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Stratford Residential Retreat - Design Update

Stratford Residential Retreat - Design Update

We are pleased to show you the latest images of the embroideries that our six tutors will be teaching during the Stratford-Upon-Avon Residential Retreat in March 2020. 


Kate Barlow - Blackwork

With special permission from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Kate will replicate a section from a 17th century coif held within the Trust's historic needlework collection.

Kate Barlow Blackwork Coif for The Stratford Upon Avon Residential Retreat

The original 17th Century needlework shown here will be studied during the retreat and present in the room throughout Kate's class, which will take place in the Shakespeare Trust Museum itself. Image use by permission of the Shakespeare Trust Collection.

Kate explains: "The original coif was obviously worked by an embroiderer of great skill, and must have been worn by someone of fairly high standing judging by the complexity of the embroidery and the amount of gilt thread used in the piece.

Worked in black silk and gilt metal passing thread on a linen ground, it is decorated lavishly with botanical motifs which include rose hips, roses, pea pods, foxgloves, hazelnuts and wild strawberries. The motifs are filled with delicate counted patterns using fine silk thread and each motif is then outlined in stem stitch using a slightly thicker thread. Further embellishment is added with Ceylon stitch needlelace and spiders web stitches using the gilt passing thread as in the pea pods. The wild strawberries are worked in a corded Brussels needlelace again using the gilt passing thread. The design is brought together by beautiful curling lines of plaited braid stitch worked in more gilt passing thread.

Kate Barlow's Stratford Design

When new, the coif must have made quite an impact as the gilt threads would have sparkled, although considering it’s age the piece is in very good condition."

Kate Barlow's Stratford Design

Using silver gilt metal thread for the Elizabethan Braid Stitch and black silk for the Blackwork, this partly counted thread design will be suitable for finishing into a decoration or brooch. The sampler below shows the blackwork techniques that will be taught during Kate's class.

Kate Barlow's blackwork sampler for the Stratford Retreat

Sampler of blackwork techniques that will be taught during Kate's class. Kate's design will be a small section of the cap as shown below


Phillipa Turnbull - Crewel Work, The Glamis Pillowe

Phillipa will teach during the second half of the retreat only. Her design will be a recreation of a 17th century pillowe in the crypt at Glamis Castle, who have given special permission to recreate the design.

Glamis Pillowe by Phillipa Turnbull

This bold, Jacobean design is lightly worked using a wide variety of stitches in soft faded shades of blues, sea greens, with touches of gentle pinks and yellows. 

Glamis Pillowe by Phillipa Turnbull

The spacious motifs are on a larger scale than other design featured on this retreat and therefore less challenging and good for poor eyesight.

Glamis Pillowe by Phillipa Turnbull


Jessica Grimm - Or Nue, Medieval Orphrey

If you choose to join Jessica's class, you "will create a Late Medieval goldwork and silk embroidered orphrey (approx. 20 x 10 cm). The design is made up of an architectural background recreated from an original Dutch orphrey combined with a flower illustration found in the Huth book of hours. This flower element is optional and Jessica has designed her class such that you may include it or not.

"During this class you will learn basic goldwork couching techniques (some counted), how to work with string padding, create or nué, make and applique slips and how to layer goldwork. We will use a wide variety of silks and goldwork threads on 40ct natural linen. And best of all: no plunging of goldwork threads. Guaranteed!"

Jessica Grim's Dutch Orphrey

"The stitches and techniques used in this class are not difficult. But some probably differ a bit from ‘how you were taught’. Others are uncommon or unknown in most modern goldwork embroidery. Some, like the or nué, require you to be a bit artistic. As the counted couching technique requires you to comfortably see the threads of 40ct linen, your (enhanced) eyesight must be up to this."

Jessica Grimm's Dutch Orphrey for Stratford Retreat

"Furthermore, the sumptuousness of the project prevents it from being finished in class. With this knowledge upfront, you can relax and enjoy the stitching with luxurious materials. I am confident that I can transfer enough of my skills during class so that you can happily finish your orphrey at home."


Mandy Ewing - Elizabethan Embroidery

During this retreat, Mandy will be recreating two sections of a rare unfinished Elizabethan Headcloth held in within the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Collection Collection. Mandy's class will take place in the Shakespeare Trust building where the collection in housed and the original headcloth will be displayed in the room with the students while they stitch for continual reference.

Elizabethan Headcloth from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Museum

The original 17th Century headcloth. Image use by permission of the Shakespeare Trust Collection.

Mandy will teach a masterclass on Elizabethan Stitches on designs featured in this unfinished headcloth. She has selected two designs to focus on during her class, a detail of a bird and a detail of a branch with acorns, shown below. Materials will be silks on linen, with some metal thread details.

Bird for Stratford Retreat 



















   Acorns for Stratford Retreat


Mandy's bird for the Stratford Residential Retreat


Nicola Jarvis - Various techniques including Elizabethan Stitches, The Midsummer Pillowe

For this retreat, Nicola has developed an exquisite, delicate and unique design, as she explains:

"Midsummer Pillowe will involve students exploring a collection of enchanting Tudor-style butterflies and moths fluttering across a surface inscribed with script reminiscent of the late sixteenth century."

Nicola Jarvis' Midsummer PIilowe Full Design

Nicola will demonstrate a range of stitch techniques popular with Elizabethan and Stuart embroiderers, including Long and Short Shading, Satin Stitch and variations, Couching, Cut Work and Beading. This rich variety of stitches will be worked on a cotton warp satin ground and will create an enticing textural mix of C21st Yarns over-dyed stranded cotton threads, Au Ver a Soie silk threads and metal threads, Miyuki seed beads and couture sequins.

Detail from Nicola Jarvis' Midsummer Pillowe

Stitched detail from Midsummer Pillowe


Jenny Adin Christie

Jenny will be present for the first half of the retreat only and will offer the following two designs in the same class (students may choose one or the other).

The Wordsworth Harp

We are very excited to be offering this unique design again, which was originally developed for the Spring Residential 2018.

The Wordsworth Harp

This harp-shaped objet d'art is a celebration of our most treasured and essential tool, the needle. You can read the full article about how the Wordsworth Harp was developed.

The Blue Bird Etui

Jenny's alternative choice is the Blue Bird Etui.

"[The wren's] iconic head plumage is worked on a base of deep blue Yorkshire tweed, using pleated Italian rayon tapes and the softest Japanese silk chenille. His back is embellished with fishbone stitch feathers using iridescent blue metalling passing threads. The chest feathers are worked on a base of English wool baize, using layers of tiny blue sequins and interlocking pieces of blue metallic purl. The wings are worked using padded satin stitch and whipped fly stitch in specially-made silk gimp, on a tweed ground. The underwings form the needlecase in buttonhole-edged wool flannel. The tail uses silk shading in pure silk with metallic couching and stretched pearl purl.

Jenny Adin-Christie Blue Bird Etui for the Stratford Residential Retreat

The Blue Wren is made on a pre-made body form with solid bronze legs and beak, which contains a tiny cutting blade. He also carries a specially-made sterling silver thread waxer."


Phillipa Turnbull - The Muncaster Oranges

Phillipa will also offer a one-day master class at the end of the retreat in Long & Short soft shading featuring the Muncaster Oranges design (featured below, far right). 

Phillipa Turnbull - Muncaster Oranges for the Stratford Residential Retreat

Final Free Choice Day

At the end of the retreat, Nicola, MandyKate and Jessica will offer half-day revision classes which you may choose from. On that day Phillipa will offer a one-day class as described above.


Cheryl S Weiss

My bags are packed, my travel plans are booked, Shakespeare plays in my car and my needles are sharpened. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones in Stratford Upon Avon.
Hugs will abound in 2 weeks!!!
Yay! Yay! Yay!


I am so envious. All the designs look fabulous.

Vivien Wells

The beautiful blue bird etui would it be available as a kit ? I cannot attend one of these wonderful retreats as I don’t get around very well but can still sew


wow what a wonderful time everyone will enjoy
you have floods we were evacuated because of fires today we have see mist and high humidity further up the coast Peat is burning and causing toxic smoke hopefully ther ewill be more heavy rain to saturate the peat enjoy your week

Carol Grossman

gorgeous patterns! Especially the Glamis pillowe. Do you ever make these designs available as kits or patterns?

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