Sunday, 3 September 2017

September meeting - Kay Dennis

Our speaker this month on the topic of Stumpwork was Kay Dennis. Or more accurately, our speakers this month were 'Team Dennis' as Kay's husband Michael is also an avid Stumpworker (if that's a word) and he spoke about how he became involved in this traditional and very intricate technique.

Detail of Kay's work
Kay learned to embroider as a child, and then a set of circumstances and ill health led her to discovering needlelace and bobbin lace. She then discovered the work of Barbara and Roy Hirst and, in her words, became one of their groupies. The Embroiderers' Guild website has a video showing both Kay's and Barbara and Roy's work. Click here to see it.  Michael became involved as he began making frames for Kay's and her students' work, and eventually became chair of the Guild of Needlelaces, by which time he was getting involved in completing the stitch challenges set by the Guild.

The talk covered the history of Stumpwork - raised embroidery - and how the faces and hands of the embroidered people were created, in addition to the needlelace used for clothing.


Over the years Kay has added more techniques to her repertoire, and paints completed leaves with silk paint to get the required tonal variations. Blackberries are beaded, and puff paste is used to create texture.

Sometimes the commissions Kay undertakes are particularly challenging and this Humpty Dumpty (Humpty Stumpy?) took many hours of work.


Kay and Michael's talk was very interesting, and amusing, especially her anecdotes about the nights spent at Lytes Cary Manor (home to a particularly fine stumpwork mirror) when she was teaching workshops. I might adopt her revised spelling from now on!

In other things . . .

Help is needed in the following ways

New committee members - as some existing committee members will be standing down at the branch AGM next month.

A new leader for Young Embroiderers, as Diane is reluctantly having to step down as leader after many years.

York branch is hosting the Regional AGM on 14th October at Scarcroft Village Hall. This means we need cakes, and people to help on the day. Please volunteer. We only have to take our turn once every fifteen years, so now is your chance!

Get in touch with Sue or Shirley if you can help at all.

And finally,

This month saw the awarding of the Ida Barber trophy. Ida Barber was one of the founder members of the York branch and was its chair for six years. She was also a Minster Broderer, and she specialised in crewelwork. She was a very encouraging person and was very keen for embroidery not to be seen as elitist, and several members spoke of how their love of embroidery was developed by Ida. Ida instigated a competition for the 'Best Original Design' awarded annually. This year it was won by Jane Hare for her hare.

Jane's winning hare




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