Several years ago, Bill and I took a group of fellow stitchers on an Arena Travel holiday to visit the island of Madeira – it was a marvellous experience. Our hotel was up a very steep hill but the view out over the sea was really special.
The island is famous for the flowers and the botanical gardens, all of which we enjoyed but we were there, of course, for the embroidery. Madeira has been famous the world over for glorious embroidered table linens and we could see exquisite examples of this as well as delicate cut work and trammed canvases as we walked the streets – or should I say climbed the streets! I know many of our group brought home some gorgeous pieces.
Our tour guide took us to one of the remaining embroidery workshops where we could see how the ancient patterns were transferred to the fabric. As I have said before, I am not very good at surface embroidery and I really only worked counted stitches but it was still fascinating. The highly skilled designer showed us how the patterns were transferred to the fabric – most of these shapes are cut out after the satin stitch boundaries have been worked. Can you imagine doing all that work, then having the pressure of snipping into it? I will be honest, it made my palms sweat in panic.