And that's where I have been - in a dark place learning to
cope and finally being able to teach my mind how to deal with
it. My dark place was not because of any major tragedy but sheer
loneliness, lost and out of my depth with life as a single person
after my marriage broke up. I lived in some terrible places and
amongst some terrible people, whom I wasn't naive about but had
never lived around before. All of that didn't help to push those
black clouds away, they just added to it.
I couldn't cope being with people. It just heightened the
loneliness of going back to an empty flat. It was easier being
in my own four walls and shutting myself away. Sometimes I would
fight it and force myself but it was the worst thing to do. My
body and mind healed themselves in their own good time and let
me know when it was time to face people again. My mind took a
sabbatical; my body just had to follow suit.
Revamped Design - Cinnamon.
I couldn't pick up a needle and thread. Both motivation and
inspiration were non-existent. Wherever I moved, and I moved
a lot, all of my stash came with me, but it hardly ever saw the
light of day. Turning 40 was the starting point of my turnaround.
It was two years further down the line before my mind was healed
enough to give me the courage to reassess my life.. I knew that
where I had been in my mind was not where I wanted to be anymore.
All that was my previous life and this is my new one!
The First Mystery Sampler I Ever Created in 1997
I always said I designed from my heart and so now that I have
found myself again and also rediscovered my love for stitching,
I decided to call my new business "Heirloom Embroideries
- From the Heart
An Introduction Hardanger Design for Beginners
Several factors led to my return to the needlework industry.
In 2003 I turned 40 and what struck me most was my mortality.
I was coming to terms with being single and realizing that even
though I had only myself to support, if times got hard, there
was no one else I could rely on. If I was lucky I had at least
another good 40+ years ahead of me and only another 25 working
years. Something else then struck me. I had already lived 40
years and where had that time gone?
Just after my 40th birthday I moved into the house where I
live now. This was a real house, not some crummy flat or bed
sit. For the first time I was able to unpack all of my embroidery
things. The house needed a lot of work and so I set to work,
still not really looking at my embroidery. The mortality thing
kept kicking in and I thought of my kids having to sort through
all of my stuff and I started putting it into some semblance
Diamond Treasure is a design by the lovely and very talented
Colette Robinson. It employs Caron Threads, as do most of her
designs. Colette creates Hardanger designs, which are quite adventurous
and unique. They are specifically geared to the beginning and
Delicate. Dainty. Classic. Are all accurate descriptions of
Carol's style. And for Sampler lovers there is much to choose
from. Click on each picture
or name for a larger more detailed photo of the design.
My Hearts Desire
Hearts & Flowers
I had kept all the Thank You cards and letters that anyone
had ever sent me and started to put them into files. My memorabilia
is very important to me, a treasured part of my history. I began
to read them; some brought back many lovely memories, others
tugged on my heart strings so bad. I had completely forgotten
that my simple embroidery designs, and me, had meant something
and had affected other peoples' lives in a good and positive
way. Many tears were shed as I read them and even as I type this
now but they do genuinely mean something so very special to me.
Tears are good and can be very therapeutic - like a little release
Mystery Sampler 2006
The Current Project
Shown In Progress to Date
I came across files I had forgotten that I had, with samples
of pieces I had started and never finished or done anything with,
yards of fabrics, mounds of threads and bags of beads. I started
to add up the value of what I had sitting in front of me in light
of my plight regarding a job and finances and found I had my
answer sitting right in front of me but was my heart in
it? There was another very relevant factor in my decision. Surveying
all of my stock I realized how generous Lois Caron had been and
also Kreinik threads and Mill Hill Beads. I felt so incredibly
guilty that these companies had believed in me enough to give
me all their samples and what had I done just disappeared!
I owed it to them too for their generosity and believing in me.
I looked at my old designs and thought there was a real naivety
about them, but if I tweaked here and there, I could make them
something more. I started researching on the net to see how much
the market had changed and what was out there now. I picked up
my needle and thread and began stitching. It didn't flow straight
away as it had done in the past but there was a flicker of hope
there for the future.
An Introduction to
Pulled and Withdrawn Threadwork. I Intend to Inaugurate an Online
Workshop With this Design Along with a Lovely Needleroll by Colette
I decided that the only way was for me to have control and
the best way to promote the business was to have my own website.
A very dear friend helped me to finance it. I set up the basic
type of site I wanted, one that I could build on if all went
well. I revamped some of my old designs, created some new ones
and added a Mystery Subscription Sampler.
In October 2005 my site went live. My Mystery Sampler project
began in April 2006. Stitchers from all over the world are involved:
France, Netherlands, Iceland, U.S., Canada, Japan, Sweden and
Then I had to conquer two of my biggest fears: contacting
all of the ladies I had ever taught and going public with the
website and my designs. I started with some stitchers who used
to come to classes that I ran from home; they had become good
friends at the time. There was lots of crying, on my part, and
I was amazed that I was welcomed back with such great affection.
I was even more overwhelmed to know that one particular group
that I used to teach still met on a regular basis even after
all of these years.
As Sweet As Candy
Revamped Design - Cotton Candy
Out of the blue, I was contacted by Jayne of Jayne's Attic
of Newcastle and we hit it off immediately. Jayne and I have
become close friends as well as business associates. I was invited
to teach at the Attic. I can't begin to tell you how nervous
I was it had been such a long time! I designed a miniature
Hardangar piece, a class project at one of Jayne's workshops
and I named it after her in honor of her 40th Birthday. I used
Polstitches Designs threads and fabric.
Some of my old designs are available only from Jayne's Attic
at www.jaynesattic.co.uk. or at her shop in Northumberland. Available from Jayne are Hearts
and Flowers, Jayne and Symphony. She will also be stocking Cinnamon,
Cotton Candy and Knot Garden later this year.
An Alphabet of Stitches
The Second Mystery Sampler Created in 1998
Each Row of the Alphabet of Stitches Contains a Stitch Which
Begins With a Letter of the Alphabet from A to Z
A Few Stitches towards the End of the Alphabet are a Bit Obscure
but Nevertheless, are Actual Stitches
Jayne and I have set up a joint company called "Attic
Heirloom Events" at www.AtticHeirloomEvents.co.uk We decided to organize and run weekend retreats called 'A Time
to Stitch'. A common complaint heard from passionate stitchers
over and over again is, "We need more time to stitch".
What better excuse than to enjoy a weekend of stitching at some
of the most luxurious locations in the UK. Jayne and I agreed
that we both wanted to create the sort of weekend retreat that
we ourselves would love to attend. We wanted luxury - to feel
totally pampered and relaxed. We toured many hotels and then
styled our program to include a unique embroidery design, which
I would teach. We have included a Jayne's Attic Special Shopping
Experience and several secret surprises thrown in for good measure
with excellent food as the bonus. We are really excited about
our venture and we are now working on 2007/08 program.
Then Jo of Polstitches Designs contacted me. She is a member
of the Hand Dyers Association. A group of the dyers have created
a Collaboration Pack and asked me to design an exclusive and
limited edition embroidery for them. The title was Heavenly Wonders
and is available only from the hand dyers associated with the
collaboration. It was such great fun as I used a thread or fabric
from each of the hand dyers collection adding some beads and
Swarovski Crystals for that little extra sparkle. I created two
designs: I wanted to show that by changing the thread & fabric
and by using elements from the main design, you could create
something completely different. These packs contain 'something
exclusive' from each of the hand dyers as well as a guest designer's
piece and this particular pack is being shipped to all those
that have pre ordered it by 1st August 2006.
Heavenly Wonders Too
History is very important to me. I have a collection of original
antique samplers dating from 1791 to 1844 and I plan to reproduce
them. This has always been one of my long term goals and interests.
It is amazing to hold a piece of embroidery that a young girl
worked on over 200 years ago on such fine fabrics in silk threads.
It is astounding when you look at the back of their work and
see the true colors of how their pieces originally looked.
My intention is to stitch them as they were originally done
- on very fine fabrics - 40 count linen, with silk embroidery
threads. However, I also want to create them with a slightly
more modern touch by working the elements of the design on much
larger fabric, using hand dyed threads and beads, substituting
some of the cross stitches for other stitches and altering the
colors to our more modern tastes. I am also working on some of
my own traditional sampler designs.
My antique samplers have always brought inspiration to me,
but I also love using a variety of stitches other than just cross
stitch and beads make the perfect embellishment to complete a
design. I think in visuals and I look at embroideries and see
appealing shapes combined with pleasing colors. Some one once
asked me to think of a word that described me. After much deliberation
I came up with 'pot pourri' because it is pleasing to so many
of the senses. I hope that my embroideries appeal to other people's
senses in the same way.
I am hoping to be working with Linda Hadden of the Sampler
Guild UK next year, doing a workshop for the Guild. I am sure
I have a book or two up my sleeve too. I can't believe that I
have only been back about 8 months and am already snowed under
with work and ideas for future projects. My life is consumed
with embroidery. It's good that I live alone and can take
over the house with all of my threads, fabrics and works-in-progress.
Nobody can complain about the mess or the amount of time I spend
stitching, designing or working on the computer. If I don't want
to do housework, I don't have to! Life is rosy and full of promise
again. I keep my fingers crossed!
Heirloom Sampler and An Alphabet of Stitches are now available
as a booklet.
Carol will be taking names shortly for the MYSTERY SAMPLER
2007 project. If you would like to register, e mail her at email@example.com
For information on the Stitching Retreats and other events
Carol and Jayne have organized go to www.atticheirloomevents.co.uk
For our previous Designer Feature On Carol Tinson, go to
"Heirloom Embroideries - From the Heart"
phone +44 (0) 1482 649966
address: 66 Hull Road
On Florence Avenue