Newsletter — December 2019

The last letter of this year comes during yet another heatwave. What better excuse than to sit inside with a glass of something with lots of ice and our embroidery? I hope you are all looking after yourselves in this weather.

We had a wonderful party – at Carvers again. They really did us proud, and music was provided once again by Basil Walker and he also brought a singer, his friend Henry Coppen to add to our enjoyment.

We would like to thank everyone who has made our year such a pleasant one. The centre itself is well-run by Ina and we are kept clean and tidy by the ministrations of Ida, and our cars looked after by the various security guards. The Committee under Hettie Moller has kept us well organised. We have had wonderful workshops under Carol Robinson and Jenni Langford, and Jenni has asked me to pass on the following to you:

To all students and teachers, thank you for your participation.

I don’t know about you but I have learned a lot, I have also been encouraged by your enthusiasm and participation. My embroidery skills have been challenged and in my research I have learnt a lot about the history of the different techniques.

The work produced by the students have been excellent – well done to all of you.

My motto is, “try and see if you like it” some have gone on to do more and some only the class sample.

Thank you too, to those members who assisted them both and taught us so much.

Janis Savage has brought to our attention that DMC has, because of EU regulations, changed the chemicals used in some of the colours of their embroidery cottons, with the result that there are slight differences in some of their shades. The changed colours are now indicated on the colour chart which she has, and she asks you please to check when buying more of any skeins that you need to complete an article, that you check with her (or whoever you are buying from) to make sure that you are able to match what you had with what you now are able to buy. I have heard from other merchants that these chemicals are outlawed across the board, and that ALL brands of thread are affected, including some of our local ones. I haven’t been able to ascertain to what extent this is true, but I suggest that you check with any new thread you buy, and make sure you get enough to finish your piece. Who knows what other changes will be made?

The Roosevelt Park Recreation Centre is closing on the 6th December, and that means the Saturday group has had their last meeting for this year, and the Tuesday group has its last meeting on Tuesday 3rd December. It re-opens next year on the 13th January, so the first meeting of the year is on Tuesday 14th January. Cordelia Robinson has once again worked her magic, and the Saturday group will be getting an extra day in January. We are holding meetings on both Saturday the 18th and Saturday the 25th of January.

There will be no newsletter in January, so please note the dates given above, and let me also remind you that the New Year is also the time to pay our annual dues. If you have forgotten, they are as follows:

60 years of age and under – R140

60-69 years – R120

70-79 years – R100

80-89 years – R80.

90 years + – free

The costs of tea will be the same as they were this year to start off with – any change will be decided at the AGM.

If any of you are able to serve on the committee during 2020 (and beyond if possible) please let us know. It is not an onerous job, but it does need some dedication and a willingness to see things through. There are several people whose term is up and they have to stand down, and there are vacancies on the committee which must be filled. Embroidery people are VERY NICE PEOPLE indeed and you will enjoy your year. Please let Hettie Moller know – and if you can decide to take the plunge before Christmas, that will be the very present she could possibly have!

2020 will be our Ighali year. We need funds to make it an awesome event. Toni Olivier has gone to a great deal of effort to raise funds, and she has organised a fun afternoon. Details are as follows:

A Barnyard Silverstar Fund Raiser (to raise funds for the Ighali embroidery conference) is on Sunday 8 December @ 14h00. Tickets are R150 pp. The show is 101 Radio Hits. Everyone is welcome & I’d appreciate your support. RSVP & payments asap please so I can fill all 56 seats. Thx a mill ladies.

Please go if you possible can, and take friends with you.

In the New Year there will be flyers which you will be asked to help us distribute, and we will all be asked to help as much as possible. In the meantime, let as many of your craft and handwork friends know. We’d love to have a full house.

In the meantime, have a wonderful Festive Season. Travel safely, enjoy time with family and friends, and have plenty to tell and to show by January 2020.

Newsletter — November 2019

I cannot believe there is only one more newsletter for this year after this one. Where has the time gone? I hope you all have lots of completed work to look at so that, you can see that you have achieved something worthwhile and that this year has been a productive one at least as far as embroidery goes.

I am sure we have all longed to pack it in and head for the wild blue yonder at some stage. Most of us never get there, but our erstwhile treasurer, Wendy Hutton and her husband Brian are doing just that. They are spending the next three months in the USA catching up with family, then back in South Africa they are going to travel in their newly acquired caravan and get to see things we don’t even read about in travel magazines. Thank you, Wendy for your sterling work over the last number of years on our committee. We are going to miss you greatly, but we don’t begrudge you the time for yourself at all. We all hope it will be better than your wildest dreams.

Now back to business. Carol Robinson has designed a fun project for us to do which will be completed in one lesson. It’s a key tag, but I’m sure you creative people will be able to do many things with it – Christmas tree decorations, earrings – (exotic ones, admittedly), handbag accessories, and many other things. It is designed to be fun, and the Guild is sponsoring this one. Carol’s instructions are as follows, and the final result in the picture.

This project is designed to be completed during the morning or afternoon meeting. Tuesday 19th November and Saturday 9th November. The perle cotton (8 and 5), wooden bead, gold thread and gold beads are included in the kits. Each lady is to please bring : tapestry needles – size 22/24/26 (embroidery needle with large eye can also work), a needle threader if they use one and normal scissors. If you haven’t yet put your name down to do the project and would like to do it, please contact Carol Robinson as soon as possible.

Samples of the key tags.

Newsletter – October 2019

We have had a wonderful start to Spring.  Our hat competition produced some wonderful creations by those of our members who participated, and the winners, voted for by all members present were: 

Tuesday,  Hettie Moller, with Helen Bird as runner-up

Saturday –  Corinne van Deventer, with Jenni Langford as runner-up.

Tuesday Hats
Saturday Hats

Our last workshop for the year will be on October 8th when Alice Per will teach Schwalm work.  This amazing apparent combination of whitework, hardanger (sort of) and cutwork has its own beauty and will be appreciated by all who learn this technique.  Unfortunately the class is full, but I’m sure we will be able to persuade Alice to do it again.

However, we can still learn things!  Carol Robinson promises us a fun end-of-year project.  We look forward to that, and she will let us know what is in store.  From the Ighali project, we have 83 out of 120 felt needle cases completed, and 70 cross-stitch scissors/bird key tags done.  The challenge is to have them ALL completed by the last meeting of this year.  How about it ladies?

One last request from me.  We need to start advertising Ighali early in the New Year so we can get a number of participants.  I have been looking at placing advertisements in our local craft magazines.  Unfortunately “Creative Hobbies” only comes out once a year in July, but the owner/editor says she will advertise it through her publicity channels, and the “Stitches and Crafts” has ceased publication. I shall investigate the more general magazines when I know a bit more about costs, but in the meantime,  I think it would be best to go the route of the Quilters Guild who had posters and flyers everywhere.  And this is what we need. We need someone who has graphic art training/experience who could design a flyer and/or poster for us.  Does anyone have any such contacts?  Please let me know.  We would like to begin promoting this in January.

Finally, a number of people were very impressed with the poem presented at the memorial service for Riana, and have asked me to re-produce it here.

“Don’t grieve for me, for how I’m free.
I’m following the path God laid for me.
I took his hand when I heard him call;
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must tay that way;
I found the place at the close of day.
If my parting has left a void,
then fill it with remembering joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a hug, a kiss.
Oh yes, these things I too will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life’s been full, I’ve savoured much.
Good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch.
Perhaps my time seems all too brief.
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your head and heart and share with me.
God wanted me now. He set me free.

Have a wonderful month, and hopefully, by the time of the next letter, we will have had some rain.

Happy sewing!

Newsletter – September 2019

This letter goes out to you on the first day of Spring. I’m sure there is a lot to inspire us in our craft, and the beautiful fresh green colours which are available these days will be very conducive to wonderful creative efforts.

Some sad news – one of our members, Riana Dijkman died last week after a long struggle with cancer. We remember her not only for the wonderful lace that she made, and her exceptional embroidery as well as the lovely clothes she made and wore, but more particularly for her courage. She chose her path, and made sure that those around her would have the easiest time possible, and to that end, we remember, she sold the wonderful store of sewing, knitting and embroidery things she had so that her family would not be burdened with it after her death. We could learn a lot from a person like her. For those of you who able to attend, her funeral details are as follows:

Wednesday 4 September 2019
Florida Methodist Church, Cnr 7th Avenue and Madeline Street, Florida.

Another form of courage which we need to acknowledge is that of Fatima Bhabha, who nursed a very ill husband for a long time, and who is now in the mourning period following his death. Our condolences go to you, Fatima, and we are all thinking of you at this time.

Our Ighali project is ongoing and out thanks go to Toni Olivier who is making great strides with it. She has managed to acquire some impressive sponsorships to start us on our way, although, obviously, there will be more money needed. I have attached pictures of the very beautiful gifts which have been made by two of our members, Merica Swart has created cute little pincushions, and Robyn de Klerk has made an impressive pile of tissue holders. Both useful gifts, and they will enable the Guild to hold its head up high! Thank you to them, and also to all who are helping with this effort in various ways.

Happy Spring Day

Tissue holders made by Robyn de Klerk for Ighali.

Pincushions made by Merica Swart for Ighali.

Newsletter — August 2019

Exciting news!  Two days from now we will be exactly ONE YEAR away from the beginning of the first Ighali held north of the Karoo!  Toni Olivier has been extremely busy getting the initial organizing going, and has sent the following information:

The original concept was that of Via Laurie, chairlady of the Helderberg Embroiderers’ Guild in 2001.  The vision was a gathering of the Cape Embroidery Guilds, in order to share information and teachers.

The word “Ighali” is derived from the Xhosa word for “thread” and the idea was to host an Ighali every second year, opening it to guild members as well as the general public.

The aim was to hold hand-embroidery lessons of exceptional quality, from traditional to contemporary, and for these to be presented by skilled embroidery teachers.  In so doing, participating embroiderers would be exposed to educational, informative, constructive, inspiring and hands-on embroidery workshops.

Ighali 2020 is to be hosted at the Ekudeni Exclusive Country Venue in Muldersdrift, Gauteng from Thursday 6 August to Monday 10 August.  More details will be available soon, so we urge you to save the date and start saving for this awesome event.

We look forward to creating many new embroidery friendships in 2020!

Please, Please, Please let as many people as possible know about this!  Ighali virtually unknown in Gauteng, and there are many little informal embroidery groups and individuals who would love to be part of this.  Muldersdrift is not that far from anywhere in Gauteng, and I’m sure there will be those who would like to be day-visitors. Please start the advertising process now.

At the end of this paragraph, I have included a link to the Quilters’ Guild exhibition and conference held later this month at Heronbridge.  If you are planning to visit, please give yourself an extra half an hour to get there – they are re-building the road, and Heronbridge College is right in the middle of it all.

 website  for information

As regards workshops – Jenni Langford is enjoying a well-earned tour around the UK and seems to be having a wonderful time.  We look forward to hearing all about it, and learning new things from her when she returns later this month.

This month Carol Robinson is teaching the something many of us have not seen since we visited Granny in our childhood, although it is still popular, mass produced and on sale in various interior decorating shops in the country.  Cutwork – an example of which you can see below – is the new skill, and I think that the classes are full, but I am certain Carol will offer it again – we must just ask her nicely. It’s very beautiful, and we look forward to adding further creativity to our efforts. That’s all for this month.  I hope you have survived winter successfully, you are still sewing madly and with passion and enjoyment


Newsletter — July 2019

It seems as though we are hibernation this month.  There are no workshops, and some of our members have escaped the cold and gone somewhere warmer.  However, Ighali work has gone on apace, and some of the beautiful creations are depicted at the end of this letter.

Here are some quotations about sewing that you might find amusing – there isn’t a lot about embroidery, so I have chosen some about sewing as well.  Enjoy them!

Comparing science and religion isn’t like comparing apples and oranges – it’s more like apples and sewing machines. Jack Horner
Read more at:

When I write sad songs, I feel like I’m sewing up a scar in me, and the outcome always feels so much better than when I write happy ones. Sam Smith
Read more at:

I love taking prints, embroidery, appliques – precious things that seem to be from another time – and using them to create a contemporary, new story. Alessandro Michele
Read more at:

Keep warm, keep embroidering, and enjoy the pictures!

Newsletter June 2019

A very full letter this month – but there are so many wonderful things happening.

Firstly, we MUST say a big thank you to Sheila Meyerowitz who has donated books and also back-issues of the magazine “Inspirations” for us to sell in order to raise funds for Ighali.  Thank you so much Sheila!  This is very generous of you.  They will be on sale soon at R50 a copy.

Our workshops this month are two very interesting and simple techniques.  Carol Robinson will be introducing us to a creative, freestyle embroidery.  She brought some samples to the last meeting, and it is very beautiful.   The details are as follows:

So the next class for the Tuesday ladies is a FREESTYLE EMBROIDERY one. We will be exploring textured embroidery done on fabric painted material. The ladies are to bring:

  • Hoop – 15 cm (slightly bigger or smaller will work)
  • Hoop stand, if you have one
  • Various needles for embroidery thread and thicker thread
  • Scissors
  • Thimble, if you use one
  • Threads – perle and embroidery thread (there will be textured thread provided)
  • R10 cash for class

Our Saturday ladies will be exploring Redwork, and Jenni Langford has sent these details:

Saturday June Workshop – Red Work (Needle Book)
What to bring:

Kits will be available @ R10.00 each
Material with picture
Cotton Embroidery Floss  – red
White sewing thread
Felt (2x)

Please contact Jenni on SMS if you would like to add your name to the list.

There are two very interesting festivals which celebrate handwork of all descriptions, including embroidery.

The first one you may know about if you are on Hazel Blomkamp’s newsletter list.  It is taking place in Benoni at “Spinnerin” and includes all sorts of interesting things. This is an extract from Hazel’s letter:

This event is inviting you to attend workshops that include a wide range of styles and techniques.  Everything from miniature, beginners and more advanced embroidery to teddy bear making, hairpin crochet lace, felting, hand applique and quilting, creative crochet, knitting and even loom weaving.  The organisers have gone out of their way to provide you, the needle working public with not only an interesting programme but also, some of the best tutors in the country.

If this event sparks you interest you need to go to the website which you can do by clicking here.  From there you can download the workshop schedule in order to see what is being offered and, also, to make your choice.  After that, you can register online.  If you are not comfortable with registering online, you can download a registration form and email it to the organisers who will make sure that you registration is completed and confirmed.

So easy.

The following is from Sandra de Wet and concerns the Quilters’ Festival.:

I would like you members to know about the Festival as there is so much of interest to embroiderers, although our focus is quilting and patchwork.  It will be held form 17-23 August 2019, at Heronbridge College in Fourways, Johannesburg. 

The Festival is worth a visit, I think, even if you no longer attend classes.

Entrance fee per day is R50. That gives you access to all the attractions: exhibitions, shopping (around 45 vendors), daily 1 hour workshops, demonstrations, free sessions, food  and drink.

 Then we have longer workshops: we have two overseas embroidery teachers coming, in Dorothy Tucker from the UK and Sue Spargo from Ohio, USA.  Dorothy has been Education Officer at the UK Embroiderers’ Guild and specialises in Kantha embroidery, the running stitch work from India. Sue Spargo is an expert in embroidery on felt: she teaches widely and has many books to her credit. Its a great chance to learn from such experts right her here in Johannesburg. 

 All the details, including of all the teachers and workshops, are easily accessed on our website

 There are also South African teachers offering classes that would also be on interest to your members, all hand sewing: I  would mention Elaine Barnard and Kathryn Celliers-Louw. 

 There are also classes in beading, applique, embellishment, printing and dying on fabric, as well as general design classes. 

 Classes run for 1-2 days and prices start at R380 per day. 

Bookings are open already, via a ticketing agency:  see

As I said, this is a long newsletter this month, but a lot of very interesting things going on.

Happy sewing!

Newsletter May 2019

What an exciting week we are going to have!  The first attempt by Gauteng of holding “Ighali” is slowly but surely getting underway.  “Ighali” is a sewing-teaching-meeting-learning embroidery weekend experience which up till now has happened every second year in either the Western or Eastern Cape. At the initiative of some of our members, led by Toni Olivier, we are beginning to make plans to hold this event next year.  Toni will be at the Tuesday and Saturday meetings this week to tell you more about it, so I am not going to say anything more.  Please come and learn all about our biggest, most wonderful venture to date.

As regards workshops – Jenni Langford is not teaching anything new this month, but is available for anyone who would like help with unfinished pieces.  She says:

For May there will not be any workshops but you are encouraged to bring any WIP (work in progress) or UFO (unfinished items) you have problems with. Bring them along to the meetings and I am sure there will be someone who will be able to help or encourage you with your project/s. 

Sometimes we need help and/or encouragement when we have lost interest in a project we are/were working on.

One of the things our Guild has undertaken is to provide items for the “Goodie Bags” for each participant at Ighali.  Carol Robinson has designed and produced some blank felt needle cases to go in each bag.  We are asked to embroider some form of Mandala on each as one of our gifts to those who attend the Ighali weekend.  Carol  will be at both Saturday and Tuesday meetings to explain what is needed and to distribute those needle case kits she has already prepared. You are invited to take one and embroider it for the event. You will be required to provide your own thread – and Carol says you need either perle cotton or else 3 strands of regular embroidery thread.  Carol has made one already as a sample – see below – but you are free to design your own.

All the very best, and happy sewing!

Newsletter 4, April 2019

I hope you have had a wonderful start to the year, and that your various projects are well under way.  I know we have had some lovely workshops – Jenni and the Saturday ladies with their Amish Stump Work on the two Saturdays in March, and Carol Robinson spent the last Tuesday of the month teaching Shadow Work, with the help of some of our more experienced embroiderers.

More workshops are to come.  Jenni will be teaching “Mirror Work” on both Saturdays in April. And Carol will be opening our minds and developing our creativity with some freestyle work a bit later in the year. Available details of the courses and contact numbers are available at the end of this letter.

This newsletter is for the benefit of Guild members, and I took all the email addresses from the membership list of 2018.  Members are those who have paid their annual subs by the end of February, and who attend at least 10 meeting per year. Obviously, provision is made for those who join later. Wendy has now given me the 2019 list, and there are some people who have not paid up for this year.  I know how it happens – you mean to come to meetings, but other things get in the way, and before you know what has happened, the year has gone. If you are receiving this letter, and have not joined for this year, please consider coming back.  We do miss you, and would love to see you again. I will be editing the address lists during this month, and will be deleting anyone who is not on Wendy’s latest list, or who has not come back, and I don’t want to take off anyone I don’t have to!

This month, I have included some quotations about embroidery.  Some are a bit strange, but others you may find interesting and amusing.

The Tuesday workshops

Please contact  Carol Robinson

The Saturday workshops in April

Mirror Work (Shisha Stitches)

We will be making Scissors Keepers, to hold 3 pairs of scissors.

Kit supplied (R25.00 each)




What to bring

Crewel Needles


Cardboard A4 (If you would like the Scissors Keeper Pattern)

Newsletter 3, March 2019

The biggest news this month is – inevitably – the AGM.  The business of the day was successfully done, and our gratitude to those who have been loyal members, and who helped with the Exhibition was given due expression. You ARE a lovely lot of people, and we enjoy serving you in this way!

Highlights include our committee, which is more or less as I wrote last month:  Hettie Moller as Chair, Wendy Hutton as Treasurer, and Sue Sylvester who will be doing the teas once again.  Changes are to the Workshops – Carol Robinson will be taking the Tuesday ladies’ workshops, and Jenni Langford has hit the ground running with the first of her workshops for the Saturday group due to be given THIS COMING SATURDAY!!! (see details below.)  Agnes Janse van Rensburg has agreed to take on the Library on Tuesday (thank you Agnes!) and Hettie will continue to administer it on Saturdays, unless someone would like to be co-opted to do this not-very-onerous job?  All offers welcome.  The heroine of the day was Carole Walker who has not only agreed to continue with her job of running the Sales Table, but has agreed to be Secretary as well!  She will be probably one of the most hard-working member of the committee, and anyone who would be willing regularly to give her a hand with the Sales Table will be greatly appreciated.

The other significant motion passed was that we are looking seriously to increasing our teaching.  We will not be changing the present format:  members coming to the group to work and support one another, with a bit of help given when needed from a more experienced member of the group.  That will continue, as will periodic workshops which enhance and develop existing skills.  However unless we teach those who have never learnt, and this includes young people, our craft will die out, and we need to take urgent action to prevent this happening.  Many ideas are in place, one or two trial runs by members but outside the Guild, are being considered at the moment.  Anyway, this is VERY exciting, and we look to develop this more in the months to come.  WATCH THIS SPACE!

The other exciting thing is that “IGHALI” is now going to be held in Johannesburg toward the end of 2020 – next year.  “Ighali”, (which means “threads” ) is something of a National Convention on embroidery.  People come from all over the country, they stay at the venue, and go to classes, and in that way get to know some of the very best teachers in the country, they look at exhibits, they get to know other embroiderers and generally have a jolly good embroidery time. Toni Olivier has taken charge of it, and we will be asking for help as time goes on.  WATCH THIS SPACE TOO!

Well, that’s it for this month.  Below are the details and requirements of Jenni’s workshop, (and please send her a WhatsApp if you are interested – she needs numbers!)  Below that is a link to a website which shows you why what we are doing is so good for us!

Saturday workshop 9 March 2019 and 23 March 2019

Teacher: Jenni Langford

Amish Stump work 

(Also called German Tufted Wool Embroidery or Plush work)

We will be doing flowers and leaves.

Tools and Material You Need to Bring
  • Cardboard (cereal or biscuit box) (if you would like to make your own template)
  • Fabric to embroider – typically a thicker material
  • Embroidery hoop (if you have it on a stand it will be better)
  • scissors (small sharp point and one to cut the cardboard)
Tools and Material supplied
  • Template
  • Yarn in several colours. 1 or 2 colours for the centre, 3 or 4 for petals and 3 or 4 for the leaves
  • Embroidery needle (chenille)

13 Benefits of Hand Sewing