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We Revisit Carol Tinson
Be sure to check out her free class, too!

In Feb., 1999, Carol Tinson was successfully creating and marketing her designs under the name of Carol Tinson Designs. Some time later she seemed to vanish into thin air! She has since re-emerged from her self imposed isolation and has started a new business, "Heirloom Embroideries - From the Heart". She's brimming with creative ideas and a renewed zest for life. When I asked Carol what had happened in her life since we last featured her on the Caron Website, she had the courage and compassion to reveal her story. Here it is in her own words.

A Good Vintage
Some of the elements in this design are part of the Caron Class Project


A Brutally Honest Reality! A Flicker of Hope for the Future!

I would like to include some personal circumstances as they are relevant to why I "dipped out" of the needlework scene and my subsequent return. I also want to give some hope to people who might be going through rough times themselves.

I have given my re-invention story lots of reflection. I want it to show others that even though you go through some bad times and even though some are worse than others, they are all relevant and not insignificant. I've learned that you have to allow your body, mind and spirit to wallow in the bad and come to terms with it before you can start to cope with the good. Even though there will be good times again, there will also still be bad times. You have to be able to mentally cope with them to realize that it doesn't mean that you are going back into that dark place again. You learn put it in perspective and move forward again.





 My Two Beautiful Granddaughters (Sisters)

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.

Arabian Medley
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!

Heirloom Sampler
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

First Steps
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 of order.

Diamond Treasure

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 intermediate stitcher.

Carol Tinson Design Booklets

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.

Summer Rose


Merlins Crystal

Spring Vine



Peach Bouquet



 Beaded Elegance


Brier Rose

 Highland Mist





 Noel Sampler


 Band Sampler

 Cotton Candy


 Heirloom Sampler

 My Hearts Desire  







 Dream Spirit

 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 valve.

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 the UK.

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.

Heavenly Wonders

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.

Forever Loved

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 sew_carol_submystery@yahoo.co.uk

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
HU13 9LU

CARON email: mail@caron-net.com / Webmaster monika@nika-net.com