I sometimes ask stitchers, “Why did you choose to stitch this piece?” The answers are varied and personal.  Right now I am stitching a few Hardanger angel ornaments.  Why?  It started when a friend asked me to finish two angel ornaments which another stitcher had started but couldn’t finish.  Another reason was in play as well.  

Over the years, members of the Marigold Guild of Needle Arts have been challenged to stitch angel ornaments to donate to the local Hospice Society for their yearly fundraiser in mid to late November – Angels Remembered Trees.  At that time the trees – usually three or four – go from bare evergreen branches (artificial trees, of course!) to branches loaded with angels, each bearing a message and the name of a loved one who has dealt with a life-threatening disease.  The first angels to be chosen seem to be the stitched ones.  

One Marigold Guild member, Gladys Cooke, had a passion for stitching and, even in her 90’s, stitched little Hardanger angels to be donated.  Gladys passed away at Easter in 2012; part of her legacy is to challenge us to stitch a few angels each year.  The pattern that we use is a variation of one charted by Janice Love.  

Each year, I dig out my “direction book”, Hardanger Basics and Beyond by Janice Love and sit down to stitch.  As I do, I keep in mind the angels I remember – my Dad, my Grandmother, my next-door neighbor growing up, and so on – and the wonderful support of the Hospice Society.  My stitched  angels are never quite the same – some are filled with eyelets, some with dove’s eyes, some with backstitch.  The little pattern gives lots of scope for trying out spider webs and wrapped bars and picots – the imagination can run wild.  

If I get tired of using white perle cotton, there are lots of other colours to use and embellishments to try.  And it is easy to vary the look by using congress cloth or linen or evenweave fabric, usually in white, ecru or pastel.  

This is a perfect project to practice and hopefully perfect some of the stitches that I will use in larger Hardanger projects.  It is special to have the time to invest in this pastime and to know that there are many angels who will be touched by this simple little ornament.

Sheila Stewart
Marigold Guild of Needle Arts

So many times the blog entries have focused on friendships we make as we gather with others who share our passion for the NeedleArts. A relationship that begins as fellow members of our Chapter becomes a friendship fostered by our shared interests. In addition to sharing interests, we also celebrated when good fortune knocked on the door, one such occasion was when Nicole won a project case on wheels, we soon learned to recognize the sound of the wheels as Nicole arrived each Tuesday.

Many folks will recall Nicole from her work with the Registration committee for Seminar 2011 which was held in Sackville, NB; and others will recall her from shared classes, either at Seminar in Sackville 2011 or closer to home.

Nicole had a quick and ready smile and was warm and welcoming to new members. When we met each Tuesday, Nicole frequently shared stories of her life growing up in Northwest Quebec in a large, very close family, her husband, children and their activities.

She particularly enjoyed her summers at the family cottage, and looked forward to the end of June when she would once again make the journey home to share time with her mother, siblings and their families.

Nicole was a teacher during her working years, and she used those skills to generously share her knowledge of various techniques with the rest of us. Nicole was a fabulous mentor – patient, positive and generous with her time in assisting others. One member of our Guild recalls many years ago Nicole introduced her to Needlework, and she embarked on an ambitious project for her parents anniversary. As the work progressed under Nicole’s watchful eye, she soon learned that the project would take much longer than anticipated, Nicole could not let one mistake pass and there were many occasions when reverse stitching occurred! When it was finally finished (5 years later) it occupied a place of pride in her parents’ home, and now close to 40 years later is in her home awaiting a move to a permanent home with one of her sons.

In addition to the amazing Needlework, Nicole also did oil painting and she was a Master baker; she took delight in preparing many favourite dishes for her family, and who will soon forget that she did Not like peas! (whenever we went out to eat after our stitch-ins, she always ensured that she told the wait staff ‘no peas’). We will cherish these memories and so many more.

Cherish the time with friends, no one knows how fleeting those times can be.


Not so long ago I lived for long weekends – an extra day to enjoy with family, friends, and, perhaps, a little stitching!

Today – since retirement – these are not so special. Oh, we still like to get together with family and friends but the anticipation of the long weekend is not the same. However, there is always an exception and for us it's the August long weekend. We follow a tradition set many years ago in my family:  going to Gimli, Manitoba for the Icelandic celebration – also known as “Islendingadagurinn”. It's a weekend that celebrates Icelandic culture and heritage and I'm a good Icelander!

I have gone to this celebration almost every year since I can remember. My family would make the journey to get together with “distant” relatives and friends. Often we'd only see this branch of the family at this gathering. We lived on the west side of lake Manitoba and Gimli is located on the west side of Lake Winnipeg (a fair distance to drive in those days). It was a great time for picnics and sharing with each other stories of the events of the previous year.  Today, some family members and friends still meet and enjoy all the activities the Icelandic Festival weekend has to offer. There are the usual rides, craft vendors, a parade, and swimming at the lake. Icelandic food such as Vinatarta can be purchased at the Fairgrounds. Other events include a speech from the President of Iceland and Icelandic choirs singing songs in their mother tongue.  Listening to them speak brings back floods of memories. I rarely hear the Icelandic language spoken these days so this is very special.

We are so lucky to have many of these types of festivals around Manitoba each summer.  One of the largest is Folklorama, held every year in Winnipeg. Various pavilions host interested participants with song, dance, and food native to their land.

I have attached some pictures from the Icelandic celebration.  Local people dress up and inhabit a village reminiscent of the original settlements.

Guards at entrance to the village
Leader of the Village

Haming it up at the parade

Two young ladies knitting mitts

I hope you are able to take in a summer festival in your area and that you enjoy all that these fun events have to offer.  You may even get a peek at some traditional needlework!

Isn’t it amazing the number of tools you think you need in order to work on your embroidery? I started with just the essentials 40 years ago, you know, needle, thread, fabric and scissors. What else did I need? A hoop? I didn’t like them and for cross stitch on Aida, what did I need it for? After several years, I was working cross stitch on linen and a hoop really helped to keep my stitches even. I still didn’t like them as they didn’t stay tight, but then I found the Hardwicke hoops. They actually stay tight and now I use them all the time for my small pieces. If I’m working a bigger piece, I prefer stretcher bars. Of course, I’ve collected all sizes so I always have what I need on hand.

Next, I got interested in Schwalm embroidery. My scissors weren’t adequate for cutting the linen, so now I was collecting small embroidery scissors for doing drawn work. Then came goldwork and, you guessed it, a different kind of scissors for cutting the gold threads. Now you can’t take scissors on the airplane and of course, we all like to stitch when we’re flying somewhere. I looked and found some itty bitty scissors that have blades less than ½” long for cutting threads. Because the tips are blunt, they’re allowed on the airplane in carry-on luggage.

When I do canvaswork, I like to work with one hand under the canvas and the other hand on top of the canvas. So that meant I had to buy a stand to hold the canvas and stretcher bars. I tried scroll frames, but they didn’t stay tight enough. I was retightening every few minutes. I just couldn’t seem to find anything that worked for me. Floor stands, lap stands, under the leg stands, all had a problem and my arms were getting tired of holding the stretched canvas.

I was coping, albeit grumbling all the way, when I took Carolyn Mitchell’s class Off the Beaten Path at Seminar 2013. I saw a stand there that looked like it would be “the one”. It belonged to Lorene Salt and I spent some time talking to her about it. She obligingly showed me how it worked and told me where I could purchase it. It was perfect, an all metal Needlework System 4 table stand. One of the first things I did when I got home from Seminar was to order the stand from Traditional Stitches. It left me $300 poorer, but it is the first embroidery stand that works for me. I can adjust it to the height I need and it’s like holding the stretcher bars and canvas in my arms, just not as tiring!

So, here I am 40 years after starting to embroider and I have all kinds of gadgets to help me. Scissors, organizers, needles, stands, rulers, hoops, stretcher bars, linen counters, etc., you name it, I probably have it. If I don’t, I’m probably looking for it and will get it eventually.

Linda Brenner

A perfect way to spend the day with like minded folks. 

Members of Alderney Needlearts Guild received the information regarding the Needlework Show that the members of the Marigold Guild of Needle Arts have on display in Truro. This called for a ‘road trip’. We try to get several in during the good weather months. Tuesday July 23rd was the day for this. There were eight of us who made the trip. It was certainly well worth the drive.

We went through, looking at the many works on display; then we went back comparing the different pieces that were done from the same pattern, but in different threads, or framed differently. All types of needlework were represented and there was variety in sizes.

There were several show cases with smaller pieces, benches with cushions, a chair seat, and on.. and  on. The work is representative of group projects as well as individual pieces members did on their own, as well as projects from Embroidery Canada.

We have read in both Embroidery Canada as well as in the blog about the annual retreat the members of Marigold have. In one corner, there were all the pieces from the retreats over the years. Although not large in size, they were certainly not ‘small’ in terms of the work in the pieces. The variety in this category was amazing. Someone (or many) have been busy over the years coming up with projects dedicated for the retreats.

We spent a leisurely couple of hours going through… going back to look at some pieces, (and some of us straining to see the details as we were kept back from the pieces by velvet barricades). Finally it was time to move on to lunch and discussion about the many lovely works we had seen.

Unfortunately, photos were not permitted, so I can’t share any of the lovely pieces with you. However, for those who may be travelling through Truro, or who are close enough to embark on a road trip to Truro, the display is well worth the trip and time. 

Until next time, .. Happy Stitching

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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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