Beatrix Potter themed Spring Lakes Needlework Retreat

21 March

Nicola Jarvis is widely known in the global stitching community for her beautiful embroidery kit projects.  Featuring ornate birds, animals and flowers, these stitch projects are inspired by a variety of iconic designers and distinctive period styles.

Nicola recently taught at one of Lady Anne’s Needlework Retreats. The retreats are run by Phillipa and Laura Turnbull of the Crewel Work Company. They have been running for over 15 years and are held approx. three times a year with different themes in various locations across the U.K. The theme of the retreat held in March was Beatrix Potter. Nicola was pleased to be involved as one of two resident designer teachers leading the stitch classes as she has a deep love of the region, a huge admiration for Beatrix and extensive body of visual imagery to work with.

‘Hill Top Queenie’ was one of two projects offered on the Beatrix Potter themed retreat. The other project was an exquisite interpretation of Beatrix’s iconic Hill Top Farm, worked in mostly Raised Work and Metal Thread techniques.  It was designed and taught by renowned embroidered Jenny Adin-Christie

The inspiration for Nicola’s modern crewel work project was Beatrix Potter’s later years’ as a farmer on the high fells of the Lake District and her passion for breeding and conserving the indigenous Herdwick sheep. Beatrix bought thousands of acres of farmland in the central Lakes region and in doing so prevented the land being developed and preserved the beauty and accessibility for future generations.

Beatrix farmed these neglected lands and the failing sheep stocks up to a high standard. ‘Hill Top Queenie’ was one of her beloved and many rosette-winning ewes.  Nicola’s project is a celebration of this part of Beatrix’s life and her legacy of re-introducing the Herdwick sheep to the region.


Because the Herdwicks’ wool is used to make a course beautiful tweed knitting wool, Nicola created a wool embroidery of ‘Queenie’ in a garland of Lakeland flowers. Fellow embroiderer Victoria Laine hand spun 2ply and 3ply Herdwick wool yarn on her drop spindle. This was done for the project and some of this wool is used in the stitching of ‘Queenie’.

The majority of ‘Queenie’ and the flowers are worked in Appletons wool.  The rose leaves and foxglove petals have highlights of C21st Yarn, worked amidst the wool embroidery. The decorative patterns on Queenie’s fleece are inspired by Beatrix’s extensive collection of hand-painted Georgian bone china displayed at Hill Top Farm.

Some understanding of light and shade and colour mixing in crewel work and surface stitching would be helpful in working this design. The stitches are core crewel and surface stitches including Split Stitch, Stem Stitch, Satin Stitch, Long and Short Shading and French Knots.