Story

My name is Rachel Alveston. I’m a self taught embroidery artist from Wirral, UK and I specialise in hand embroidered portraiture.

I have always loved fabric and thread. I enjoyed arts and crafts as a child and as a teenager, I elected to take Art and Textiles as my chosen subjects in high school and sixth form. After I left school, I experimented with selling my artistic creations online, along with working a full time job, but I was yet to discover embroidery.

Then 2014 comes along, and it leaves me, and everyone I know, utterly devastated. Lyam, my sister’s boyfriend, my band mate and one of my closest friends, passes away unexpectedly, from a spontaneous bleed on the brain, caused by a high grade brain tumour. He was 26 years old.

I suffer with anxiety and depression and after Lyam’s passing, I was drawn into an especially dark place. However, this forced me to admit that I had a problem and that I needed help. I visited my doctor, who put me on medication and referred me to a councillor. During one of my counselling sessions, my councillor told me that working with my hands was a good way to keep myself ‘in the moment’ and keep the flashbacks and bad thoughts in check.

This is where embroidery entered my life.

I collect patches and thought it may be interesting to make some for myself. I bought a hoop, some floss and some fabric and just gave it a go. No instructions. No rules. The first few patches I made were terrible. I mean, just awful. It took a lot of experimentation and months of solid practice to get to a standard I was happy with. That said, the development period, where I found my process, was extremely therapeutic. I believe it helped me greatly in getting to a better state of mind; along with the support of my friends and family, of course. Before I knew it, my patches were gaining new admirers everyday. All I wanted to do is stitch. I felt I had found my calling.

In September 2015, I was forced to quit my day job after being diagnosed with a myriad of illnesses, including Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. I decided to focus on embroidery and work for myself full time. That brings me to where I am now. It’s tough, but I’m getting by, doing what I love, and for that, I’m grateful. Even though the journey that has led me to this point has been extremely painful, I’m still grateful.

For those wanting to learn more about brain tumours please visit thebraintumourcharity.org

My amazing sister, Beck (Bad Cats Club), also set up a supporter group, in Lyam’s name, that funds research into high grade brain tumours via The Brain Tumour Charity. If you would like to donate please visit justgiving.com/thelyamkirkhamfund

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