Chair’s Chat 2019

Chair’s Chat 2019

December 2019

Writing that date makes me realise how swiftly the year has flown by; my Mother told me once that if you make such a comment you are ageing! I agree! But I still have plenty of life to live and stitching to complete.

Our trip to Harrogate was very relaxing, with good transport and few crowds so we could see all the exhibitions and demonstrations comfortably. There were few queues for refreshments and plenty of seating available. We all enjoyed ourselves, some returning with full bags. The selections of wools and threads satisfied all. Hopefully we can look forward to the next Knit and Sewing show in 2020. Why not join the gang?

Our new programme will be given out next Saturday, so do come along to All Hallows; have a go at the fun workshops, find a bargain on the sales table and enjoy a piece of Sarah’s cake. Times are 11am to 3pm so no-one need travel in the dark. Sue Chisnal is attending, so come along and let her see what a friendly bunch we are. Bring you relatives or friends and encourage them to aid of funds.

Preparing for the coming festivities is always exciting if exhausting, especially for those with youngsters. Enjoy the rituals, as opportunities rush by so swiftly; make good memories for the quiet time. Reflections are sometimes sad but hopefully the good ones out weigh them. A quiet prayer helps to put events in to perspective. A happy peaceful 2020.

November 2019

Have you read Clare Hunter’s book “Threads of Life?” She describes the banners used by the suffragette movement in early 1900s. They were made from expensive materials, ones usually associated with domestic interiors; the embroidery displayed explicit female imagery, flowers and winged hearts, and celebrated female heroines.

Other uses of embroidered messages have appeared since. The most recent has been an installation of over 300 decorated handkerchiefs with the slogan “In a war someone has to die.” This harsh message was recorded by an African mercenary. Each stitcher sews the harsh sentence in their native language on a handkerchief sized piece of fabric and pieces have been contributed from 54 countries. Choosing a different way of communicating our message may have a greater influence than relying on the spoken word.

I’m sure we have all embroidered cards for friends which show our reactions to events. There is no reason why the needle cannot show how we feel about various times that affect us. Don’t let the professional news people depress us, run up a banner that shows your reaction to national or local occasions. The needle can be mightier than the bullet!

October 2019

Season of fruits and mellow fruitfulness is in full swing now plus much heavy rain. Luckily we all have roofs over our homes that keep secure all our embroideries. I do hope you are progressing in making more treasures for next year’s exhibition. Everything looks better once it is framed. Finding a good framer is important although I envy those with the skill or patience to do their own.

A reminder for our Christmas bash; the bag stall with homemade items, the slips for our joint display in April, the traditional embroidery competition and an example of your earliest embroidery with an accompanying photo of you in your early days. This last will make an amusing/affectionate display at the party.

TV seems to becoming aware of the growing interest in Crafts with the start of a new programme on Thursdays. Perhaps the bosses are realising that fewer of us are glued to our sets and prefer to use our hands and brains. We’ve known this for ever and enjoy using our minds and fingers. We are only limited by our imaginations. Let your imaginations fly in whatever direction you find exciting!

September 2019

Does your year begin in September, when the children return to school? Mine did for many years when working and evenings drawing in. Longer evenings meant more time to embroider. I still can’t break the habit of sitting down after a meal and looking for my sewing. It’s not so easy to see these days, the old eyes aren’t what they were but I can do the larger areas. Luckily I still find such an activity enjoyable. It does encourage me to think about December and items to be made, giving me inspiration and patience.

Driving home passed Calderstones Park recently I was struck how some of the trees were already showing Autumnal tints. According to an article I recently read in the paper, our summer has been perfect for the plants to make the sugars required that make the colours we marvel at. So we’ll have a lovely Autumn!

The small display the branch mounted at Croxteth Hall over the very hot Bank Holiday went well, with a good team willing to set up and talk to the public. Perhaps this will give us new members and entry for a larger display in the future. It was rather pleasant being out of the sunlight. I do hope you all spent a restful weekend with those you love.

August 2019

I received a call from stranger recently, inviting me to visit an address and look over various embroidery items that could be useful for the Guild. Such a call is not unusual if rather sad. Spread out in this lady’s room was a beautiful selection of pieces, all worked by her aunt when she was a member of Merseyside Guild and a student of June’s at Newsham. Some of our more mature members may remember C P Mandall, who sewed until her sight failed. I enjoyed viewing some photos dated 1991 but sadly I only recognised our President, June Hodgkiss.

I gathered a good selection of threads and these will be on the sales table at our next meeting, the proceeds going to the niece for a fund she has set up to finance an exhibition of her aunt’s work. Dates etc will be revealed when all organised.

This event made me wonder what happens to all our pieces when we are no more; do we distribute among the family/friends whilst still here or leave instructions in a will?

On a lighter note, please remember to bring a piece to the August meeting for Brenda to display at Croxteth Hall later this month. This is a new venue for us, therefore a new audience to view us. I visited recently and enjoyed the glory of the Walled Garden and of the other participants.

July 2019

Sorry I’m late, only excuse is I’m busy! Who isn’t?

Many thanks to all our members who turned up for the National Stitch Day at Speke Hall. We all talked a lot and started our slips for the joint piece for next year. If you haven’t chosen a design and collected your material, fear not, there is plenty of time. I will bring material to our next meeting and Michele has the designs.

The following week another group of members went to the hall to hear a talk on Tudor embroidery, given by a room guide who was once a member of our Guild. Pam Williams showed us many examples of her embroidery and wore a pair of sleeves covered in Elizabethan designs. She is at the Hall every week so catch her. She is an inspiration.

I hope you are all thinking about your individual piece for the display at LACE next year. We are hosting the Regional Day in April 2020 and wish to make a good “splash” with our talent. Anything connected with the Tudor period is the theme, interpreted in any medium you like. So come on all you fans of multimedia works, let your imagination run wild!

There is still time to sign up for Sheila Conchie’s workshop on Saturday 20 July. Email Sarah so she will know to include you on the list and tells you what equipment is required. Should be a fun day.

Another fun day is the joint AGM and Regional Day planned for September 28. Do seriously think of attending. I have 1 place in the car; contact Hilary if you’d like a ticket and me if you wish to travel north with Pat, Hilary and myself.

June 2019

Summer is here! I’ve actually been too hot today so must rethink my clothing. That’s the trouble with being away from home, not everything is to hand.

I discovered a delightful house today, in West Sussex, called Parham Park. Not only a beautiful sight from the outside, situated in a large unspoilt park under the South Downs but also the home of many pieces of old embroidery. The collection is perhaps the finest and most important of its kind in the UK. Two people began the collection in the early 20th century, Mrs Clive Pearson and her mother Ethel, Lady Brabourne. Both were keen needlewomen. Mr Clive Pearson also gave his wife embroidered panels as birthday gifts. The diverse collection includes an unparalleled group of Stuart embroidered pictures and panels, along with room hangings, bed hangings of remarkable quality and many samplers executed by children from 5years old. The house is not open every day, then only from 2-5pm but is certainly worth visiting. There are gardens also but I’ll see those on another visit.

Before coming south I caught the Rennie Mackintosh exhibition at the Walker Gallery. It was fascinating to see items from late 19th century. Three embroideries caught my attention. They are not in a style admired nowadays but were good examples of the work from the Glasgow school.

Holidays are a good time to admire stitching from different periods; do look out for examples when you are out and about. Please share your discoveries.

May 2019

May comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb or vice versa!

Difficult to tell what is ahead weather wise, with the present weather pattern, if there is one! Many trees and garden plants appear to be in full flowering mode well before the usual date. Some dull/wet days have seen me sorting what I euphemistically term my office, where piles of paper/books /UFOs collect. Old pieces of stitching have been appearing, not from child hood, they were disposed of by parents when their house was sold but some going back to early marriage days. I always felt the urge to embroider when pregnant! Do you have some of your early pieces? Do hunt them out for a date later in the year. This will be one display you do not have to make for, just find and keep handy.

This month’s meeting will be a day of 2 halves; a talk by Bob then activity with Maggie on making African beads. Come for one or both parts!

June’s meeting is when we’re planning our communal lunch. Please let Brenda Muller know what you are planning to bring. We are also going to launch the Speke plan, on which your committee has been spending many hours. Seeing the actual item you plan to depict is better than pictures.

HQ and NW web sites seem to have cleared the gremlins and communicating regularly. Do read the info and let us know what you enjoy or dislike about all the efforts. I’m also hoping we can have some showing for National Stitch Day, which this year is in June. If you know of somewhere suitable for us to sit and sew please pass on.

Enjoy the sun and milder breezes!

P.S. Members who enjoyed the Stumpwork session last year may also find issue 102 of Inspirations interesting, especially the article “Lepidoptera”. There are detailed instructions on how to make a variety of insects, all by Fiona Hibbert. Further in the magazine are more Stumpwork designs by Nina Burnside, with an interesting idea for display. This edition also has articles on Tambour work and Crewel embroidery.

Well worth reading.

April 2019

Friends, I hope you managed to catch our small exhibition in the Palm House in Sefton Park. This was a new venue for us. There was stiff competition from the resident robin and some of the events held there were rather loud. The footfall is not as large as in the Cathedral but the visitors had not seen any of our pieces before. The staff was very helpful and enthusiastic, hiring in boards for our use. Hopefully we’ll be able to repeat the exercise in the future. Suggestions for themes for small showings will be gratefully received. Have a look through your pieces and see what ideas come to mind.

The Spring blossoms are gradually fading but were soul lifting whilst they were around. Stimulation for stitching is always required. To that end your committee will be visiting Speke Hall very soon so watch this space!

I recently received a copy of a book dedicated to Ann MacTavish, a local textile teacher who sadly has passed on. I was a pupil with her for 3 years and relished the time with her. She was a member of the Guild and some members remember her with affection.

A more recent member who has died was Joyce Whitfield; her husband is planning a memorial service and we’ll let you know the details when they are announced. Joyce was very active with Ruby in producing the large piece in the Women’s Hospital.

Many of you are aware that I spend time in the Elizabeth Hoare Gallery in the Cathedral; if any of you would like to be a guide there for half or a whole day each week/month please let me know. I am usually in the Gallery each Wednesday from 10am. Come up and see the beautiful pieces. A magnifier is useful.

March 2019

Writing this as the temperature reaches 18 in February gives an unreal feeling to a year rushing past. Doom mongers are forecasting trouble ahead; why can’t we enjoy the sun and luxuriate as the birds are doing?

Sad news reached us recently over the death of Joyce Whitfield, a stalwart member who made a large contribution in work displayed in the Women’s’ Hospital. Her husband will organise a memorial service in the near future. Another long time member and former chair is Ruby Porter MBE, who recently suffered a fall and cracked her spine.

On a lighter note: your committee has decided to hold a communal lunch on 15 June at noon. This is a usual meeting day, with speakers coming from Cheshire Borders branch. Michelle and Brenda will be canvassing you for your choice of dish to bring. It will be good to sit and chat for a while without having to rush away. Sarah has promised to make one of her fabulous chocolate cakes!

I hope some members purchased “Threads of Life” by Clare Hunter, of which regional office sent a flyer. Not dis similar to “The Golden Thread” by Kassia St Clair but with more history attached. Odd how two books on very similar subjects are published almost simultaneously?

If any member discovers a book on any related subject please write a short review and send to the secretary; the more contributions the merrier. If books aren’t your thing borrow some of the DVDs we’ve purchased or tell us about one you have. Recently “Up for Arts” held an exhibition in the Cathedral and I saw familiar faces that are still enjoying their stitching.

February 2019

The quiet month is past and my brain is beginning to wake up for sewing. I’m sure I was a squirrel in another life and just slept the cold away.

My Gold work classes commence next week and the Studio in the Met is open for the ladies to resume making the hangings, so two places for me to stitch at and catch up with old friends. That’s one of the advantages of stitching; you make lifelong friends plus enjoying your hobby. Going to a new group or course is not so daunting when familiar faces are bound to be there.

Life is stirring in the parks and gardens too. It’s fun to rummage through my stash, nothing suitable so off to Abakhans! A quick visit does help as will the Trip to NEC for the Sewing for Pleasure. Do join the coach and wallow in all the goodies on show; Sarah is very willing to book you on board. The show brightens a dull month.

I trust you all received your copy of Contact; good review of our Exhibition! The Palm House is preparing for our display there with brand new boards. Visit there also. If you go in from Ullet Road to the Bridge there is a short walk to the Palm House. You’ll pass LACE, the venue of our Regional Day next year! Your committee is working hard at all that requires organising. Last time our Branch organised such an event was in 2008, the City’s Year of Culture; a great day for all.

January 2019

Greetings for the New Year! I wish you all the best in health and happiness. I hope all had a rest but thought of many ideas for your needle. I hope our Guild helps all members to extend their skills and friendships.

Did you have any embroidery gifts for Christmas? My son found 2 miniature embroideries than I am planning to frame; I’ll show you at our next meeting. Bring along any treasures you have.

At the January meeting we’ll begin gathering ideas of items to include in the Raffle Bags for the 2020 Regional day. Sarah Lowes is in overall charge of these bags so please approach her with your ideas etc.

Our speaker in January is an old re-enactor friend of mine who makes and decorates  exquisite 17th garments; do come along and admire.

HQ has arranged another national Stitch Day this year in June,  so hopefully we’ll have a day of public stitching and talking. If you have any ideas for a venue please talk to a committee member and pass on your thoughts. This would be a good way of showing people what and how we do what we do!

Also from HQ is a request for us to show what HOME means to us in some form of sewing. This is a broad subject which is open to interpretation in many ways. Members interested need to let HQ know by next month; I’ll pass your names on if you wish. Look at HQ website for full details.

The Regional website is filling up with information of NW branches; another area from which you can gain knowledge of other branches and stitchers in our region.