Goodness – week 8 already - how fast the time goes by!

We are looking this week at some of the beautiful work from Surrey Choices. If you look at their website, you will find out that this amazing organisations ‘provides a range of services to help improve the independence, confidence and life skills of people with a range of disabilities and support needs, whatever their age.’   


I know about The Grange at Bookham, Cherry Trees in Clandon and Challengers in Guildford, but I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know Surrey Choices existed.  These charities do such fantastic and important work in our community, it's great to have Surrey Choices represented in our patchwork. 


Like all caring organisations, those looking after disabled and elderly members of the community have had an exhausting few months, so it is lovely to be able to highlight them.


Gladrags square featuring a dogI picked these two for their simplicity and colourfulness – is that a word?  Joanne has enjoyed playing on her home's new snooker table during lock down and she obviously had an enviable stash of beads to find so many the same size but in different colours!  Nicky's design features one of the many friendly dogs she has enjoyed meeting on her daily walks. We will share some more designs from Surrey Choices next week.


I also wanted to share this stunning piece of work from the West Horsley WI Evening group. Each member  received a 1 inch square to write or draw something that has made them glad during lockdown. It’s so detailed –  It’s given me an idea for a miniature snakes and ladders board!


WI gladrag squareMeanwhile, I have been working on a way to introduce you to a very simple yet effective form of embroidery/quilting.  I was shown this as a teenager as ‘Italian quilting’ and got totally hooked on it!  It looks particularly lovely when done on dupion silk, but I’d suggest you start with something simpler.


You will need some linen or plain cotton and the same amount of fabric in a finer cotton/muslin or cheesecloth.


Draw a design on the back of your fabric in biro.  If you draw it on the top piece of fabric, be sure to use one of those clever pens that fades after its been applied, so you don’t spoil your design.


Here is a drawing of a four leaf clover if you would rather use a ready made design. Whatever you draw it needs two lines. Stitch along both lines in a very small running stitch (in-out-in-out, no back-stitching)


When your stitching is complete, make the tiniest of cuts between the lines in the reverse side of your work – you can start anywhere. Thread some knitting yarn (double knitting or thereabouts) through the hole and as far as you can go. When you need to turn, poke it out through the backing fabric and in again at the right angle for the next bit. Don’t pull it too tight, as you will distort the design. Fill in between all the lines and you will find you have a lovely raised surface.


If you do this with quite a fine fabric on the front, you can get a lovely effect with the yarn showing through the fabric – choose a rainbow yarn and the effects are magical! Wish I’d kept some of my old work!


Don’t forget, we’d love to see your work so we can share it with everyone else.  A good quality picture and some information about yourself or your reason for the design will be excitedly received at [email protected]

We look forward to hearing from you, but in the meantime, especially if you are chancing a pub, stay safe!



Nancy Shafee is a member of the International Feltmakers Association, Fibre Art Network, Heritage Craft Association and current Chair of the Surrey Guild of Craftsmen. 

Nancy lives in West Horsley. She teaches feltmaking and sells her work through The Surrey Guild of Craftsmen Gallery in Milford and Haslemere Museum.