Should I join a stitching group or guild?
The answer is a resounding yes! Here are our thoughts on what benefits there are to joining a group or a guild. Before delving into this topic more deeply, however, please be aware that many groups are meeting virtually, if at all during this COVID time. Be sure to confirm whether meetings are in-person, virtual, or on hiatus for now.
Where to find stitching groups?
There are 2 guilds and a myriad of other groups to explore.
The Embroidery Guild of America (EGA) and the American Needlepoint Guild (ANG) are two national guilds with very active local chapters.
EGA is a membership organization dedicated to the art of embroidery. The guild offers free and paid education courses, outreach programs in the community, preservation programs, judge certification programs, and national seminars. EGA’s focus is to foster the art of embroidery. For more information, please visit www.egausa.org . Our local chapter is fairly active, and they recently created heart ornaments for our local Hospice. There is a fee to join, and typically one would join the national organization and then add on chapter membership for an additional fee.
ANG is a membership organization dedicated to the art of needlepoint. Like EGA, ANG offers free and paid courses, extensive programming, and a myriad of training programs. There are many very active chapters in Virginia. They offer a national seminar, which was held virtually this year. You can join the national organization and then add on chapter membership for an additional fee. Many chapters allow non-resident members so you can join a chapter that is very active.
Here is what one local chapter leader shared with me about her experiences with a guild.
I was fortunate to be introduced to needleart at a young age. I worked my way up from charted cross stitch, to black work, to counted canvas and now painted canvas...but my very first piece was a painted canvas when i was around 9 which my Aunt helped me persevere thru. Years ago, I was able to attend a national ANG seminar with my Aunt in PA - I was in needlepoint heaven! The work on display was amazing and inspiring. Oh and the classes were just magical. I love to take classes and hope for an opportunity to be in an in-person class again one of these days. Being a part of PANG gives me a group of wonderful women that I've been able to share my love of needlepoint with. They've taught me so much and my stitching skills have increased with their encouragement. They've also given me an opportunity to serve them and the needlepoint community which I'm very grateful for.
I can’t speak more highly of the two organizations. Both groups offer training and education to stitchers. There is no minimum skill level, so stitchers of all skills are welcome. It is humbling and inspiring to see what our fellow stitchers can accomplish, plus there is a generosity of spirit in what knowledge or thoughts other stitchers will kindly share with you.
These organizations can often access teachers and teaching pieces that are not available to the general public, which is a wonderful benefit to Guild members. Both groups cost to join, but they often can access these projects at affordable rates, helping keep the cost of the hobby somewhat lower. I’ve also been fortunate to meet a wide variety of stitchers that I might not normally meet. As an added bonus, I offer special shopping days and discounts to ANG and EGA members!
Fiber Arts Groups
Charlottesville has a very active Fiber Arts Community. The Central Virginia Fiber Arts Guild (https://cvfg.org/) is an affiliate member of the Mid-Atlantic Fiber Arts Guild (https://mafafiber.org/). Both organizations represent a community of members with a wide range of interests and expertise in fiber arts techniques – spinning, fiber prep, weaving, knitting, crochet, sock machines, embroidery, surface embellishment, braiding, sewing, quilting, basket making, rug making, etc. This is a great group to explore the talent in our community, as well as explore other options within the fiber arts spectrum.
Stich Club Official popped up in 2019 and organized approximately 80 stitch clubs throughout the country. There are 4 talented needlepointers who set up and recruited close to 1000 stitchers. Most groups share information via instagram (mainlink is below). Meetings will vary now due to COVID, but I’d encourage you to seek out a local chapter. Like with the guilds, this group has done a great job of attracting more people to the art and keeping it going.
Little Needlepoint Shops
Many shops offer drop in stitch times - virtual or otherwise. These are good ways to swap ideas and stitch with others. There usually aren’t fees associated with these events, and they are purely social. One of my stitch groups came about as a result of a class several of us took together. Several of us clicked and formed a group that meets on a monthly basis.
Stitch clubs and groups through shops are good options if you want something less formal or structured.
With the pandemic, groups have been meeting virtually which helps overcome geographic barriers. I know of groups that formed through these shops with stitchers from New Jersey to California.
Needlepointing can be expensive - threads, canvases, finishing, your time…you may wonder what other costs are involved with joining a group.
There are membership costs to EGA/ANG. Membership, chapter dues, class fees, materials and travel fees if you end up going to in person seminars. Many chapters offer affordable education and access to pieces you might not be able to find retail. If a chapter hires a national teacher, there will be fees associated with that class. In many cases, chapters fundraise and save money to subsidize the cost of bringing in a teacher or a specialized class.
Most groups don’t charge fees. Most shops offer groups as a courtesy - if it is a drop in embellishment group, there may be a cost associated with instruction or working with you.
There are a lot of benefits to joining some sort of stitch group. Even if you aren’t a group person, the hobby gives us a connection to people that is important. For those familiar with Myers-Briggs, I hover between being an E (extrovert) and I (introvert). These groups provide me with the perfect balance of some socializing, but with some structure and bonding over our love for the craft. This commonality has helped me form friendships that transcend age, personality, politics, race, gender and helped me become a better stitcher. And, I find that the talent runs deep in these groups. Many members are quilters, finishers, cross-stitchers, needlepointers, knitters and more.