Nicola Jarvis is widely known in the global stitching community for her beautiful embroidery kits featuring ornate birds, animals and flowers. You might know her best however for her iconic bird designs, which she decorates in an incredible variety of techniques and colours.
Celebrating 26 years of teaching hand embroidery, Nicola trained at the Royal School of Needlework and spent 10 years working in the British fashion industry as a sample embroiderer for numerous high street brands.
Along with her fellow tutor Jenny Adin-Christie, Jenny is proud to have been a member of the team that created the lace for the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress.
Nicola has been a mainstay of our Spring Residential Retreat since it's launch in 2016, a decision that has been very easy for Phillipa and Laura due to the talent and expertise that Nicola brings to her classes and projects. As Phillipa explains, "We don't settle for anything less than gold standard for our Tours and Retreats. Not only must the tutors be at the top of their game as professional hand embroiderers but they must also be talented, intuitive and charismatic teachers. Both Jenny Adin-Christie and Nicola Jarvis deliver this year after year.
"The Spring Residential is unique in our schedule because it is the only Retreat where students are taught hand embroidery intensively for an entire week. There is one rest day in the middle but otherwise we settle into our cosy hotel and focus on the projects. This is why we can't take any risks with our choice of tutors. Our students expect a certain level and Jenny and Nikki surpass it. This is why we have a 90% return rate each year. We refuse to make the Retreat any larger because the experience is perfect as it is. Exclusive, cosy and calm."
As Nikki was taking a rest from her classes this week we asked her about her 2018 design, the "Dove Cottage Sampler", the inspiration for it and how she went about developing it as a project for this Retreat.
1. What was your inspiration for this design?
My inspiration was the Wordsworth family group, held together by the womenfolk, notably William Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy, his daughter Dora and their Dove Cottage home.
2. What materials and stitches did you use for the design and why?
It is a piece that reaches back to the family life of the Wordsworths in the Lakes and extends through to us two hundred years later. The simple stitch patterns made in cotton threads on cotton textiles reference the thrifty making and mending that Dorothy was constantly doing to create a comfortable home for her brother, their family and friends. Plain stitch techniques including darning patterns, running stitch and back stitch all refer to Dorothy patching, recycling, darning garments and furnishings, and even making her own shoes!
3. What level of stitcher is this design suitable for?
This sampler is aimed at the modern day woman (or man!), with a working knowledge of surface stitching.
4. How long did it take to complete the finished piece and did you encounter any difficulties along the way?
It took the last year (from our visit to Dove Cottage during the Spring Residential Retreat in March 2017) to develop, from the initial idea through R&D to completion.
The development of the sampler didn’t really involve too many difficulties, just minor technicalities to solve, like accurate measuring for the piece to sit in its writing desk lid. The English Elm wooden desk was made by local Lakeland craftsman Paul Martyn in Low Wray, Windermere. There was a nerve-wracking morning in bringing the two objects together, but they fitted very happily in the end.
The Dove Cottage Sampler symbolises family and memory, where we go to or return for comfort and inspiration.
Nicola will be teaching again for Lady Anne's Needlework Retreats next March at the Spring Residential 2019, the 4 Nations Tour in 2020 and Lady Anne's Needlework Festival in 2021 during which top international tutors will be invited to teach past Lady Anne's Needlework Retreat designs during a 2 week embroidery festival in Appleby-in-Westmorland, England. More details about the festival will be released soon.
The Dove Cottage Sampler was created exclusively for Lady Anne's Retreats and can be ordered here until April 30.