I am…

…among the very fortunate needleworkers of the world.  Why? Well, in addition to having the time and the resources to pursue an avocation as well as vocation, I also have the great blessing of belonging to the Needlework Guild of Minnesota.  This is a local guild, not affiliated with any national organization and, along with fostering friendship between stitchers, places a strong value on education.

In the decade or so that I’ve belonged, we’ve had teachers such as Jane Nicholas, Barbara Mayo Grass, Kay Stanis, Diane Fitzgerald, Tony Minieri, Merry Cox, Catherine Theron, Shay Pendray and many others. All of these individuals are stars in their field, most are fabulous teachers and all of them have come to Minnesota at the request of a local Guild to share their knowledge and their art.

My Guild dues are $30 a year. All I can say is…what a bargain! For that small amount, I can attend any number of meetings, I have the chance to take classes from the likes of those teachers mentioned in the preceding paragraph, I have learned so much about needlework history and technique, and, most precious, I have made lifetime friends. Monthly I have the opportunity to participate in small groups focusing on disciplines as diverse as beading, counted thread, smocking and even push traditional boundaries with experimental stitching. All of this…without traveling more than across town. I am grateful!

Why mention this? Well, for those of you who do needlework and are local to the Minneapolis area, check out the link on the sidebar for the Guild and consider joining. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Even if you live elsewhere, we have many members who are outside the metro area and even outside the state. They maintain a membership for the Guild Newsletter, the opportunity to attend our annual retreat in August (held in a small town west of here and always fabulous!) and the chance to participate in different classes and programs. If you are too far away for this to be feasible, my message is this…don’t stitch in a vacuum. Find your local chapter of the ANG or the EGA (both fine organizations with myriad educational opportunities) or if no local chapter is available become a member-at large and check out the online and distance learning opportunities.  Even something as simple as seeking out local groups of stitchers or gathering friends and forming a group of your own is an amazing networking opportunity. Put on a pot of soup, invite the gang over and give yourself the gift of a day filled with needle art and needle artists.

I have learned more from my stitching sisters (and, I will add, been talked into MORE stash) than I can say.  It is through these special ladies that I finally found the courage to enroll in Japanese Embroidery, to teach needlework and even to take the plunge with the Master Needle Artist program.

I love needlework. It creates beauty, it represents a gift of time unusual in this world and the people I know who practice the art are the best. It can be a solitary pursuit and I value that…the quiet, the introspection, the time to still my spirit and pray in rhythm with my needle.  But it is important to find a place to be encouraged and to encourage others. The Needlework Guild of Minnesota is one such place for me. What is yours?

Blessings on this cloudy Wednesday,

Julie

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