Friday 3 October 2014

Goldwork Training Days

The Guild of St Clare is holding further training in Goldwork, thanks to the expertise of the ladies of Golden Hinde who are travelling from Warrington to continue teaching us.

As we already have some experience in goldwork, we will be introduced to more advanced skills. Beginners are still welcome however!

The course will be spread over two days: 21st February 2015 and 21st March 2015 (please note revised dates), between 10am and 4pm, and will be held at the church hall at St Anthony of Padua, as before. The cost will be £60 per day.

Please email for more information or to book a place.

Thursday 18 September 2014

Guild of St Clare makes lace

We had an enormously successful lace making course at the Fibreworks, Oxford. Our tutor, Liz Baker, isn't only a dedicated and highly skilled lace maker, but also an expert on the history of lace making. Most generously, she is giving her time almost free in order to pass on her skill.

Dorothea adjusts the tension on her work
 Liz's enthusiasm for her art is infectious, and we are all rapidly becoming lace-making addicts. We've certainly begun making a collection of lace-making materials - collecting lace bobbins is a hobby in itself. 

Clare's beautiful purple and gold lace snake

Learning this craft is particularly thrilling because it is so closely connected with the liturgy. Now that our lace snakes are completed, Liz is guiding us through our first independent project, and two of our members are starting work on mantillas. This is something which many people enquiring about the Guild ask us whether we can do. It is such intricate work that I doubt we'll ever go in to industrial production, but anyone who wants to learn to make their own can now do so with us.

The kettle is always on the boil at the Fibreworks...and you can see Dorothea's almost complete snake. 

We were thrilled to discover that there is a vigorous lace making community in Oxford, the Isis Lacemakers. There are at least 50 members of this group, all regular attendees at its twice-monthly meetings. Once a year they have a lace fair, when suppliers and lacemakers from all over the country come together to compete, socialise, buy and sell.

Dorothea's bobbins
We are very fortunate to have their support as we start our voyage on what we all hope will be a lifelong lacemaking journey - like Liz, they are all anxious that their skill should survive and thrive and are willing to expend a lot of their time in helping beginners.

Clare's tension was voted the best of our group: see how evenly spread her threads are
Four of us participated in the original course, booked at the Fibreworks, Oxford. Sadly the shop has now had to close (although the Chipping Norton branch is thriving), and we are continuing our lessons with Liz in our own houses. We have already increased our numbers to six.

Dorothea was the first to finish her snake, and she willingly agreed to complete an unfinished one which had been started by the Fibreworks shop assistant.
I do urge anyone who feels attracted to lace making to take up this hobby, if you can. (If you'd like to do it with us, you would be very welcome! otherwise, we can put you in touch with people local to you who can help.) Of all the many kinds of needlework we have learnt (and by now, we've all had a considerable amount of experience) bobbin lace has the greatest power to engage the heart. It's strangely stirring to learn such an ancient skill - so ancient that no one really knows where it came from, or when. More than that, lace making needs us. Here is Liz Baker on the subject:

It is with a real sense of sadness I attend lace fairs now because so many of the great suppliers are long gone and whilst some excellent new blood has come into the craft if we are honest we are watching this skill slowly die a horrible death in the UK.  When I joined back in 1990, the Lace Guild was the second largest guild in the UK, only just short in numbers to the sugarcraft guild.  Those halcyon days are long gone and whilst there are some fantastic pockets of the art ... many groups are struggling to find enough people to keep themselves viable.  We are not teaching this art at schools - despicable when you think how it helped to fund education in the early lace schools through the girls learning to make lace and read with maths taught to the boys, and here in one of the lace regions of England - Beds / Bucks children are not taught it as a skill.  The average age of lacemakers in the UK is 40+ and if we are honest it's really 50+ and I'm just being generous.

I beg any lacemaker out there who finds an even mildly interested person younger than them to superglue them to a chair and force them to learn the craft so it will live on.

Me, superglued to my chair. Just where I want to be!

Monday 4 August 2014

Two day bobbin lace course

The Guild of St Clare has block booked a lace training course at The Fibreworks, Oxford
 on the 9th and 16th August, 10am to 2pm. Places are limited but we do have two spare at the time of writing! The Fibreworks' expert tutor, Liz Baker, will be introducing us to this intricate art, and we will use perle cottons to make a lace bookmark. The cost is £40 per person for both days. The Fibreworks is located on the Cowley Road, Oxford - details on where to park are here. Please email for more details or to book a place.

Saturday 24 May 2014

Latin Mass Society conference

The Guild of St Clare has a stall at today's conference! The line up of speakers includes Joseph Pearce, and Bishop Schneider.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday 22 May 2014

Another forthcoming event!

I'm delighted to announce that we will be holding another embroidery training day with Jacqui Macdonald, the RSN tutor.

On Saturday, 11th October she will be coming to Oxford to teach us silk shading embroidery. This is widely used in church needlework, and indeed in many other contexts. Please email me at if you would like to know more, or to book a place on the course. The price is £45, and the course runs from 10am till 4pm. Space is limited so please don't delay!

This is an example of silk shading, where long and short stitch is used to create an effect reminiscent of painting

Jacqui came to Oxford in February 2013 and taught the Guild group a variety of techniques including stumpwork and whitework. It was a wonderful day and we all learnt a lot, although we all remember it most as the day Pope Benedict's resignation was announced which saddened us a great deal.

Saturday 1 March 2014

Children's Guild meetings resume

The Guild of St Clare's junior branch in Oxford has resumed its meetings, now under the hospitable roof of the Oxford Homeschooling Group which takes place once a month at the Oxford Oratory. The children are working on a sampler, in order to learn basic techniques which will enable them to take on more sophisticated projects.

The sewing sampler book which the children will make

Dorothea embroidering the front cover of her sampler

Frances tackling running stitch

Margaret and Hannah with their samplers

Lines of machine sewing and a button with machine-sewn buttonhole on the pages of the sampler: the children will go on to do these when they have mastered the basics of sewing by hand
First page of the sampler: a line of running stitch in progress
Agnes hard at work with me supervising

Thursday 27 February 2014

Project Finishing Day!

Following the success of our training days, we are starting a new kind of meeting which we hope will interest all needleworkers! If you're like us, you have at least 10 (or maybe more like 100) unfinished projects languishing in a cupboard taking up space and giving you pangs of guilt every time you open the door and see them.

Could do with a bit more work.
 Join us on our project finishing day! We will meet at 10am on Saturday, 28th June 2014 at the church hall of St Anthony of Padua, Headington, Oxford OX3 7SS.

There will be people there with a wide range of skills and experience to help and advise you; it will be the ideal opportunity to make progress on your neglected work, whether it's hand embroidery, dressmaking, quilting or something more exotic!

To book, email Lucy Shaw at . Places cost £15 each - all ages are welcome.

Monday 24 February 2014

Goldwork Training Day with Golden Hinde

On 22nd February we had our Goldwork Training Day, led by Sarah Rakestraw and Sue Hinde from Golden Hinde goldwork supplies.

Clare, Lucy, Amanda and Marie tacking their designs on to silk mounted in embroidery frames

Hard at work.

 We all chose a design, originally created by Sarah, and used different techniques to outline and fill in.

This is the design I chose - a simple flower. The design is marked on tracing paper, then tacked on to silk dupion which has been mounted on to an embroidery frame. Then the tracing paper is carefully removed, leaving the tacking stitches behind.

We learnt beginner's goldwork techniques: couching, leather work and beading. However these are staple techniques for goldwork: most of the more advanced techniques simply build on them.

Sue demonstrating couching. The stitches which overlay the gold threads, holding them to the fabric, form a pattern which are part of the design.

By the end of the day I'd made a bit more progress

 If I apply myself, I should manage to complete my design so that it looks like this:

Sarah's flower design
We are planning to hold further goldwork courses later in the year, when we will tackle different techniques. Watch this space!