Have Your Say

3rd July 2020

Over the past weeks and months, our newsletter has touched on many ideas which relate not just to needlework, but to our life and well-being in general. This week we’re sharing some of the wonderful stories and thoughtful comments we’ve received in response:

Linda Hagar

Linda responded to our article in All Stitched Up! issue #236 encouraging people to share their love of needlework by taking their stitching with them when they ventured out. She said that the article: 

‘…reminds me of when I left Melbourne and went to live in London for a couple of years. While there, I joined the London Branch of The Embroiderers’ Guild which started me off on this wonderful passion.

My family lived in Manchester and I would sometimes travel up by train. I always had a bit of something to do on the journey but on one trip home to London, I sat next to a younger lady, took out my work and started.

She gave a sigh and immediately said that she was so glad to see me stitching. She then promptly pulled out her work which she had been reluctant to do on the train.

As you can imagine, the return journey took no time at all with chatting and stitching. My only regret is that we didn’t exchange contact info.

Our stitching life is made up of such lovely encounters, isn’t it?’

It is all too common nowadays for people to spend their time in public places, eyes glued to their phones or digital devices. Yet your story is clear evidence of the serendipity that comes from taking out your stitching and opening yourself up to engage with the world. 

It reminds us of the William Butler Yeats quote: ‘There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.’ Thankfully, stitching is one of the ways we can meet them.

Elizabeth Almond

We also received several responses in relation to our discussion of stewardship in All Stitched Up! issue #237. Elizabeth, of Blackwork Journey fame, wrote:

‘Looking after the skills that we have worked so hard for is not enough as far as I am concerned. Children rarely learn embroidery skills from grandparents and schools have extreme pressures on their time.

I think we have a responsibility to pass on our knowledge not only to the children, but to their parents.

I taught in schools and college for many years and now run a needlework website. It is a privilege to be able to pass on the knowledge that I have gained and to see the photographs of work completed, whether it is from someone new to needlework or an experienced embroiderer.

Needlework brings people together and in very difficult times it can be a lifeline. The internet and publications such as ‘Inspirations’ play a big part in uniting that community, but the role of the teachers and designers who work so hard should never be underestimated.’

Liz your skill and generosity when it comes to sharing your knowledge is immense – thank you for all you do.

Luckily, Liz is not the only one as there are many people out there like Liz who regard embroidery as a common good, to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. We learn through sharing and through sharing, we protect our skills for future generations.

Anna Scott teaching at the Beating Around the Bush needlework convention

Mendie Cannon

‘I steward my love of needle and thread by teaching classes whenever and wherever I can. I teach Brazilian Embroidery as well as having a small shop in my home so I can provide my students with the supplies they need.

One further thing I would like to do stems from a longstanding dream of mine. I’d love to open a museum dedicated to the hand needle arts of the 20th and 21st centuries and beyond.

I tell everyone about this dream in the hope someone will know someone who can help on the financial front! The thought of our needle art ending up in charity stores or thrift shops breaks my heart. I would love to tell people to send me whatever is not wanted so I can put it on display. Perhaps one day…’

Yours is a wonderful dream Mendie, and one we have heard frequently. There is nothing so sad as seeing a piece of embroidery, stacked in a second-hand shop with a price tag on it so low it hurts. The hours of love and care which went into the piece, not to mention the pride in its completion, are lost in the undervalued price. 

If only there were a way to protect that small act of creation and the human effort which went into it. We might not be able build an enormous museum and archive, but what we can do is protect the love, the care and the pride by ensuring it continues for generations to come.

Thank you for all your responses as always. We love hearing from you. It is thanks to all of you that we can gather together and continue to share our passion. Every single one of you is part of the process, each time you thread that needle.

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