Craft Rocks: A tribute to a tribute

Craft enthusiast Jo Burgess explores the world of needlecraft in this exclusive column for Mr X Stitch!

In November last year the Secret Society of Hertford Crafters put a stunning display of over 15,000 knit and crocheted poppies onto Hertford Castle to commemorate 100 years since the end of World War I. The display cascading down the castle was breathtaking, and raised over £16,500 for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. I was lucky enough to see the display in person and to buy a knitted poppy from the Society, who I’m told were rapidly knitting poppies throughout the duration of the display to keep up with demand for poppies from visitors to the castle.

The beautiful poppy display at Hertford Castle (Pic: Neil Burgess)

A few years ago I bought a couple of Hertfordshire cross stitch kits off Ebay for a bargain £2. I often buy kits I like cheap just for the fabric and the thread in them. Now I had a plan for it. I thought I’d take the Hertford Castle design and make it into a poppy tribute. The first challenge was that the pattern showed the wrong side of the castle. What I thought was the front, where the poppies were, where the public come to take photos, where they hold outdoor cinema screenings and concerts – that’s actually the back. Oops. So I spent a while looking at photos of the poppy display and at the cross stitch patterns and did a bit of architectural jiggery pokery to make my own version of the other side of the castle. I plotted where the poppies should roughly be, moved doors and windows around and widened the main tower as I thought it was a bit thin on the patterns I had. I also left out the shrubbery and trees because I wanted the poppies to pop.

Who knew there were so many Hertford Castle patterns around

I used DMC number 680 thread for the castle. By no means an exact match but a good enough brick colour that meant the poppies still stood out from the building. I used a bright red I already had for the poppies, outlined the castle in black, added windows in grey and outlined them in cream to match the building. I wanted to include a badge I got on Remembrance Day with the cross stitch, so I found a nice box frame to present it in. As a bonus the extra depth of the box frame allowed me to put French knots in the poppies to make them stand out more.

Adding in French knots really made the poppies pop

So here it is framed, my tribute to their tribute complete with badge and my poppy made by a member of the Secret Society of Hertford Crafters. What do you think?

The framed piece
The picture in front of the castle

I do love poppies. A few years ago I made this beaded poppy from a kit I bought online for my mum. It’s made up of hundreds of tiny seed beads all sewn together by hand.

Hundreds of tiny seed beads and metres and metres of thread

There were so many beautiful poppy tributes last year, did you get involved with any? Are you a secret Hertford crafter? Sorry, trick question, you can’t tell me that, it’s a secret! If you were involved with any, I’d love to hear from you.

Best cake for poppy sewing: Lemon and poppy seed (of course)
Best song for sewing flowers: Kiss from a Rose by Seal

Fabric and thread: £2 from an Ebay kit
Castle coloured thread: £1.39
Frame: £4
Total: £7.39 plus a donation to the Secret Society of Hertford Crafters of course!

Jo Burgess

Originally from Northern Ireland, Jo Burgess is a craft crazy rock music loving gal based in England. With a career including time spent as a motorsport journalist in England, in the film industry in Northern Ireland, and working on ghost tours in Scotland, her background is as mixed up as her love of craft. Jo will try her hand at anything and loves learning a new skill with tea and cake, crafty friends and great music blasting out of her speakers. Cross stitch, electronics, sewing, beadwork, glass fusing - she loves it all, and through this column Jo hopes to pass her love of different crafts, music and (of course) cake on to you. Craft rocks!

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