1975 – Stitches in Time and how life got in the way of art.

 

It was all Sandra’s neighbour’s  fault really. She lent Sandra a magazine and Sandra read it. (Often a mistake where magazines are concerned, I’ve found.)  In it, there was an article about a lady called Lavinia Earl, who had decided – and one can’t help wondering why – to commemorate the 20th century in stitches. (http://www.laviniaearl.co.uk/panels.htm )She had put out an appeal via this magazine, for stitchers across the UK, in fact, across the world, to join her in this epic project.

She had found sponsorship in the form of a company who had agreed to provide backing fabric, with a view to creating an embroidered panel two and a half meters by one and a half for each year of the twentieth century.

Now, we are a group of ex-colleagues, and good friends, who meet up once a month or so, on the pretext of sharing our love of crafts, stitching in particular. It started with a group of women who had all been lecturers at Dearne Valley College in South Yorkshire. When different individuals left the College, we tried to keep in touch, which isn’t easy, and, since we all had an interest in stitching, whether it be knitting, crochet, dressmaking or embroidery, that became the focus for our regular, or fairly regular, meetings.  We called them Stitch and Bitch because that’s what we do. Sometimes more stitching, sometime less but it worked and when life got tough for one of us, the rest of us were there to lend a helping hand or, at the very least, a sympathetic ear.

It was Sandra and I who started it after she was made redundant from her role at the College and we were determined not to let our friendship fade away. Pat and Jan joined us pretty quickly and Shirley was not far behind. Lorna was, and still is, a neighbour of Sandra’s and a keen crafter, so she soon became one of the gang and Janet joined us part way through the project, when she too became redundant from work. Alison was our boss (Janet’s and mine)  and still works at the College and Heather is a friend of Jan’s, who works full time elsewhere, joining us for this project and producing a superb stitch picture of the Wombles, the most popular soft toy of 1975.

The Culprit –

Woman’s Weekly,

I blame Woman's Weekly
I blame Woman’s Weekly

22nd February 2011

Sandra brought the magazine and the idea to one of our meetings and we had a look at the website. There were still quite a few years unclaimed and, as women born between 1947 and 1957, the 1970’s were our  hey days.  Smack in the middle, 1975 was still available and we plumped for that. With not a little trepidation, we decided to go ahead and Sandra got in touch again, volunteering us as a group – to be known as, rather modestly, I thought,  SYSters. (South Yorkshire Stitchers) We don’t claim to be the only stitchers in South Yorkshire, nor even the best, but we got to the name first and there it is.

We waited expectantly, breath not quite bated, to see what would happen next. What happened next was a parcel. A huge parcel, containing pre- cut and finished backing fabric for the project, stencils for various bits and pieces and a suggested colour schemes to fit in with the overall plan. It was enormous and we began to realise, if only vaguely at this point, what we had taken on. There were four pieces – a top panel, a bottom panel, a side panel for the date in huge figures and a central panel on which to stitch or attach pictures of events from our year of choice. There was then an envelope full of instructions on how to put it together when complete.

You know the old joke about “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?” Well we had our version. It was called “How many lecturers does it take to fathom these instructions?” Having each of us read them and been defeated, we shelved them for later and hoped all would become clear over time. As you can see, as well as rugged individualists, we’re a bunch of optimists too.   In the meantime, we had a look at the rest of the paperwork.

There were two tracings of figures, one male, one female, each in typical 1970’s dress. These were to be used in a central motif at the top of the main panel. Before anyone else could say a word, I volunteered for these. However, not wishing to make life too easy, I decided I didn’t think the female figure looked sufficiently representative of 1975, so I contacted Lavinia and got permission to design my own.  Permission granted, I changed the A line skirt and T shirt to a halter neck catsuit worn by a Farrah Fawcett Major look alike. (The male figure ended up looking like the lead singer from the Rubettes, which I like to pretend was my intention all along.)

There was also a list of events from that year and we went through them to see what we could commemorate. Here we reached something of an impasse. The list consisted primarily of deaths: political leaders’ deaths; dreadful kidnapping and death; pop stars’ deaths. All sorts of deaths but deaths nevertheless.  At this point we felt afraid that we would be producing a series of obituaries, rather than a record of the times. However, we decided the list was a guideline, more of a suggestion really, and, since that gave us the leeway to go our own way, it was with a small buzz of excitement that Sandra and I (I’m Margaret, by the way) set off on more research for happier  topics.

The possibilities we eventually came up with included:

  • Top Twenty singles records. (This was a real mixed bag; excellent stuff like Jive Talkin’; Love Hurts; Send in the Clowns; Israelites; Never can say Goodbye; Swing Your Daddy; Make Me Smile; Philadelphia Freedom; The Way We Were; Imagine; Mandy; Bohemian Rhapsody; Angie Baby; Loving You; Miss Grace; My Eyes Adored You:- but then again, there was also Funky Moped; Whispering Grass; D.I.V.O.R.C.E.; Honey; Funky Gibbon; The Trail of the Lonesome Pine and, absolute classic, Hey Fattie Bum Bum.)
  • UK government abandons Channel Tunnel plans.
  • Five IRA bombs go off in London
  • Kidnapped heiress Lesley Whittle found dead
  • Charlie Chaplin knighted
  • There were some good films that year too: Jaws, The Rocky Horror Picture Show,  One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Shampoo, The Three Days of the Condor, Funny Lady, Tommy, Rollerball, The Man Who Would Be King, French Connection II, to name just some of them.
  • Dame Barbara Hepworth dies
  • Bagpuss was the nation’s favourite children’s t.v. show
  • Suez Canal opens after eight years
  • UK referendum to stay in Europe
  • Angelina Jolie is born
  • The first episode of The Good Life is broadcast
  • UK rate of inflation reaches 25%
  • Margaret Thatcher elected first female leader of Conservative Party
  • The U.S. pulls out of Cambodia
  • Tiger Woods is born
  • First North Sea oil pipeline starts pumping
  • Cod War between Britain and Iceland
  • Baader-Meinhoff take 11 hostages in German Embassy in Stockholm
  • Indira Ghandi found guilty of political corruption
  • U.K. implements Sex discrimination and Equal Pay Act
  • OPEC raises oil prices by 10%
  • Chinese archaeologists discover the terracotta army
  • Kate Winslett is born
  • First broadcast of Fawlty Towers
  • First woman climbs Everest
  • Paul McCartney fined for growing marijuana
  • Haldeman, Erlichman and Mitchell found guilty of Watergate cover up
  • Invasion of Dutch Elm disease in UK
  • General Franco dies
  • King Faisal of Saudi Arabia assassinated by his nephew
  • Microsoft is born – registered trademark
  • Multi -national handshakes in space – Apollo and Soyuz meet up
  • BIC launches first disposal razor
  • Sony introduces Betamax video tapes
  • Rubik cube invented
  • First digital camera invented
  • The Queen and Prince Philip visited South Yorkshire
  • The Wombles were the country’s most popular soft toy

Clearly, there was a lot to choose from and we left it to individuals to decide what they felt could be represented in stitches. (Who chose what, and why, can be seen later.)

As a group, we had decided that we should cover  some international, some national and some local events and that they should be a mix of the frivolous, entertaining, surprising, political, significant or just plain fun. What we also agreed was that they must be topics that lent themselves to portrayal in stitches. (In fact, we found a few things that were less easy to picture but were important enough one way or the other to be included. We solved that another way, more later.)

Our discussions were long and at times a bit giddy while we all decided what we would do and how we would do it. Our meetings were always a joy and, in the end, we felt we had chosen a good cross section of local, national and international topics; of varying degrees of seriousness. The next decision was about how we wanted the finished panel to look. This was important, because it would influence the size and shape of each  individual embroidery.

It was with some nervousness that we looked online at Lavinia’s website for panels that were already finished.  Expecting to be overwhelmed by the professional standards of stitching and avant-garde design, assuming that everyone else’s work would be to a higher standard than we could achieve, we were pleasantly surprised to see the other panels. They were good, In fact they were very good and some of the work was outstanding, but they were the work of enthusiastic and talented amateurs and we felt that, with a bit of encouragement and a following wind, we too could work to that standard.

Right from the start, Sandra and I felt that there should be a coherent design to the panel and that each piece of work should fit within that design. Each of the main topics would be on a circle of white fabric – either aida or evenweave, and they would all be the same size. By trial and error, and much crawling round on my sitting room floor ( an activity that would be repeated in a range of sitting rooms across South Yorkshire over the coming months) we decided that each of the pieces would be a medallion about the size of a dinner plate – my dinner plates, in fact. I did a sketch of a proposed layout and we agreed that, for the time being, this was what we would work towards.  Lesser topics would be on smaller medallions – a saucer, in fact.

Finally, the topics that did not lend themselves to pictorial representation had to be considered. Too much text would not be visually appealing and so we gave it quite a lot of thought. We had, in our Stitch and Bitch box, a large piece of bright yellow fabric, for which none of us had found a use. I suggested stars, with just the briefest facts in black backstitch, to be scattered randomly in the space in between the medallions. We were all agreed on the idea of minimal amounts of text and that, when our individual projects were complete, we would all have a go at one or two of the stars.

And so we began. Bubbling with enthusiasm and excitement, we started in a flurry of sketches, changed sketches, plans and changed plans. This was a big project and we hadn’t worked together on a stitch  task before. It was something to share in the making and something we could leave behind for future generations. Perhaps it sounds a bit pompous, but that was how we felt; that we were passing on a little bit of ourselves down the years.

So, in the end, who did what?

The first draft of the planned layout.
The first draft of the planned layout.

Sandra

A Barbara Hepworth sculpture (Barbara Hepworth died in 1975)

A Barbara Hepworth Sculpture
A Barbara Hepworth Sculpture

A terracotta warrior and his horse. (Discovered that year)

The discovery of the Terracotta Army in China
The discovery of the Terracotta Army in China

A handshake in space (East and West in harmony, for once.)

East meets West in friendship
East meets West in friendship

The side panel with 1975 appliqued on it.  (Can’t find an individual picture of this. Sorry.)

Putting the whole damn thing together.

Keeping the rest of us going.

Keeping this group of rugged individuals in line wasn’t always easy, so here’s Sandra, having to get a bit bossy.

Sandra says...
Sandra says…

Margaret

The female fashion figure (a cross between Wonder Woman and Farrah Fawcett Major)

How we all wanted to look in 1975.
How we all wanted to look in 1975.

The male fashion figure (White suited, long haired, the business)

A passing resemblance to a Rubette
A passing resemblance to a Rubette

The banner at the bottom giving details of the Royal visit to our area. (No individual picture of this either, but it was a very simple cross stitch affair. )

The original design sketch and a lot of background research.

Some stars

This Journal, which gets longer every time I think I may have finished.

Photographer (!)

Working on one of my medallions, with encouragement from a four year old grandson.

Jamie helps out
Jamie helps out

Jan

The Good Life logo (First broadcast that year)

The Good Life Logo
The Good Life Logo

The Wren logo (As required by Lavinia)

Copyright symbol (As required by Lavinia)

Rubik Cube( Introduced in 1975)

The first Rubik Cube
The first Rubik Cube

Small medallion of the QE2’s first cruise.

The first cruise of the QE2.
The first cruise of the QE2.

Some stars

   

Pat

Dutch Elm disease story in cross stitch (A healthy tree, a diseased tree, a dead tree and the bug itself.)

Dutch Elm Disease
Dutch Elm Disease

Added ribbon and Yorkshire Rose embellishments to bottom banner.

We always turned up with bags full of thread, fabric and additional projects that we were doing alongside the panel. And tea was always part of the deal.

Tea by the gallon.
Tea by the gallon.

 

Heather

Heather was  working full time and yet still managed to create this wonderful piece in her “spare” time.

It meant, however, that she wasn’t able to spend time with the rest of us working on the smaller parts of  the project.

The Wombles
The Wombles

The Wombles (Bestselling soft toy that year.)

 

Lorna

Bagpuss (Voted most popular children’s show)

Bagpuss on t.v.
Bagpuss on t.v.

Some stars

Lots of tacking

Lorna and Sandra in a pause between stitching and, what was the other word?

 IMAG0938

 

 

Janet

Some stars

Personal details,

An old friend comes to see the great work in progress.
An old friend comes to see the great work in progress.

Tacking and putting it all together. She tends to be dismissive about the part she played because she joined late and didn’t do one of the big medallions but she still put in a fair amount of work.

 Alison

Top banner (Depicting the song ‘Lucy in the sky with Diamonds’  released by Elton John that year)

 Alison didn’t get to meet as often as the rest of us because of work commitments, so it was all the better when we did see her, to catch up and share progress.

A rare occasion when Alison was able to join us.
A rare occasion when Alison was able to join us.

 Shirley

The European Community referendum,  (large medallion)

Referendum on staying in Europe.
Referendum on staying in Europe.

Equal pay for women (Small medallion)

Equal pay for women.
Equal pay for women.

 

Tacking

Shirley gets us organised with the panel on her dining table.

Tacking some of the embroideries to the background.
Tacking some of the embroideries to the background.

At first, all went well and we got off to a flying start. We met at least once a month and took great pleasure in our “Show and tell” sessions. We were working well and expected to have finished within the year. I can’t remember when it all started to slow down but I can remember why. Over the next two years, not months, years, life started to get in the way.

Between us we have had:

  • Three weddings (And we did the cakes for two of them.) (For the third, Lorna did invitations, place settings, favours, cake…)
  • Eight  babies and one due any time now.
  • Three redundancies from our lives’ work
  • One close family bereavement
  • Six close family members with serious illnesses and a need for a lot of care

Our own health problems including:

  • A fall involving broken arm
  • Diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes
  • The usual coughs, colds and flu’s.

Other projects including:

  • Part time work
  • Voluntary work
  • Child care
  • Pantomime costumes
  • Choir

House alterations including:

  • Two house extensions and new kitchens
  • One new kitchen and bathroom
  • Rebuilt outside staircase

Over time, we found it harder and harder to meet. In the last year, I don’t think we’ve had one session where we could all be there.

On the whole, however, our individual projects progressed well for the most part and we soon had a little collection of medallions ready to go on the background. In our original plan, I had suggested a coloured background to set off the medallions but we hadn’t made a decision. Now that we wanted to put things together, it was clear that this would have to be a priority, as the circular pieces faded into the pale backing fabric all too easily.  Our theme colour was turquoise/green, so Sandra and Lorna went on a mission to find some suitable fabric.

Of course, this complicated matters further because we then needed to attach the medallions to the fabric and then the fabric to the backing. And at this point we had to give in and go back to the original instructions from Lavinia and see if we could finally make sense of them. (I withdrew about then, as I had to admit defeat.) Sandra is made of sterner stuff and she and the others worried away at it like a dog at a bone until they had it beaten.

No matter how hard we tried, the panel and its component parts seemed to take up all the space we had –  and more. 

A quiet moment .
A quiet moment .

 

We met several times to agree a final layout; to pin pieces on to the fabric; to tack them in place; to pin the fabric to the backing and, of course, to drink lots of tea, share lots of gossip and generally keep the fires of friendship glowing.

We spent hours deciding just how it would be. At the time of this picture, we were still working with the off-white background, so it all had to be taken off and reorganised.

During this period, we virtually lost one member, Pat, who found herself more and more committed to family health care and child care responsibilities. At one point, she seemed to be spending most of her time on the A1, looking after an ailing elderly relative and scooting back to look after grandchildren. (For one brief but glorious hiatus, though, she was in China on the holiday of a lifetime and we couldn’t wait to hear all about it. That was a session when VERY little stitching got done.)

A week NOT working on the panel.
A week NOT working on the panel.

By now we had all the medallions complete, most of the stars and the top, bottom and side panels finished. We had it tacked together and starting to look as if we might someday get it finished. 

At the same time, Shirley became the main carer for her father, whose health deteriorated after the death of her mother; Janet discovered she was going to be a grandmother, albeit long distance, since her son spends his life between Norway and Texas, (this in addition to her role of unceasing care for her seriously ill husband) and Jan had perhaps the most shocking experience of us all, when her partner was taken Ill on holiday in Portugal. He was, after three weeks in a coma, brought home by air ambulance, where he spent months in hospital, coming home blind and permanently damaged by his illness.

And so, after weddings and funerals, job losses, serious illness and new births, we found ourselves closer friends than ever and with a light at the end of our self imposed tunnel. And it was almost finished – just a few buttons to add.  

And so I sent an email to each of the group, asking them what they did and why they chose to do it. Here are their answers, in no particular order.

 

Shirley

What did you decide to stitch? 

The European Community referendum, as it was the first time I ever voted and I remember it very clearly. I also love maps and atlases so found a real personal interest in designing and stitching one.

Equal pay for women – a subject dear to my heart.

What techniques did you use? 

Appliqué, embroidery and cross stitch.

How happy were you with it?

I was reasonably satisfied with the outcome. The design element pleased me most as it was the first time I tried to do my own pictures from scratch, instead of using kits, and realised I could actually do it!

During the time we were working on the panel, list a few of the things that life threw at you . Go into as much or as little detail as you like and, if you want me just to cut and paste, using your own words, say so.

My mum passed away unexpectedly and I became my father’s main carer as he has been very ill several times since then. We have extended the house, gaining a new kitchen and sun room. We have also bought a mobile home in the hope of spending some of our growing leisure time in it. Our elder daughter set up her own catering business and our younger daughter became a doctor.

Something about our meetings 

Our meetings are a joy: a chance to catch up on our family news, ex colleagues and current work as well as an opportunity to share our problems, to problem solve and to share our achievements and projects, which means, of course, sharing our love of all things related to stitchery and craft.

Your feelings about our collaboration

The project has been a source of joy, frustration and proof that teamwork is alive and well.

 

Your original expectations

To finish the panel within a couple of months!

Does the finished panel look as you expected it to? 

More or less. It was interesting seeing everyone’s contributions materialise and to see all the different interpretations evolve.

What did you/didn’t you enjoy about the experience? 

I enjoyed re visiting 1975, seeing everyone’s pieces evolve, trying new techniques. I least liked doing the final montage which took us ages to complete.

How do you feel now that it is done? 

Relieved but proud.

Alison

What did you decide to stitch? 

The top section of the panel – including diamonds, stars, lettering.

Why did you choose that?

I was depicting the song ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’  released by Elton that year, so the top panel was the obvious ‘sky’.

What techniques did you use?

 

Machine embroidery, beading, layering, appliqué, couching

How happy were you with it?

 

OK, I always think that things could have been better if only….but reasonably happy.

During the time we were working on the panel, list a few of the things that life threw at you . Go into as much or as little detail as you like and, if you want me just to cut and paste, using your own words, say so.

 

Working very full-time, maintaining a house and garden single handed.

Something about our meetings 

 

Great opportunity to meet old colleagues and friends and make new ones, whilst eating nice things and drinking tea!

Unfortunately I was not able to attend as many meetings as I would have liked due to work commitments.

Your feelings about our collaboration

People have lots of skills that this project has illustrated very well.

 

Your original expectations

 

To do my bit as well as I could and try to keep up the high standard set by others.

Does the finished panel look as you expected it to?

 

Yes, only bigger!

What did you/didn’t you enjoy about the experience?

 

Felt pressure to ensure I had done my bit and was not holding the project up, although in the end there was no real time constraint. Gave us an opportunity to bring and discuss ideas, techniques and problems in execution  at the meetings.

How do you feel now that it is done?

 

Relief and satisfaction with the finished product. Hoping that everyone feels the same, that it was a job well done.

Janet

What did you decide to stitch? 

A few of the stars, my personal details and other odd tasks, such as, tacking and running stitch.

Why did you choose that?

Arrived late to the project – one of the few sewing activities left to start.

What techniques did you use? 

Back stitch – on the stars’ wording.

How happy were you with it?

OK – but a little disappointed with my efforts, compared to other group members’ skills.

During the time we were working on the panel, list a few of the things that life threw at you . Go into as much or as little detail as you like and, if you want me just to cut and paste, using your own words, say so.

Whilst working on the project, one of our sons got married in Norway.  I am a full time carer for my husband and as he was unable to travel abroad, I organised a wedding celebration in England.  Members of our stitching group baked and helped to decorate the three tier wedding cake.  (They are true friends, always ready to help and support.)  Whilst we were working on the panel, I had a new bathroom, kitchen, PVC windows and a conservatory fitted – a busy year.
Something about our meetings 

Our meetings are always enjoyable

  • friends sharing quality time together
  • exchanging ideas and crafts created
  • supporting one another
  • eating delicious (often home made) cakes and treats

Your feelings about our collaboration

A long time to completion but a truly great achievement.

Your original expectations

The project was well underway when I joined the group.

Does the finished panel look as you expected it to? 

Initially, I wasn’t sure what to expect, though I didn’t realize how grand the finished project would be.

What did you/didn’t you enjoy about the experience? 

Thoroughly enjoyed our meetings, though the project took far longer to complete, than any of us thought it initially would.

How do you feel now that it is done? 

Pleased.  It looks rather splendid.

Pat

What did you decide to stitch?
Dutch Elm disease story in cross stitch

Why did you choose that?
Preferred medium and love of nature

 What techniques did you use?
Cross stitch on Aida

How happy were you with it?
Reasonably so – not a masterpiece by any means but I enjoyed designing and producing it.

 During the time we were working on the panel, list a few of the things that life threw at you . Go into as much or as little detail as you like and, if you want me just to cut and paste, using your own words, say so.
e.g. weddings, illnesses, family events, house moves, holidays..

Hard to remember but certainly included wedding preparations, deaths of friends, arrival of babies, babysitting/child minding and close family illnesses

Something about our meetings

Always enjoyable, even if not quite as productive as hoped.. maybe we ought to meet up more often (given the opportunity!) if we have something similar to do again.

Your feelings about our collaboration

One of the main difficulties was continuity.. some members were unable to make it to meetings and it felt disjointed at times although there was a reasonable core of attendees at most of the sessions.

Your original expectations
For the finished product to be completed much, much more quickly

 Does the finished panel look as you expected it to?

The panel was still incomplete when I last saw it.. I haven’t been able to attend meetings lately for personal reasons but it looked rather good at that point.

What did you/didn’t you enjoy about the experience?

I enjoyed completing my own contribution and the planning sessions because of the enthusiasm generated by the team.  It was quite frustrating that it took so long to complete.

How do you feel now that it is done?

Relieved.. we can now focus on individual projects whilst still meeting up as a group of good friends.

Margaret

What did you decide to stitch? 

The two fashion medallions, the bottom section commemorating the royal visit, one or two of the stars. I also drew up the original plan of the whole panel and did much of the initial research. (And, of course, I’m writing this.)

Why did you choose that?

 

In all cases, simply because I enjoy doing those things. The fashion plates didn’t seem difficult, although, as always, I decided to complicate matters, in this case by creating a border using straight lines to create a curve, and I’m no mathematician, so found myself unpicking and re-stitching more than once.

The bottom panel was something I could take on holiday to work on without causing myself too much stress.

I love designing things, although my ideas invariably outstrip my abilities.

What techniques did you use? 

 

On the fashion plates, applique, embroidery techniques and a little beading. On the bottom panel, cross stitch.

On the stars, backstitch and blanket stitch.

How happy were you with it?

 

Fairly happy but not entirely satisfied. My finished work never matches up to my initial imaginings and there’s a competitive side to my nature that wants my work to be as good as everyone else’s.

During the time we were working on the panel, list a few of the things that life threw at you . Go into as much or as little detail as you like and, if you want me just to cut and paste, using your own words, say so.

 

Made redundant, which kicked the ground from under me. The panel may have helped keep me sane – the friends certainly did.

Had a large extension built on the back of the house and then a new kitchen fitted.

Helped with making and decorating wedding cakes for two of the groups’ family weddings.

Helped Sandra with costumes for the church panto.

Went on holiday a lot. I mean A LOT. There were times when it was hard to fit in the Stitch and Bitch meetings at all.  The bottom banner was stitched in part by the pool on Kos; the female fashion plate on a beach in northern Greece and the male figure went to Egypt and back.

Something about our meetings 

 

I mentioned the sanity saver aspect of our friendship but it’s more than that. We have a mutual respect and appreciation that you don’t see very often, as well as deep affection for each other.

Your feelings about our collaboration

 

Fabulous, but don’t ask me to do it again.

Your original expectations

That it would be smaller, quicker and not half so impressive.  I knew it would be fun. I suspected it wouldn’t be plain sailing. I wasn’t entirely convinced we would actually complete the whole thing.

Does the finished panel look as you expected it to? 

Yes but I did design the layout so I would have been miffed if it hadn’t!

What did you/didn’t you enjoy about the experience? 

 

What I didn’t like – keeping on going after I had started to get fed up. (But Sandra is a stickler and kept us going.)

What I did like – Doing something with a purpose outside my normal parameters.

Working on my own design, rather than a kit.

But absolutely, far and above anything else, working and spending time with the girls.

How do you feel now that it is done? 

Slightly surprised that we got it finished – it was starting to drag.

Very pleased with the finished product  (I’d say proud but it sounds a bit smug. No, dammit, I AM proud of us!) – that is a very talented and motivated group.

Jan

What did you decide to stitch? 

The Good Life, the robin, the copyright symbol, some of the stars, the Rubik cube

Why did you choose that?

Small projects – not confident of my abilities and then life got difficult too.

What techniques did you use? 

Mainly cross stitch

How happy were you with it?

My skills improved – difficult to produce circles in cross stitch but not confident using other techniques

During the time we were working on the panel, list a few of the things that life threw at you.  Go into as much or as little detail as you like and, if you want me just to cut and paste, using your own words, say so.

Partner contracted meningitis and is now blind with severe memory damage

My elder daughter got married – I made all the invitations and the cake – the group helped with icing the cake and making the decorations

Went on holiday a few times

Something about our meetings 

Informal, enjoyable, eat too much, laugh a lot, fabulous support – can’t imagine life without the group, welcome new comers to the group

Your feelings about our collaboration

Worked well together – the confident and more experienced did some fabulous, amazing projects – awe inspiring – and learnt a lot from seeing their work

Your original expectations

Didn’t think it would be quite so big or take quite as long

Does the finished panel look as you expected it to? 

It looks better than I imagined

What did you/didn’t you enjoy about the experience? 

The people – meeting regularly and supporting each other

How do you feel now that it is done? 

Hope we can still meet up as we have been doing but perhaps get on with some of our other projects.

Sandra

What did I decide to stitch?

I chose Barbara Hepworth, Terra cotta Army and Hands in Space together with the date panel. I felt they best suited the use of the sewing machine as I am limited these days with hand embroidery.

What techniques did you use?

Applique, machine embroidery and some hand embellishment.

How happy were you with it?

I was reasonably satisfied. I always feel I could have done better. I researched and designed each one, chose the fabrics and completed them using techniques I thought best suited the subject.

During the time we were working on the panel I was pleased with the safe arrival of 2 grandchildren but of course that involved much knitting and sewing. My older son married and I was responsible for all the church and reception flowers, making and decorating of the wedding cake, sourcing flower petal confetti, making paper cones for the confetti and decorating baskets for the flower girls to distribute the confetti in. Oh and the making of tray-bakes for 150 guests as a lunchtime snack. The usual Mum things!

I assisted with the decoration for several wedding cakes for children of group members.

I made 26 pantomime costumes for our church production of Alladin.

I fell down the steps at the rear of my house and spent 6 weeks with my arm in plaster and a further 3 months having physiotherapy. As a result I had the steps rebuilt to a safer design.

I trained as a Dementia Champion with the Alzheimer’s Society and have delivered numerous Dementia Awareness sessions in my local community.

Something about our meetings.

I really look forward to our meetings. They are a chance to catch up with all the news from friends and to support each other with whatever is current in our lives. It is an opportunity to share craft ideas and even a bit of ‘show and tell’

Your feelings about our collaboration.

I have loved the sharing and team work. There have been times when it seemed to overpower us and would never be finished but we refused to let it win.

Your original expectations.

I thought we would have it completed and posted within six months to a year alongside everything else we were doing.

Does the finished panel look how you expected it to?

I think so. It was good to see it gradually take shape.

What did you enjoy/not enjoy about the experience?

I enjoyed working together on a project. I enjoyed rediscovering 1975 even if it did start us reminiscing.

I didn’t enjoy the way the actual assembly seemed to take an age and in fact involved a lot of work.

How do you feel now it is done?

Relieved . What a load off my mind!! I can now make whatever I fancy.

However, I am satisfied with the finished panel.

Heather  

What did you decide to stitch?

The Wombles

Why did you choose that?

I remember having a very nice evening at someone’s house and meeting some lovely ladies I could immediately identify with, but I can’t actually remember choosing The Wombles. There again, I can’t actually remember how I came to be at this lady’s house although I know Jan introduced me and she I know I met her at a mutual friend’s papercraft lessons.

What techniques did you use?

Hand and machine stitch, appliqué & as the Wombles are ‘furry’ I used this as

my justification for finally buying an embellisher I couldn’t really afford!!

How happy are you with it?

I really, really enjoyed doing it but whereas I usually plan things out, this just kind of ‘developed’.

Which was liberating to know I could, but I kept wanting to add things.

I will eternally regret not seeing the others,  as this might have prevented me making the monumental mistake of using the WRONG colours for the border, which I discovered after the event when I found the piece of paper with the colour codes on! I am still cross with myself.

Life:

Well mostly the combination of a full time job and the business I run with my Husband.

I had had a horrendous time at work (ongoing but light at the end of the tunnel) so I  had decided to do something purely  for myself, which was to start a C&G course.

Something about our meetings:

I never managed another but couldn’t believe how things happened when I should have been there.

I think one time I was actually on my way to one when I got a call from a family member.

I think that was at Wickersley? That’s where I turned round anyway.

I sincerely hope to be invited back as you are very good company.

Collaboration

I failed this one big time , or I shouldn’t have got the colours wrong!

Expectations

It would only take the summer!!!!

Finished panel

Only seen it on the pc, and it looks a lot bigger than I imagined, respect whoever put it together so well.

Did/didn’t enjoy

Didn’t: Not having it finished in time and not meeting up with the other contributors,

For the first time I thought I should have listened to the careers advisor and become a teacher, so I might have met them before now!

Did: I do remember one night my son was away so I had set the ironing table up with my machine on it, in his bedroom so I could ‘crack on’ without getting everything out and away again. I sewed till nearly two in the morning and didn’t realise what time it was, then didn’t really want to go to bed even though I knew I should – but I was enjoying myself and making progress!

How do I feel

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, would like to tackle it again, I would definitely prioritise myself and get to the meeting and  I  why, oh why,  did I not take more care and go and get the colours WRONG????

Lorna   

What did you decide to stitch? 

Bagpuss.

Why did you choose that?

I already had the charts and it seemed a good idea at the time.

What techniques did you use?

 

Cross stitching, cursing, swearing, a lot of unpicking and some backstitch.

How happy were you with it?

 

Very happy

During the time we were working on the panel, list a few of the things that life threw at you . Go into as much or as little detail as you like and, if you want me just to cut and paste, using your own words, say so.

 

My parents celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary in February 2013. My mum was 90 in July and my dad was 90 in October. We had a big joint birthday party for them both with all their family and friends.

My daughter Jane got married in July 2011 so I had a big wedding to organise – we have a very large family.

Jane and Ben then gave us our first grandchild, Megan Elizabeth, born  July 2013.

Our son Jonathon changed jobs and moved to Harrogate from Hull.

Something about our meetings 

 

Always enjoyable. We do a lot of chatting, eating and drinking but not always much stitching.

Your feelings about our collaboration

We all worked well and everyone had good ideas. I think all the different stitching techniques look good together. What a clever lot we are.

 

Your original expectations

 

Didn’t know what to expect – this was a new experience for me.

Does the finished panel look as you expected it to?

 

Better. If there were prizes, we should get first!

What did you/didn’t you enjoy about the experience?

 

Good job there was no time limit.

How do you feel now that it is done?

 

Relieved it was finished at last. A very big “Thank You” to Sandra who has done a great deal of the “donkey work” on this project. I think we have done an excellent job and should all be proud of our efforts.

ateets_jan_rak_bow

And that’s it. It started out as a testament to the 20th century and our memories of one particular year. It became a joy, then a chore. Finally, it brought home to us the value of good friends and the satisfaction of a job well done.

Can’t wait to start the next one.

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Starting over

Having been pretty hit and miss with the blog, I have decided to turn over a new leaf and use it, as many people seem to do, as a journal. Not daily up dates on me and my life – why would anyone want to read that? – but just whatever strikes me on any given day that I want to share. I also intend to include pictures and links, if I can remember how to do it, to liven it up a bit.

My first attempt, therefore, is not a post but an addition to one of the attached pages. In my Stitch Gallery, there is a section about an embroidered panel that some friends of mine and I have been working on. It is now complete and about to be sent off to Lavinia Earl, to join the 99 others to celebrate each year of the 20th century. (See this site for details of the project http://www.laviniaearl.co.uk/panels.htm ) I have now finished the journal I wrote, documenting our experience and will be adding it into the blog later today. I hope you read it with pleasure.

So watch this space, world and we’ll hope for the best.