Hazel's Garden

Do you have a day of the week that it always seems to be?  For me it always seems to be Thursday.  I have no reason why but I tend to think.  Oh my goodness the week's almost finished.   I still need to do... oh, I get to spend time with my family without work or school soon - that'll be nice.  Then it's Thursday again, how did that happen?

I have been thinking also about my design inspiration.  I love designing and creating my own pieces.  There are a few pieces that are especially dear to me and today I want to talk about one of these - "Hazel's Garden".

Hazel's Garden. Hazel was my Grandmother on my Paternal side.  I knew her as Grandma.  She was a talented embroiderer and gardener and fiercely proud of her family.
Throughout my twenties I got to know her a lot better than I had as a child even though we lived in the same town and I saw her at least once a week growing up.
The main change for us getting to know each other is that she developed macular degeneration and once she couldn't drive, I would drive her to the nearest town 30 minutes away to help her shop and do her town jobs.  We would spend lots of time chatting on these trips and they were always enjoyable.

In Grandma's house beside her phone she had hanging the most amazing piece of embroidery that I had ever seen.  She was a staunch supporter of her local Embroiderer's Guild and traveled each year to attend the Wanaka Embroidery School held annually in March.  The piece by her phone was a piece she had completed at the Wanaka Embroidery School - it was fascinating. I loved it.  I wanted it.

Over time we all got older and Grandma died.  I was living overseas at the time.  My Aunt got the picture I loved.  I took photos of it and left them safely in a drawer.

Eventually I moved back to New Zealand where I started stitching again.  At some point I found my photo of Grandma's piece and tried to find out everything I could about it.
It is an Elizabethan piece, designed by Dorothy Clarke a well known NZ embroiderer.  Mum and my Aunt also found some of the instructions from Grandma's original piece and I got them.  I decided I wanted my own version so I played around with Jane Nicholas' books and images trying to figure out how I would stitch my own version using her instructions.  This became too hard and again it languished in a drawer.

in 2016 I decided to work a piece for an exhibition.  Out came my thinking cap again.  This time I thought why don't I  use my own knowledge and try and create my own version of Grandma's piece.
I spent a few hours drawing at the dining table to get the rings how I wanted them.  Then I added in all the details for each part of the garden.  Each section is part of her garden. I increased the rings because I couldn't fit what I wanted into three rings.  Grandma had many, many roses planted around her house and I always got caught on the two apple trees when I mowed her lawns for her.  She grew heaps of strawberries which we used to eat straight from the plants in her large vegetable garden.  I loved her pond and saw dragonflies and frogs around it and she had fish in it.  All of these images I added into my design.   I used to help Grandma by painting the fence and doing odd jobs as she needed and that along with hanging out at Grandma's with my siblings and cousins reminds me of her and her garden.
So this piece is my remembrance piece to and for her.
Hazel's Garden 5 Ring design.
copyright 2017.

Luckily other's like my piece and I now have two teaching versions of Hazel's Garden.  One is the bottom circle with the frog, goldfish and grasshopper in it. It's called The Frog and the Lily pond.  This piece is larger than the original size which makes it easier to see to stitch.  

The Frog & the Lily pond - 1 Day Class
copyright 2018.

I also have a three ring version which I have completed for a class to be held in 2021, hopefully this will still go ahead.  The motifs are the same size as the original piece, but I have reorganised some of the content to work better in a three ring version.  I'll keep you posted about the class and where it is when things are more settled but for now here are three versions of Hazel's Garden.  Each piece is stitched on Silk with Au Ver a Soie 'd Alger silks.

Hazel's Garden - 3 Ring Version - unframed & unstretched.
Copyright 2019.

Hazel's Garden - 3 Ring Butterfly & Strawberry ring close up. 
(Please excuse the wrinkles it needs to be properly stretched and framed).
Copyright 2019.
Hazel's Garden - 3 Ring Frog & Lily pond ring close up. 
(Please excuse the wrinkles it needs to be properly stretched and framed).
Copyright 2019.


  1. Sue, what a beautiful piece - the stitching, the design, the story which gave rise to it and that is expressed through it. Stunning! And it's great that the story continues through your teaching. You are truly inspirational!��


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