Sunday 10 July 2011

You In Your Small Corner And I In Mine - The Work of Dr Isobel Elliott

Phew! Time for a sit down for a few moments. This embroidered chair would be just my cup of tea - except it is for a child. When I started school aged 5 I had to spend 2 indignant years sitting on a small chair at a small table and I just couldn't wait to be promoted to the proper sized chair and table that older children commanded. Mine was a small school founded by the Church of England and just about all the densely populated neighbourhoods in my textile town had one of these Victorian saints' schools attached to the local church. We had morning and closing prayers in our classrooms and often started the day by singing Jesus Bids us Shine With a Pure Clear Light and finished school with Now the Day is Over. I remember we had regular school inspections by Church of England officials who descended on the school like unwelcome angels. This was the equivalent of SATs but had more to do with religious catechism that the 3 Rs. But even the youngest was soon taught the ropes. Our teacher instilled in us that everybody had to put their hand up when one of the inspectors asked the class a question. Those who knew the answer put up their right hand. Those who hadn't a clue were to put up their left - in this way the teacher was sure of getting the right answer from the class and obtaining a good appraisal. Which would have been a doddle had it not been for Queenie (not her real name).  Left, right, how can that be important to anyone who could sing beautifully in tune, skip better and longer than any girl in school and, to boot, had two mesmerising long blond plaits which had to be flicked out of the way so they weren't sat upon? I wonder if Queenie ever passed her driving test?
Anyway, I digress. This beautiful child's chair was designed and worked by Dr Isobel Elliott who was, for many years, Mistress of Embroidery at Gloucester Cathedral and was responsible for much new work and for the conservation of even more. She has been an embroidery teacher for several organisations including the Embroiderer’s Guild. Now her work is being shown at the National Needlework Archive Centre near Newbury until 2 August. Do pop along and see it if you can - this beautiful traditional needlework is not to be missed. Keep Shining Stitchers!


  1. As an upholsterer I love this chair and as a resident of Gloucester I would love to see it!
    Sadly I've never heard of Dr Isobel Elliott but I'm curious enough to google her!!!

  2. I love that chair, it is wonderful.
    I have some animal print fabric that I need to make into something, but upholstery is not my thing;)


  3. Jesus bids us shine was one of my favourite childhood hymns (baptist upbringing). Even today I occasionally burst out with "You in your small corner and I in mine" when I am feeling especially cheered! Such an exquisite chair, I really like the badger on the arm.