Clever Embroidery Series #2

I love to find new people doing some extensive work in embroidery. This next guest is very special indeed, let me introduce Penny Berens of Tanglewoodthreads blog.

What age were you when you began hand embroidery stitching?

I picked up needle and thread many, many moons ago before the age of seven.  I used to have to embroider tray cloths and tablecloths and napkins as birthday and Christmas presents for the women in our family.

What teaching did you have when you started?  

It was my two grandmothers and my mother who were my first teachers.  My paternal grandmother was a home economics teacher, though it was probably not called that in her day.  I still have and treasure some of her linens and darned sheets.  My maternal grandmother used to make my dolls dresses beautifully embellished with shadow embroidery.  By the age of seven my mother had instilled in me a love of crewel work which was the type of embroidery we used to decorate our tray cloths etc.

Have you taken any classes, if so, where and who would you recommend as an online teacher of embroidery? 

When my sons became teenagers I took a City and Guilds correspondence course on embroidery and design through Dundee college in Scotland.  That was before the arrival of on-line classes.  Many, many snail mail parcels travelling back and forth across the Atlantic for a few years!  Nowadays there are many on-line City and Guild courses available in quilting, embroidery and many more.  I would recommend these in-depth studies to anyone really serious about their craft.

I have been privileged to have taken workshops from the late Julia Caprara and also Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn on their trips to Canada in the nineties.

For on-line workshops I would highly recommend Jude Hill at  It was Jude who inspired me to move away from the machine embroidery I was using at the time and back to hand stitching.

Do you sell your work or is it just for your own enjoyment?

I do not focus on selling my work, I prefer to have them available for shows.  I am interested in bringing more textile art into galleries.  To that end I am a member of the Ontario based group of textile artists called Connections whose goal is to do exactly that.  They can be found at

Please tell us what starts you onto a new project, what inspires you? 

There are two main areas I am interested in at the moment.  The first being my surroundings in rural Nova Scotia.  I am not a landscape artist but I prefer to record my reaction to this untamed corner of the world.  Included in that is colouring my fabrics using local vegetation and the water in my stream.  I am interested more in making marks than embroidery.  I well remember the old days when the back of my tablecloths had to be as perfect as the front.  My grandmothers would have a fit at the sight of my backs now which are glorious messes and very inspiring to me!

My second area of interest is daily rituals or routines.  For nearly four years now I have been recording in stitch the day's events.  This work is known as my 'Daily Scratchings'. I stitch on a scroll 6" wide and as you will see from the photograph it is now yards and yards long!

And on Facebook as Penny Berens

Thank you for reading about new and exciting embroidery enthusiasts.

Thank you Penny for participating and for adding the links and workshops that inspire you.


  1. Penny's work is beautiful! Thanks for sharing Caroline, I had never seen her stitching before, wow.

    1. Thanks Janie for discovering Penny's work here. Its my goal to profile the most interesting embroidery artists and further expose them to my large body of followers. Cheers!

  2. What beautiful needlework and I loved reading the thought process behind the ideas. Lovely post Caroline, thank you! Christine x

    1. You are very welcome! Inspiration comes in many sizes and places doesn't it. My own work in crazy quilting is out of the box for sure which is what is coming out in my upcoming book. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Many thanks Carli - I love this lady's work. xx

  4. Thanks for introducing me to a new stitcher. Penny's work is wonderful and I enjoyed the interview.

  5. What fun to read more about Penny. I've been following her blog for several years now and am always inspired by her work. Her daily scratchings are always such fun.


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