Holiday Traycloth – first installment

Holiday Traycloth

I worked this immediately after the First Voluntary Project, and my goodness, is there a difference between the two! I think I must have talked with Grandmama and looked at some of her embroidery, and it looks as though suddenly the whole idea “clicked”.

The motifs are from transfers from another of Grandmama’s Needlewoman Magazines (August 1934, if you are interested!), worked on an old piece of linen in stranded cottons. The design was suggested to be a cover for a photograph album, but since my family isn’t really photograph-conscious, I felt that such a thing would be superfluous, and finished it as a traycloth instead. We added the seagull to cover a hole in the linen, which was already quite old.

Rockpooling with Toto

Rockpooling with Toto

The range of stitches is very limited on this piece – I must have been following the instructions in the magazine – and the whole thing is surprisingly neatly worked. I love the little girl’s spotty dress (satin stitch spots!) and windswept stem stitch hair, and the starfish is wonderfully knobbly, with closely packed French knots.

Most of the outlining across the whole piece is in back stitch, and although I didn’t count it precisely, I suspect the weave of the linen made that much easier to do than it might have been.

The designs themselves are very reminiscent of the children’s books of the period – it’s even exactly the right sort of dog, slightly scruffy, but always ready to play!



These walkers have blanket stitch collars and cuffs, and stem stitch hair. His shorts are worked in Jacobean Couching and the spots on her skirt are French knots. The leaves on the bush in the background are detached chain, and the yellow flowers are blanket stitch wheels. Again, the hair is in stem stitch and the socks (like the little girl’s shoes) are in satin stitch.

You’ll notice that all of these stitches re-occur when I describe the other motifs, too. The designer has made absolutely first-class use of all the stitches.



  1. Jules says:

    This is fabulous! I love the designs and the stitch us, is, as you say, spot on.

  2. coral-seas says:

    How cute is that! As you say it is very reminiscent of the children’s books of the period and as such brings a smile to my face 🙂

  3. Jules says:

    Sorry that is use! More attention, less speed!

  4. Penny says:

    This is wonderful – perfect vintage. Looking at it I am taken back in time (a little bit before mine I might add) to what seem to have been simpler times – times of children playing outside. Love all of the stitches!

  5. Carolyn says:

    What a lovely piece. Those old magazines are a wonderful source of patterns. It reminds me of the pictures in my mother’s Girl’s Own books I used to pour over as a child. (Did children really look like that?) As to the so called limited use of stitches, I think that the stitches used are perfect for the piece.

  6. Terrie says:

    Other than the usual stitches / embroidery of flowers, this is a lovely piece of stories. Your explanation and link of various stitches really great help for me to know more. Very good post.

  7. I immediately thought of the Enid Blyton books of my childhood! Your stitching is so neat – and I particularly like the windblown hair.

  8. Anita says:

    Lovely piece! All the designs are pretty but I like the lady sitting under the tree reading a book ,she seems so relaxed 🙂

  9. Lady Fi says:

    What a lovely piece full of the joy of childhood!

  10. Lucy says:

    How lovely to have kept your earliest work. My mother saved nothing, not at all sentimental. The pattern reminds me of my childhood storybooks.

  11. karen says:

    I love this, there is an innocence to it and it reminds me of my Grandmothers, they had these all over the house.

  12. Action Ma'am says:

    I love the sence of movement in the sturdy stride of the walkers and the windblown hair and frock of the little girl.