Newsletter — June 2022

This letter is a week late, but I decided to wait until we had our committee meeting (the first full meeting in about a year) and I could keep you up-to-date about what we discussed. We have some very exciting news, and we are intentional about starting up again as soon as we have found a suitable place to meet.

Firstly, some loose ends that need to be tied up. Jenni Langford is getting the last couple of pieces of the Covid Frieze together and will put the whole thing together soon. There were not sufficient contributions to make a decent frieze, so she is forming them into a large wall hanging instead. That should be quite eye-catching.

Some people have been asking about the Instagram page that we started. It seems that there was not enough input – too few people were posting, so it is in abeyance until we start meeting regularly again. However the Facebook page “Jozi Stitch” is still running, and Jenni has been posting several useful articles, and anyone who has work to show can put it on that page. The Wits Embroidery Facebook page, a newer initiative, will be closed. There is also the WhatsApp group which has been our main source of day-to-day communication and anyone who is not on that group can ask to be included. Hilary Walker is the chief administrator.

It appears that the Roosevelt Park Recreation Centre is still not ready, and no one seems to know how soon we will be able to go back there. It is really not very satisfactory but there doesn’t seem to be much else we can do. The meetings at Paputzis and Random Harvest went/are going well, but it’s an expensive way of doing things if we want to meet regularly for a longer time. We are investigating other alternatives, but other recreation centres are in exactly the same place as ours, and those which are not being renovated, are not suitable for other reasons – the lack of on-site parking being one of them. We’ll get back to you on that one. We will have to pay – nothing worthwhile comes cheaply, but we are planning to have another venue available soon. We have waited long enough. 

In the meantime, we have decided to delay the need for annual subscriptions until we DO actually meet. We have also decided to delay the AGM until we are meeting regularly, and the committee has agreed to remain in office until we are back to normal. In the meantime, please download and print a copy of your Covid vaccination certificate. The Recreation centres have ruled that no one is to be admitted unless they have shown on the government official form that they have been fully vaccinated. Most other venues are likely to have similar regulations, so be prepared to present that document.  

Now for some more “newsy” news. I had a phone call from Helen Bird – who is now 101 years old and recovered well after a fall from her stationary bike which resulted in a nasty cut on her leg. She was doing Sudoku at the time and wasn’t concentrating. She manages to walk to the embroidery meetings held at her village, and has at last had to get a hearing aid. But she is well, she is enjoying life to the full, and sends her love to all of you. I have tried to contact Helen Paton’s daughter to find out how she is doing, but have not managed to do so yet. I have also not been successful in contacting her retirement village either, but will keep trying and will let you know as soon as I have made contact, and I’ll let you know.

Now for a VERY EXCITING REQUEST! Our Chair, Danny Wimpey was contacted by the South Africa Air Force near Pretoria, and our Guild has been asked to make a new flag for this important part of the army. It is to replace a similar one which has become very worn, and we will have to submit a quote (yes – all expenses will be met) which will cover material, threads, and anything else we need. The flag is big – at least a metre by a metre and a half. The material will be something very durable and hard-wearing, and the thread will be most likely number 5 cotton. The design is four large proteas in each corner, and an eagle in the centre, and probably some lettering as well. All of this is to be done in satin stitch and long and short stitch, and will hopefully fly aloft for many years to come. 

SO………. We need volunteers who are passionate and very good at satin stitch and long and short to offer their services. We will ask for a sample of your work – not because we have any doubt as to your capability (we wouldn’t have been asked otherwise) but we need to match tension and style so that the whole thing looks uniformly done – this is the military, after all! Please contact Danny or any one of the committee if you are willing to help, and we will let you know further details. This is a marvellous opportunity not only for our status as a Guild, but also it is a significant affirmation of our art. Please let’s hear from you.

Now for the last thing in this very long letter. We need to update our membership list. Some of you have changed address since lockdown and other details may have changed. PLEASE UNDERSTAND WE ARE POPI COMPLIANT and will never share, give away, sell or do anything else with your details without your permission. If you have left Gauteng and would like to continue receiving the Newsletter and remain on the WhatsApp group, you are very welcome to do so. Please answer ANYWAY. Don’t remain silent and let us guess whether you still are a member or not. If you wish to be taken off the membership list, please reply.

The form can be downloaded by clicking this link, and must be filled in and returned to our secretary, Toni Billing.

That’s all for the moment, have a wonderful month, and we’ll be in touch as soon as we can find a meeting place.

Newsletter — May 2022

I would like to begin by thanking everyone for the fortitude and stalwart efforts you have all made over the past two very difficult years. You have cheered us all up with your happy messages on the WhatsApp group, I know you have met with other members of the group, online or in person (in safe environments) and not only kept the art of embroidery going, but have also kept the ethos of the Guild alive. So many groups, societies, businesses have gone under – and not because they were at fault, but the world has been caught on the back foot with this thing, and a lot of mistakes have been made, a lot of good and necessary things were legislated but were onerous in the carrying out of them, and there has been a lot of suffering too. Whenever we meet again as a whole Guild, it will be different, but our art has seen a lot of changes over the generations, and it will survive. Let us keep on going, keep on being careful and healthy, and look forward to the time when we can meet again.

This month we say goodbye to Colleen Goy who, with her husband, Tim, has moved to Plettenberg Bay to be nearer family. I’m sure the cold wind of the last two weeks has been the draught caused by the gap she has left. She has been a remarkable teacher, and her classes will miss her a lot. Plettenberg Bay ladies have no idea what they will be gaining, and how enriched their world is about to become. She has also been and will continue to be a strong, creative force in the embroidery world, and we look forward to many new designs that will no doubt be arriving in due course. Our very best wishes to Colleen and Tim, and may this new venture in their lives be a happy and fulfilling one. We will miss you!

We have had very happy and successful informal Guild meetings at Paputzis over the last few months, and it has been wonderful to see one another again. However The Virus has always hovered over us, and the committee has decided that since it is getting colder, it’s not pleasant sitting outside, and small rooms inside, while comfortable and isolated, are small and ventilation is not great. The Tuesday group in particular are all people of a vulnerable age, and we felt it is best to hold these meetings as official Guild meetings in abeyance for the next few months until things warm up and the current spike of infections goes down. It’s heartbreaking to do this, but we have to be responsible and erring on the side of caution is the safer option. 

However, if these issues don’t worry you, and you would like to get together as friends, on either Saturday or Tuesday, there is no reason why you shouldn’t. Through the WhatsApp group you have access to your friends, and Paputzis isn’t going anywhere. If you want to meet in your personal capacity, by all means make your own arrangements. I shall be staying away for the time being, but you all know how to eat at a restaurant, and we wish you joy in your self-made satellite embroidery meetings should you wish to hold them. 

In the meantime, we can all sew at home, and we look forward to (probably) August when we can meet again – maybe back at the Recreation Centre. Let’s hope so anyway.

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 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!