A passion for colour

Carol Naylor was our inspiring speaker this month. Carol started by surprising us when she said that she was initially a ‘reluctant embroiderer’. She wanted to get into art college (Goldsmiths) to study painting, but was offered a place on the Goldsmiths embroidery course instead. People tried to talk her out of it. She accepted their misgivings (‘You can’t sew’, ‘You don’t like embroidery’) but she accepted the place, thinking that it would be ‘a foot in the door’ and that after a few weeks she would change to painting. Little did she know that embroidery would turn out to be a life-long passion.

Somehow the change to painting never happened, and she found herself getting drawn into the world of stitch. Carol was lucky to be at Goldsmiths during the time when the legendary Constance Howard was teaching there. She spoke about her memories of Constance Howard’s green hair and her exacting standards. Carol struggled with embroidery for some time, but spoke about a breakthrough when Constance gave positive feedback on a small aspect of one of her pieces.



















Carol’s interest in painting is self-evident in her work. From her post-graduate studies onwards, she developed her own style of ‘painting with the sewing machine’. She always creates from her own observations. She uses photos and sketchbooks as part of her preparation, but she finds it essential to have seen the subject directly. She brought sketchbooks for us to look at, and it was fascinating to see the development of a sketch, through stitch samples, and into a finished piece.

Carol works from the back of her work. The threads that she wants on the front of her work would be too thick to go through the needle, so she puts them in the bobbin and stitches ‘upside down’. The two photos above show the two sides of one of her pieces – interestingly, the back is also lovely!

Carol ended up with a long-term career in textiles, becoming head of department at Chichester College for many years, interspersed with teaching Spanish. She eventually left the college to focus on her own work. She draws her inspiration from landscapes, with particular love of the South Downs, Italy and Spain.

She spoke about how she loves to inspire other people, and also how she loves to see the work of other artists. She showed us some examples of work by other people that she admires, and talked about how different artistic disciplines can influence and inspire each other. Carol is a Fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen and was chairman for four years. She has work exhibited in the current exhibition at the Bankside Gallery (open now, until 26th June). She will also has work in a forthcoming exhibition at the Oxmarket Gallery in Chichester, as part of the local art group ARTEL. Each member of the group has submitted art inspired by the Chichester Ship Canal. Good timing, as the exhibition is open from Tues 21st June to Sun 3rd July, so I for one plan to go along to see it. Details in the link. https://www.oxmarket.org/exhibitions/artel-2022

A tribute to Sue Bush

We were so sad to lose our friend and fellow-member Sue Bush. Linda Hoddy, together with our secretary Sue Parkinson, wrote a lovely tribute to Sue for our newsletter, but we wanted to share an expanded version here. There is so much to say about Sue, and so many memories and anecdotes. She was a big personality, and people naturally gravitated to her. She had many close friends in the group.

Sue joined Worthing Embroiderers Guild 25 years ago and stayed loyal and active throughout that time. She was an active member of the committee and could always be relied on to volunteer whenever help was needed, whether it be stewarding at an exhibition, teaching a workshop, or just making a welcome cup of tea. She organised volunteers to ‘sit and stitch’ at Parham House, and it was always a great pleasure to find yourself sharing a ‘shift’ there with her. During the time when committee meetings were held on Zoom, Sue would always sit in her sewing room stitching away during the meeting; listening intently and taking an active part in the meeting, but never one to waste a single moment as she had so much creativity waiting to be expressed.

Sue was a regular member of the Traditional Embroidery group, and also threw herself wholeheartedly into the new Mixed Media group. We were all astounded at the energy that Sue put into her creative work;  when most of us would be pleased to produce one piece of work, Sue could be relied on to produce five or six. She was remarkably cheerful and resilient; for example, she approached the successive Lockdowns as an opportunity to do even more creative work. She loved to try new things, and she loved to share her enthusiasm with other people. At a recent meeting she inspired us all with her amazing collection of embroidered bags, boxes and books. She talked us through the many techniques she used in her work including beading, felting, weaving, patchwork, embroidery and canvas work.

Sue was born in Leamington Spa in 1946. She had a sister, Teona (Tig), a daughter Lucy and a son Ian, and grandchildren. Sue and her sister grew up in the Clent hills in Worcestershire. Seeing how much energy Sue had in her seventies, it isn’t difficult to imagine how much energy she must have had a child. At her funeral, an anecdote in her eulogy described Sue falling off her horse as a child, dusting herself down, making no fuss and getting straight back on. That sounds like the Sue we all knew and loved: no-nonsense, no fuss: ‘Just get on with it’. Sue didn’t suffer fools…but at the same time she was incredibly kind and supportive, as well as fun, which earned her the friendship and respect of so many people.

Sue did various jobs over the years, some linked to her love of fabric and stitch. She worked for Liberty’s haberdashery department, and she also worked for the designer Belinda Belville. Her role there was beading onto wedding dresses, including wedding dresses for the Royal family. Sue loved beading, and loved to teach workshops and projects on her favourite subject. She very kindly mended a beaded necklace for me:  it broke a long time after I made it and I had forgotten the technique, but Sue fixed it and returned it as good as new. I will think of her when I wear it.

Sue met her second husband John in the departure lounge before a cruise. They loved going on cruises together, and Sue would make a sampler after each trip as a keepsake. Sue lost John in 2018. Even more than before, Sue threw herself into all the creative activities and friendships that sustained her. After being very ill a few years ago, Sue made a great recovery and seemed full of energy and zest for life, so it was very unexpected when she passed away so suddenly. She has left a ‘Sue-shaped hole’ in our group. We will miss her friendship, her willingness to share knowledge and skills, her incredible enthusiasm and her hunger to learn new things.

I’ll finish with a prayer that was read at Sue’s funeral. If you scroll down below that, you will find some examples of Sue’s lovely work. If you would like to comment, or add your own contribution to this tribute, you are welcome to write in the ‘Comments’ box below.

The Needlewoman’s Prayer.

God grant that I may see the stitch

Until my dying day

And when my last short thread is clipped

And scissors tucked away

The work that I have done lives on

That other folk may see

The pleasures I have known, Lord,

In the skill you gave to me.

Sue Bush, Rust. Inspired by work for one of the Travelling Scrapbooks.
Sue Bush: Black and white.
Sue Bush
Sue Bush

Textiles: Nature and Colour

How lovely it was to have Susan D’Souza at our meeting to tell us all about her work.

Susan gave us an introduction to her work which explores nature through details of plants, gardens and landscape images.  Her process involves taking photos from nature and then abstracting images and creating layers with dyer or hand painted fabric applique techniques using stitch to highlight detail and texture.

Susan’s work often incorporates natural, found, and sustainable materials and plant-based dyes highlighting the fragile relationship with nature, she likes working slowly, recording the changes in the seasons.

Susan brought many pieces of her work which included Batik and natural dyes.

Susan has a Batik and resist workshop on the 3rd July at Prairie Gardens should you wish to learn a little more of her craft.


Don’t forget to visit her website for more information https://susandsouzatextiles.com/

Chinese and Japanese Embroidery













A belated ‘thank you’ to Cobi Erskine, one of our members who gave a fascinating talk on Japanese and Chinese Embroidery at our March meeting. Annette Ragless wrote a few words to try to sum up Cobi’s talk.

‘What a treat we had with Cobi, and to think that we have only seen a fraction of her collection and stories. Cobi showed us the first piece of embroidery she had created, and spoke about a book that her father gave her as a present: ‘Five Thousand Years of Textiles’. This book gave her a real insight and a taste for travelling and creating. Her next piece was Blackwork, which is where a lifelong passion started for this art.

Cobi assisted in researching the book ‘Miao Embroidery from South West China’ with Rush Smith, and she showed us her own sampler of all the different methods.







We saw samples of Cobi’s own work as well as the many pieces she has collected over the years, including:

Zhen Xian Bao – Thread books with pockets

Emblems of the Chinese Civil Servants (Birds) and Military (Beasts)


Chinese Tribal Miao Ethnic process – created in strips and stitched together to create Baby carriers.
Shibori – Navy and White Bag
Kogin – similar to Sashiko but created by thread counting
Temari Balls – A form of original Chinese Folk Art, given as a symbol of loyalty and friendship.
Kuba cloth
Pocari Work
The final piece was one of Cobi’s own work: a purple shaded woven banner which was inspired by an Art Deco vase. Cobi used fabric doilies on this, which had been hand-dyed.

Trying something different…

The speaker for our January meeting on Tuesday 11th is Angie Hughes, who will be talking about ‘Creative Ice-breaking’. We will be trying a new format this month. Angie will be speaking by Zoom from her own studio, which you can join either from your own home, or by watching on the big screen at the hall. Her work will be shown on screen, so if you choose not to come to the hall then you will still see exactly the same as the people in the hall. Members will receive a Zoom link by email. Due to Covid rates, the numbers in the hall are strictly limited so that we can maintain more social distancing than usual, so please contact our Secretary to ask to book one of the places. If you are a non-member who would like to attend by Zoom, you would be welcome to attend for a small charge. Please send a request via the ‘contact’ page on this website, including your email address. We look forward to seeing as many people as possible through one route or the other. We can still all wave to each other via the screen! If you are a new member and would like to join us, please email our Secretary Sue for a link on sec.southdownscreativestitchers@gmail.com 

You can see Angie Hughes work on her website: https://www.angiehughes.com/

‘A lifetime of looking’

Parham House Gardens

We had a wonderful talk this month by one of our own members, Julia Brown. Julia specialises in exquisite landscapes which she embroiders on her trusty 1970’s Bernina sewing machine. Julia comes from a family or tailors and sewers, and has stitched since childhood. She showed us a sweet tiny needlecase that she stitched as a young child, and spoke about how important it is to share our love of stitch with children and to pass our skills on. She also spoke about the importance of tutors, and she particularly acknowledged the influence of local machine-embroidery tutor Wendy Dolan.

Julia has found her niche in machine-embroidered landscapes. It combines three key things that she loves: sewing, painting and landscapes. Sewing started in childhood, and for many years Julia has made and embroidered wedding dresses professionally. Her love of painting underlies her embroidery work (for example a knowledge of composition, colour mixing, where to put a focal point etc.). She lightly paints her fabric before stitching, leaving lots of space for stitching it afterwards.

Julia studied Geography at University, and her love of landscape is what has led her to this particular aspect of stitching. She is interested in the underlying geology, as well as the human influence of things like tracks, hedges and fields. A recent influence is the wonderful book by Robert Macfarlane: ‘The Old Ways, A Journey on Foot’. This exploration of the ancient tracks and landscapes encourages the reader to slow down and really look at the world around them. It’s a lovely book, available from most good bookshops.

Julia showed us how she builds up layers of different textures before starting to stitch, using fabrics such as crepe bandage, scrim, dish-cloth etc. She then adds even more texture and detail with stitch. Many thanks to Julia for a very interesting talk, and for showing us your lovely work. To see more of Julia’s work, go to her website or FB page: https://www.facebook.com/JuliaBrownStitched/    https://www.facebook.com/JuliaBrownStitched/

Richard Box talk

Showing Richard’s combination of painterly techniques with stitch and beading.

We had a very entertaining afternoon with Richard Box for our September meeting. Richard has inspired many hundreds of people with his combination of drawing, painting and textile art including hand and machine stitching. Richard was a funny and witty speaker, who held our interest all afternoon. As well as learning some useful tips, we also had a good day out.

More painterly techniques translated into stitch – you can see an impressionist influence in this one.

Richard told us some amusing anecdotes about his life and his art, and there was lots of laughter during his talk. His first experience of making something in fabric was a Cope for his Church of England father – but he admitted that his father ‘wouldn’t be seen dead in it’. Richard studied painting at art college, but counts himself very lucky to have been taught by Constance Howard, which really awakened his interest in textile art. His painting background can be seen in his work, for example his ability to really observe what is in front of him, and confidence in colour mixing. He spoke about doing art with children with special needs, and the spontaneity that they had to their art, and how he wants to try to help adults to have the same joy in creating things.

Rumour has it that this lovely puss was bought be a member because of the resemblance to her own cat!

Richard is well known for helping people to overcome their inhibitions about drawing and painting, and encouraging embroiderers to use their own observations and art work to make original designs (think ‘Drawing for the Terrified applied to stitch). He talked us through his own artistic process, starting either from real-life observations or from a photograph. He finds that drawing and painting the subject first is essential, as it helps him to ‘understand’ what he is looking at. Having done a painting of his subject, he then simplifies it into basic colour areas, and sketches or draws the main ‘blocks’ of colour which he then applies in pieces of fabric onto a hessian backing. More layers are added, machine stitching is added, and finally hand-stitching and sometimes beading. The photos below show his process, broken down into stages. Thank you Richard for agreeing that we could share these images on our website, and for an interesting and entertaining afternoon, and thank you Gay for organising the afternoon.

Initial bold areas of colour applied with pieces of fabric
More detail added to coloured areas with smaller pieces of fabric
More fabrics and background threads applied
First stitching on the sewing machine. Richard spoke about the importance of ‘blending’ colour from one area into another
Some initial bold hand-stitching
The finished piece, with more hand-stitching details added

Summer Meeting

Our August meeting was a very successful afternoon in the lovely environment of Findon Village Hall. We had plenty of space to socially distance, and with windows and doors open and the sun shining in we had a chance to be together once again just like old times. It feels like a very positive time in the group: longstanding members are ‘re-connecting’ and at the same time, new members are joining. We took this chance to look back at some of the work that members have been creating during lockdown, and everyone enjoyed the pop-up display of work. If you scroll down, you will see some photos of the individual work that members exhibited on the day. Apologies if I missed yours, but do feel free to send me a photo to add. If I haven’t named your work, or if you know who made one of the un-named ones, please pop a message in the ‘Comments’ box at the end of this post. And here are a few photos of people chatting and enjoying the afternoon.

Linda Hoddy

Betty Byford
Sue Parkinson

Annette Ragless?
Gay Hibbs
Brenda Forrester
Sally Mitchell

Sue Parkinson
Lea Dishott

Garden Sale

They say that buses come in threes – well today the news posts from the website will come as three. Your Webmistress is finally having a catch-up! So here are some photos from the wonderfully successful garden sale that was held Jane Baskerville’s garden. This was another opportunity to get together and chat, drink tea and eat cake – and it was also a very successful fund-raiser for the group. Members came ready to shop, and shop they did! As well as Linda’s bric-a-brac, we also had a lovely collection of textile books that was given to Jane B, donated fabrics, and the delicious print-blocks that were donated by Jamie Mason of Colouricious. We will keep a generous collection of the print blocks for members to use in workshops, but there are so many (literally hundreds!) which means we are selling some as fund-raisers (take a look at the Sales page on the website if you’re interested in the box sets of print-blocks). As well as raising £413.50 for the group during the afternoon, we also raised £37 for the NHS from the teas and coffees. Here are some photos of us all in Jane B’s beautiful garden.

Real people!

The sun shone, and we finally managed to meet up in person for our July meeting. How lovely to see ‘real’ people rather than rectangular people on a computer screen, and how lovely to see those members again who haven’t been joining us on Zoom. Our July meeting took place as an outdoor ‘socially distanced’ picnic. Many thanks to Sue P for organising the day, and for organising the wind to drop and the sun to shine! No more words, just lots of lovely photos.