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The Evening Class;Mind and Body

Creative Embroidery

It starts five minutes late. Heather Farquhar, the tutor, explains that "since many of the ladies are farmers, it depends when they can get their cows in".

Having sorted out their sandwich boxes filled with needles and threads, and carrier bags of cloth, everyone settles down to some serious stitching. Heather discusses everyone's work-in-progress and suggests appropriate colour schemes.

Of course "appropriate" is a relative concept. When Heather asks for suggestions of colours associated with meadows, along with "cool green" and "buttercup yellow", someone suggests brown - for "when the meadow's covered in slurry".

Among these works-in-progress are a Peter Rabbit key fob and an ambitious, intricate and beautifully executed, floral firescreen. Nancy Gardner, who has been embroidering for 20 years, shows a detailed map of her farm, almost ready for stitching. "The outline is from an Ordnance Survey map," she explains. "I'm still unsure whether to show the M55 which runs past the top of the farm."

Lillian Nuttall is busy with Henry VIII and three of his wives, which she has been working on since last September. "I'm doing the beheaded wives in black."

One member of the group is celebrating a birthday and as glasses of Lambrusco and sweets are passed around, there is a definite sense of community.

Although Heather sets tasks each week, the ladies (for there are no men) work at their own rate. "It is really nice to have a mixed-ability group. They all bounce ideas off each other and they haven't yet phased me with their questions."

In fact, the only taxing question for this group is how much stitching time can be snatched during the week ahead in between milking and spreading that slurry.

Martin Child

The class took place at Carr Hill High School, Kirkham, Lancashire. Tel: 01253 352352 ext. 5005

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