About Kay and Michael

When Kay was 4 her parents were moving house and decided that little fingers (who were unpacking things faster than her parents could pack them!) should be packed off to stay with two Aunts living on the south coast. Little did anyone know that those few days would start two passions that would follow Kay through her life, namely embroidery and the love of animals and especially birds. Kay's Aunt taught her the very basic steps of embroidery and from that school lessons in stitching came a major part of her life.

In the late sixties Kay attended a textile course and as part of that course studied the basic techniques of needlelace. Although running a home and having a full time job took over for several years, the kindling interest of needlelace remained.

In 1983 she had the opportunity to attend a specialised needlelace class. For the following two years Kay made very little else other than needlelace and started teaching the craft to local groups. As time went on, and her reputation grew, groups around the country started to book her to teach their groups.

It was through needlelace that she first came across stumpwork in 1989. Stumpwork embroidery enables Kay to put embroidery and needlelace together. After studying stumpwork in depth she started to teach this beautiful and fascinating form of embroidery.

In 1997 after taking redundancy from employment, stumpwork embroidery became her full time occupation. In that same year Michael excepted early retirement from his full time employment and became a professional Woodturner.

Kay and Michael, live and work in a leafy suburb of London on the edge of the Hertfordshire and Middlesex countryside which is where the inspiration for many of her embroideries originate from.

Each of her embroideries is unique. Although she works in a traditional style, with the use of needlelace, embroidery, sometimes machine embroidery and modern day materials, they have the appearance of a 21st century design.

Kay now teaches at private groups around the country including branches of the Embroiderers Guild. She also works for Knuston Hall and until recently Missenden Abbey, and at Hampton Court. In 1997 she began teaching the City & Guilds 7822 Stumpwork syllabus at Missenden Abbey. The following year Kay wrote the syllabus for the Level 1 (the old 7722 syllabus) and in the following year wrote the Level 3 Syllabus (formally 7922). Kay continued to teach all levels of City & Guilds stumpwork until the syllabus changed. Two of her students have, from the 7822 courses, gained their Medals for Excellence from City & Guilds.

Kay has written articles for textile related magazines and in 2001/02 was featured in "Stitch with the Embroiderers Guild" followed by an article on stumpwork. In the winter of 2015/16 Kay wrote a project for Stitch magazine which went over four issues.

Her first book "Stumpwork for Beginners" was published by Search Press in 2001.
In 2003/4 Michael began to suffer from the effects of wood dust created during the turning process and despite trying all forms of filtration systems the problem continued. This led to him giving up woodturning but he kept the equipment in case he wanted to turn the odd project.

In 2004, due to an increase in Kay's workload, Michael joined her in a partnership to help out. Apart from driving her, helping out at those classes where there was a lot of travelling and assisting to give talks on stumpwork, Michael has been instrumental in the provision of drawings for the books and now writes a number of student notes.
Our second book "Stumpwork Figures" was published in the Spring of 2006. This has been followed by a third book entitled "Stumpwork Seasons" published in October 2007.

In September of 2005 we started a company entitled KAY DENNIS STUMPWORK. Between 2005 and 2010 we sold supplies for stumpwork, kits, books, booklets and notelets.

In 2006 Michael realised that he was probably not ever going to turn again and disposed of all his woodturning equipment. This was replaced by some professional Frame making equipment to enable him to offer a specialised framing service to embroiderers.

In 2010 Michael decided, having reached the grand old age of 65, that he wanted to retire from the business and concentrate on his hobbies of gardening and photography. We no longer sell the supplies, but our project booklets and books are for sale at shows and classes. Michael continues the maintenance of the web site, taking photographs of Kay's work, stitch diagrams and any other computer related work required to help Kay. Michael also continues to help Kay at classes when required and does the driving for long trips.

At the end of 2009 Kay was asked by the National Trust in Wiltshire to reproduce 6 motifs from two mirror frames held at Lytes Carey Manor House in Somerton. The N.T. not only wanted the motifs but also asked if story boards could be made showing the public how the motifs were made - all before the Manor House opened in March 2010, just 4 months away. It was a huge undertaking as the N.T. wanted the motifs to be made as near to traditional as possible. We also taught at two classes in 2010 and again in 2013 at the Manor House.

In 2011 Kay was asked by the Embroiderers' Guild to produce a series of folios on Stumpwork. Twelve folios were completed and given the Embroiderers' Guild in 2013. These folios are available to be seen at the Embroiderers' Guild headquarters.

Michael took on the role of Chairman of the Guild of Needle Laces in 2011 and has since learnt how to make needlelace.

Following a request to teach a class Elizabethan Embroidery and Goldwork, Kay has now added both of these forms of embroidery to her repertoire. 

In 2014 Kay was elected Chairman of the South East Region of the Embroiderers' Guild. In 2015 Kay received a certificate from The London Borough of Hillingdon for her services to teaching in Hillingdon.

Kay continues to evolve, developing 3D embroidery, using 'forgotten stitches' and combing free standing elements within the embroidery, but remains passionate about traditional Stumpwork.