Introducing our 2021 Festival Tutors: Zinaida Kazban


Zinaida’s determination to make needlework more than just a hobby led her down a road that saw her graduate with Distinction from the Future Tutors programme at the Royal School of Needlework. This fateful decision also led her to the Crewel Work Company and we have had the pleasure of watching Zinaida grow over these past years. She is a meticulous and highly professional person and working with her in the run up to this Festival, and also previously for her first teaching experience with us back in 2018, has been effortless and a complete pleasure.

Since graduating, she regularly teaches short courses for the RSN and London Embroidery School both here in the UK and in the USA.  As well as undertaking private commissions, Zinaida also works in the RSN commercial studio where she is involved in a variety of conservation and restoration projects including the coronation robe worn by Lady Carnarvon to King George V’s Coronation in 1911.

One of Zinaida’s secret passions is for Silk Ribbon embroidery and she runs a small business producing and selling hand-dyed silk ribbons.

Ahead of Lady Anne’s Needlework Festival 2021, we caught up with Zinaida to find out more about her love of needlework.

Why and how did you become a needlework tutor? Did anyone or thing, in particular, inspire you? 

I had a career in HR while doing needlework as a hobby. Soon I realised that I would like to focus full time on what I love. Being self-taught I did not feel confident enough to make such a career move, so I applied for the ‘Future Tutor Programme’ at the Royal School of Needlework. Luckily was given a place on it, and after three years of full-time training, I became a tutor.

What is your main needlework interest? 

Everything about needlework inspires me. I love studying old embroidery pieces and learning traditional techniques, stitches and materials of that time from them. I also like sketching new designs and seeing them coming alive and becoming beautiful embroideries over time.

Do you have a favourite stitch? 

Definitely, it is Long and Short Stitch. There are so many possibilities in using it. I include it in most of my designs as it is so effective.

If you had to choose one needlework possession to save in a fire, what would it be?  

I would save my sewing kit which is always in my handbag with other essentials wherever I go!

When developing your designs, which activity takes the most time? 

The preparation stage or initial research is what usually takes the most time. I always try not to rush it and take my time. For example, if I am asked to make a historical design, I aim to be as authentic as possible with the subject itself, as well as using materials and stitches that are relevant to the time period. If I am working on a contemporary design with a given theme, I do lots of research as well, to make the design appealing.

How much time do you spend stitching each day?  

Usually, I spend seven or eight hours a day on stitching related activity. It might be not just working on clients’ pieces, but also designing for classes, writing stitching instructions, kit making or teaching.

What is the best piece of advice about needlework you have been given and can share with our students?  

It might sound boring, but covering my embroidery when I am not working on it is the advice I always follow. Nothing looks better than a fresh and neat piece of stitching.

What advice would you give to students to get the most out of their workshop experience?  

Book in advance, relax and enjoy yourself! I would also suggest bringing your own sewing kit as I personally always feel more comfortable working with the tools I am used to.

Have you taught at Phillipa and Laura’s retreats before? 

I was introduced to the Crewel Work Company through the New Talent Programme and was lucky enough to teach on the ‘Totally Crewel Work’ workshop with Phillipa. It was such a welcoming atmosphere there, lovely students from all around the world, and the event was immaculately organised. I enjoyed it very much and it is no wonder their events are so popular! I am looking forward to teaching at Lady Anne’s Needlework Festival, and I am certain it is going to be an amazing retreat!

Thank you Zina for your time and energy, we look forward to many more teaching opportunities with you!

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