Thursday, May 28, 2009

I was very fortunate to attend a symposium organized by Jacqueline Holdsworth of Needleprint at Ackworth School in northern England in 2006. I wanted to take a special gift for the attendees, and with Jacqueline’s approval and support I developed the Ackworth Friendship Book.

This is an accordion-style book of Quaker motifs from Ackworth School. There are 10 stitched pages with an alphabet, medallions, half-medallions, flowers, birds, and other motifs. On my model, I stitched the front and back covers. I put my initials on the front and Jacqueline’s on the back. My friends Judy, Sara, and Carol from Ohio, Elizabeth from Kentucky, Caroline from Florida, Catherine from France, Lori from Germany, and Rae from Arizona each stitched a page and "signed" her page with her initials. Each set of pages forms a pocket in which you can store special treasures. I asked my friends to write a note that I could put in my pockets. What a wonderful treasure I now have! Thank you, dear friends!

Thanks to my friend, Judy, we were able to get these charts to Ackworth for me to give to the symposium attendees. It wasn’t an easy feat because each chart package has 16 pages plus the cover. Now multiply this times 76!! (Thanks, Judy.) The design was released to shops at the Nashville 2007 needlework tradeshow.

This project is easy to do as a round robin. The charts are printed so that you can hand a single chart to a friend to stitch one book page. There is a check list so that you can record who has which page. You can also stitch the entire book yourself and dedicate each page to a loved one. Another option is to individually stitch and frame the book pages. There are also directions for making a carrying bag for your book.

When choosing your supplies for the Ackworth Friendship Book, I suggest you first pick your lining and bag fabric. Then pick the ribbon for the bag and the hinges between the book pages. (It is important to use a silk satin ribbon which has more body than silk ribbon; silk ribbon will fray, and silk satin won't.) Next chose your embroidery thread color to go with your lining and bag fabric and the ribbon. You’ll find this much easier than trying to find the fabric and ribbon after you’ve stitched your book.

Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing with you photos of some completed books. To whet your appetite, here are some photos from members of Stitchers By the Bay who stitched the book for their friend, Theresa, who was moving away. I am sure she treasures their gift. The group needed more than 10 pages, so they added a few of their own designs to make 14 pages. Look at the clever closure they added.

There’ll be more Ackworth Friendship Books for you to see in the coming days. Meanwhile, when you get the opportunity, check out
Jacqueline’s website and blog both of which are very interesting. Jacqueline is such an amazing person with all that she does!


mainely stitching said...

A group of friends and I are currently doing this as a round robin and I'm just loving it. It's a wonderful project and a lot of fun!

The Daily Mel said...

I've always loved this project, Ellen. I'd never thought of doing it as a round robin. I also love your idea of having your friends each stitch one of the pages!

With My Needle said...

Barbara, I’m glad to hear that your group is enjoying working on the book as a round robin. I hope that you'll send me information and photos when you are finished and encourage others in your group to do the same.

Melissa, The book was designed to easily be done as a round robin. Each chart is on a separate page along with all the directions needed for stitching. I suggest in the directions, that the book owner backstitch around each page before giving the linen, thread, and chart to her friend. (There is a table in the chart package where you can record who has which of your book pages.) Once the backstitching is done, the actual stitching (all cross stitch over two linen threads) takes on the average of 3 hours.

Make sure you have your friends write a message to go in your book pockets. I asked mine to write a verse; it didn’t have to be an original one. On the same paper, each signed her name and where she lives.