STITCHING ISAAC’S TEA TRAIL

My new favourite thing: stitched cartography. I love maps and I love embroidery, so how fantastic to put the two together at a workshop in London. The workshop came at the start of National Map Reading Week, giving an added significance to our celebration of all things cartographical.

The workshop was run by Ekta Kaul, an award-winning textile artist and designer. Here’s one of her maps:

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I was a bit out of practice so I was worried that my embroidery skills wouldn’t be good enough, but Ekta’s friendly and supportive manner was reassuring. There were ten of us around the table, and we started off by practising a few stitches. I was relieved that they were fairly simple, and I’d encountered them before, so my confidence grew.

The fact that the Bayeux Tapestry uses only four stitches (stem stitch, split stitch, chain stitch and laid work which is layers of stitches on top of each other) also helped my confidence. If simplicity is good enough for a depiction of the Norman Conquest it’s good enough for a depiction of Isaac’s Tea Trail.

Ekta showed us how to draw our maps onto a piece of calico and then we were let loose  on a gorgeous collection of threads to start stitching.

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My map was copied from the guidebook ‘Isaac’s Tea Trail – Hidden Heritage in England’s North Country’ by Roger Morris, but several of the participants had drawn their own maps. One depicted the routes of her favourite dog walks, another included a dog encountered on a day out.

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We were never going to be able to finish our maps during the workshop, but Ekta spent time with each of us answering questions and making suggestions to get us to a stage where we felt we could complete our designs at home.

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So I don’t have a completed piece of stitched cartography to show you, just a work-in-progress. Below is the map from the guide book, and the bits I achieved during the workshop.

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My plan is to complete the roads and rivers, add a few location names, and then put in some Ordnance Survey type features such as contour lines and patches of woodland. Embroidery can produce so many different effects so I’m looking forward to experimenting, and I love the fact that any mistakes can just be unpicked.

However, I am a slow stitcher. It took me ages to complete the piece below so I fear my Isaac’s Tea Trail map could take as long as the Bayeux Tapestry did to complete.

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There’s more information about Isaac’s Tea Trail at http://isaacs-tea-trail.co.uk/

You can follow me on Twitter @isaacsfotsteps

 

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