Monthly Archives: September 2020

Crafting through Covid


******* Now that we are post-event, I just wanted to add here the links so you can watch the conversation at your leisure.

If you’d like to watch on Youtube, the link is here.

Alternatively, you can watch on Facebook here. *******

Welcome back and I hope you’ve been keeping safe and well! It’s been a very strange and difficult time for us all, hasn’t it? In all the chaos and worry of the last few months, the Lady’s Magazine has been one of the things keeping me sane. I’ve been busy writing a piece on illustrations in the periodical and most busy finishing up (well: nearly finishing up) my book, The Lady’s Magazine (1770-1832) and the Making of Literary History (all 115000 words of it!). I’ve also been doing lots of talks and lovely online events about Jane Austen Embroidery, a history and craft book by me and professional embroiderer, Alison Larkin, that adapts 15 patterns from the Lady’s Magazine for modern readers and situates the magazine, the patterns and the projects in terms of the lives of Georgian women, the world they lived in and, of course, the life and works of Jane Austen. (We know she read the magazine, of course.)

I have to say that when the book came out with Pavilion in March, Alison and I were a little disappointed. We had quite a few events and workshops lined up and were so looking forward to talking to people interested in the things the book is about and those who were trying out the patterns. But of course, these things couldn’t go ahead and we all had more important things to be worrying about.

Except that embroidery and crafting are things that are so important to so many of us and now more than ever in this locked down, quarantined and isolated new reality.


Craft is about creativity. It distracts, absorbs and connects us. It forges a sense of community as we make things for other people or show and discuss our work in progress on social media, and get tips and advice from others. (I do this latter a lot…) Craft is about turning some things into something different and something more. And when things feel like they are falling apart at the seams, making something brings an enormous sense of consolation. It feels like we are making a difference.

I’ve been bowled over by all the lovely images people have been posting on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook of the lockdown stitching they have been doing using Jane Austen Embroidery. It’s been a wonderful reminder of the Stitch Off I launched in 2016, where all this started.

This got me thinking. I really wanted to get everyone together. One of the best things to come out the pandemic – other than all the #covidcrafting – has been how creative we have got online by finding ways of connecting us despite the travel restrictions we are living under.

And this was how the idea of the virtual chat and Sew Along ‘Crafting through Covid: A Virtual Sew Along and Conversation’ was born. The event, which live streams via YouTube on 16 September 19:00 GMT, will feature some conversation and images and videos of the wonderful work you have been doing. The event is free and you can watch the talks and join in the conversation through YouTube’s chat function. You can register via Eventbrite.

Don’t worry if you haven’t used one of the patterns before or even embroidered before. All are very welcome. But if you do want to try one of the patterns before or even during the event, I am delighted to say that Alison has a gorgeous beginner sprig project for you. It uses a November 1798 motif from the Lady’s Magazine – one that isn’t in the book or available on my Stitch Off pattern pages – and it is free to download here.

I so hope you can join us at the event, but if life gets in the way, don’t worry as we will be recording it so you can watch it on YouTube whenever you like.

Take care everyone!


Prof Jennie Batchelor, School of English, University of Kent