A scarf called Anthea

A book is open on the floor, showing an embroidery patttern and part of the finished article. On top of the book is a tumble of golden yellow fabric.

Just recently, I have been feeling rather bereft of the sort of simple embroidery that passes the time pleasantly. I’ve been assembling the Amarna pieces, and while they certainly engender a sense of achievement, it has not been relaxing. I had a couple of periods in the offing when a bit of stitching in public was in order, so I was looking for something that could be worked in the hand, with a minimum of materials.

In one of my favourite Georgette Heyer novels, “The Unknown Ajax”, the heroine (Anthea) is seen, in one tiny incident, following instructions from “The Mirror of Fashion” to make a reticule (handbag) in the shape of an Etruscan vase, so when I was leafing through “Jane Austen Embroidery” in search of inspiration for a quick, easy to carry project, and my eye lit on a circular design inspired by an Etruscan design from The Lady’s Magazine of around 1808, it leapt out at me.

The fabric is open over a lap, and you can see rough chalk lines and a few rows of chain stitch.

But I have a scarf, not a cushion, so the adapted pattern is going to readapted, and what’s more, this is just a little something to remind me that I really do love embroidery. I’ve been spending so much time on finishing the Dreams of Amarna pieces, that I’ve done almost no real embroidery for months, and I miss it. So this is simple, sketched on by eye, not seeking perfection, just, if anything, charm. I’m going back to what I learnt from the Great Lady’s Magazine Stitch Off, drafting by hand and trusting myself to make something that is as close to accurate as I need it to be.

And indeed, with just a needle and my thread (white cotton floche), I was able to travel very light, and sit quietly stitching in the places where I needed to be present but not unoccupied, stewarding an exhibition and waiting in waiting rooms. It attracted attention, of course, but that merely offers the opportunity to evangelise on the pleasures of embroidery.

The fabric is laid out on the floor, showing the design in progress.

Since I didn’t even take scissors, I wasn’t able to finish lines of stitching which would take less than a length of the floche, but I can come back to that. I’ve also decided that I’m going to stitch the same pattern (approximately) on the other end of the scarf. I’m fond of this sort of goldeny mustardy colour, and it will be very cheering to wear when I’ve finished it!

My apologies, Anthea – when I’ve finished her, of course!


  1. You certainly deserve a project that will give you nothing but pleasure, no pressure and result in something you can wear with pride and delight.
    How utterly wonderful! It is this kind of stitching is what makes me love embroidery.

  2. Jillayne says:

    I do like that design, it’s perfect for your scarf and also for the kind of stitching you were missing. I recently had a similar experience, wanting something that wasn’t mentally taxing so adapted a watercolour drawing by Edith Holden from one of the Nature Notes books and stitched that. It turned out to be just the thing.

  3. Lin says:

    Nice design. I have been crocheting a lot recently and suddenly realised it was a while since I had held a needle and missed it, so it was good to get some hexagons out to play with.

  4. Sue Jones says:

    I know how you feel! I often have an Home project and a Carry-about piece on the go for stitching groups, trains and the like. (Often bookmarks. Usually counted.) I was also stewarding a lot over the weekend, and had wonderful light some of the time, so a fair bit of stitching occurred.
    That will be a very handsome shawl when it finishes being a useful busy-project.

  5. Alex Hall says:

    So many of Georgette Heyer’s heroines are so feisty that it’s odd to think of them settling down to embroider apart from perhaps Drusilla in the Quiet Gentleman or Hester(?) in Sprig Muslin. But I love that you’ve taken your inspiration from the novels and I think a scarf will look rather wonderful!

  6. Carolyn Foley says:

    I am going to have to re-read those Georgette Heyer novels again. I read everyone when I was a teenager and then moved on, I need to refresh my memory again. And having something to stitch just for enjoyment of the process, is one of the best things in life.

  7. Karen says:

    What a lovely project. Always a joy to have some relaxing embroidery on the go.

  8. Linda says:

    It is good to have an ‘easy’ project on the go. I’ve got one too.