My creative beginnings are not to be found in the field of embroidery, but rather in knitting and sewing as a child. Like many of us, I was initially taught basic skills by my mother and grandmothers, but from an early age I remember being largely self-taught – always motivated to make things, using books and anything else I could lay my hands on. I began knitting at four years old, and sewed oven cloths every year for family presents which became more and more elaborate. I also enjoyed sewing dolls’ clothes and also clothes for myself, adapting patterns and making things up as I went along.
In the late 1990s, with young children at home, I was looking for a hobby. I dabbled in painting for a while, but still did not really find anything to focus on. Then I came across Jane Nicholas’ wonderful book ‘Stumpwork Embroidery’ and my embroidery journey began. This book really captured my imagination, partly because of the embroidery and partly because of the history it encaptured. I became fascinated by many aspects of Elizabethan work, the style of embroidery, the beautiful objects created such as caskets. I found that embroidery was the ideal hobby she had been looking for – it could be done at home, and it could be done at little cost. My first embroidery was a little decoration on my sewing, but then I went straight into Jane Nicholas’ work, adapting patterns as I went. Soon I wanted to do more and heard of Embroidery 2000 and decided to take a class by Shirley Holdaway on Elizabethan work.