Royal School of Needlework

It's a newsflash! Embroidery And Textile Art News From Mr X Stitch

Royal School of Needlework gains Quality Assurance Agency approval

The Royal School of Needlework (RSN) Degree programme, the only degree of its kind in Europe, has been awarded the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) recognition for its BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors, Textile Art which is validated by the University for the Creative Arts.

This recognition of the RSN’s higher education provision now opens up the RSN degree course to applications from international students.

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Also this year the RSN achieved re-accreditation of its Certificate and Diploma in technical hand embroidery from the British Accreditation Council, which, like the degree course, are unique courses not available elsewhere. Together these achievements reinforce the RSN’s position as the world-renowned international centre for excellence in hand embroidery.

Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Chief Executive of the RSN says ‘achieving the QAA recognition has required a great deal of work for a small organisation. We have had to go through as many hoops as much larger institutions with far fewer people to do the work, so we are very pleased and relieved to have achieved accreditation and to have been recognised with four areas of good practice. ‘

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The RSN was commended for the quality of student learning opportunities and QAA recognised good practice in the extensive involvement of employers and students in course design, the comprehensive, effective and rigorous admissions processes, the use of bursaries to encourage and support student learning and the effective system in place to engage and respond to the student voice.

The BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors, Textile Art course is delivered at the RSN at Hampton Court Palace and offers a unique learning experience for students including access to unparalleled industry contacts and work placements. The ratio of staff to students is significantly above the national average allowing for individual guidance in the students’ study plan and progress.

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Course Leader, Angie Wyman says ‘We are delighted to receive the recognition from the QAA, an endorsement of the quality of the educational experience that we offer from our Higher education programmes’.

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Today I’m recovering from the four day Spring Knitting & Stitching Show, where I hosted an Inspiration Station in partnership with Young Embroiderers.

Muriel Campbell, Chair of Young Embroiderers, checking out the Mr X Stitch Inspiration Station

I was blessed with a heap of fantastic volunteers, many of whom were students from the Royal School of Needlework, who took time out to help teach cross stitch to people of all ages (many thanks to Floss & Mischief, Sasha and Margaret for their personal efforts).

Lots of stitchy action at the Mr X Stitch Inspiration Station

We had De Denne Competition entries on the walls, and the world’s longest embroidery drooping around all over the place, with people adding their marks to it.

Stitching on the world's longest embroidery at the Mr X Stitch Inspiration Station

All in all it was a fantastic experience. Saturday was great as I got to have two manbroidery superheroes joining me on the stand – Lord Libidan and Spike Dennis were, needless to say, very popular.

Mr X Stitch, Lord Libidan and Spike Dennis at the Mr X Stitch Inspiration Station

Thanks to Upper Street Events for having me on board, big love to Toft Alpaca, Silk Felt Collective, Jane Greenoff, Sue Stratford and the Braid Society for good company. I hope that everyone who came along enjoyed themselves and look forward to doing more of the same next year!

Lots of stitchy action at the Mr X Stitch Inspiration Station

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It's the Fifth Friday Festival of Fabulousness from Mr X Stitch!

Dr. Susan Kay-Williams is Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, so it’s safe to day that she knows a thing or two about textiles. Her new book, The Story of Colour in Textiles, is an examination of the historical development of colouring fabrics, from the earliest pre-historical references to modern synthetic methods. It’s a fascinating book.

Susan Kay Williams - The Story of Colour in Textiles

We take dyed textiles for granted in the modern age, and for many of us we are passive consumers of coloured threads and fabrics; Susan’s book unlocks the processes of dying, but places them within a historical content that makes the subject all the more fascinating. Contained within the book are interesting facts that change the way you think about the tools you use. For example, in the Middle Ages there were more colours available to painters than there were to dyers, so the woven images were unable to accurately represent the colours of the time. The examples below feature Raphael’s Healing of the Lame Man in paint and tapestry and illustrate the point.

Raphael - The Healing of the Lame Man (1515) - Painting - via Wikimedia Commons

Exploring the methods of colour production and how these colours had to be adapted for successful application to the growing range of textiles, the book is a thorough guide to this manufacturing process and it generates a greater appreciate for the materials. But the book is also a story of power and wealth, and it’s fascinating to realise how the production of fabric and colour has played a part in global political history. The Spaniards, for example, kept the production process of cochineal so secret that it was only with the advent of microscopes that people realised the colour came from a beetle and not a berry!

The Healing of the Lame Man (1515) - Tapestry - c. Vatican Museums

If you want to learn more about fabric and colour, this book should be an essential part of your library. It’s a thoroughly researched piece of work, that will enlighten you about what it takes to make your personal embroideries filled with colour. You’ll never look at your threads in the same way again!

The Story of Colour in Textiles by Susan Kay-Williams is available from all good retailers. Why not get your copy from the Mr X Stitch Amazon Store?


Royal School of Needlework 140yrs Newsletter Front Cover


The Royal School of Needlework are looking forward to meeting many of you for their special 140 Anniversary events this autumn!

Why not join them for their Continuous Thread exhibition (September 2012 — March 2013) or for their November Sale (9-10 November).

And you can read more about their 140 years of history in a special 24 page printed newsletter (buy it online here) which features 14 decades of the RSN’s important developments, Studio commissions and education programme and how they remain true to their founding principles of keeping the art of hand embroidery alive.


Royal School of Needlework 140yrs Newsletter Back Page

Note from Mr X Stitch: I’ve been lucky enough to see a copy of the RSN 140 year newsletter and it’s fascinating. Definitely worth buying for an insight into one of the world’s most important embroidery organisations!


Mr X