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Friday, 1 March 2013

Jóna Sparey

While I have been browsing through my (somewhat extensive) needlecraft library, I picked up this book.

I remember when I bought it, at one of the needlecraft shows at the Bath & West Showground in 2001, and I remember Jóna's colourful stand, full of needlepoint objects and kits.
Jóna's mother was originally from Iceland, and Jóna travelled to Iceland during her school holidays and was taught embroidery by her Icelandic grandmother. Jóna herself started teaching embroidery around 1983 and by the time I met her, she was running Icelandic Tapestry School at her home in Somerton, here in Somerset. But before I made up my mind to attend one of her courses, Jóna moved to France.
While still living in UK, she was running a small travel business, taking small groups of tourists to Iceland, to share her heritage, and she is still doing so from her new home in Dordogne.

The patterns in her book are very traditional Icelandic design, and the colours not necessarily of my taste.
However, from the embroiderer's point of view, the technique itself is interesting. Jóna tells us that in Iceland they never used embroidery hoops or tapestry frames of any kind. The technique she describes is stretching the embroidery fabric square over two fingers of left hand (if you are right handed) when stitching. The result, providing you can master this, is a square piece, which doesn't need any more stretching when finished, may be just a gentle pulling into shape.
Of course the advantage of stitching without a frame is that you can simply put your work in a bag and take it with where ever you go.
The projects in the book are stitched using Appleton tapestry wool on a double stranded 9 count Floba canvas. By gently rubbing the canvas in your hands it becomes very soft and easy to wrap around fingers.

Needless to say that I did not resist and bough a small kit, worked in coton à broder, but to my shame I must admit to never actually starting it. My excuse is not having to master the technique yet!

You can read more about Jóna here.

©pleasureinstitching.blogspot.co.uk 2013


  1. Radka, A very lovely pattern from the land of Ice and Fire. Very lovely colors in the thread you plan to use. Hugs Judy

  2. Looks like a lovely project and it is always interesting to read about different forms of stitching.

  3. you must stitch the kit. My Mum, made a lot of Jona`s designs and all 5 of her children have them on their walls. Like you I met Jona at the shows and she always asked about Mum, a lovely lady.

  4. It is only a short time that I have been following your blog, but I know that whatever you choose to stitch will be absolutely beautiful. I will look forward to seeing the finished kit.!!!!!!


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