Give a hand to practitioners of needle arts
Last week, I wrote about the popularity of computerized machine embroidery. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum today — preserving and practicing the art of hand embroidery in all its forms.
Be it cross-stitching, needlepoint, blackwork, hardanger, crocheting, knitting or beading, if the finished product is accomplished with needle and thread in hand, the method qualifies as embroidery.
A large contingent of needleworkers perfect their skills here on the Western Slope, and they are flexing their digits to celebrate February as National Embroidery Month.
The Desert West Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America Inc. boasts 76 members who meet monthly at the First Presbyterian Church in Grand Junction.
Two area groups also meet in Delta and Glenwood Springs.
On Saturday, members will demonstrate their various needle arts and show their work during a National Stitch in Public Day. The event is planned at two locations: Borders Books Music Movies & Cafe, 2464 U.S. Highway 6&50; and Hi Fashion Fabrics, 2586 Patterson Road. The events run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Borders, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hi Fashion.
Laryn Henson, the chapter’s newsletter editor, says the group stays busy with several outreach projects throughout the year.
They make bookmarks for the Adult Literacy program at Mesa County Libraries, knit sweaters for children in a remote village in Nepal, sew blankets for hospitalized children through Project Linus and create hats for cancer patients.
Some members are especially productive, such as Clara Arroyo, who crocheted more than 300 bookmarks in one year for the literacy project.
More than 100 Project Linus comforters/quilts have been sewn and donated by another stitcher, Patsy Bruton.
When asked about the current trends in needle arts, Henson says hardanger always seems to be in vogue. This is a Nordic type of needlework, usually geometric designs in white thread that is drawn, pulled and sometimes cut into intricate patterns resembling lace.
Beadwork, Henson’s specialty for the past 15 years, also has an enthusiastic following nowadays.
She teaches a separate monthly class at the church on bead weaving, most often concentrating on jewelry pieces. At times, Henson travels out of state as an instructor at regional seminars.
The Embroiderers’ Guild first was established in the United States in 1958 to foster high standards of excellence and preserve its heritage.
The needle arts are no less important in 2011, as many contemporary textile projects can be customized with hand embroidery.
In fact, according to the guild’s website http://www.egausa.org, many embroidery pieces created today qualify as fiber art.
Why not take some time to observe these artists as they stitch for you in public places next weekend?
If you’re so inclined, they’ll be happy to help you train your fidgety fingers to master a needle and thread.
E-mail Sherida.Warner @gjsentinel.com.