Newsletter — December 2021

So here we are at the last letter of the year. It seems like forever since we met, and except for those few brief meetings earlier this year, we haven’t seen one another for a very long time. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It appears that the renovations at the Roosevelt Park recreation centre are underway, at last, and, if everything goes according to plan, we should be able to meet again next year at around Easter at the latest. Let hope so anyway.

Hilary Walker has asked PLEASE if those of you who are not going away this December, would give a few hours of your time to sew up the pieces of the Covid “Eye of e Needle” project. They need to be hemmed with some lovely fabric which the team has found, and then placed on a background of the same material. This is a very arduous task when it is done by only one or two people, but if everyone does something, it will go much faster. It’s not difficult work, but it does take time.

An idea for Christmas – a woman took the pictures that her grandchildren drew for her (the stuff you keep on the fridge forever) traced them and embroidered them and made the finished work into a wall decoration as a Christmas present to the artist when she was old enough to appreciate the work gone into it. That might be an idea for you to take on if you are at a loss as to what to get children or teenagers for Christmas. I would love to show you a picture of it, but it was from a friend of a friend of a friend, so I don’t have permission to share it.

Jenni Langford has offered a special service to Guild members at this point in the year. If you need anything researched – how to do a certain stitch, information on a style of embroidery, where to buy what, or anything else embroidery connected, she will research it for you and give you whatever answers she can find. This is a generous offer, and for those of us who find trawling our way through the internet rather challenging, this is a wonderful initiative.

That’s all for now. There is not usually a newsletter in January, but if there is any news about when we can meet again, or anything else important, I will send out an interim letter. Until then, have wonderful holidays, spend time with those you love – even if it’s only electronically, keep well away from the Virus, and hopefully, we’ll see one another in the new Year.

A Christmas decoration by Mandy Kort,  from the Guild's 2016 exhibition.
A Christmas decoration by Mandy Kort, from the Guild’s 2016 exhibition.

Newsletter — November 2021

I must begin this month’s newsletter by remembering our dear friend Fatima Bhabha who died at the end of last month. She was the Chair when I re-joined the Guild after 20 years’ absence, and I could not have been made to feel more welcome. She took an interest in everyone’s work, and always had a bit of practical philosophy to share when the creative process became a bit frustrating as happens, even with embroidery! We had some lovely chats, and her work was always beautiful. She will be sorely missed, and we are grateful for all that she did for the Guild and its members. RIP Fatti, and our condolences to her family and numerous friends.

A selection of Fatima’s work from the Guild’s 2016 exhibition.

Further information about our “Eye of the Needle” project – the backing material has arrived and is waiting to be used to mount our efforts. Two of the working group are on a well-deserved holiday at the moment, but no doubt over the December period there will be some progress. We look forward to seeing the end result.

Last month Jenni Langford took a lot of trouble to collate a list of all available suppliers of embroidery materials. There is a new shop which has just moved to the Jan Smuts Avenue area. It is called “Moon and Son” and as yet has small amounts of wool, embroidery thread (mostly Chameleon) and quilting material. The delightful young lady who runs it is offering classes in knitting, crochet, quilting and embroidery – she did tell me the name of the teacher, and it sounded familiar, but I’m not going to write it here and get it wrong. Since the shop is new to the area, the dominant offering will ultimately be according to whatever the demands are. The shop is situated in the Valley Shopping centre, and if you come out of Clicks, turn RIGHT and it is tucked into the northern most corner of the centre. Go and have a look. The phone number is 082 728 8103, and I’m sure she would source anything you needed.

While we are talking about lessons, Colleen Goy is teaching again, at Ribbon Fields and at Buttons and Bows. Phone the shops concerned to get days and times if you or anyone you know is interested in upping their skills.

Danny has been in touch with the Roosevelt Park Recreation Centre to find out about re-opening again, but it seems as though the re-furbishment is nowhere near ready. We really don’t want to wait forever to begin again, and the committee is considering other venues. If any of you know of a possible meeting place which is within about 10 Kms of Roosevelt Park, has secure parking and also is big enough to allow for Covid protocols (and the WHO says we are only about halfway through the pandemic. We still need distancing, masks etc), please let one of the committee members know, or reply to this email and I’ll make sure it is passed on. Even if we meet only in temporary accommodation from the beginning of next year, it will be good to see everyone again.

A couple of years ago I was looking for embroidery groups around the country and I happened upon the South African artist Sally Scott, who does the most magnificent paintings of the country around the Eastern Cape. She also calls herself a “Fibre Artist,” which is like post-graduate embroidery and quilting, and some magnificent creative things are done by those groups of Fibre Artists or (Textile Artists, which is the better-known name), who create these things. At the moment there is an exhibition being held in Gqeberha (the old PE) and I asked for the brochure to be sent to me so you can see what sort of work is done. It has links with the Keiskamma project – you remember that project where a number of concerned people went to the area around Hamburg and taught the indigent women art work of various kinds. That excellent outreach is still going on, and you will see some outstanding samples of what they are producing as well. Apparently there are fibre art groups all over the country, and I am sure we can only benefit by seeing a slightly different approach to our craft. This is the link: https://gfiartgallery.com/current/.

Other than that, I hope you are finding that the heat, the exhaustion from Covid – (is it ever going to go away?) and the general winding down towards the end of the year is not stopping you. Perhaps now is the time to be a bit embroidery mad. Let’s see if you can be REALLY crazy and different. Who knows – you might be South Africa’s next great world-renown artist! We look forward to seeing your creations and bragging about you to all our friends.

Keep well and keep cheerful.

Newsletter — October 2021

I hope you are all well, and that the warmer weather (after some lovely rain) and the reduction in Covid rules have made you happier and more optimistic about the future.

Last month we asked you to let us know about embroidery suppliers near you so that we all have places to go when we need things, and that we can spoil ourselves a little in the interests of keeping these places open. Jenni has collated the list, has made sure the businesses concerned are happy for us to share their details (POPI regulations) so please look them up. I’m sure they will stimulate interest and get you to be your usual creative selves and produce some beautiful work. There are always presents needed, particularly towards the end of the year, and now is a good time to start. The list is on the new “Resources” page of this website, which can be accessed via the menu links above.

Other than that, the Covid “Through the Eye of the Needle” project is going ahead. Jenni Langford, Lynn Puttick and Louise von Glehn met at Hilary Walker’s house and, with the added input from Helen O’Hanrahan, your pieces have been placed and the backing and framing fabric has been more of less decided upon. We look forward to more news on this front. This is really exciting.

We will let you know as soon as the Recreation Centre has been upgraded and meetings are like to start again. We presume it will all be ready for the beginning of next year. Let’s hope the builders don’t hit any snags which could cause delays.

For now, happy sewing

Newsletter — September 2021

Happy spring month! Let’s hope it comes with good rains, warmer weather and an increased feeling of hope and looking forward to great things. There are some things to look forward to, although there is not a lot to report this month.

Firstly, the Covid project “Through the Eye of a Needle” is officially through stage one. Around forty pieces have been collected and the “put-it-all-together” committee is looking for a place large enough where they can safely plan the layout but at the same time keep social distancing according to current regulations. There are some pieces which were handed in to other members of the committee/Guild, so will those people who have them, please make an arrangement to hand them over to Jenni ASAP so the process can continue. It would be dreadful for the whole thing to go on display and a participant brings the grandchildren to look and find that inadvertently HER piece was not included in the final work. I’m sure you won’t put us in that position!!!

Now that the project is over, I’m sure you will be looking for new things to begin – or old things to complete. If you can, please think about our retailers (shops) and producers of embroidery materials. Apparently House of Embroidery was badly affected by the riots which we all experienced recently, and have worked very hard to catch up and get their orders out. Please support them if you can and help the company get on its feet again. Chameleon threads has expanded and moved out of Benoni and the company is now based somewhere near the airport. Such a brave move during a pandemic will mean that they could use some support too. Even our imported DMC comes through a local agent. We lost Anchor cottons through lack of support. Let’s not let that happen again.

Our retailers too are finding that things are “a bit slow at the moment.” If these businesses can’t stay open, then people will be out of work, and we will be forced to use inferior materials or import anything we need. “Sales table” type of stuff doesn’t go on forever.

Jenni Langford has offered to collate and distribute a list of all the shops we know of where haberdashery is sold – with particular emphasis on embroidery things, of course. There are heaps of these little shops – gift shops, stationery shops, supermarkets, which have the odd shelf of embroidery stuff, as well as the specialist shops we all know and love. Our members also come from Alberton to Centurion and the borders of Germiston to Roodepoort. PLEASE let us know of any shop within these boundaries. I remember travelling from northern Johannesburg to Boksburg to get ONE ball of wool that I needed. Us crafty people are crazy like that, so no shop is too small or too insignificant for our list, and I’m sure the owners of the businesses would appreciate the support. And I’m sure Janis can make a plan if you need things. She’s a very local retailer! Nobody needs an excuse to buy lovely things. Take the opportunity for a good cause!

If you REALLY don’t need anything, please think about buying a few things to donate to charities. Many of our members are involved in one or other charity, either through their religious institution or other socially motivated societies. Next month, I would like to publish as well as the above-mentioned shops, all charities that could use embroidery materials, fabric, wool, scissors, needles, hooks or whatever else people use, and you as an individual or we as a Guild can support them. Even if money is tight, two balls of knitting wool, or a reel of cotton, or some embroidery skeins, will be well used, and in the October newsletter we will publish the list so, not only will you be keeping people in work, but you will be helping those who need it too. By all means, let me add the name of your pet charity. Marvellous people that you are, I’m sure you’ll contribute. How nice it will be for the poorest, struggling people in our land to have nice new stuff to work with. Other people’s “recycling” is useful, but I’m sure there’s a lot of joy in working with something brand new! Think about it! We will definitely not be meeting as a Guild at the Recreation centre this year. They are upgrading and renovating the building – work which is very necessary apparently – so no groups are meeting. A pity about that, but it’s nice to have a non-Covid reason for a change! In the meantime, we have the benefit of the internet in all its variety of communication options, so let’s keep sewing, let’s be creative, and let’s keep talking to one another.

Have a wonderful month.

Newsletter — May 2021

Before we begin with the embroidery business of this month, I’m sure we all want to wish our other centenarian, Helen Bird, hearty congratulations on reaching this awesome milestone earlier in April. You are an inspiration to us all, and we are privileged to know you. We all wish you well for the future.

Meeting again

Very Exciting – we are going to start meeting again this week – this coming Tuesday the 4th at 09h00, and this coming Saturday the 8th at 14h00. It will be wonderful to start again. However, some of us are still being very careful, and that is totally acceptable and quite understandable. If you feel safer staying away until vaccines are further down the track and the weather is warmer, by all means. You are still a valued member of the Guild. However, Ina, Danny and the committee have been very intentional about making sure everything is well within the Covid regulations, so we can safely welcome everyone who wants to attend. If we are all sensible and considerate of one another, there is no reason why a very pleasant time will not be had by all. Agness has asked that since the library was always held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays, that we NOT hold library this week, and it will also give us time to work out the logistics of how safely to borrow books. You can however bring back books previously borrowed. I am sure Diane will be on track with the library by Saturday. I also presume those who wish to buy embroidery things from Janis have already been in touch, and that is all organised.

If any of you Tuesday ladies are prepared to come a little early this week to help with the sanitizing, the temperature taking etc, please WhatsApp or sms Danny and find out if anything from you will be needed.

The Committee

Some of you have asked who the committee for this year is – last year’s AGM took place in another era, but the committee then is as it is now:

  • Chair — Danny Wimpey
  • Secretary — Hettie Moller
  • Treasurer — Helen O’ Hanrahan
  • Library — Agness van Rensburg (Tuesday) Diane Walker (Saturday)
  • Tea — Sue Sylvester (in abeyance)
  • Sales table — Jenny Henning (in abeyance)
  • Workshops — Carol Robinson (Tuesday) Jenni Langford (Saturday) (both in abeyance)
  • Communications — Margaret Place (co-opted)

Resources

It has been suggested that we get a list of resources for embroidery things – cloth, threads, haberdashery, and also good framers. Janis will keep us supplied with the essentials, but sometimes we need something not readily available. We want not only walk-in shops (and where they are located) but also online suppliers – with their online locations too. We live in different times, and a lot of things have changed. Please help us to help you keep up to date. You can email the Guild address, let any of the committee people know, or else post it on one of the WhatsApp groups.

“Eye of the Needle” Covid project – made easier

We are in the last two months before the closing date for “the Eye of the Needle”. Covid project needs to be handed in. Some lovely things have been submitted but it’s still a little bit slow. We know that some of you are at a bit of a loss as to what to do, and to that end, Carol Robinson has made a very helpful suggestion. She says:

If choosing something to do for the frieze is too much of a challenge, we have some printed cotton fabric that lends itself to stitching and embellishing (Leek embroidery). As the fabric is printed, creating a background, only a portion needs to be worked to have an effect.

  1. Perle No. 8 and normal embroidery thread work well
  2. No backing fabric needed
  3. Work out where the seams will be to ensure work done in the correct space
  4. Use hoop to keep stitching and tension right
  5. All kinds of stitches work fine on this fabric (stem, satin, blanket, French knots etc.)
  6. No two pieces of fabric exactly the same design so all will be unique
  7. Simple redwork (outline stitching) an option
  8. Beads, lace, braids can be added

Jenni Langford has the squares at a cost of R10 per square. (see example in the picture)

All squares need to be handed in at one of the meetings by the third week of June

That’s all for this month. Have a wonderful time, and we look forward to seeing some of you this coming week.

Covid19 Lockdown Through the Eye of a Needle — deadline extended because of the third wave

*** The deadline has been extended to the end of August 2021 ***

*** CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE SUBMISSION FORM that must accompany your embroidery when you hand it in ***

*** This project is open to all hand embroiderers living in South Africa ***

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

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

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!