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Covid19 Lockdown Through the Eye of a Needle

Please join us in the nationwide collective project which will displayed at Ighali (the biannual South African embroidery festival) in August 2021.

Download the Information Sheet and required Registration Form by clicking the image below.

Newsletter — November 2020

I do apologise for not having sent this out last week. A dose of Lockdown-itis affected the way I read the calendar. However, this has given us a new opportunity to get some embroidery stock. 

I know there are some who are doing really well on their Covid Frieze project – this is so exciting! We look forward to the final work of art. Many people are designing their own pieces, but I know there are some whose skill lies in execution rather than in design, in which case some of our most celebrated teachers and producers will be showcased in this rather special way. 

We are still working in isolation, and it has to be that way at the moment. How lucky we are to be able to keep ourselves busy with our craft! Danny has been in contact with Ingrid Meyer (ingridmeyer@telkomsa.net) who has decided to close her shop and she has the following items for sale. Please contact her directly – this not a Guild project, but we are trying to give her a market for her stock. Details are in at the bottom of the list. 

Floss

  1. DMC stranded skeins ( full range of numbers)  @ R 6 .00 a skein
  2. DMC Perle in No. 5,8,12 ( limited numbers)  @R 20.00 a ball 

Fabrics

  1. Aida  8ct. 110 cm wide  R 120.00 p.m.
  2. Linda 27ct. 140 Cm wide R 140.00 p.m. 
  3. Yellow even weave  25ct. R 140.00P.m.
  4. Hunters green even weave 27 ct. 140 cm. wide R 130.00 p.m. 
  5. Dark Green even weave  32ct. 140 cm wide R 150.00 p.m. 
  6. Dark beige even weave 17ct. 140cm wide R 140 .00 pm. 
  7. Aida white / beige 110 cm wide R 150.00 p.m.
  8. Vinyl Aida 14ct. 78cm. wide R 200.00 p.m. ( it is for making 
  9. magnets, etc, craft cross stitch

To end with, I am including an episode from the series “Rosemary and Thyme” which you may remember aired a few years ago. In this one, embroidery features (a small role, but an important one). Enjoy!

Newsletter — October 2020

Not a lot of news this month. We have discovered that it will not be practical or wise to return to meetings at the Recreation Centre for the present, so we are creating ourselves as the best online embroidery Guild there is. Please keep your photos of your masterpieces coming to Robyn, Merica or Mary Lou, for the Instagram page and Hilary is still doing a remarkable job of managing the WhatsApp group. We have a facebook page as well, so we are really OUT THERE.

The committee has formalised the Covid project, and the flyer which the members designed can be downloaded. Please advertise this amongst all your embroidery friends, put copies in any shop near you that looks remotely like it sells needlework amongst its crafts. Many crafty people do more than one thing, so getting our flyer there is an important part of publicity. 

Also, the committee has decided to keep the collection of our “Through the Eye of a Needle” Covid projects as we originally said. Please deliver them to either “Ribbon Fields” or “Buttons and Bows.” It would be helpful if you notify the Guild when you have delivered something there, so we can fetch it sooner rather than later. You may of course keep your work with you and submit it early next year nearer the deadline. By then hopefully movement will be a bit easier, and being mid-summer, will mean more of us are confident going out.  Other than that, keep on sewing! And keep on enjoying what you are doing.

Embroidery — going global since 1804

From about 1804 until 1844, schoolgirls at Westtown School, a boarding school in Pennsylvania established by Quakers in 1799, embroidered globes, both terrestrial and celestial. Used to teach geography in the early decades of the nineteenth century, real globes were expensive; thus, a stitched globe was an economical way for a young girl not only to learn her lessons but to practice her needlework.
When you’ve finished your piece for the Covid-19 Through the Eye of a Needle project, the patterns for embroidery designer Nancy Nehring’s globe can be downloaded, free for personal use, from PieceWork Magazine’s website. Photo by Joe Coca.

Newsletter — September 2020

Spring has sprung, and after a chilly few days at the beginning of the month, the weather is beautiful.  Now for the rain!

Since the last newsletter we said goodbye to our friend and Witwatersrand Embroidery Guild matriarch, Myrna Vandam.  We will become really aware of our loss once we are able to meet again, whenever that will be.  Her good humour, her interest in everything that was going on around her, her willingness to help anyone who asked, and most of all, her incredible skill in giving expression to the most wonderful pieces of embroidery art, are things we will always cherish.  Unfortunately we were unable to be at her funeral, but we remember her with great fondness and our thoughts go out to Ron and the other members of her family.  

The Covid Frieze is still going ahead.  The Committee has taken over the running of it since it belongs to the whole Guild and not just to a few of us, and a sub-committee will be duly put in place to run it on behalf of all of the members.  The name of the project has been decided by the WEG committee and is as follows:  

Covid19 lockdown: Through the 👁 of a needle 

Should you have completed any piece and would like to hand it in, you may still do at the shops mentioned in the original information, and I will make sure they are picked up.  Otherwise just hang on to them for the time being and the Frieze committee will let you know their new arrangements.  Please don’t forget to put your name and the initials of the Guild on it, and if you have used a pattern from a designer, please include that on your work – “Mary Jones Designer”  or if you have borrowed some ideas and parts of another design, please acknowledge that too – “Influenced by Mary Jones”  We depend of these designers for our art, and they need to make a living too.  Please extend them this courtesy.

A request has come from some members of the Guild, particularly now that we are in level 2.  While most of us are in lockdown, there are others who are working – some back at the office and others still from home.  Should you wish to speak with anyone, please send them a WhatsApp or sms and ask when it is convenient to phone.  Often Zoom and other meetings are taking place and it’s very awkward to have to reject a call or to have to tell someone to phone later. I’m sure it’s something you have never thought about, and you will be considerate of those who are employed. Otherwise we still have the WhatsApp group where ideas and information are freely shared.  

Please keep you photos coming in. Robyn de Klerk has taken over the job of managing the Instagram page, and there are some wonderful works, completed and still in progress, featured there.  It’s a good advert for our Guild, so please keep sending them.

Finally, Danny has asked me to include the following two messages from Ina at the Centre, and pertinent considerations about re-opening.

Dear members,

We have been receiving messages from Ina at the Rec Centre about the reopening process. I will duplicate the last two here:

The last one:

Good Morning Everyone, still no news, I will notify you on this chat the moment we are allowed to open. Please don’t get your hopes up by listening to gossip from groups at other centres. That will just lead to frustration and disappointment. The staff will do the Covid course next week and that will put us on the path to re-opening. Kind Regards Ina.

And the second last one:

Good Afternoon Everyone, we are closed again. OHASA did inspections at 2 Rec Centres and our Manager Annette Volschenk realized that none of the Centres complies.  
I will keep you up to date of any changes. 
Look after yourself and be safe.

I have had some discussions with various members, informally, about the situation and the possibility of reopening. I know we are all anxious to get back to ‘normal’ whatever that may be. However, I think we need to be realistic. Almost all of us are in the high risk age category, and many of us have co-morbidities. This makes us vulnerable to a bad outcome if we do become infected with COVID. 

In addition, we would be responsible for safety protocols, sanitising, checking temperatures, keeping records etc. just as is required when you go anywhere. The Guild would have that responsibility as the council has no resources…That will mean money, as well as time and action by committee members themselves in a high-risk category.

Then there is the question of the hall. We have to sit, masks on, at least 1.5 metres apart – is that even feasible? Additionally, we would have to sanitise the hall before and after the meetings, make sure the tea and coffee etc, cakes and so on, is all safe. 

I really don’t think it’s doable for us.

I am terribly sorry, but right now we need to think sensibly, and long-term, for the health of our members. We are of course reassessing as we get information. We will let you know if anything changes, and if we have a time-frame for reopening the meetings. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to keep in contact via the WhatsApp group, and with your table, or in ZOOM or Google Meet meetings. And keep stitching.

Warm regards,

Danny

Have a wonderful month, and let’s keep on with the work we are doing.

Newsletter — August 2020

I would like to begin this month by saying thank you to all of you for being such wonderful, supportive people. The Instagram page is looking lovely – quite festive – with all the super things you have been making over the years.  We really did celebrate International Embroidery Day.  Now to think of something special to do next year ;-). Thank you too, for your support, virtual and actual of one another.  I know there is a lot of building up and helping those of our members who are struggling one way or another, and you have really done what you could under the limitations we are living with at present.  You are a lovely group of people.

A few of us have been meeting every fortnight on Zoom and we were thinking that actually, living through this pandemic with its new demands and challenges is something of a once in a lifetime event.  Even if we will have other pandemics, (and there are plenty of pessimists who seem to think so), this is the first time in 100 years that we have lived through something which has affected us as globally as this one.  Values have completely changed, and our perception of strong nations and weak nations has been turned upside down.  Weaknesses in our society have been exposed, and the strength and endurance of the human spirit has been expressed in some wonderful ways.  We felt that living through this needs to be given some sort of expression, and that we need to mark it in some way.  Accordingly, we have come up with the following:

Lockdown Project — open to all

We would like everyone who does embroidery (and we are not limiting it to this group only) to contribute to creating a small piece of embroidery which our Zoom group will put together in a frieze which will be exhibited at Ighali, when we hold it next year.  We will then look for other places to exhibit it, and hopefully find a permanent home for it where it will speak to those who have lived through it, or to those who come after us, for some time.  Eventually the “pandemic” character will fade from memory, but then, we want a piece of art which will speak of our craft for years to come. I hope you can catch the vision too, and will want to be part of this.

This is what we are looking for:

  • The General heading – at the moment– we can tweak this later:  “2020 – The View From the Inside.  Experiencing  Pandemic”
  • Each member produce one piece of embroidery which expresses her experiences of this period in our lives.  
  • The material should be a light coloured even weave (white is preferred, but we are aware that people may not have this in their stash).  
  • It can be either linen or cotton as long as it is of fairly good, durable quality.  “Threads” have some good quality stuff, (open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 10h00 – 12h00) some of it still old stock at a reasonable price, but you don’t have to buy anything if you already have something that will do.  Should anyone have absolutely nothing in their stash, Danny has said her son and/or husband are willing to buy what you need and deliver it to you if you are unwilling to travel (thank you so much Danny!).  However, ordinary fabric is absolutely fine.  We cannot use canvas of any sort, and Aida is difficult to fold and attach to something else, so PLEASE don’t use those.  They are also too heavy in comparison with most other material. 
  •  Each piece needs to be 25 centimetres high by as long as you want it, up to 80 cm long, with an extra 2 cm border all round so we can sew it onto the holding fabric. You can make it a small square, or you could make it anything up to 0.8 metre in length.  The HEIGHT is important (25 cm), because it needs to match its neighbours.  You may also fit in more than one piece –  like four bookmarks in a row, or six miniatures on your piece if you want to, as long as the finished product is within 25 cm in height. You are asked to mark the boundaries of your picture, either as an embroidered frame around your work, or to tack where the picture ends so we can centre it properly when mounting it. The frieze will look something like this:
Each block represents one piece of work. We hope to have enough pieces to need three rows of frieze, so please join in this project if you can.
  • Any depiction of your experiences of this pandemic is valid.  Any embroidery stitch or technique, any subject matter, internal and abstract, or a picture of a scene, or a tribute to medical staff, any additions such as sequins or beads, ANYTHING that expresses your experience and conveys it to the public.  You may submit up to five pieces, and each piece must have your name (or artistic identity) and the initials of your organisation embroidered in small letters at the bottom right of your piece.  You want to your admirers to know where your work is, and for this to be recognised by those who come after you!  As they come in, we will display them on our Instagram page.
  • We would love it if Thusani or any other upliftment group can be included.  It’s important that all sectors of the population can be represented. Any other embroidery group you belong to would be very welcome to participate, and if your great-great granny is keen, or your great granddaughter’s Brownie group would like to be part of this, please let them! 
  • The time limit for this is by the 15thJanuary next year.  That allows us to work at piecing it together while it’s summer and we can work in the open air with suitable distancing if we are still in lockdown.  Hopefully, by then things will be a little more under control. 
  • When you finish your piece(s), since we are not meeting at the moment, you can submit them in one of three ways.  
  1. Deliver it to “Ribbon Fields” embroidery shop, which is situated at 14 Pierre Road, Bordeaux in Randburg.  At the moment hours are 10h00 – 12h00 on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, but Sue Clegg says she is considering opening on Saturdays too. Give her a call 082 338 4312.
  2. Deliver it to “Buttons and Bows”  at shop 31B Cramerview village, 277 Main Road, Bryanston. They are open Monday to Friday 09h00 to 14h00, and Saturday 09h00 to 13h00 (the shop is at the back of the centre).
  3. Send it to Postnet Victory Park, and make sure the recipient is marked “Margaret 082 880 9229” and they will phone me and I can pick it up. (Just make sure the Postnet you send it FROM is reliable.  I have had very mixed experiences, which is why Victory Park is the one I use.)
  • Advertise this to everyone you can think of. I will be sending something that can be printed out as a flyer so you can advertise it along with these instructions to your WhatsApp group, your local Spar or wherever Lockdown allows you to go.  And START SEWING!

We are really looking forward to what you will produce, and we hope to have something really special!

Newsletter – July 2020

July is always a difficult month.  It feels as though winter is here forever, and we know that there will be at least two or three more cold snaps before things will begin growing again and we can look forward to warmth and blossoms and the hope that spring brings with it. The exponential rise in Covid 19 cases has added more gloom to this July, and it feels as though we have emigrated to a not-very-nice country where the quality of our lives is very much less than it was before and we are not sure if we aren’t some sort of refugee.  Creativity is a lifeline in times like this and we can be very grateful that we have these abilities and access to the materials of our chosen hobby.  Many medical people are working hard to get this virus under control and our prayers and happy thoughts are with them, as they are with those who are caring for the sick and those who are worried about loved ones, and those who have to return to work. 

As a result, we will probably not be meeting for quite a long time.  Everywhere you see “this virus will be with us for at least another year” and some say it will be even longer.  So it is business NOT as usual, but we are creative people and will find a way to keep our craft alive, and keep ourselves busy with it, and let us remember, people were embroidering since the Cro-Magnon days (about 30,000BC). A mere virus won’t stop this hardy, everlasting art form!  I will include a link to a very short article on the history of embroidery with the covering letter.

Our chair, Danny Wimpey has, as some of you already know, initiated and set up an Instagram page where we can display what we are doing.  In her own words:

Hi all, OK, our Instagram page is set up. Once or if you have Instagram, you can find it at @Witsembroidery. Anyone who would like to post, please send me the picture and I will put it up on the page while I sort out how to make posting more accessible for all of us. I am very excited about this. I think we should have some basic ideas about the narrative that goes with the pictures. Please give us your input. I’m thinking something like: type of work (eg blackwork, Jacobean, etc), name of the artist, a date perhaps when completed, size. Not too much but still, people can get an idea. Instagram uses hashtags to identify and classify the posts. Those we will work out over time. Please send me your pictures or let me know which ones from the group you are not keeping for the exhibition. ?? Please, no shyness or modesty. I know from my time with WEG that you are all great and super-talented. This is not the time to hide your light(s) under a bushel.

There are some lovely pieces there already – please look them up, become a follower of the page and let as many people as possible know about it.  If you have something to submit, please send the photos to Danny either on her phone, or email them.  Danny is the administrator of the page, so all entries must go through her.     

We DO exist as a Guild even though it’s in virtual space, and we will continue to do so.  In the meantime, let’s work on some REALLY OUTSTANDINGLY STUNNING pieces of art so that we can hold the

BEST VIRTUAL EMBROIDERY EXHIBITION – EVER!!!!!!!!

Regards,

Margaret

Below is the link to a short page about the history of embroidery.

https://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/4135/history-of-embroidery

Newsletter – June 2020

I hope that you have managed to keep cheerful and keep sewing, and that we have many more lovely winter days as we have had this past week. The good news is that our sewing shops all seem to be functioning either with reduced hours or online and pick up. I suggest that should you need something, phone the relevant shop first and find out what their arrangements are. I have found all their lockdown regulations on their websites and Facebook pages for level 4, but I don’t know whether or not they have changed anything for lockdown 3. Whatever they have done, I know that most of their customers are, like us, of the “vulnerable” age group and they will be managing accordingly. If not, then it is up to us to manage ourselves and take advantage of the helpful things they have put in place. Whatever the system – we can buy embroidery supplies again.

On Tuesday this last week, I took part in a wonderful Zoom meeting with those of us ladies who normally share our table on Tuesday mornings. Since it was my first attempt at hosting a Zoom meeting, we were given a little extra time. It was so great to see one another, and catch up, that we have agreed to do it again in a fortnight’s time. Zoom is ideal for small groups of 6 to 10 people, and I think we all thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s been a long time since we have seen one another. Even if we stick to the free 40 minutes, it’s amazing how much talking can get done in that time.

I would urge all of you to try and make some effort to communicate with others of the Guild, if you are not already doing so. Staying in touch with those you normally interact with on Tuesdays or Saturdays keeps our group alive, and modern technology gives us many options – Zoom, Skype, Facetime, emails, and even ordinary telephone calls. We are all in different places with this, but we can all do something.  

A day or two after that I had a letter from Danny our Chair person, and she may well communicate with you herself at some stage. It appears that it will be some time before we are able to meet again and that is worrying for the life of the Guild. I’m sure we are a tough lot and the Guild will survive, but we will try and make it easier and more pleasant if we can. Ideas are still brewing. Watch this space!

In the meantime, keep sewing. We love seeing what you have done on the FaceBook page (and for those of you who may have forgotten, it is to be found under “Jozi Stitch”) Robyn de Klerk has posted a fascinating article on Embroidery becoming a Power Player – a very worthwhile read. The WhatsApp group is also alive and well, and we are seeing lovely stuff there too.

Embroidery began long before we did, and it will still be creating beauty and keeping sewers happy long after we are gone. Covid 19 is just a hiccup. Let’s keep the flag flying – and we will fly flags done in cross-stitch, Crewel, Jacobean or whatever!

Below is a link to an article telling us why it’s a good idea to sew.

Keep warm and keep well,

Margaret

Newsletter – May 2020

I am sure you are enjoying the little window of “free time” when we are allowed to exercise each morning outside our property. I don’t think the dogs know too much about social distancing, but I am sure they, and all the under 20’s are enjoying being able to move a bit more freely. Let’s hope we see the end of this horrible virus soon so life will get back to normal.

I don’t see us getting back to meetings for another couple of months. The government is being very conservative about gatherings of any sort and many of our members are in the “vulnerable” age group and will therefore have to be that little bit more careful. However, there seems to be a lot of work going on to get a treatment for this illness, and hopefully there will be a vaccine within the next year or two. I’m sure you have all learned a lot by being separated form “normal life,” and by the looks of the WhatsApp group, there is a lot of lovely embroidery going on.

Arthur Bales sent out a notice saying they are not allowed to sell anything other than face mask materials so I suppose that means all embroidery shops are closed for the time being. I’m sure our relative stashes will keep us occupied for a while. I have discovered that Elizabeth Leather and MaryHickmottDesigns sell embroidery designs which you can download and print on your computer if you are short of inspiration. Trish Burr has some free patterns available to download if you want something fairly straightforward to do. Pinterest, Inspirations magazine and Etsy also
have a lot to tempt you or at least give you ideas. I daresay you all have resources of your own which are keeping you busy. (I was wondering if we couldn’t place online orders with Janice Savage and Sue Clegg, and get them delivered in polystyrene containers under the title of “Food for the Soul”. They will be quite cold and therefore not breaking any rules. We can dream!!!)

Please look after yourselves. Now that Lockdown is easing up a bit, it’s tempting to be a bit more casual with the regulations. However the disease is still out there, and if you are one of the people who might get it badly, it’s really horrible.

I got this “periodic table of sewing” from a website called “www.sewfunny.com”. If any of you suffered with chemistry at school you might find it amusing and very clever. The site as a whole is mostly for quilters, but it does have quite a bit of embroidery humour too.

Sewfunny.com image originally from scientificseamstress.com

Newsletter – April 2020

I hope that you have all developed some sort of sanity-saving routine for these days. Many, I am sure, have put the time to good use and created some beautiful embroidery and other things. Some of the pictures sent I have reproduced at the end of this letter. (spread through this post in the online version)

This from Jenni Langford

Some interesting developments – Jenni Langford has re-discovered our FaceBook page. It’s called Jozi Stitch and I think will be useful platform for sharing pictures of what we have achieved, and news about other embroidery things. I know we looked at it for advertising purposes, but no one seems to know who the administrator is. I know Jenny Shippey’s son
came up with the name and was responsible for quite a bit of our online stuff, but it may be useful to scrape of the rust and get this and other things back in service. If anyone knows about this, and where it all came from, please let me/us know, so that proper controls and organisation can be put in place.

This from Gaye Neille

Secondly, I would remind you that Wendy updated the membership lists last October and sent it to all of you. Should you wish to contact someone or to express congratulations/condolences/where–have-you-been messages, please use that list to contact them. No everyone wants their business known to all and sundry, and posting such matters on public places like FaceBook or WhatsApp groups is for THEM to decide, not wellmeaning
but misguided members of the Guild. Which leads me to the next issue – TARA……….

This from Amina Ismail

Thirdly, Hilary Walker has been given the go-ahead to set up a WhatsApp group for the whole guild. This is a very useful way to keep in contact and to get out mini-messages which need to be communicated immediately. HOWEVER!!!!!!!!!! No is obliged to be on the group, and you may exit the group if you wish. HOWEVER NUMBER TWO!!!!!!!!!!!! Please be disciplined and mature about your use of it. If you want to post pictures and motivational articles and funny stories, please use the FaceBook page for that. If you start a long chat about something and people’s phones are ‘pinging’ like a faulty heart monitor when they are in the bank, in church, at the doctor’s or in the cinema, then all that is going to happen is that they will exit the group and it will become a pointless exercise. Something of this sort has happened on the Saturday group, with the result it is now the exclusive domain of about 10 people. WE ARE SENSIBLE, GROWN UP PEOPLE WHO ARE VERY CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS and we know how to behave ourselves. We know that members of the Guild are wonderful people, Everyone is kind and no one means to be a nuisance, but sometimes we are a bit impulsive. Please know we are NOT going to check up on you like a lot of naughty children, but it would be a crying shame if we have to abandon this useful bit of technology because it’s not very user-friendly.

This from Robyn de Klerk

Apart from that – we don’t know yet when lockdown will be lifted and we can meet again. Let’s keep cheerful and busy, and creative, and I’m sure it will all be resolved one day. Keep healthy too, and don’t take chances. You are precious people and no one needs this very nasty virus.

Happy birthday to those who are celebrating this month. We have had two “virtual” birthday parties in my family. It’s not the same, but is something of a life-saver when we can’t physically meet. And NO ONE wants to get or give this virus.

COVID-19 — all meetings cancelled

Dear All,

A message from Danny. Until we know a bit more about this Covid 19 virus, ALL EMBROIDERY MEETINGS ARE CANCELLED – SATURDAY AND TUESDAY. Please will you let those who are NOT on email know about this so they don’t turn up and find no one there.

As soon as we know more, we’ll let you know, and we will also tell you when meetings will resume.

In the meantime, catch up with all those UFOs you can never find time for, watch movies on TV, and enjoy the clean, traffic-free air.

Keep safe, and may your supply of soap never run out!

Margaret