A full spectrum of threads

It gets loud in Anne Johnson’s embroidery workshop at her home in Beaconsfield. 

When operated together, her sewing machines create a din as they stitch patterns and pictures.

A sunflower embroidered by one of Mrs Johnson's machines at her Beaconsfield home. The picture now hangs on her workshop wall.

A sunflower embroidered by one of Mrs Johnson's machines at her Beaconsfield home. The picture now hangs on her workshop wall.

Her workshop, built by her husband, has a wall of threads covering the full spectrum of colours. 

Although the machinery suggests otherwise, Mrs Johnson is a relative newcomer to embroidery. 

“I started with a single needle machine,” she said.

It does take a while, a lot of practice, a lot of reading. - Anne Johnson

For years she kept her one machine and only dabbled.

When she moved to Western Australia a few years ago, she looked for something to do on her husband’s 12-hour work days. 

She’s grown her expertise in embroidery since with new machines and by reading about the craft. 

A STITCH IN TIME: Anne Johnson shows one of her works made in her embroidery room. Pictures: Doug Dingwall.

A STITCH IN TIME: Anne Johnson shows one of her works made in her embroidery room. Pictures: Doug Dingwall.

“You collect bits and pieces, you get bigger.

“It does take a while, a lot of practice, a lot of reading. I’m always reading a book on something.

Multiple threads hang on the wall at the workshop, which was built by Mrs Johnson's husband after they moved to their new home in Beaconsfield.

Multiple threads hang on the wall at the workshop, which was built by Mrs Johnson's husband after they moved to their new home in Beaconsfield.

“With the embroidery machine, you put the pattern in the machine, and put the colours in, and it sews it out.”

She’s learned how to coordinate colours on the pieces she makes.

Designs can take hours for the machines to sew out on the towels and face washers she produces. 

Mrs Johnson, originally from Devonport, has spent 29 years out of Tasmania.

Embroidered images can take hours for machines to create. Mrs Johnson has learnt much about the craft in the last few years.

Embroidered images can take hours for machines to create. Mrs Johnson has learnt much about the craft in the last few years.

Under the name ‘Anne’s Annex’ she sells her work, including at Esk and Avalon markets.

“It went to more than just a hobby.”

The name came from her time in Western Australia, where she lived in a caravan.

She remembers her work using her machines there fondly.

“I’d be running up and down, outside, inside, because I had them going in my annex.”

She made friends through the hobby in the west, meeting people at markets. 

“I’m still friends with some of them,” Mrs Johnson said.

On the walls of her workshop, built after her return to Tasmania a year ago, are colourful pieces she created. 

A sunflower lights up one wall, and trees are silhouetted on a horizon in another work. 

Mrs Johnson has bought software that lets her embroider photos into cotton.

She said her craft affords her one special joy.

“It’s if I make something for someone else, it’s their reaction, because it’s made especially for them.”

She is also trying her hand at eco-dying, which uses gum leaves, rusty nails and onion skins to make patterns on clothes.

On a visit to St Marys last year she learned the craft in workshops. 

Mrs Johnson wants to make embroidery a full-time job next. 

“What’d be really nice would be to work from home and open up the workshop,” she said.

“But it all takes time.”

What hobby floats your boat? Email doug.dingwall@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Mrs Johnson uses several machines to do her work, and creates embroidered towels for friends.

Mrs Johnson uses several machines to do her work, and creates embroidered towels for friends.

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