2016/2017 Programme

N.B. From April 2016 all meetings are now at Audlem Public Hall  




19th July 2012 'Jubilee / Olympic Party '

I don’t know a lot about politics, but I can recognize a good party when I see one, and the members who attended our July Jubilee / Olympic party certainly threw themselves into the party atmosphere!

After all there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour, and given the state of our weather it helped to lift our spirits ready for the sunshine to come.

Party Cakes and Fruit

As we all know, setting a good example for our children can take the fun out of life, so with these thoughts in mind our members decided that drinking the odd glass of bubbly and eating delicious home made cakes at 11.00 am in the morning was acceptable and indeed necessary to feed our brains ready for the ultimate challenge of a quiz and the brainstorming stress of the dingbats!

After Carrie, our chairman, had reminded us that as upright members of the Embroiderers’ Guild we should be registering ourselves online, our members were free to wander the room and admire the various items on sale, as well as those available for a small donation to charity.

Carrie Reporting Guild Business

Meanwhile in the depths of the kitchen, organized chaos reigned as luscious home made cakes were divided onto trays and champagne and soft drinks were poured and dutifully delivered by the committee ‘maids’ to the tables were our members were already pouring over their dingbats whilst preparing, or feeding, their body and souls ready for the next challenge!

There were five teams of roughly ten members, ready to stretch their brains as they were bombarded by questions on the Olympic Games and The Queen, whilst simultaneously juggling the dingbats around the table.

Fortunately there was no lack of sustenance or liquid, so our members were able to maintain equilibrium as amazing facts and figures were dragged from the depths of their memories in answer to the questions.

Tray of our Members Home Made Cakes

Finally the answers were given – with only small dissent – and the final totals revealed an outright winning table. A crown was presented to the winners, as well as small topical presents of Jubilee thimbles. We will gloss over the losing table, which also received gifts of red, white and blue threads as consolation prizes. Must try harder next time!

The Winning Team

Finally our exhausted members scrabbled in their handbags and pockets for their lost raffle tickets as the raffle was drawn. Many thanks to Carrie Evans and Gillian Milner who donated our raffle prizes.

The Crown

Sadly all good things must come to an end and as our members, who never leave a convivial party before lunchtime, made their way home, no doubt looking forward to a well-deserved rest!

Grateful thanks go to all of the Committee and helpers whose endless commitment and time make the South Cheshire Embroiderers’ Guild events so successful.


Thoughtful Team Members Deciphering the Dingbats!

17th May 2012 "Inspiration for Embroidery" Norma Hopkins

Our May speaker turned out to be two for the price of one as Norma Hopkins arrived with her friend and colleague Terri Jones!

Norma Hopkins and Terri Jones are highly specialised and experienced tutors dedicated to uncovering the true creative potential of even the most hesitant embroiderer.

Even though the morning was wet and windy, over seventy of our hardy members turned up, umbrellas dripping, to enjoy tea and biscuits and have a catch up on the latest gossip before settling down to listen to Norma and Terri.

A Norma Hopkins Embroidery Design

After an interesting introduction by Norma describing how the two had met:- 'It is by chance that we met, but by choice that we became friends.' Norma explained that the two had been on several 'jollies' - sorry, in her words ' Research Trips,' in order to find inspiration to create embroideries.

After an unfortunate incident with cables, which had Ann Shaw and myself scrabbling on our knees (not a pretty sight) checking plug sockets, Becky came to the rescue with an extension lead and Norma and her computer slides were finally up and running!

A collage of photos, buttons and paper to create ideas

Norma gave us suggestions on how to approach starting a piece of embroidery, the value of playing around with images and how to link images when you are working towards a theme. 

An Old Key - Note the Patterns it Creates

Norma showed us several images she had photographed that had caught her eye – locks and keys were one of her themes and we were able to see how she had played with her art materials, and using various techniques, including Photoshop software, added colour and surface texture to enhance her design and finally developed and resolved the design process into a piece of finished embroideryAnother theme that Norma had used came about after she and Terri had visited Eleanor Abbey in France.

Stone Man Arch Support with Lute

Norma had taken many photos of stone arches and was particularly inspired by the bleached wooden shutters she saw, which allowed the sun to create what appeared to be dappling water on a glass floor.

Further on there was a cloister, which had stone supports of exquisite little men playing various instruments.

Wooden Lute

These instruments had been recreated and carved by an instrument maker and positioned next to the stone men.

They had been positioned along the corridor and as you passed by each of them you broke a light beam and a recording of the sound of each instrument played!

This inspired Norma, and she felt the corridors gave her the sensation of a battle between Angels and Demons and she used her photos to create and develop a design she called 'The Herald.'

The overall and lasting message that Norma and Terri were trying to get across to us was that we should let ourselves go and photograph, stick, paste or Photoshop a design onto paper ready to turn into our own personal vision of an embroidery design.

Norma Hopkins Embroidery Design 

They presented us with exciting and quirky methods of designing and taught us how to translate these into stitched pieces, as well as showing us how the bond of friendship can inspire and strengthen our lives! 

19th April 2012 "Childhood Memories" Judy Fairless

Not everybody aspires to be a doctor or a nuclear scientist, but everybody wants to do something with their life that will give them both pride and a sense of accomplishment and Judy Fairless has achieved fulfilment in both these areas.

Judy is one of our long serving members and is also a member of The Quilters' Contemporary Group. She has worked hard to acquire expertise in all aspects of patchwork and quilt making.

Judy with her 'Childhood Memory' 1950's Quilt

The Quilters' Group suitcase collection is on the theme of 'Childhood Memories' and was inspirational in arousing a wide variety of memories amongst their members who rose to the occasion and presented a collection of quilts showing all their skills and talents combined with the everlasting memories of their childhood.

'Childhood Memories' Flyer

Childhood memories can be a powerful influence on our lives, and although we like to imagine an idyllic childhood, this is not always the case as one of the quilts created by Kate Dowty displayed. 

Her design was in monochrome, a dull grey reflecting her colourless early years. Kate felt that her childhood had not been much fun and everything was forbidden and to enforce this she had 'Stop' and 'Don't do that' written across her quilt.

In contrast, other members, some of whom had been brought up abroad, had created quilts with bright, vivid flowers and sunny beaches, generating that everlasting feeling of living in the moment with a sense of freedom that sadly the children of today can rarely experience. 

Nicqui Willis had created a quilt called 'Time for Bed," provoking memories that we can all recall from 'The Magic Roundabout!' Using an Andy Warhol Che Guevara design for inspiration, Nicqui had embroidered several characters in their full splendour, repeated in nine panels of different colours.

For most of us ladies of a 'certain age,' war memories are represented in our childhood in one way or another, and the Quilters' members were no exception.

Astrid Simpson had created a 'World War Two' quilt depicting those itchy hand knitted swimsuits which we all learnt to swim in, combined with 'Dig for Victory' and 'Make do and Mend' mottos. Another quilt called 'Travelling by Bus' provoked graphic memories of the scrim used to blank out the light from bus windows, which always ended up a dingy brown.

'In Vogue' by Judy Fairless

Judy's own work was titled 'In Vogue,' and as every quilt told a story, Judy's was no exception. Judy was born in 1950 and her mother had worked with the American Army. On returning home, some of the soldiers continued to send food and clothes parcels to her mother, long after rationing had finished! One of these parcels contained a Vogue pattern and Judy's quilt depicts the style of dress from 1950.

Sadly I am not able to display any further photos of the Quilts, for copywrite reasons, however for those that attended the meeting I think we can all agree that that the quilts reminded us that nothing is more powerful than the memories created by a child's experiences. The child's memories fashion the adult's life. Every day of our adult life is touched by the memories of our childhood experiences.

15th March 2012 "Stitched Journeys" Janet Browne

Janet Browne in her Studio

Our latest poster depicting our March speaker Janet Browne, led to a number of intriguing discussions amongst our members as we realized we were in for another fascinating monthly meeting!

The poster depicted Janet sitting with her trusty sewing machine, surrounded by her work, most of which appeared to be not unlike ‘The Hungry Caterpillar,’ book!

A Cycle Ride to Bolton
Janet lives on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and her work is developed from a visual diary of observations that she makes each day.

Detail Of a Journey

Her work is a personal record of familiar journeys that she has made. She records not only the places she encounters, but also the birds and plants common to those landscapes.
Five Starlings
Her work evolves from both observational drawings and memory, often featuring unusual or quirky elements. Both naivety and folk art influence her approach.

Six Hens
Janet constructs her work from hand-dyed calico, quilters wadding and dressmaker’s tissue with added machine and hand-stitching to create line and texture.

Thinking 'outside the box' is not limited to mere business professionals, as Janet revealed one after the other of her artistic textile creations, which illuminated her innovative thinking and creativity in abundance.

Her earlier work mapped the places, towns and landscapes that she travelled through daily, but as her style developed, she became influenced by artists such as Joan Gilcrist and Brian Pearce who had a childlike style of drawing.

This helped Janet to realize that she could use selective viewing and draw how she liked to personalize her maps, putting in the places and scenery that were important to her, and omitting those that did not catch her eye. In her own words her maps were accurate but “ not necessarily in the right order! ”Janet works following long periods of observation using rapid sketches of the birds, plants or landscape features she sees. She records the images and colours whilst they are still fresh and clear in her mind. The design process for each piece is lengthy, the images being constantly refined and adjusted.

She is obsessive about the colours in her creations and hand dyes her calico to obtain the correct shades.

The hand stitching is just another way of drawing and enhances and personalises each piece of work with further information that has caught her eye during the journey. This could be anything from the name of a pub to a large advert for SKY!

Speakers who talk about how life has influenced them and their passions never fail to keep the attention of their listeners and Janet was no exception.

Now that she is retiring from her part time teaching job, we can expect to see a wealth of new creations, and judging from the number of questions our members put forward, combined with our obvious admiration as we examined and handled her work, Janet has many more fascinating journeys to assemble!

 Don't forget our next meeting on Thursday 19th April, when our speaker will be none other than Judy Fairless, yet another talented member of our Guild.

16th February 2012 "Batik and Silk Painting" Jenny O'Leary

February saw another successful meeting with 75 members attending, including four guests, one new member, three guests from Norfolk and our President Jackie Wolsey.
Jenny told us about the sad and sudden death of her husband 12 months ago and how that has led her to work solely from Shropshire where she holds classes as well as going out and about delivering talks and workshops. 

Jenny O'Leary
She works mainly in Batik and has developed a new technique using tissue paper, bleach wax and ink.

Batik Pictures

Jenny produces pictures, hangings and silk scarves.

Batik Scarves and Hangings
Jenny talked us through how she had produced the work that she had brought with her.   

It was her birthday and Sue presented her with a plant.

19th January 2012 Members' Meeting

January can make even the most energetic of us feel down in the dumps, however for our first meeting of the year, over 80 Guild members arrived all bright and breezy and ready to face another year of stimulating talks and challenging workshops!

Four of our members – Patricia Matthews, Marianne Grime, Val Mackin and Marjorie Derbyshire had “volunteered” to “show and tell” their individual skills and techniques to the assembled group.

Patricia Matthews was the first to address the group - a daunting task at the best of times - however she soon had us chuckling as she described her Scottish Calvinistic upbringing, when anything home made had to be “sensible and useful.” This included articles such as socks, crocheted blankets, hand sewn dresses and, horror of horrors, knitted underwear!

Art Nouveau Inspired Quilt
Patricia went on to describe her needlework journey, from the joys of embroidery and quilting, to lace making, the latter needing committed perseverance as her teacher worked so fast that she felt she would never cope!

Patricia has honed her skills by attending courses and workshops run by such inspirational teachers as Chris Berry and Jenny Raymond.

She had bought along several beautiful samples of her work, including a variety of small quilts, which had been Art Nouveau inspired, as well as samples of Honiton and Continental lacework.

Chinese Kimono Quilt

Patricia is an active member of a group named Project Linus, whose mission statement is:

 “We cannot reach out to every distressed child but we can help to provide them with tangible evidence that someone cares, along with the physical reassurance that comes with being snuggled up in a quilt and the lift to the spirit from the bright colours and cheerful patterns sewn into it.”

Surely the height of achievement for anyone with Patricia’s skills is to know that their work lives on and brings joy and comfort to others.

Marianne with Butterfly Fascinator
Our next volunteer was Marianne Grime, famous amongst our group for her quirky waistcoats and belts, who relayed her story about how she became a hat designer, although there are those amongst us who might say a Mad Hatter!

It all started with Marianne searching high and low for a Fascinator to match a wedding outfit. Having finally discovered the perfect match, it was posted from Australia at great cost, and upon examination Marianne realized how simple it would be to make her own!

She then went on to relate the tales of the troubles that her hat creations had caused.

Whilst working in a tearoom, Marianne thought she would spice up the lives of her customers by designing and wearing an Easter fascinator, composed of floppy bunny ears on a hair band.

Unfortunately the ears kept getting in the way when she was pouring the tea and so she was asked to remove it!

Never one to hide her light under a bushel, and always one to bounce back, Marianne decided to design a fascinator for the Royal Wedding. This one was constructed of butterflies bouncing gaily from a hair band.

Once again her employers were “not amused” and she had to remove the offending headgear as it was fluttering too close to the cakes!

Undaunted, Marianne’s next creation was a Pea Pod fascinator, which she combined with a fish necklace. Perhaps, having finally learnt a lesson, this was not worn to work.

Marianne with Ribbon Neck Scarf and Bird Fascinator
It would appear that Marianne spends a lot of time rummaging in the garden shed for wire when inspiration calls, and by her own admission, the poem that starts:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

Aptly describes her……….

As you can imagine, Marianne sat down to rapturous applause with our members still chuckling inwardly to themselves.

Val Mackin and Workbox inspired by Clog Dancing
Val Mackin was next into the firing line.

Appropriately for our locality; Val lives on a narrow boat, which can create a few problems with storage. It would appear that the solution to this is to have “an understanding husband.”

After leaving the Navy in 1984, Val and her husband have shared a lot of interests over the years including Morris Dancing, Clog Dancing and Garland Dancing!

Determined to learn new embroidery techniques Val started looking for courses. Finding them was a major accomplishment as in her own words: “ When the car broke down I had to just see what courses I could do at the end of a bus route!” A salutary thought in this day and age.

Val was first introduced to spinning when she saw someone in a field spinning and thought she would “have a go.” She progressed from a Drop Spindle to a Spinning Wheel and now gives spinning demonstrations.

Whilst completing her City and Guilds, Val used her interest in The Bayeux Tapestry and the Anglo Saxon period to construct a “pocket,” complete with a circular piece of horn sewn into the opening.

Anglo Saxon Pocket
Val’s other skills encompass embroidery, knitting, crochet, felt making, lace making, candle carving and ceramics.

She has constructed a ceramic book containing impressions of islands, all of which have personal memories for her and also a beautiful felt cushion, which was inspired by a visit to Niagara Falls, where she ate a dessert of three ice creams on a tray!

Triple Ice Cream inspired Cushion
Val will be doing a “Crafty Chat” in the Fat Pigeon in Audlem on Thursday 2nd February and will be at Reaseheath College demonstrating her vast range of skills over a period of six weeks. 

Marjorie with Hanging Quilt
Our final speaker was Marjorie Derbyshire, who encouraged some of our newer and less confident members by showing how her skills had progressed from early simple pieces, when she was a complete novice, to the amazing array of inspirational designs that she creates today.

Marjorie has diligently worked her way through City & Guilds part 1 & 2 and completed a University Degree. 

One by one Marjorie showed the group some of her first pieces – an appliqué dragon made for her mother, a quilt made for her son and a double wedding ring design, which she confessed to having undone several times before it was satisfactorily completed!

She followed this by revealing a book of sample stitches and a bag based on the sun and the effect it has in the garden.

Turkish Slippers and Design Board
 Marjorie emphasised to the group that inspiration for designs can be found everywhere, from Turkey, where tiles and carpets had influenced her to create a design board for smoking slippers, and closer to home, Little Morton Hall, which was the inspiration for her first felt vessels.  Marjorie created a trilogy for the Guild Show held there a few years ago.

Elizabethan Corset Design

Marjorie's Elizabethan corset above was part of a body of work for her final Degree Show, and went on to show in the New Designers Show in London.

Enamel Design on Felt

When Marjorie sat down we all gasped in awe and admiration for someone who had shown us that the road from amateur to professional may be long, but with huge determination it can be achieved.

A Variety of Glass Coasters

15th December 2011  Christmas Lunch

When a group of sixty ladies, all dressed in their finery and full of eager anticipation get together, you can be sure they were determined to have a fun filled time!

Waiting in Anticipation!

The South Cheshire Embroiderers' Guild Christmas Lunch proved to be one of the best yet, with committee member Sue Jones, pulling an enormous rabbit out of the hat by managing to procure the services of Sue Poole as our mystery speaker.

Floral design expert Sue Poole has enhanced her reputation by becoming one of only 18 florists across the globe to hold the Wally Klett Wedding Diploma – one of the world’s most demanding floristry qualifications.

Sue Poole
Guild members were treated to an insight of floristry hints and helpful information, whilst Sue simultaneously created eight amazing and diverse Christmas table centre-pieces, which she kindly donated to our ever growing pile of raffle prizes. 

Sue's expertise and skills, combined with her depth of floristry knowledge, provided the inspiration we all needed to rush home and produce something similar ourselves. After all we are embroiderers and skilled with our hands!

One of Sue Poole's Christmas Table Centre-Pieces

Now for the more important business of Christmas Lunch, and as usual Brookfield's Golf Club provided us all with an excellent array of food and courteous service. 

Anne Watson had been her usual efficient self and constructed name places with individual food selections clearly labelled, negating the chance of any "senior moments"!

Ferrero Rocher Christmas Puddings

Every member was delighted to discover a Ferrero Rocher chocolate, with a beautiful knitted Christmas Pudding Hat on their place mat. 
These delightful little puddings had been knitted by Daphne Ashby and Carrie Evans and the holly and berry tops had been sewn on by the rest of the committee.
Finally the raffle was drawn and the lucky winners of the Christmas table-decorations staggered away with their heavy prizes!

Christmas Decorations

Prior to the Christmas lunch, members had been invited to create their own design for a Christmas tree bauble using any design technique that they preferred.

Over thirty members had taken up this option and their creations had been handed in on arrival and hung on a small Christmas tree.

All participating ladies had been issued with a number, and at the end of lunch they were handed a different Christmas decoration to take home, each member finally satisfied that they had discovered who had created their take home gift!

All good things must come to an end and judging by the members' feedback this was one of our most successful Christmas lunches. Roll on next year.............

Christmas Waistcoat - Marianne Grime

Our next meeting will be held on Thursday 19th January 2012 and will be a "Show and Tell" Members Meeting followed by a Mini Workshop.
Please would any Guild members who have participated in our recent workshops bring their creative work for other members to see and admire!

17th November 2011 "Snippets from the 30's" by June Corner

If anyone can find a hilarious angle to a talk then that lady is June Corner! 

Renowned for her comical insights into ladies knickers, this time the Embroiderers’ Guild were taken back in time to the 1930’s when most of us were just a twinkle in our parents’ eyes!

June Corner

We were regaled with reminders of this decades firsts – Women allowed to wear shorts at Wimbledon, Men’s Y Fronts, the craze for ladies to pierce their ears, the introduction of cats eyes, the first M&S store opening, polio immunisation, Beano, Millie Molly Mandy books, Lyons Corner Houses and the “nippies”. The list was endless.

A "Nippy"

Guild members closed their eyes blissfully as they recalled dancing and singing to the hit tunes of the thirties – “Smoke Gets in your Eyes”, “Stormy Weather”, “Red Sails in the Sunset”, “When I’m Cleaning Windows”, and June’s personal favourite hit, Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”.

This was the decade when it was customary to give hand made Christmas gifts and June presented us with a selection that she had acquired  - beautiful beadwork bags, embroidered sewing boxes, pyjama cases and delicate handkerchief sachets!

Beadwork Bag

Inevitably June reverted to character and out came a variety of “Bloomers”.

Large knickers with pockets for dinner money and a hankie, which if you were “posh”, like Audlem ladies, (her words), you probably wore with liners, meaning you only had to change your outer knickers once a week!
Then there were the French Knickers, with a little button on the side. If you wore these you had to remember to carry a safety pin in your bag, as the button would often come off.
June regaled us with the story of a friend of hers who was waiting for her boyfriend, when the inevitable happened. She deftly stepped out of her French knickers, ran around the corner and posted them into the nearest postal box before her boyfriend arrived! One shudders to think what the postman must have thought.

Guild members fondly recalled distant memories of Liberty Bodices with their rubber buttons, “The Spirella Corset” lady, rags and dinky curlers, hair tongs heated on gas jets and Grandma’s boudoir cap! All now past history, but never forgotten.

June with a caped Tea Dress

June had bought a selection of thirties clothes with her. Which of us had not worn a proper wool button coat with bonnet and leggings as a child and smocked and lace dresses?

 We were reminded of the standards of hygiene in the thirties when dresses were infrequently washed and often made with no sleeves, but a little cape to prevent rotting.

This was the decade when you could purchase a Vauxhall car for the princely sum of £695,    petrol was 1/4d a gallon, sirloin steak 1/8d a pound, theatre stalls were 6d and the circle a shilling.Ladies wore 4711 Cologne, and if they were “posh” Chanel No 5 perfume.  Holidays abroad meant somewhere like Anglesey, and nearly always entailed wearing a knitted or smocked swimsuit to preserve one’s modesty!

June Corner manages to add a comical twist to everyday life, leaving us all smiling inwardly at our own personal memories.

20th October 2011 "Bowled Over" Kath Danswan

With the memories of our successful “21st Anniversary Exhibition” fast fading, our members are now looking forward to another years’ programme of exciting, colourful and inspiring talks, which got off to a fine start on Thursday when Kath Danswan presented her talk on "Bowls, Bugs and Bags".

Kath Danswan
Kath’s love of sewing started at the very early age of 5 when she remembers being let loose with her Mum’s embroidery threads and, encouraged by her Grandmother, she was never restricted by what the end result looked like. She had brought along her very first piece of embroidered stitches on gingham fabric, which brought back memories of “school sewing” to many of our members.  Having brought up a family where her needlework skills were put to good use making clothes for all her children, she was then ready for a challenge. Her local college gave her the opportunity to do the City & Guilds Embroidery course and despite an unsatisfactory start when she tried felt making with wool, once she started using silk fibres, Kath never looked back and she started producing the most exquisite silk bowls.

A selection of Silk Bowls

Cabbage Bowl with Bugs

Her main inspiration has come from the natural world and her embroidered decoration creates scenes of landscapes, coral reefs and more than a few different bugs lurking in the folds of her wonderful pieces. One particular piece consisted of six separate nesting bowls interspersed with the caterpillars, butterflies and beetles that make up the world of the everyday garden cabbage!

Her love of all kinds of "bugs” is evident in her more recent work and to the delight of her 3-year old Grandson, who not only loves to pick up these textile creatures, also gets told the stories of what they get up to. Kath Danswan already has a book published on the technical side of her work, but we all felt that with her imaginative mind, there is another book of children’s stories which could be beautifully illustrated with her textiles, just waiting to happen – and we can’t wait to see it!

Bugs, Bowls and Bags

Our next meeting will be Thursday 15th December 2011 for Christmas Lunch with a "Surprise Speaker"