A rather belated start..

Picture of Trish Burr design "silkie the ostrich", with traced linen peeking out behind the instruction booklet

Some of you may recall that a year ago I worked Tanya Bentham‘s kit of the Hounds in the period between Christmas and New Year, as a change of scale, material, and subject while my bigger projects were tucked away to make space for decorations. You may also recall that I bought a Trish Burr design, “Silkie The Ostrich”, from Au Ver A Soie, to fill the same space in the turn of last year to this. And you may have been wondering why you hadn’t seen it yet…

Cover of the instructions for silkie the ostrich showing behind a green flexihoop with part of the design outlines stitched

Well, it took two goes to get the design transferred, for a start! When I tried at home, using the low-tech sunlight-through-the-window technique, there wasn’t enough sunlight! So I had to wash off the failed version and use my mother’s rather fabulous LED lightbox (we’re in a bubble, so no, it didn’t involve breaking lockdown rules).

The more I invent and develop my own designs, the stranger it feels to follow instructions. This is still stranger, because the instructions are in French. I do speak French, but I didn’t do any embroidery when I lived there, so I don’t have any embroidery vocabulary. Not the least of the oddities of advancing years is finding which weird thing you couldn’t possibly have second-guessed you wish past-you had done…

In this case, partly because I’m concerned about losing my design lines, I’m not following the order of working in the booklet of instructions. I’ve started by working all of the split stitch outlining. It’s all in a single strand of silk, so it’s questionable as to how much of a rest from my other projects this will give me, but I lost my heart to Silkie’s smile the moment I saw it, so I think it will be a rest in a different sense.

We have reached Episode 43 of SlowTVStitchery, a rather short episode, owing to some difficulties with camera focus. I was beginning to tackle the full width of the piece, while pondering the challenges posed by Brahms and Messien, and the lectures given for Gresham College by the late Christopher Hogwood.


  1. Yes, I do remember the three hounds embroidery.
    I have a book by Trish Burr about colour choice, and I have worked some of my own designs in her method, but I have never tried one of there kits. Isn’t there a cat and a giraffe in the same style?
    I swear by using a proper light box, the sunny window style transfer method has never worked for me.

  2. Lady Fi says:

    It’s going to be good when it’s finished.

  3. Sue Jones says:

    A lightbox is a wonderful thing – you don’t realise how useful until you own/borrow one. It spends most of its life just lying around gathering dust, but when it’s needed it’s worth every penny. And it has many more uses than you might think.

  4. I love the character of this ostrich, a real sense of humour about the image. Working from a kit is, I find, often a way to relax into just the stitching, rather than worrying that your own design isn’t working or you’ve got the wrong thread in the needle. We have a pair of Becky Hogg Zoom workshops coming up with our EG branch, working her Hastings mackerel kit, which seems to have resulted in her selling out of them. It will re inspire me to get going with the other two goldwork kits of bought from her at our woodpecker workshop.
    I shall listen with great interest to the Christopher Hogwood lectures. I have briefly investigated Messiaen and definitely found him “challenging”. I wonder if you enjoy John Tavener?

  5. Carolyn Foley says:

    There is a place in heaven for kits. Don’t let anyone tell you there isn’t.

  6. Meredithe says:

    Very sweet! Enjoy.

  7. Jen Mullen says:

    What a charming ostrich! I can imagine that the French instructions would be difficult, even if you speak the language, each genre has its own vocabulary and jargon.