"It takes ages to finish a quilt you're not working on!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Embroiderers' Guild Guidance Groups.

The Embroiderers' Guild of Victoria has much to offer anyone who has some interest in textiles. I can't remember exactly when I joined the Guild (I think it was about 15 years ago), I was still working full time and didn't have time to attend any of the classes, meetings, guidance groups, etc., so all I got out of my membership was the monthly magazine. Ten years ago, when I reduced my working hours, I decided it was time to get more actively involved in the Guild, so I started going to one of their "Guidance Groups" on Sunday afternoons, once a month. The group I joined was the Counted Thread group, because I was mostly doing cross stitch at the time. The members of the group were very friendly, and when I wanted to try a complex (for me!) Blackwork project, they were so helpful - I would have been in a mess without them showing me the correct way of doing it.

After a while I put my name down as a volunteer 'gallery hostess' once a month, and I've been doing that for a few years now, although I stopped going to the Sunday group because Ken was complaining about me not being at home for him on weekends! Once a month for goodness sake...

Most of the Guidance Groups are held at Embroidery House in Malvern, an inner suburb of Melbourne. The Guild also has Guidance Groups at members' homes in various suburbs, for those who can't get to Malvern, or simply want to meet up with other Guild members. Some are held during the day, others at night. Last year, the Guild President asked me if I would be willing to host a Group in Eltham, as the Guild had been receiving requests from members in the northern suburbs to have a group for them. I agreed to host a group on Wednesday afternoon once a month, and today was our first meeting. I had 9 people interested in joining the group, but 3 of them couldn't come on Wednesdays, so that worked out well, as I really didn't want a big group to start off with.

Today was our first meeting, and four of the ladies arrived around 2pm, happy to find my house cool, as it was very hot outside, and I'd had the aircon. running since 10 am. We spent the first hour chatting and getting to know each other, and we didn't get much stitching done, as once they heard about my linen collection they wanted to see that first. All I did was open cupboards and drawers to show them how much was there; we'd be there for weeks if I had started taking everything out to show them! Back in the lounge room, everyone took out the pieces they brought to work on, and we chatted and stitched until I put the kettle on for a cuppa. They left about 4 pm, and everyone agreed that we had 'gelled' together nicely and they looked forward to next month's meeting.

I had been concerned about where we would be sitting, as the lounge/dining area in our house does not have good daylight, even though the lounge faces west. The best area for natural light is where I have my linen collection, and the adjoining room where I do all my craft and stitching; both of these rooms face the south and the light is good nearly all day. But neither room is big enough to house a group of people. So, we sat in the lounge with the lights on, and everyone seemed happy enough with that.

Tomorrow morning I'm off to Embroidery House in Malvern to join other volunteers for a 'Thank you' morning tea, put on by the Guild committee for the volunteers. It is a great pity that the Guild has a reputation among some circles for being 'snobbish' or 'a closed shop' - they are not like that at all. All the ladies that I have met and come to know are kind, generous and helpful, and certainly don't look down their noses at me because I consider myself a novice stitcher compared to some of them! They know my interest in antique linens, and have often given me bundles of linens they have found or been given, but have no use for. I could walk away in despair, thinking I'll never be as good as them, but I realise that it is because many of them have not only been stitching regularly since they were children, but have been taking classes and workshops over many years, in order to improve their skills. I haven't done that, so naturally I don't have the same skills and knowledge, but that's okay - I'm just happy to be among these ladies and pick up bits as I go along.

Happy 50th Anniversary to The Embroiderers' Guild of Victoria!


Miss 376 said...

It must be lovely to meet up with other people who have the same interests.

Doreen G said...

Well said Gina.
I think it must be a problem with all Embroiderers Guilds that people think they are all made up of stuffy old ladies (I even thought this once)but when I finally decided to take a look for myself I was delighted.
In ten years I have been the convenor of 4 different sub groups-in charge of our recycle table for about 5 years and this is my third year on the committee.
We meet every Monday at Gormon House and usually have up to sixty ladies attending.
They sit and stitch and chatter a lot and generally have a wonderful time.
All I can say to anyone who has been putting off joining an Embroidery Guild because of what they have heard-go take a look for yourself-you won't regret it.