Urchfont Manor Collage
Once upon a time, in 1982, in an adult education college in rural England, Siân Martin was invited by Val Campbell-Harding to teach a new group of students on their three year City and Guilds Embroidery Certificate course.

It was Val who ‘invented’ the idea of delivering the City and Guilds Embroidery syllabus in a series of residential weekends. This group was embarking on a six weekend per year residential course at Urchfont Manor College, Wiltshire, to complete their three year City and Guilds course.

They looked forward to spending their weekends at this beautiful 17th century Manor House and its attractive gardens which then offered rather spartan accommodation but with a warm welcome and excellent home cooking.
Among the keen and hard-working students was an enthusiastic and questioning young woman called Karin Milson. After only a few weekends of the Course, Karin's husband, an oil scientist who worked for Shell, was posted to Oman in the Middle East on a three year contract.

Karin was understandably disappointed not to be able to complete the Course at Urchfont and asked whether she could continue with the Course in some way if Siân could post the weekend’s worksheets to her in Oman. This impressed on Siân how keen Karin was to continue the Course so she readily agreed.

Siân very quickly realised that the pile of worksheets that she produced for each weekend did not make sense of the isolated tasks they described. They could be confusing and lack focus and lacked images.  Siân decided to put them all together into a sequential and progressive ’package’ of linked and fully illustrated ’chapters’ to help Karin have a similar experience to the one she was missing at Urchfont.

Siân was encouraged by Ernie Richards, the kindly and inspired Warden of Urchfont at the time, to write these packages for Karin as a correspondence course  which Urchfont could then extend to others unable to attend in person. Siân wrote and illustrated each weekend ‘package’ in keeping with the content of each weekend and sometimes took photographs to record the students working on each task to show Karin.

Sue & Jan
A couple of times, Ernie's son, who was studying filmmaking,  filmed videos of demonstrations.

One particularly photogenic weekend on the theme of black and white encouraged everyone to dress and adorn their working spaces in black and white to help Karin feel as if she was getting more of the whole learning experience.Read about how Distant Stitch was started

Sue and Jan, busy at their machines surrounded by their ‘tent’ of black and white.
Karin's Group
This photo shows some of Karin’s original group holding a communal stitched piece they had just completed on the lawn at Urchfont Manor.

The design of the tonal piece is based on a design of an enlarged eye.