Notes From The Studio

This edition of Notes from the Studio is a little bit different. I wanted to share my favourites things from 2022 that I’ve been working on in the studio. My winter break is approaching and I’m excited to have more time to spend making new pieces of work for exhibition.

The Prism Textiles annual exhibition will be opening in London in April 2023, I’ve already had my piece Harbouring accepted for the show. The work is a response to my walks around Scarborough Harbour. I loved working with found ropes and using digital embroidery to create this 3D piece of work. I will be creating some more pieces inspired by this piece and my new research.

Fancy Goods has been a project idea floating around in my brain for about 10 years. This year I started to create pieces inspired by my research of collectables and seafront shops in Scarborough. These magazine collages helped me to open up my creativity when I had been stuck for ideas. I’ve been in talks about an exhibition for this work in 2023 which is very exciting.

Stitchscapes have been something that I’ve enjoyed working on in recent years, they are great to pick up and put down and are portable too. I love using up scraps of fabric from my own stash and from dressmaker friends. I’m inspired by the landscapes in an around Scarborough, creating more abstract images in the last year.

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Celebrating Freelance Life

I’ve been lucky to work as a freelance artist for the last ten years, working in Yorkshire and beyond on community projects, exhibitions and collaborations. I want to day a huge thank you to all the organisations I’ve worked with and anyone who has come along to a workshop, participated in a project and bought a piece of artwork. I’ve met the most amazing people and done things I never thought I would achieve. I thought I would share a few of my highlights from the last ten years. You can find out more about my work in my Portfolio.

365 Leeds Stories

This was my first community project as a lead artist, working with Matthew and Alison from A Quiet Word in 2013. 365 Leeds Stories brought together stories from older Leeds residents and embroidery by a dedicated group of embroiderers. We worked from transcripts of interviews about their lives in Leeds, stitching their stories on maps of Leeds from the 1930s. I’d never coordinated such a big project before and I loved working with everyone collaboratively.

Archive & Other Stories

This was my first big solo exhibition back in 2018 in the amazing Whitby Museum. My work respond to the museum collection through storytelling, using my personal narrative to bring the objects to life. It was an honour to exhibit in a venue I’ve been visiting since childhood, working with a great team. The mayor of Whitby also came to the exhibition launch.


Since May 2013, I’ve been teaching on the Heydays programme at Leeds Playhouse. Heydays is an amazing project to work on, I’ve met wonderful people and helped them to create some fantastic artwork every term. It’s such a fun atmosphere and I’ve also worked alongside brilliant people and made new friends. I love coming up with new themes each term and seeing how people interpret this using fabric and thread.

For regular updates about my work and workshops you can sign up to my monthly newsletter or follow me on Instagram. I can’t wait to see what the next ten years will bring.

Fairy tales in Bramley

I’ve been working with Artlink West Yorkshire since 2018, Artlink is an innovative arts and health charity specialising in working with those who have the least access to the arts.  They work with adults with learning disabilities, adults living with dementia, adults with long term mental health issues, women who are part of the criminal justice system and young people.

I’ve worked with groups in Wetherby, online during the pandemic and this term I’ve been working with a group in Bramley. Artlink are a fantastic organisation and they pair you with other practitioners to run the sessions. This time I’m working with a drama practitioner and an illustrator. We’ve been working on a fairy tale themed project, looking at Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the beanstalk and Goldilocks and the three bears.

We started our sessions with movement, gathering in a circle and sharing a story and a laugh. We danced, practiced our catwalk for the celebration event and even pretended to be spies in a laser maze. As an introvert, the start of the sessions is great for me too, bringing me out of my shell. Some of the participants we’re cheeky and aid my dance moves weren’t the best they’ve seen!

Our creative time was quieter, some participants choosing to work collaboratively and others taking time to sit and work on their own pieces. We’ve made masks, t-shirts, a tree and even decorated gingerbread. The creativity has been great to watch, seeing how everyone interprets the theme and uses the materials. We’re celebrating our work with a catwalk show and exhibition in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait to see it all come together.

Artlink West Yorkshire is a wonderful organisation to work with, they value artists and the work we do. Supporting us when we need it and allowing us to let our creativity flourish. I’ve worked with great practitioners and met participants who i’ll never forget. I can’t wait for the next project to start

How To…

In this edition of How To… I’m responding to a question I get asked at workshops…

“Do I need to buy expensive materials and equipment for embroidery?”

Starting a new hobby can be expensive, especially when you have lots of ideas but don’t know where to start. In this post I will talk about the areas where you can save money and what you need to spend a bit more money on. There are lots of ways to save money and if you have any top tips I’d love to hear them.

Embroidery Threads

Embroidery threads vary quite dramatically in price. In my stash I have DMC threads like Cotton Perle and stranded cotton that are great to stitch with but prices start at £1.20 for a skein of stranded cotton and up to £2.55 for a ball of perle thread. My stranded cotton boxes of thread also contain bargains from the pound shop that cost £1.00 for 20 skeins. I’ve used these threads on commission pieces and for workshops and I’m happy with the results.

Your local charity shop, vintage shop or car boot sale is a great place to find good quality second hand threads. I’ve picked up expensive brands like Coats and Gutermann for less than £1.00 for a reel. I usually wind off a bit of the outside layer as it can be faded, although the colour faded reels create an interesting variegated thread to work with.


Needles are one of the areas I don’t like to skimp on, I’ve had frustrating experiences with cheap needles. They are made of poor quality metal and can easily break, they eye is also badly punched out. A poorly punched out eye can damage your threads and be hard to get threaded in the first place.

I like to use needles by John James or Prym, they can be picked up online and in haberdashery shops. Prices start at £2.75 for an assorted pack of needles. You don’t have to buy the specialist embroidery needles either, an assorted pack will have something that works for embroidery. Once you’ve decided that embroidery is the craft for you, pick up a pack of the type of needle you find best to use.


Because of the amount of embroidery I do, I have an expensive pair of curved tip scissors that retail for about £15.00. For years and all through my degree I used nail scissors from Home Bargains that cost around £3.00 a pair. If you do a lot of stitching, I would use small scissors as cutting thread with a larger pair can damage the blades.

For larger scissors, you can pick up a pair from shops like Wilko and IKEA. Make sure you keep them for fabric only, they will stay sharp enough to use for ages. Prices start from as little as £1.00 a pair.


You can use calico tote bag freebies to embroiderer onto, I know you have a stash of them in the bottom of the wardrobe. I’ve also picked up fabric from charity shops and used worn clothes and bedding for fabric. The charity shop is your friend for bargains like threads and embroidery hoops too. You can get embroidery kits from shops like Aldi and The Works that have good quality bamboo embroidery hoops in them. An embroidery hoop will last a lifetime if you take good care of it. You can sand away rough edges of a hoop using a emery board, this will prevent it from snagging your fabric.

On My Bookcase

I wrote a post on some of my favourite books last year but I wanted to write a new post with some of the books I’ve been inspired by recently. Books can be expensive so I try to use my local library, charity shops and second hand bookshops to look for books first. Leeds has a great specialist art library and North Yorkshire Libraries have a great range of books which you can request from across the county.

Poetic Cloth – Hannah Lamb

Hannah is Yorkshire based textile artist who creates stunning work inspired by museums and heritage sites. Her book Poetic Cloth has amazing pictures and a range of techniques that you can try in your own work. I really like how Hannah combines different fabrics and techniques in her work.

Stitch Stories – Cas Holmes

Cas Holmes is a Kent based artist who creates textiles that tell a story. I was lucky enough to meet Cas at The Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate a few years ago. I really love the way her work combines different fabrics and techniques. The book has a great range of techniques that you can try and showcases the work of other inspiring artists.

You can find out more about the wonderful books published by Batsford on their website.

Shopping Second Hand

I love looking for inspiration in vintage books, I have quite a few 60s and 70s books in my collection. Some of the work might look less contemporary but the techniques are great. I love how the stitch glossaries show the stitch diagram and a picture of the finished piece of stitching. Try browsing your local charity shop to see what interesting books you can pick up.

The books pictured are:

Embroidery Stitches by Barbara Snook

Stitches: New Approaches by Jan Beany

The Batsford Encyclopaedia of Embroidery Stitches by Anne Butler

Batsford Books images courtesy of

Notes from the Studio

I have to admit, I’ve been so busy teaching and prepping for workshops and projects that I haven’t done much making. I have been getting inspired and making notes about new work, especially Fancy Goods which I’m collaborating on with visual artist Louise Atkinson.

I’ve been doing some reorganising in the studio over the last couple of weeks which is one of my favourite task. I treated myself to some rainbow Really Useful drawers for my threads and some Posca Pens which I’ve never used before. They are great for adding detail to my collages I’ve been working on in my journal. The spooky mug is a must for October, although I bought lots of pumpkin themed decorations this year!

I’ve enjoyed doing a journal but I’m hoping to get back to my fabric and thread soon, creating new pieces for Harbouring and Fancy Goods.

To find out what i’m working on in the studio and upcoming workshops and events you can follow me on Instagram and sign up to my monthly newsletter.

Stitching & Wellbeing

Monday 10 October 2022 is World Mental Health Day, a subject which is very personal to me. In 2017 at the age of 37 I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. I have also struggled with depression and anxiety all my life. I believe that making is a key part of my wellbeing, I’ve written about this before on my blog and in the Arts and Minds newsletter.

I’ve been sewing and making art since I was a little, my grandparents who brought me up were both makers. My granddad was a joiner and engineer who could make anything in his workshop. My grandma was a knitter and excellent baker. When I was growing up I was lucky to have access to lots of different materials so I could explore my creative side.

I’ve made lots of works about my lived experiences of mental health, most recently Broken Doll which was shown as part of the Untold exhibition by Prism Textiles in Spring of 2022. I want to share my story so that other people know they are not alone, something I struggled with as a child.

Sharing my passion for textiles has also helped me to understand how I can use my skills to help other people find a creative outlet. I’ve worked on lots of community and collaborative projects using textiles to share our stories and as a way to find a moment of calm. You can find out more about some of these projects in my portfolio.

Even if you have never embroidered before, I recommend picking up a needle and thread and having a go. There are some great resources on YouTube and Pinterest to inspire you and you can check out my past posts for some ideas on how to make your stitching a bit different. If fabric and thread aren’t for you, why not try creative writing or photography, painting or drawing.

If you would like to learn a new skill in one of my workshops you can sign up to my monthly newsletter for more details.

How To…

In this edition of How To… I’m responding to a question I was asked on Facebook…

“Do I need to coat or condition my embroidery thread?”

The short answer to this question is no, it isn’t a necessary product for embroidery. There are some benefits to using these products which I will try to cover in this post. You can also find videos on YouTube that show you how to use these products. I particularly enjoyed this video by Thimble and Plume.

There are a few different products on the market that you can use to coat your embroidery thread. This was something that I hadn’t used myself until last year when I went on a contemporary couture embroidery course with Hand & Lock. Our kit contained a small block of beeswax to coat the thread we used to work with the different goldwork techniques.

You can buy blocks of beeswax or find it in the haberdashery shop in a special holder that you can pull threads through.

Since going vegan in 2019, I haven’t used any products containing beeswax so I looked for an alternative product to use. I came across Thread Magic which is a silicone based thread conditioner. There are other brands that do the same thing, just see what you can find online in your price range.

How to use…

Simply pull your thread gently across the surface of the wax or silicone conditioner. It can take a bit of practice to get the right amount of pressure. You can try it with different scraps of thread to see how they behave.

The picture on the left shows DMC cotton purl without Thread Magic, the picture on the right has been conditioned. As you can see, the different is minimal but it did reduce the fluffiness of the thread.

I use my silicone thread conditioner when I’m doing the following…

Working with beads and goldwork purl, it helps the thread pass easily through that glass, plastic or metal beads.

To change the look of your thread, it makes the thread I use, particularly DMC cotton perle or six stranded embroidery thread look smoother. It can reduce the fluffiness of thread but use it sparingly.

When working with metallic threads, these threads are notoriously hard to embroider with. I use a small amount to help keep the thread smooth as it passes through my fabric. I helps to prevent the fraying process. PLEASE NOTE this doesn’t work on real metal threads as it will tarnish the thread. You can check the packaging to see what your thread is made of.

If you are repairing a vintage piece of embroidery or creating a museum exhibit, silicone thread conditioner might affect the work. As silicone is a relatively new product, the long term conservation effects are unknown.

Beeswax has been around for centuries but was commonly used to wax threads for buttons and other items of clothing. This means that it would be washed and worn which would wear away and not be part of an artwork that never gets washed.

Festive Workshops in Leeds

I’m excited to work with Leeds Libraries to bring you some festive themed hand embroidery workshops this autumn. Join me in the Drawing Room at Leeds Central Library and learn how to use embroidery to create unique gifts for friends and family.

Hand Embroidered Mini Wreath

Saturday 26 November 10.30am to 12.30pm

Join me for this fun, festive, festive hand embroidered wreath workshop. I will guide you through the basics of working with hand embroidery to create your own unique decoration. All materials and equipment will be provided and the class is suitable for beginners and people with some sewing experience who would like to try something new.

You can book your tickets here

Festive LED Decorations

Wednesday 30 November 5.30pm to 7.30pm

Join me for this fun, festive, festive LED decoration workshop. I will guide you through the basics of working with soft circuits and hand embroidery to create your own unique decoration. All materials and equipment will be provided and the class is suitable for beginners and people with some sewing experience who would like to try something new.

You can book your tickets here

Happy Catmus Pencil Case

Wednesday 7 December 5.30pm to 7.30pm

Join me for this fun, festive, festive hand embroidered pencil case workshop. I will guide you through the basics of working with hand embroidery to create your own unique gift. All materials and equipment will be provided and the class is suitable for beginners and people with some sewing experience who would like to try something new.

You can book your tickets here