We know that turning up to a new group can be daunting, so we thought it might help if we put some information here that will help you make sense of things.
Firstly, you really don’t need to be an experienced embroiderer to come along, or even an embroiderer at all. Some members are traditional embroiderers, some do modern ‘textile art’, some do felting, beading, dyeing, printing, or all sorts of other art and craft things. Others prefer to just look at the work on show and listen to the speakers. Don’t be put off if everyone seems to be busy chatting – we all arrived as new members, so we are very receptive if you just sit down next to one of us and say ‘hello I’m new’. If you would like to make sure to have someone to talk to, ask at the door to be introduced to a committee member; or ask for Alison Crosthwaite, who is responsible for welcoming new members. You can get in touch in advance if you want to, or you can just turn up to one of our monthly Tuesday meetings.
What happens when?
Once a month, on a Tuesday afternoon, we have our regular monthly meeting. We normally have an invited speaker who tells us about their work, and shows some photos and brings examples of their work for us to look at. Sometimes instead we have a ‘sit and stitch’ get-together for our Tuesday meeting when people bring something that they are working on, and stitch in company. The programme makes it clear whether there is a speaker or a ‘sit and stitch’ session. There is a £4 entry charge for visitors. There is a sales table with textile-related bric-a-brac, and sales of good-value background fabrics by the metre. Tea and biscuits are available before the speaker starts, and there’s a bit of time for chat, but most of the meeting is taken up with listening to the speaker. Before the speaker, and afterwards, you can look more closely at the work that the speaker has brought with them. You can come and ‘try us out’ for one, two or three of these meetings to help you decide if you want to join.
Every month the ‘Workshop Group‘ meets on a Thursday. This is a smaller, hands-on session, when we ‘have a dabble’ at different textile-related things. This is usually led by a member. It’s a good way to get to know people as there are fewer people and there’s more time to chat. It’s a chance to try different techniques with less expense than a day-school (there’s just a small charge to cover hire of the room). These can be good sessions for beginners, as well as for more experienced people. They are informal, and everyone learns from each other. Contact Linda Hoddy if you’d like to come along.
The Traditional Embroidery Group (or TEG) meet on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month. This is an informal group for anyone who wants to learn or share traditional techniques. You will sometimes hear it referred to as DIID or DIDDI. This is the old name so just ignore the confusion! The projects are chosen by the group. For more information, speak to Anne Turner.
Day-Schools are structured one-day courses / workshops, taught by an outside tutor, usually with limited numbers. These need to be booked and paid-for in advance. There is a charge to cover the hire of the hall and the tutor’s fee, and sometimes a bit extra for materials. Some are good for beginners and some require a little previous experience. Check with Gay Hibbs if you want to know if it is OK for a beginner.
How our branch relates to the wider Embroiderers Guild.
We are a local branch of the national Embroiderers Guild, which covers the whole country. The national Embroiders Guild (known as the EG) takes care of the national collection of historic embroideries, and organises various national events that members can take part in, such as exhibitions and competitions. You may be inspired to send something in to a national project, but if you think the idea of ‘exhibitions and competitions’ sounds intimidating then just ignore it! The National EG website can be found on the Links page.
The National EG is divided up into regions. We are part of the South East Region, which has 23 local branches across Greater London, Surrey, East Sussex, West Sussex and Kent. The Region organises various regional events, for example the annual 3-day summer-school with a range of tutors (which are open to members from any branch and are booked via the Regional committee) as well as Regional Days. You can find more information on the South East Region, and monthly newsletters, on the Links page.
Some members get involved in the wider EG activities, and some don’t. If you join our branch then you also get membership of the National EG, but it’s up to you if you want to get involved in that side of things, or not.
If you do decide to join, the annual fees are: Branch membership £9.00 National membership £38 (Total £47). We think that adds up to pretty good value: if you add up the monthly sessions (Tuesday meetings, one workshop group and two traditional group meetings) then that gives you 48 potential stitch sessions per year, plus several workshops and outings; and you can’t put a price on the camaraderie and mental stimulation!
You are very welcome to come along and ‘have a dabble’ if you want to, or just come to hear the speakers. We look forward to meeting you.