Long Thread Podcast: Dr. Susan Kay-Williams

Season 3, Episode 9: The venerable British needlework institution teaches its students to stitch selfies, coronation robes, and everything between.

Anne Merrow Nov 12, 2021 - 2 min read

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Part of the Royal School of Needlework's collection is in tatters . . . by design.

The collection includes some fine examples of stitching techniques, but what makes the archive more interesting are the pieces where fraying has revealed something about the stitching of a particular piece. All of the pieces support the school's mission: to preserve traditional needlework techniques and educate students around the world in stitching well.

Whether to future needlework tutors, undergraduates, or stitchers around the world, the RSN teaches foundations in needlework that emphasize skilled craftsmanship as well as self-expression.

As Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, Dr. Susan Kay-Williams oversees an institution that teaches hobbyist needleworkers around the world, offers a BA degree in needlework, creates textiles for royal occasions, and above all works to preserve the techniques of stitching for future generations.

One of the school's major initiatives has been the RSN Stitch Bank, a free online database that records embroidery stitches from around the world. To prevent needlework stitches from being lost over time, the stitch bank provides written instructions, videos, photos, and illustrations for 150 stitches and counting.

As Dr. Kay-Williams remarks, the RSN may be a small organization, but it does not have small ambitions.

This episode is brought to you by:

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Royal School of Needlework RSN Stitch Bank Duchess of Cornwall Stitched Portrait History of the Royal School of Needlework

Anne Merrow is a former editor of Spin Off magazine and a cofounder and editorial director of Long Thread Media.