One stitch at a time…

Pictured: Members of Wanaka Embroiderers’ Guild. Photo: Natalie Finch.

Going since 1986, Wanaka Embroiderers’ Guild currently has 26 members, with ages ranging from 20 to 90, and is open to new participants.


Secretary and treasurer of Wanaka Embroiderers’ Guild Jill Bruce said, “With such a wide age range, we all benefit from listening to others’ perspectives on numerous topics.”


Bruce added, “Every day we meet, we support and encourage each other and offer helpful suggestions if requested. We are always positive towards everyone's work and as we have such a huge depth of knowledge amongst us that help is always on hand when we encounter an issue–both perceived and real!”


The guild, which forms part of the Association of New Zealand Embroiderers’ Guilds, meets three or four Thursdays a month at the Wanaka Arts Centre.


Bruce said, “The Wanaka Arts Centre has been our home for more than 19 years now and it is a fantastic place. The natural light streaming through the windows is an absolute must for us. The space is easily heated (and cooled) and has a kitchen and storage facilities."


The first Thursday of the month embroidery workshop session runs from 7-9pm, the second from 1.30pm to 3.30pm, the fourth from 10.30am to 3.30pm and, if there is one in the calendar, the fifth from 10am to 3.30pm.


Bruce said, “I love that I can take a piece of fabric, some thread and a needle and create something. It is, to use a trendy concept, 'mindful' –a total escape from all that is going on in your life, the world and all you think about is the rhythm of the needle, the thread, creating, absorbing yourself in what you are doing sometimes to the exclusion of everything else around you. And in a world that is sometimes so focused on consumption rather than production, it is my time with needle and thread that allows me to be a creative contributor to the world around me, and the value that this adds to me, the people around me and the spaces that surround me should never be diminished.”


Bruce’s first memory of embroidery was as a four-year-old, sitting on her grandmother’s knee in front of an open fire learning how to stitch leaves and flowers. Now more than 50 years later, it’s still a pastime she enjoys.


Bruce said, “It is so satisfying to research and learn a technique that may have originated from the 1500s and keep it alive today.”


Bruce said, “We have, about 12 months ago, completed a group project of creating a 'Wanaka' banner. All members contributed to this masterpiece and all financial members since the start of our group have their name included. It features iconic Wanaka subjects and all embroidered. It is hanging in the main room at the Art Centre at the moment."


Bruce’s favourite embroidery-related quotes are “May all of your ups and downs in life be with a needle and thread” and “A clean, tidy house and a weed-free garden is a sign of a broken needle."


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