For the class, Barbara prepared a small version, designed to be stitched on fabric 20cmx20cm.
We had instructions to prepare the fabric and trace the design in advance of the class. I have wanted to do more of this since working on her sampler last year.
This, I admit, is not my favourite way of working. It was useful, however, in learning some of the padding techniques that can only be done at the end - when we will all be at home, away from a teacher.
This class attracted both embroiderers and quilters - so a great mix of women with different experiences and skills, from a young woman with no needlework experience at all, to highly experienced needleworkers and quilters, including Michelle Hill, who continues to write books and blogs on applique and William Morris.
I had to get my head back into the techniques and stitch arrangements for Kantha, but it didn't take long.
My stitching accuracy was initially not too good - hours of focusing played havoc with my eyes. Eventually I found a rhythm and figured which stitches I worked better in a hoop and which in my hand.
There are no fixed colours for this piece - beyond a suggested pallette, so experimentation is the order of the day. Interesting to see how differently individuals work - some unpicking when not satisfied, others (like me!) adapting as they go.
At least a couple of women will get truly beautiful products at the end.
Once I am into this, and the design begins to take shape, I am addicted. I have difficulty putting it down. I really love the freedom to improvise and experiment with such fluid shapes and stitches.
It continuously makes me smile that the restriction to running stitch produces such freedom, variety and improvisation.
Women in various parts of the world who worked with running stitch knew a thing or two and left us a great legacy.
Since returning home I have finished stitching the figures and begun on the background fill. I added the beginnings of a border and am letting the design take me where it will. I am finding it immensely satisfying.