Litany of Loreto Close Up: Faces

I was lucky enough to make it to the Royal School of Needleworks Worship and Glory exhibition at Ely cathedral last month, and I was absolutely enraptured by the Litany of Loreto!

The works were donated to RSN by a convent. More information about their history and design can be found here:

But I want to share with you some close ups of the absolutely exquisite stitching! This will be a series of posts, because otherwise it would get ridiculously long.


The pieces are stitched using silk thread. Silk thread can be separated out to fine filaments, much finer than a strand of DMC thread, or bundled as thicker threads. The embroideries used these qualities to create the delicate shading through use of cross hatch.

The stitching is thick and dense in very few places. Mostly, the pale cream satin of the ground cloth has been left to show through and shape and form suggested by the silk, which gives a really delicate feel.

The figures are outlined in a black stitch which gives them definition. Just inside the black stitch there is another line, the colour of skin or of the clothes. You can also see from these images that the hair is densely stitched in a much heavier thread, with contours suggested by changing shades. However, where the hair meets the face, there is a line or two of thin thread, like loose strands of hair, which helps soften the hair and make it look more natural.

The contours of the face and neck are suggested through cross hatching, using a colour close to that of the ground. Areas of shadow are suggested by slightly darker colours and / or denser cross hatching

Most of the faces are beautiful and serene. The stitching and shading are light, suggesting features. But then there’s this one.

And a demon emerging from the sea

Next post I will do some close ups of hands!

A Selkie Story: Reflections

A Selkie Story: Complete

Stitching a Story

Scotstoryfest on Instagram issued an art challenge – 14 prompts on the theme of the sea! The prompts were inspiring, and I decided I wanted to try answering one each day and use them to build up a complete story in a hoop.

The rhythm of stitching something new for the story everyday was really enjoyable, and really satisfying to complete a complex and original hoop in two weeks! I really enjoyed taking part in the challenge as well, and the community that quickly built up between everyone answering the prompts, and the enthusiasm and support of Scotsstoryfest. I’ll definetly look out for another challenge like that.

I love stories and story telling, and I’ve been wanting to find a way to capture that in embroidery for ages. This challenge gave me the push I needed!

I think I’ll need more practice in representing the story clearly (I showed the hoop to my mum and she struggled to follow it!) but for a first go I’m really proud! I want to practice stitching small figures with expressive movements more.


Embroidering water is something I’ve want to try for a while – I’ve looked at the different techniques other stitchers have used but this has been my first time! I’m really pleased with how it has come out – mixing chain stitch and coral stitch gives different textures which helps with movement and also perspective. I really like the perspective I achieved with the island, and the feeling of movement in the last sweep. The underwater diagonal lines were a last minute inspiration, but I think they really help giving a feeling of transition below and above water.



cotton and linen blend, painted with blue water colour and backed with cotton


  • Variegated threads by Threadworx used for the sea and seaweed. These threads have beautifully subtle variations. The surface of the sea uses a slightly different blue to the storm and underwater lines. Bought from London Bead Co.
  • DMC Perle for the spiral/seashell
  • DMC or Anchor threads used for everything else.


  • Felt for mermaids tail, island, rocks, and selkies
  • A scrap bit of interfacing for the fog!