submitted by Sheila Stewart (article) and Joyce Gill (photos)

It all began with a visit to the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival in Amherst, NS in 2015 and culminated with EAC having a venue in the 2016 Festival under the direction of past members of the EAC Board, Joyce Gill and Sheila Stewart.  To say that being part of the NS Fibre Arts Festival was a truly exceptional experience would be an understatement.  From the moment the planning team was contacted to the packing up of our venue, we were truly blessed with willing help at every turn, smiles – and coffee, tea and treats on site!

Joyce arrived from PEI and Sheila from central Nova Scotia in – what we thought – was lots of time to set up our venue.  We were absolutely astounded with the wonderful space allotted to us at Festival Headquarters, in Amherst Town Hall and in the assistance given us in finding tables and setting up!

four women in front of the Embroiderers' Association of Canada display
4 ladies from Maine

Our first visitors arrived around 9:30 (not the scheduled 10:00 listed in the brochure!) – and the flood of interested visitors continued throughout the two days EAC was booked in.  From the time we arrived around 8:30 until we packed up around 4:30, we rarely sat down.  There was always someone to talk to, and questions to be answered.  We met people from – literally – around the world: a lady from Australia, a couple who had immigrated from Nigeria three years ago, a mother and daughter from Mississippi, four ladies from Maine and on it went.  It was so very special to meet old friends, to make new friends , to find an almost-next-door-neighbour, to hear someone exclaim over one of Joyce’s thread paintings, “I work there!”

a woman is holding a thread-painted picture of a scene
"That's where I work!"

All were captivated by the embroidery on display:

  • Pulled Thread (Gale Washington, Resting on Pears); 
  • Blackwork , Sampler (Jeanette Douglas, Acorn Sampler); 
  • Thread Painting (technique taught by Margot Kearney at EAC Seminar 2016); 
  • traditional Jacobean Crewel; 
  • Silk-on-Silk Crewel; 
  • Stumpwork; 
  • Canvaswork; 
  • Christmas Cross Stitch; 
  • Felt Work; 
  • Schwalm and other Whitework; 
  • Temari Balls and more.  

a woman is holding a temari ball, which is a ball wrapped with threads in a pattern
Australian lady holding a Temari Ball

a woman poses in front of an Embroiderers' Association of Canada display
Enjoying the display

Two women are smiling at the camera
Denise and Sheila ham it up
What seemed to draw the most attention were Joyce and Sheila’s pieces they brought to stitch on.  Joyce had brought a thread painting that she was working on – a reproduction of her photo of the Confederation Bridge between PE and NB – and Sheila had brought the canvaswork Mystery Project from the EAC magazine, Embroidery Canada, March, June, September 2004.  Both had brought pieces finished in their technique so visitors could see the work in progress and compare it to the finished product; they actually went away feeling that this handwork was something they could do!

two women greet each other with a hug in an excited and friendly way
Joyce meets an old friend 
three women are talking with each other
Joyce with ladies from Mississippi

Lady’s Slipper Guild member, Kent Pond, arrived on Saturday to lead an embroidery class and stitch-in.  Visitors were enthralled by the large piece of cross stitch he was working on; he also brought  WIP’s (works in progress) – a sampler for a friend and a piece of hardanger embroidery worked in non-traditional colours of variegated green and oranges on green fabric.  The class/stitch-in included work in a new-to-us technique – punch needle – and work on samplers reproduced from those worked in centuries past.

Man and woman looking closely at a sample of canvas work embroidery
Man and wife studying Sheila's Canvas WIP
We were welcomed over and over; people were eager to hear that embroidery guilds were alive and well across the Maritimes and, indeed, all of Canada and around the world through our cyber guild.  Information on the various Maritime Guilds, the Cyber Guild and EAC membership as well as copies of Embroidery Canada were given to those interested.

We do not know if EAC has gained any new members.  But this we DO know people are:

  • more aware of embroidery guilds in the Maritimes;
  • have been awed by the wide world of embroidery; and 
  • have been exposed to the caring and sharing that is part and parcel of the Embroiderers’ Association of Canada

All in all – an awesome experience!

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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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