Nicola Jarvis has been a regular tutor for Lady Anne's Retreats and is well-known in the needlework community for her beautiful designs featuring animals, birds and flora.
Nicola trained at the Royal School of Needlework before spending 10 years working in the British fashion industry as a sample embroiderer for many big high street brands.
With fellow tutors Mandy Ewing and Jenny Adin-Christie she was part of the team members who created the lace for the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress for her wedding to Prince William on 29 April 2011.
Nicola is a world-class designer and embroidery tutor, and we caught up with her ahead of the Lady Anne's Needlework Festival to ask her more about her passion for needlework and inspirations.
1. Why and how did you become a needlework tutor? Did anyone or thing, in particular, inspire you?
In the first year of my embroidery apprenticeship at the RSN in 1992, I was invited by the then principal Elizabeth Elvin to assist her in teaching a Goldwork class. The prospect of this at such an early stage in my training filled me with absolute terror, but once in the classroom, I realised very quickly that I knew far more than I thought and ended up really enjoying the experience. Fast forward thirty years and I still delight in passing on these special skills.
2. What is your main needlework interest?
Contemplating the artistry and design of historic embroidered textiles.
3. Do you have a favourite stitch?
Straight Stitch – it can be used in so many different ways.
4. If you had to choose one needlework possession to save in a fire, what would it be?
The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter – it was given to me by my mum when I was six. Potter’s illustrations of 17th Century gentlemen’s embroidered waistcoats have inspired me ever since.
5. When developing your designs, which activity takes the most time?
Making intricate drawings with coloured pencils.
6. How much time do you spend stitching each day?
I don’t stitch every day as my life is also occupied by drawing, designing, teaching, cooking, gardening and family time, but I do stitch for approx. two days a week, six hours a day.
7. What is the best piece of advice about needlework you have been given and can share with our students?
Embroidery is a beautiful and rhythmic art form and benefits from a clear and peaceful mind/space.
8. What advice would you give to students to get the most out of their workshop experience?
Take your time in working the tasks and try to relax and enjoy the group learning experience.
9. What do you like about tutoring at Phillipa and Laura's retreats?
Phillipa and Laura run events of a very high quality. We stay in lovely hotels and visit wonderful stately homes and fascinating needlework collections. I enjoy working with the many clients who travel from all over the world to participate in these special learning and teaching activities.
I particularly enjoyed my 'Queenie' project - specifically inspired by Beatrix Potter and the Lakes, and designed exclusively for Lady Anne's Needlework's Beatrix Potter Retreat March 2019 which you can read about here.