We are a group of women (but men are welcome!) who have an interest in textile art and embroidery. We are of mixed abilities and there is no need for you to be able to sew to come and join us - there are no tests!
New members are always welcome - why not call in and join us as a guest for a few months?
Meeting fee for visitors is only £5.
Our meetings vary - we have talks and workshops, show and tell - we also have lots of weekend workshops and playdays. For details of what's coming up (and what's been and gone!) check out our programme below...

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Regional Day Success!

Yesterday was our Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Day at Riccall near Selby, and yet again Halifax Branch gained success in several of the competitions, with two winners and a runner up out of the three competitions. 
Firstly, Margaret Walton again triumphed in the Challenge Cup, for which she received the trophy and a cheque for £50. 
This is the second year running that Margaret has won the trophy, but the first time that she has been there to receive it! 

Her piece of work was a beautiful book which she started making at the Branch's Frances Pickering workshop a few weeks ago. The judge said that it was "a really evocative piece about a journey through life". 

It's got a little shoe attached too!

Julie Turner came second in the same competition, winning £25 for her piece, also a book, about the journey from sheep to clothing, entitled "Wool - A Back to Back Journey". Julie's book was stitched onto b;anklet "pages" and she used wool from her family's own prize-winning sheep. 

This is a great picture of a naked sheep!

Another entry in this strongly contested category was from Abigail Ledder with her striking record of a journey to New Zealand. 

Here's a close up of Abigail's beautifully stitched New Zealand silver fern leaf. 
"Haere Mai" is Maori for "welcome".

Our final entry in the Challenge Cup was from Davina Adams with her journey round the world - this was also entered last week in the Branch's "Small World" challenge. The Russian Dolls all fit inside each other!

Moving on to the Maggie Judges Floral Trophy, which is presented in memory of our previous Regional Chair. Every year the flower begins with the next letter of the alphabet - this time it was E. 
This year it was won by another Halifax member, Jenny Greenwood, with a white Echinacea appliquéd onto a black background.

There's even a bee stitched on there for good measure. 
(The bee doesn't start with E).

Our other entry in the floral competition was again from Margaret Walton, with this beautiful Eryngium which includes feathers as part of the design. 

No winners in the final class, the Coats-Anchor Award which this year was "Maps", but we still put on a good show!

This is a detail from Janice Townend's map of Windermere.

Here is another entry from Margaret (you can tell she's retired!) which is also based on the Lake District.

Closer to home for this entry from Anne Brooke :

And finally, Mandy's titchy map of the world.

Members will have to wait for the Regional Yearbook to come out to see photos of the other entries! 

I think we can safely say that the flower next year is going to begin with the letter "F" - so get started on your freesias, fuchsias and fetter bushes!

In other news, Mandy won two prizes out of the 15 on offer in the Bag Raffle...not this one unfortunately, but here is Halifax's spectacular offering...thanks to all members who contributed, I can tell you that the lucky winner, who was from Ackworth Branch, was very pleased with her lovely prize!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

It's a Small World - Branch Challenge 2014-15

While we had Sally Darlington at our disposal (see previous post) we made her judge our Branch Challenge. 
There were even prizes - £30 for the winner, £20 for the runner-up, and £10 for third place. 
The title was "It's a Small World", and it had to fit (widthways at least!) into a standard petri dish. If you weren't aware, a petri dish is only 9cm in diameter, so it is amazing to see what some of our members have managed to cram in there! 

As our winner, Sally chose the entry by the ridiculously talented Anne Brooke, 
who made a pixie house out of felt, 
embellished with hand-embroidery, and with tiny pin trees. 

What's even more annoying is that Anne made this within about a week of the challenge being announced last September, while the rest of us were still finishing them off about an hour before the meeting! 

In second place Sally chose this piece by Jane Clayton, whose small world was a personal reflection of the difficulties sometimes caused for her by her own skin. 

The lid of Jane's dish is printed and embroidered, and the inside is a felted epidermis. You can feel Jane's pain, looking at this piece of work. 

In third place Sally chose this piece by Jo Sykes; a typically Pennine scene of a mill and hills, appliqued and painted and then decorated with hand embroidery. 

Now have a look at the other entries and see if you agree with Sally's decisions!

Val filled her dish with rings embroidered in variegated cotton, 
all stitched together and laid on a translucent background.

Hilary made an underwater scene complete with a treasure chest,
 overflowing with beaded treasures! 

Maureen stitched this intricate peacock with a great use of perspective. 
His "eyes" are highlighted with metallic threads.

The title of Jenny's dish is "Walk on Haworth Moor", 
the background is painted with acrylics 
and details are added with hand-stitching. 

Joan's amazingly detailed cross-stitch scene depicts the small 
world of horse racing. Look at the tiny horses! 

Sue set the scene for "Mary, Mary" with a garland of paper flowers! 
Mary is a little hand-made doll in her hand-embroidered flower garden. 

Janice's tree, mainly stitched in French knots, 
shows the passing of the seasons from Spring to Winter.

Mandy's dish, also in French knots, is literally a depiction of a small world. 
The other countries are on the reverse side. 

Sue's knot garden is just that - the whole surface of her piece is 
covered with tiny exquisite French knots. 

Davina's dish contains a trip around the world with lots of pieces of art, decorated with embroidery and symbols typical of the country in question.  

This is just to show you that it did in fact all fit in ingeniously into the dish! 

Margaret's piece was a poignant reminder of the fragility of life, 
with her evocation of the sea of poppies outside the Tower of London. 

Irene's enchanting under sea scene is embellished with all sorts! 
Shells, beads, stitch, net, sequins, all in shimmery light-catching colours. 

Rona's was another symphony in French knots, evoked by the verse, 
"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows", which she had stitched on the top side of her piece. 

This is the under side of the lid and the bottom of Rona's piece - so much work! 

Hilary has depicted a microscopic small world in her piece, "Bacillus Anthracis Embroderous". I think we've all caught it! 

Rachael's wind-swept tree on the banks of a river 
is couched onto a subtly shaded painted background 
with a hand-embroidered reed-bed in the foreground. 

Jackie demonstrated some of her beautiful needle-lace in her dish 
with this fantastic butterfly 
on a background embellished with herringbone stitch and French knots.

Wyn's was a small circular world, with tiny hand-made felt houses and trees
attached to the background with blanket stitch and decorated with French knots. 

Liz's design would certainly have won the prize for how much you could feasibly fit into a petri dish with this brilliant merry-go-round! 

Another great use of perspective - Sarah's houses are machine stitched and she has even sewn some onto the narrow ribbon around the inside of the rim! 

Catherine's manipulated fabric  bacteria look a bit too realistic for my liking! 

So there you are! Another really diverse collection of work 
by our talented members. 

If you're a visitor to our blog, 
why not leave us a comment with your own "Judge's Decision"?

June Meeting - Sally Darlington (and some Mug Rugs)

Our June speaker was Sally Darlington, who comes from the nearby town of Todmorden. She told us all about her varied career in textiles. 
She graduated in design from the prestigious Glasgow School of Art where she discovered a passion for machine embroidery, however her first job was for a firm in Kilmarnock, designing contract floor coverings (big carpets!) which she says she still gets a thrill from seeing on floors now and again - including at Tiffany's in New York(!) and airports all over the world. After four years, Sally left the company, finding that having to always work within someone's corporate requirements was too restrictive for her. 
Making a huge change in her life, she contacted Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) and they asked Sally to go and teach her skills to people in Africa. She taught initially in Zimbabwe and described to us how important education was to the students there, many of whom had to save for years to go to school and were there in their 20s, some of her students walking up to 18km a day for their lessons. 
After a year Sally got tick bite fever (sounds fun!) and came home to recover. The political situation in Zimbabwe was too unstable for her to return there so she was redeployed to Ghana, where despite inherent corruption which often meant that funds were diverted for the benefit of individuals, she managed to gain funding for three classrooms for the school she where she was working. 
She explained to us about the different cloths and dyeing techniques used in the different areas of Africa she had visited. 
There was Kenti cloth, which was usually woven, although sometimes printed like this example, and which was worn as ceremonial clothing. 

In Mali, women gather lake mud from different depths of the lake which gives different colouring and levels of resist. They paint the mud onto cloth and leave it in the sun to develop. This example has a different design on each side of the cloth. 

On her way to Mali (a three day trip overland), the vehicle Sally was travelling in broke down. The driver went for help but by the time he returned, Sally was so thirsty that  she drank some water he had brought without it being sterilised - this resulted in her being infected with worms which later had to be surgically removed leaving her with scars on her back and arms. (Now crossing Mali off list of places to visit...) 

Another method commonly used in this area of Africa is indigo dyeing, a technique which Sally also likes to use. This involves either tying or stitching the fabric before immersing it in indigo dye. 

You can see that smaller pieces of cloth have been stitched together before dyeing, to create larger pieces of fabric. 
Sally kindly donated an indigo dyed cloth to our raffle which I am delighted to say I won! Thank you Sally! 

On her return to the UK, Sally got a job teaching at a secondary school in Bradford, however the attitude of the students was so different from that of her African pupils, who had been so keen and willing to learn, that she became disheartened so left formal teaching an started out on her own. She has since taught arts and crafts for Age Concern, had a Gallery in Todmorden, and now has a studio space at Northlight Art Studio on Valley Road in Hebden Bridge. 

Sally's own work features one-off pieces of fine textile art, using natural materials - cotton, wool, industrial felt and silk, including lots of silk cocoons.

Sally will be displaying pieces of her work at the forthcoming Open Studios in Hebden Bridge which takes place over the weekend of 3-5 July 2015. 
Full details of artists and where they can be found are on the Hebden Bridge Open Studios website

Members also brought some of the work they had done at the Playday on the previous weekend, where Davina had been teaching how to make a patchwork quilted "Mug Rug".
As usual, they were all really varied.