There is nothing I like better than getting outside with my sketchbook and camera recording the beauty of our Yorkshire landscape, then heading home to develop my ideas in textiles.

I am part of a textile group called the Piecemakers who are currently working on a project inspired by the Celtic Ogham. We plan to exhibit our work once completed. The Ogham is a tree alphabet and is the only native British writing system. It was devised by Celtic Druids over 2000 years ago, before the Runic alphabet, the symbols are notches carved into wood or stone. Each of the 21 symbols was not only a letter, but also a number and a tree or shrub representing a time period – a lunar month, a solstice or an equinox.

There is a fascinating mythology around each tree including historical and religious stories, medicinal and culinary uses, the uses of each tree in craftwork, and even as a basis for a form of divination.

As part of the Ogham project we are running a number of outreach sessions linking our interest in both trees and textiles. Following a successful day at Ogden Water last year we are having another such day on Friday May 11th this year.

The event is aimed at people over 50 and is being organised in conjunction with the Countryside and Woodland Service. The day runs from 10-30 am to 3-00 pm and promises to be great fun ! There are 20 places available.

We will meet at Ogden Water and spend the morning with one of the Countryside and Woodland Service staff who has agreed to run a tree recognition walk around the reservoir in the morning. During the walk you can look for inspiration to use in your artwork – take photo’s, collect leaves.

You will have time to eat your packed lunch and have a hot drink in the classroom before the afternoon’s activities begin. As before, we will have four different activities for your to try – Fabric applique trees and leaves, Hand-embroidered trees in blossom, Zentangle leaves and Rag rugging .

Applique trees and leaves – taking a simplified tree shape, or using a leaf you collected on your walk around the lake as inspiration you can make a small fabric applique panel. We will show you how to embellish your panel with embroidery stitch or quilting. This can then be applied to the front of a cushion or bag when you get home, or mounted on a stretched canvas.

Hand embroidered trees in blossom – can you remember the embroidery stitches you learned as a child ? The Piecemakers will show you how to work a variety of stitches including French knots, blanket stitch, detached chain, running stitch, stem stitch and couching. Use these to work a small embroidered picture of a tree in blossom. Why not add some beads to complete your tree ? Apply your work to a greetings card, or frame it when you get home.

Zentangle leaves – zentangle is an addictive art form, and great fun ! It consists of dividing a design into smaller areas and filling these areas with a variety of patterns. For our day at Ogden Water we will use some of the leaves collected on our walk as templates for the zentangle designs. These look great when mounted on cards.

Rag rugging – We started our communal rag rug on our last visit to Ogden Water. We have drawn a tree design onto hessian and are working this using rag rugging techniques and recycled fabrics. Our plan is to take the rug to any events we attend. We hope to get lots of people to work on the rug, even if they only put a few pieces of fabric in. It will be a collaborative piece of work. We hope to display the tree rug as part of our Ogham project exhibition once completed, along with the names of all those who have contributed to it.

So, as you can see, it looks like a very enjoyable day !

If you would like to join us please email [email protected] to book your place. The cost is just £4 to cover materials.


RaggedyAnnie runs courses in a variety of textile techniques from her studio in Croft Myl, Halifax. See her website or Facebook. Courses can be arranged to suit you, for groups of 2 – 12 people.

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