Seminar 2012 in Victoria, BC was so-o-o much fun! I always look forward to the annual EAC event, and Victoria is such a beautiful city. It was my first time on the UVic campus so that was really a treat as well. At home on PEI, Spring has been early so we were starting to see some blooms, but on the UVic campus the Rhododendrons were in full glory!

Our Class! Instructor Dale is third from the left in the back row.
My classes this year were completely outside my stitching box - "An Artful Journey" with Dale Rollerson from Australia and "Imagery on Fabric" with Susan Purney Mark from BC.  I'm not much of a machine-stitcher but I gained quite a bit of practice in Dale's class, in free-motion and fancy stitching on paper napkins, felt and all sorts of fibrous materials. I had a fun four days working with spritzes, silk, stencils, rubber stamps, metallic flakes, leaves, threads and everything else under the sun.

Then there was the jam-packed day with Susan Purney Mark! I had done some screen-printing years ago, but Susan's techniques with Thermofax screens and an open screen with stencils or soy wax were so much faster and more creative, and certainly didn't need so much equipment. I'm really intrigued with thickened dyes, but also learned to work with other paints and inks. It was a wonderfully productive day with a very knowledgeable instructor.

Hard at work

Add to these "play-dates", the general atmosphere of Seminar - meeting with old friends and making new ones; great shopping opportunities; outstanding needlework displays; lots of excellent food; beautiful weather; a totally wonderful experience!! There was also the peek at the offerings for next year's seminar in Winnipeg - Making a choice between all those awesome classes will be a hard one!

Amazing things - paper napkins!

Recovering and dreaming,
Joyce Gill

This spring I had the chance to venture off to London, England to visit my daughter who is studying for her Masters in Musical Theatre there.  I pre-booked my BritRail pass and Oyster card (for the tube in London) so I was all set to venture out on my own!   I arrived before Kathleen’s spring break began – just happened to fly into Birmingham where the HUGE sewing, embroidery and crafts shows were in progress.  Yes, “shows” is correct – three shows in two arenas!  The NEC – site of the shows - adjoins the airport, so it is just steps from where the plane lands.  And overload is the word for the 2 ½ days I spent wandering the exhibits and vendors.  Their shows include not only merchants but also exhibits of embroidery student work, special theme exhibits, displays by many guilds or special groups such as embroiderers, lace makers, luceteers, silk painters, felters and scrapbookers.  This show had a very large exhibit on the history of lace. And, I even saw some of the costumes from “Downton Abbey” on display.

I managed to squeeze in a trip to the new home of the Embroiderers’ Guild (UK) in Walton-on-Thames.

I spent 5 hours there examining the contents of the storage box that holds their 17th century collection of embroidered pieces.  So with white gloves on my hands, and camera at the ready, I oohed and ached as I examined many precious types of embroidery.  Some of their special pieces have their own storage case (photo of the gloves).  The collection is stored in a special room.   And on the walls around the study room are more modern examples from their collection.  I even saw Louisa Peele’s chatelaine in the collection case.
I saw the Golden Spider Cape in the Victoria & Albert Museum – the spider’s silk fiber is an amazing colour – the spools of the spider silk look like gold metal threads!  On display were the cape and a large shawl.  There was also a”cartoon” of the cape showing what stitches were to be used in what areas of the cape. 
And yes, the V&A and most museums over there do allow you to photograph as long as it is without flash.

Before I left Canada, I checked the website of the Royal School of Needlework and found there was a 2 day course in Goldwork that fit into my schedule.  So I made one trip to Hampton court to check out the route and train schedule and spent a lovely day touring around the public parts of the palace and the gardens.  And for the next two days, I was in the classroom of the RSN, working on a goldwork piece with our tutor, Helen McCook.  We were in the private part of the palace and had to be escorted into this area each day. Once class finished at 4:00, we were free to wander in the public parts of the palace if we wished. And here I am, working on my piece!

While Kathleen was finishing up her term essay, I ventured out to Knebworth (on the train route to Cambridge) and took 3 days of classes at Art Van Go.  This is an art supply store that also carries a wide selection of textile and stitch items!  I did lots of sample pieces of texturizing fabric surfaces and foiling them.  And I discovered that putting plastic wrap on not-quite-dry acrylic surfaces causes the plastic wrap to adhere permanently if not removed once you get back to the B&B!
Kathleen and I also got up very, very early (5:30 am – and neither one of us are morning people!) to catch the tube to Waterloo Station.  We had to be on the 6:30 train to Dorchester.   We were booked into a “day school” at the Dorset County Museum.  The event was designed to accompany their exhibit “Hats to Handbags” (I saw an ad for this exhibit in Stitch with the Embroiderers’ Guild

magazine and investigated online before I went to the UK).  We had talks by four people throughout the day.  Dorset was the center of the straw hat industry in the 1800s, so the museum had many of their treasured hats – straw and sun bonnets- on display.  The last speaker’s topic was “What is in the Queen’s handbag?” – You will have to read his book to find out!!!!

Together, Kathleen and I also visited Oxford, Cambridge and Bath - taking more photos everywhere we went.  Even photos of the brick work patterns on buildings or the flower shapes in the sidewalks – all possible design sources for embroidery.  Oh yes, we even went punting on the river Cam in Cambridge!
So, when you are planning your next journey, don’t forget to check out possible textile sites ahead of time.  You never know what you will come across once you are there!

Barbara Gilbert

What is more fun than planning a trip to an exotic location and then planning all the textile or embroidery sights to visit near your destination?   The ads in embroidery magazines from the country you plan to visit help to narrow down possible outings.   The internet is also a wonderful resource to help in this quest.   So armed with a GPS to guide me or even my new I pad with maps to follow as I walk along the street, I have discovered it is possible to venture anywhere and not get too lost!.

This past year I have had several travel embroidery adventures.   Last fall, my husband and I cruised from San Francisco to Sydney Australia on a repositioning cruise and then toured around Australia.   We started the trip with a visit to the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles and the Computer History Museum on the Google campus in Mountain View (equal opportunities here!).  On board the ship there was the knitting and crocheting group - so I crashed that group and brought along my needlepoint and Sashiko work.  It was so interesting to meet fellow needleworkers and share our experiences.  We even arranged a road trip (actually a ferry trip) to a patchwork and quilting shop and a knitting shop while docked in Auckland, New Zealand.  And of course, I stocked up on quilting fabric featuring New Zealand flora and fauna and have great plans of what I am going to make!

This piece is about 45 years old
This piece is new this year
It was so interesting to search for tapa cloth on each of the south Pacific Islands we stopped at.  I found tapa or kappa in Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, and Samoa.  Tapa is the name of a type of fabric made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry trees growing on the islands.  The bark is stripped from the outer bark and then beaten to soften the fibers and pound them together.  Designs are pounded onto the fabric and dyed or painted with native vegetable dyes in the traditional colours of black and rust brown. It was amazing to compare the designs throughout the islands and to compare the old designs found on museum pieces with the modern ones used today. 

In Australia, two of the trip highlights for me were the visits to the Country Bumpkin Store in Adelaide and the Embroiderers’ Guild of Victoria house in Melbourne.   The Country Bumpkin store has everything you see in their Smocking and Inspirations magazines: the fine fabrics, the exquisite embroideries and the wonderful heirloom sewing garments.  I had a tour of the Embroiderers’ Guild house and a short visit with some of the ladies stitching on their projects on the Sunday afternoon when we visited there.  How wonderful it is for the members of the state of Victoria to have a permanent meeting building with their library, classrooms and small gallery or display area.   I did leave a copy of “Embroidery Canada” for their library!  As the photo shows me with the copy outside the main entrance.


This is the workroom on the main floor – where members have gathered to stitch on a Sunday afternoon.  Notice all the embroideries around the room.  Each month a new series of members’ embroideries are displayed.  This month the theme for the pieces was flowers.   

Watch for the second instalment, which features the U.K.

Barbara Gilbert.

Recently I purchased an iPad and it is the greatest. I can get my emails, show off my pictures to friends and access the internet. I have downloaded books to read. How did I live without it?

There is a downside, however, to all this and that is my needlework books. The electronic book will never replace those treasured books that I can hold in my hand and browse through.

For beauty and inspiration Patrick Dowdey’s book, Threads of Light, Chinese Embroidery from Suzhou can’t be beat. The pictures are remarkable.

Then there is Helen Stevens’ The Embroiderer’s Countryside. The embroidery is so delicate. The book truly stimulates the imagination.

I love to look at an old copy of Therese De Dillmont’s Encyclopedia of Needlework.; my copy was inherited by me from a family member who said she got the book in 1920. I look at the vast array of needlework and think that I could never in a lifetime do all of it. The book is a treasure and a window on the past.

Two books that give me great pleasure and ideas to incorporate into my creations are: Jane Nicholas’ Stumpwork & Gold Embroidery and Kreinik, Jacqueline Kreinik’s Metallic Thread Embroidery.

For basic down to earth stitches and some fancy variation on the old traditional stitches I use Peggy Field’s Canvas Embroidery along with Suzanne Howren’s Stitches for Effect & More Stitches for Effect, & Even More Stitches for Effect. Howren’s Stitches to Go is small and easily packed with my needlework so I take it everywhere.

Finally, Jean Taggart’s book Laid Fillings for Evenweave Fabrics has started to come apart and is looking decidedly dog eared but I will never part with it and some of the loose pages even go travelling with me.

The iPad is here to stay but so are the books. I’ll never part with the books.

Carolyn Beacroft         
Find out more at the Embroiderers' Association of Canada website.
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About EAC

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The Embroiderers' Association of Canada (EAC) is a national non-profit educational organization whose purpose is to have a fellowship of persons who enjoy needlework and wish to learn and share their knowledge; and thereby to work towards maintaining higher standards of design, colour and workmanship.

Our aim is to preserve traditional techniques and promote new challenges in the Art of Embroidery through education and networking.

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