The art of embroidery is flourishing

Megan Linton seems happy with students’ progress. /SUZANNE HUNTER

On Mar. 28, I went to an event that proved the ancient art of embroidery is alive and well.

Arts Junktion hosted a craft night, “ArtHive: embroidery”.  There were more than 25 people of all ages in attendance. I was surprised to see quite a few university students tackling this unique art form.

To quote from Erica Wilson’s Embroidery Book, “Embroidery is everything you can do with a needle on any material including canvas”.

I learned to embroider basic stitches before I was 10. I had a cross-stitch pattern of rabbits and ducks and spent many hours working on it. 

In junior high we had “Home Ec” class. We learned fun stuff like basket weaving, but what I loved most was the embroidery project we all had to do – a Holly Hobbie.  I still have it.

When I heard about the embroidery workshop through social media, I was surprised. I didn’t think many people were interested in it anymore, as sewing machines can now embroider just about any pattern that can be programmed into the machine.

1977 Home Economics class Holly Hobby embroidery project. /SUZANNE HUNTER

All the supplies were available courtesy of Arts Junktion, from your choice of material, coloured embroidery floss, needles and hoops.

Megan Linton and Julie Kettle of Arts Junktion led the group. Megan taught me a new stitch that I’d never done before, the rose stitch. Some people were new to the art, so they would demonstrate the stitches for them.

All of the works in class were originals, versus kit patterns you can buy in a craft store.

If you can’t make it to a group like this, it’s not difficult to teach yourself with a kit. They come with fairly decent instructions, the right amount of embroidery floss and a patterned cloth.

At one end of the table were a group of ladies who are members of the Winnipeg Embroiderer’s Guild. They’ve been around since 1973, founded as a project for Winnipeg’s Centennial.

Members meet to help each other and to have fun. They are interested in all forms of needlework, such as cross-stitch, lace-making, crewel, hardanger and blackwork to name a few.

Their group meets the first Thursday of each month from September to June. They also host workshops. You can contact them at WinnipegEmbroiderersGuild.ca if you’d like more information.

Kathy Smith, Linda Lassman, Patty Anne Lepage and Angie Blahey, members of the Winnipeg Embroiderers Guild. /SUZANNE HUNTER

Various forms of embroidery have been with us since biblical times. It is unfortunate that few of the ancient samples have survived.

One of the most famous older works is the Bayeux Tapestry (now referred to as the Bayeux Embroidery as it is in fact not a tapestry, but an embroidery). This fifty-scene linen was embroidered with coloured woolen yarns. It has survived intact for over nine centuries.

Many of the stitches used today are the same used in ancient times.

Bayeux Embroidery – a 230 foot long illustration of the Norman Conquest of England, circa 1070.

Embroidery can even be found in modern art, as in the abstract work below. Jordan Miller, director and owner of Cre8ery, a local gallery located at 125 Adelaide St. (next to Arts Junktion), painstakingly stitched this piece over a period of 100 hours. Check out the details in the second photo.

Winnipeg Artist Jordan Miller’s Finding the Calm – 100 Hours of Meditation on canvass.

Close up of Miller’s work shows detailed stitches.

If you want a relaxing artistic hobby, embroidery may be for you. You can use your imagination and create your own design, or follow a pattern. It’s all about having fun.

Arts Junktion plans on having these embroidery nights at least bi-monthly. You can contact them at artsjunktion@mb.ca or check out their Facebook page.

Josh Basman and Hannah Muhajarine enjoyed their time at the workshop. /SUZANNE HUNTER

Suzanne Hunter

About

Suzanne is a nature lover, bird watcher, gardener, who wishes she was a photographer or an artist - but works full time in an office and is most thankful she sits by a window!

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