one exception was her art teacher  who praised her work and encouraged her. She went on to do art and textiles at GSCE and, in order to produce the volume of work required, began using a sewing machine to ‘draw’. This was the beginning of a lifelong passion to paint and sew.

Her heart and soul went into her sketchbooks and her project pieces which included a cream calico coat and a peacock coloured fishtail skirt. She went on to Bournemouth College leaving her school work behind for assessment. A fire in the art block of her old school destroyed every piece of work that she had done bar one! This now stays with her wherever she goes.

Suzy Wright Parrot

Like a phoenix, unable to be thwarted by this, she continued her courses, ending up at Westminster University studying fashion design. She quickly realised this was not for her as it was too neat and precise and she felt she had lost her artistic flair. For her internship she worked for Zandra Rhodes and loved it but was still not able to relax into her work enough.

After leaving university early she started working with Kaffe Fasset where she began to catalogue their archive of work. Two years later, having done no sewing of her own, she went home, took over the kitchen, and began to draw and sew. Part time work in a local farm shop gave her some income, something she has continued to do. She was inspired by the fruit and veg that was for sale and was able to hang some of her pieces on the walls of the shop. Here she made her first sale!

Needing her own studio she moved to Glastonbury and then on to a communal workshop in Oxford but, deciding she preferred to be in her own space surrounded by the chaos of her hundreds of reels of threads and pieces of work that she had done, she returned to Dorset.

Suzy Wright close up

Her work is full of colour with solid stitching for which she uses jeans needles as they are stronger. She works on a medium weight calico which she does not put in a hoop as she likes the distortion of the fabrics. She leaves the thread ends on the surface of her pieces, partly because the university of Westminster didn’t like it!!

She loves colour and portraying people, her pieces include Zandra Rhodes, Grayson Perry, Janet Street Porter and a self portrait with her own 3 tropical birds on her head and shoulders. Honesty, she says, is key!

In the future she will be exhibiting at the Knitting and Stitch Show this year and, whilst always working on her own projects, will have some small workshops to share her knowledge and passion.

Suzy Wright Parrot 2

Report by Lindsay – thank you Lindsay!

Photos by kind permission of Suzy Wright

Suzy’s website:

Suzy’s Instagram: Instagram@orangethrea dsuzy

Congratulations to Judy, Deena and Linda

On behalf of the group, I want to congratulate Judy, Deena and Linda who recently entered the 2021 Embroiderers’ Guild Challenges.

Judy entered the Beryl Dean Award for hand stitching and her beautiful box was Commended.  Your beadwork is amazing Judy and we look forward to seeing it in the future

Judy Joiner EG challenge

‘Kiss, Clasp, Crown’ by Deena has been Highly Commended for the Artistic Director’s Award for Innovation.  The figure Deena drew onto this piece is based on a reliquary in the British Museum.  Drawn on an old calico shopping bag then embroidered and quilted into and combined with Victorian mourning clothes too shattered to repair hand painted, beaded and mounted onto an antique purse frame.

Deena purse

Linda entered the Exquisite Containers category.  Although she did not receive an award I am sure you will agree with me that this is a “exquisite container”.  I love the 3D butterfly, dragonfly and flowers.  It must have taken you hours to do and I look forward to seeing it soon.

Linda Wells EG challenge

Post by Ros

Photographs thanks to Judy, Deena & Linda

Polly Woolstone – Fascinating Textile Artist, Cyclist and Traveller

Polly 1

For our May Zoom meeting 34 members of the Textile and Stitch Around Marlborough enjoyed a talk entitled “My journey with a sketchbook, camera & needle” by Polly Woolstone.  Polly started by giving us a brief resume of her work as an art teacher at a performing arts and dance boarding school. 

In 2004 Polly went on a 1500 mile sponsored bike ride around Ireland and in 2007 she took a sabbatical from teaching and went to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam finishing with two weeks in India.

On her return she realised that she had spent years helping children to create but now was time for her, so she handed in her notice and prepared for retirement.  Polly then enjoyed numerous courses as a learner rather than a tutor after her move to Oxford.

She continued her travels taking photos and using them as inspiration for her work.  A bike ride around Myanmar (Burma) gave her an opportunity to take more photos and after a cycling trip around south India Polly set up annual tours to visit textile related areas of the country.  Before embarking on a trip Polly pre-prepares concertina sketch books so they are ready to record all inspiration she comes across.

A project entitled “Whispers in the Wind” ten years after her mother’s death included a poem “Walking with Grief”, a Celtic song “May the road rise up and meet you” and a Leonard Cohen song “The birds they sing at the break of the day”.

Just before lockdown Polly finished 9 panels about the history of Ireland, its hill forts and the islands off Galway Bay where she experimented with recurring shapes. 

In her new garden studio Polly latest project was inspired by the boats along the Oxford canal and the river Thames and she has gone back to landscapes which have been influenced by staycation trips to Pembrokeshire, North Wales and Exmoor. 

In a question and answer session Polly generously shared details of the papers and materials she uses and the sketchbook and textile artists she admires.

Thank you Polly for a wonderful talk.  Let’s hope one day we can see your sketchbooks for real and that you will visit us for a workshop.

Report by Ros

Photos by kind permission of Polly Woolstone

If you would like to learn more about Polly please visit her Facebook page:

Emily Tull – exciting talk by textile artist extraordinaire

Emily Tull is a textile artist based in Kent. Her talk gave us a wonderful overview of her career, inspiration and process.

Emily is obsessed with faces. Starting with what she states as crude experiments (but were still exquisitely detailed), she initially concentrated on eyes and mouths. A loose weave fabric was the base of the work and muslin is used for the skin as it is a good surface to sketch on, distresses and is stitched on relatively easily. Emily had become frustrated painting, finding she was able to include more detail with stitch.

A series of 8 male portraits followed, all of people she knew. The work was initially monochromatic but moved to more subtle colour as the work progressed, although she owned a very limited thread palette at this point. Hessian was the base with muslin used to accentuate certain sections of the face with simple marks making the image come alive. After completing the first 3 portraits, she liked the effect but wondered if the style would appeal to a wider audience. With this in mind, Emily approached a number of galleries and received positive feedback; in 2008 she received a Highly Commended after entering the RBSA (Royal Birmingham Society of Artists) Portrait Prize and at this point she though “this could work”.

Emily’s portraits were not of the whole head but rather accenting parts, leaving the viewer to complete the picture. She likened the work to putting faces back together, mending people’s souls. She invariably uses people she knows for the inspiration as she adds a little of the person into the portrait.

The size of the work increased, working canvases 2ft x 3ft, but working at this dimension causes physical discomfort to work on. Additional fabrics were introduced such as cotton, silks and linen, with the larger pieces now being used.  Often distressed with sandpaper, the background fabric helps to define the shape of the head, hinting at shapes that aren’t there.

At this point, Emily felt she had gone as far as she could with this style and decided to change to a sketchier design. Taking a 3ft2 old bedsheet with wadding on a wooden stretcher, she used just black, grey and white thread, filling in areas with long stitches. She found this technique to be more expressive and depicted movement well.

IMAGE Lord Melvyn Bragg hand stitched

In 2010, Emily moved on to wildlife portraits, first created a cockerel using velour, netting and some stitching. All of the fabric came from her mum’s scrap bag, collected from years of Irish dancing costume making. Using fabric enabled Emily to cover an area with colour very quickly and she enjoyed the challenge of using only those scraps she had on hand.

The collection of winter themed designs based on garden birds was completed on white fleece. Small stitching was used for the finer details and Emily used this collection as an opportunity to further increase her thread collection, although she does prefer to use what is on hand rather than purchase new. Emily often looks to charity shops to purchase her threads.

As this collection grew, Emily began to add backgrounds to the animal studies, initially abstract but becoming more realistic over time. On the Gannet a layer of organza was used, with the head being directly sketched on to the cotton, cut out and applied to the background. The stitching continued to develop, with the gannet being much more fully stitched than the portraits, blending colours and stitch lengths to provide the detail. Emily said that she learnt what she was doing working on the wildlife images.


With this developed knowledge, Emily returned to portraits, where her stitching became much more dense, includes a broader colour range (the thread collection has now moved on to a crate!) and the work much more detailed. The muslin has become much less important, with sketching done directly on to the background. Prints as well as plain fabrics are included in the portraits, although colours are still subtle rather than bright; these are distressed with sandpaper, a technique Emily really enjoys.

Inspiration for the technique has come from ripped wallpaper, ripped billboards and peeling paint. Using these references, Emily layers the fabrics, away from her earlier technique of outlining with the faces fitting and sinking into the other materials.

Emily is a big fan of sketch books, using them to sketch into, hold reference photographs, doodles, collages and notes and describes them as a conversation with herself. Titles often drive the piece of work and these can come from song lyrics, poetry or she will hear something that makes it into the sketchbook to be a used at a later date. When doing a portrait Emily starts with the eye and moves on to the other parts when happy with this; this is the only part of a set routine she employs. The eyes are the slowest part as these need to be exact; hair is often the quickest as it uses long stitches. Long strands and loops are used for texture, but Emily tries not to stitch too thickly as this is tough on her fingers.

Emily works on a single project at a time, her impatience often drives the project to completion. Depending on the project Emily may stitch on it between 2 and 8 hours a day, depending on her comfort; some projects can result in sever neck pain, particularly if the project is large. She usually stitches with two hands, one under the work and the other above, working stitches individually.

More recently, Emily has been working on wallpaper. This has taught a few lessons; shiny paper needs an angled stitch, light drawing of subject and considering how the paper responds; too many needle holes reduced the integrity of the paper resulting in areas that are cut out. Unsurprisingly, less expensive wallpaper is not so good for stitching. Emily began with stitching wildlife on wallpaper based on Victoriana; the hummingbird was stitched on muted paper to make the colours pop. Because of the dense stitching, the work came close to degrading the paper.

Moving on to other substrates, a fox and seagull have been stitched on to the polystyrene supports for pizzas, a sand martin stitched on to plastic netting and a crab emerging from a plastic bag. As different bases have been used the work became more sculptural and dimensional in its appearance.

Emily was an interesting guest speaker and generous with the information she shared on her techniques. For images of her work and information of her workshops, please visit

Report thanks to Tase W.

Photos thanks to Emily Tull


Jean Freakley – April 2021

Jean Freakley 1
Jean Freakley
Jean was a member of the M&DEG since 2012.
At our meetings she was always ready with a friendly smile and happy to chat about anything and everything.
She loved the natural world, the countryside, wildlife and changing seasons and she would depict these often in her textile and embroidery work.
She was enthusiastic about textiles and embroidery and always keen to learn new skills. She enjoyed attending the workshops and  took part in the Design to Stitch courses and the Creative Textiles courses.
She also participated in the Take-A-Line and Circles exhibitions at UWE with her pieces The House on the Hill (Take a Line) and Maytime (Circles)
Thank you to Lindsay S and Julie B for your write up
Thank you to Lindsay S and Jean’s family for the photos