For centuries women have used cloth as a tool of comfort and as an expression of beauty within their homes. Creating cloth for warmth, cloth for shelter, our female predecessors embellished these linens with hand stitch using laborious and time consuming techniques thereby enhancing the functional beauty of objects which enveloped and protected their families. Inspired by these women I hope my creations pay tribute to and recognise the devotion expressed in cloth by our female ancestors .

''the use of traditional often time consuming process alludes to the devotion of a mother''. c K. A. Ruane 2007

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Embroidery School 2018

January 15 start.
2018 will be the year of my ''stitch ledger'', the development of a resource centred on the hand embroidery stitch.
A stitch
''a loop of thread or yarn resulting from a single pass or movement of the needle in sewing''
Be a fly on my wall whilst I develop my stitch ledger along with other works resulting from spontaneous inspiration. Observe my creative process, learn from my successes and my mistakes as I sample, as I construct embroidered surfaces from patches of cloth, snippets of hankies and decorative trims along with other found cloth both new and vintage. Witness the development of paper based works for use in design sheets and ledgers, in sketchbooks. Create what I create or embroider your own pieces whilst observing and learning from my creativity.
This online creative experience will take the form of a very relaxed and gentle gathering of cloth and embroidery, those who have an affinity with handling cloth, working with cloth. I will discuss my plans, my inspiration, the preparation and creation of embroidered cloth. I will demonstrate technique and process throughout. I can guarantee that there will be embroidery, embellishment and the manipulation of cloth. I will share my thoughts along with the more tangible sources which drive me.

In other's snowing. I'm chittered. I am turning blue.....
Hankie class girls....stand (or sit) by your computers. I have a video for you.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

cloth books not pockets

There's been a change of plan. My intention was to create pockets for the ''workshop kits'' for London 2018. I've changed my mind. I am now going to make cloth books with internal pockets to hold the supplies, the hexagons, the little snippets of things, the stitched papers and other stuff I haven't even thought of yet. 
More embroidery will be added to this, it isn't finished yet. There will be web stitches for sure and the embroidery will continue inside too. I can't get too carried away though as I need to make several of these....I best crack on. You won't see these again until after the event as I would like there to be some element of surprise on the day for those who are coming to play. There are only two places can read more here if you are tempted. We will have to be on our best behaviour as someone is coming all the way from the 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

hankies, sequins and French knots

Progress from hankie class. One of these embroidered panels is for a needle case, the other for a layered and embellished bag. There's a lot of French knots here, a little bit of cross stitch and quite a few sequins. 
If all goes to plan our needle cases will be finished later this week, the bag will continue for the remainder of class., more embroidered panels and layers of fabric edged with lace. That's the plan anyway.
Also this week I hope to make progress with my workshop kits for London 2018, a two day embroidery class. I spoke a little about those kits here. There are a lot of hexagons to stitch for that, a lot of ''grandmothers flower garden'' motifs to put together not to mention the embellished pockets I hope to make which will hold the workshop materials. That's a lot of stitching and not a lot of time to do it in. It will be here before you know it.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

sequins for an embroidered seam

This morning was all about playing, no pressure, adorning, going back to things which have languished for a while, adding a few pretty titivation's, surrounding myself with all things embroidery and basically relaxing and stitching. You should try it, I recommend it.
This piece was started in the Summer and taken on holiday with me. I haven't touched it since I got back, there have been new distractions, life, classes, domesticity but whilst I was adding sequins to this seam earlier I pretended I was back on my balcony in Spain. The sun has been shining here today so it kind of worked.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


I have started playing with ideas for my workshop packs for the two day London workshop next February. To be precise....I am thinking about the actual ''workshop pack'', the pocket which will hold things to be used in the workshop. So far I have secured gimp with bullion loops on a piece of vintage white which may or may not become the pocket. More surface embroidery will be added to that piece over time so the pocket itself will become a keepsake after the ''event''.
I have made a decision on which printed cloth will be used for hexagons and patchwork and general titivation and I am thinking about how to present those within the pocket. Do I add more pockets on the inside or do I pin the hexagons, ribbons and bindings to strips of vintage trim which can then be used in the workshop too.....decisions decisions. I will of course need inside pockets regardless for paper pieces, applique templates, waste canvas and lots of other little things, surprises....
It's early days I know but there are quite a few of these to put together, a lot of stitching and thinking still to do.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Layering cloth and handkerchiefs

Monday here was spent making videos for ''hankie class''. I was surrounded by hankies, edges of cloth,  seams embroidered with beads and sequins, layers of lace and vintage trims using previously stitched pieces for reference, inspiration and demonstration. Everything you see here with the exception of the blue edged needle case in the second image will become a bag, a bag created with hankies, lace and vintage trims. These pieces were embroidered before class, with class in mind....a head start for me. I realised yesterday how good a plan that was as these served as a perfect illustration of what I hope to achieve aesthetically with the bag we are making together in class, at least I hope class thinks so when they watch the videos tomorrow.
A reminder....the artist book class last for a whole year, twelve months. There is plenty of time to view what has happened up to now and participate fully both now and going forward. (I was asked to clarify this yesterday) Access to everything which has been posted up to this point is included regardless of when you sign up and most importantly access is forever, no cut off date. I hope that helps. You can read more here.

Monday, November 6, 2017

layers of white.....paper and stitch

The most recent page, composition, piece created over in ''artist book class''. This one is layered white paper, some stitch, a small scrap of lace cloth, a hand wrapped cord, a button and a sliver of silver chain. Put it all together and you get this, a page adornment yes but not only also get more open space for more titivation and on it goes, a never ending palette for embroidery.
In the background you can see my own artist book, the artist book I intend to keep for myself and which is the first piece from the collection I hope to create over the twelve months of artist book class.  Twelve months sounds like a long time but already it feels like class is flying by too quickly.

A post shared by Karen Ruane (@karenruane) on

Saturday, October 28, 2017

126 stitches for the lining

The central area is now embroidered meaning this piece from here is finished and waiting to be damp stretched before being lined.....when the lining is complete. As you may recall the pouch has 290 stitches around the edge. The lining will have 126 stitches around the edge, spaced differently to the outside. I have started that process (second image). I just noticed too, (in the last image) that one of my little clusters is missing a green French knot! Did you notice that? I best rectify that....the sooner the better.
 (I really wish I had an open mouthed emoji to put here) 
Now for a reminder.....Hankie class starts on Monday. We will be making pretty needle cases and bags. You can read more about that here. If you are already registered you should have received sign in details for our private blog yesterday. If you didn't receive those please let me know.
And London.....a live can read more about that here.
It's dark as night here and pouring with rain. I hope the sun is shining for you and if it is please send a little my way.

Friday, October 27, 2017

London Workshop

Following numerous requests and following two successful previous London Workshops I have been working hard behind the scenes putting London 2018 together.
(10 & 11 February)
Over two full days in February we will be working on an ornate pin pillow similar to the one shown here....and/or a paper based design sheet similar to the one shown here which could also be used as an insert for an artist book. Workshop kits for both pieces are included in the cost.
Space is limited and refunds cannot be issued unless I can fill your space.
All the details are here but if you want to know more then please don't hesitate to mail me.
contemporaryembroidery(at)hotmail(dot) com

London 2018
A two day embroidery workshop in the heart of London. During this two day class you can choose to work on an ornate pin pillow or an exciting paper based design sheet or both. A substantial workshop kit with materials for both items including cloth, stitched papers and other embroidery notions is included in the cost. Workshop kits will be presented in a hand stitched ''pocket''.
Beginning at 10 am on Saturday morning we will discuss the projects we are about to work on selecting fabrics and embellishments from the kit provided and our own pieces of cloth, buttons, beads, trims and other adornments. Embroidery and chat will continue until evening, there is no cut off point for finishing on Saturday or Sunday. We will continue until we stop having fun or get hungry whichever is soonest before beginning again at 10 am on Sunday.
Tea, coffee and cake will be provided throughout both days. Please bring your own lunch.
Each day will begin at 10 am and continue until the early evening.
Think of this as a stitching party, a meeting of embroidery addicts to chat, stitch, drink coffee and have fun.
***refunds cannot be given unless I can fill your space***
More details will be sent upon registration.
Please allow 24 hours for receipt of email workshop information.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

12 month online learning course......Artists Books.

A new ''half'' page, extended with stitched papers, sequins and French knots....a prelude to the next, exciting 12 months. Due to numerous requests and the fact I want to spend a full year creating a collection of Artist Books......a new class, a relaxed class, a no pressure class.


Begins Monday September 11 2017

Online format.... Private password protected blog.
This is not an ''art'' class as you may imagine, my books will be enhanced purely through the use of stitch.
In response to numerous requests and following on from the success of my last ''artist book'' online learning programme I have created a 12 month online learning experience to which you will have unlimited access during the ''live'' 12 month period and beyond. Yes, one sign up, unlimited access...forever.
During our 12 month ''live'' programme I intend to provide video demonstration on a monthly basis with text blog posts weekly. It is possible and likely however that video may be required outside of this timetable meaning video provision is expected to be over and above that originally planned. My classes grow as they progress, they develop as new ideas are formed, I learn from you too, your needs, your progress, that process of learning and interaction invariably affects any teaching plans I have at the outset, allowing me to develop and extend course content as we progress.
Join me whilst I endeavour to fulfil a long held ambition, the creation of a large collection of hand created artist books, journals and ledgers comprising pages of stitch and collage using cloth, embroidered scraps, beads, buttons, lace, pattern and paper.
Your pages can be added to any book you wish, make your own ledger with fine paper, with hand made paper, with patterned paper or use a special sketchbook, maybe even a story book. These things will be discussed and considered during our 8 weeks of creativity.
***please note. I have only basic book making skills. This is not a book making class in terms of the creation of finely bound sketchbooks, journals or ledgers. My own books will be very basic and simple. I am happy for you to be more experimental and adventurous with your own books. I encourage the pushing of boundaries, the exploration of idea and thought.***
My role is to demonstrate the creation of collaged and textured sheets of paper, cloth and embroidery, to illustrate the creation of stitched scraps for pages and to then share how a page can be adorned in order to enhance the presentation of your sampling. This in turn will lead to the creation of unique ''artist books'', a library of ideas and inspiration and a valuable resource for the future in terms of design and the extension of embroidery sampling.
Group interaction will be facilitated within the forum of a private Flickr group where it will be possible to upload images and receive feedback and encouragement from the wider group along with input from me. There will also be the opportunity for wider discussion within the ''discussion'' area of that group. Interaction in this manner is however voluntary. There is no pressure on you to participate within this forum. If you prefer to work quietly, on your own that is encouraged too. My wish is for you to use this learning experience in the manner best suited to you, to learn in a way which makes you happy and furthers your individual creativity.
Images of my own ''Artist Books'' can be seen here. From viewing these images you will gain an appreciation of what can be achieved during this programme and beyond.
Please note, certain tasks within this programme require the use of a sewing machine.
Access.... Unlimited. Forever.
Materials required.... List sent upon registration.
***No prerequisites, suitable for beginners and the more experienced.***
You do not need to have participated in any of my previous online learning programmes to take part in this class.

There is lots more about embroidery, paper and Artists books here.