Happy New Year to everyone! I hope this festive period has been full of joy, love and relaxation amidst all the running around (and eating!). I found myself getting right into the holiday frame of mind, and together with my husband we have had a lovely couple of weeks together travelling, eating and going on lovely walks with our little dog.

Our furry friend at Hillview Embroidery

And so it’s time for a bit of reflection and planning ahead for the coming year (well months anyway!).

Looking back at 2016

2016 was a much better year health wise for me, although the exhaustion is still at times crippling. Despite this, I took a leap, and decided to commence the RSN Certificate in Technical Hand Embroidery. Because apparently I didn’t have enough to do! Now whilst I under-estimated just how much work was involved in this, I am extremely glad I have undertaken this. I am learning a lot – not just new stitches, or how to stitch them correctly, but also in terms of design, colour choices, stitch choices and how to frame up a slate frame correctly. But it is also the regular group of ladies and one gentleman I am getting to know. We are at different stages of our learning – some like me and just starting out, others extremely proficient and almost finished their Diploma, and everywhere in between. Everyone is very encouraging and supportive- offering suggestions, and generally willing each other on to complete their projects. Such a wonderful group of people! And let’s not forget the tutors. Two very experienced and encouraging people. They bring different ideas, different suggestions and different ways of doing things, and they provide a wonderful supportive and encouraging learning environment, whilst also challenging us all to go that step further with our decisions, design choices, and generally, our stitching lives. They definitely are ‘tough’ when it comes to details, but that is what it is all about and part of the reason why I’m undertaking this!

progress-to-date

My other main achievement of the year was the completion of two online courses (commenced prior to deciding to do the RSN Certificate!).  Both were offered and run by Tanja Berlin, and both were silk shaded designs (a poppy and a fox). I had never participated in anything like this before, but Tanja has it all sorted out and runs the classes well. Whilst ‘chatting’ with your peers in break time isn’t possible, we were able to see, and learn from each other, as the virtual classroom was set up for us all to be able to view each other’s work and the feedback given by Tanja. Tanja was always quick to respond back, so even though the feedback wasn’t immediate, you weren’t left waiting days either. I’m more pleased with the fox than I am the pansy – I just can’t decide what to do with them!

Writing this recap of the year makes me realise just how lucky I am, as I was also lucky enough to attend a couple of day classes at the RSN – a stumpwork one and a Crewelwork one. Both were brilliant little pieces, and were a great introduction to the RSN.

I also participated in TAST for the first part of the year, before I got ‘too busy’ to keep up with it! For anyone interested in learning new stitches, this is a great forum to do so. The instructions are well written (though at times I did need to refer to other instructions for clarification). I have a partially completed elephant sampler to show for my efforts!

sampler to date

Looking Ahead to 2017

So what is in store for 2017? My main focus will be the continuation of the Certificate Course at the RSN. I just have the mounting to complete for the Jacobean piece, and then stitching will begin on the next module – my Canvaswork piece. My canvas is all mounted, and I ‘think’ I have chosen my design, however after working some sample stitches, I may just change my mind and opt for something slightly different. If all goes to plan, in about April I will commence my silk shading piece, and then September will see me commence my final piece of the Certificate, the goldwork piece. This all sounds a long way away, and an awful lot of work! So these three pieces will be mostly what I will telling you about over the coming months.

In an attempt to work some other projects, and also complete some projects which have been ‘hanging around’ for a while, or that I would just like to complete, I have signed up to my first ‘SAL’. This is a slightly different SAL in that there isn’t one project that everyone works on, but it is more a forum for everyone to work on their WIPs and encourage each other to finish their own individual projects. It is hosted by Avis at Sewing Beside the Sea. I have a few projects that I could work, but first off will be the baby blanket for the not so little baby! Especially since there is a second baby blanket I need to complete too (yay!!!). Updates are posted every three weeks – a good amount of time between long enough to achieve something, but not so long that we all forget about it! The first update of the year is next Sunday, the 8th January, so keep an eye out for it (though I’m not promising too much progress just yet!).

And finally, (if you have got this far!), I would like to start sharing with you some of the tips and tricks of some of the stitches I have learnt so far as part of the Certificate. I am extremely lucky to be able to ‘study’ at the RSN, and I would like to share with you some of what I’m learning.

So, definitely a busy year ahead! And to add into the mix I’m starting a new job this week. I’m looking forward to the fresh start, although any changes sometimes take some settling into. So hopefully I will be able to keep up with my plans, but there might be some changes as we go along!

And last but not least – I wish you all the best for 2017. I hope it is a happy, healthy and prosperous year where your dreams and aspirations come alive. Thank you so much for joining me on on this journey – your support and encouragement is amazing!

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