Port Pirie Embroiderers Guild

The Port Pirie branch of the Embroiderers Guild was formed in 1973 by Heather Langford and Helen Wilson who were both members of the NSW Guild. In 1975 the first formal meeting took place with 8 members present and 4 apologies. The Port Pirie branch still have one original member, Johan Ahola.  In 2018 they celebrated their 45th birthday.

There are enormous benefits for being involved in a group like the  Embroiderers Guild Port Pirie

Benefits of Sewing, Knitting and Embroidery

Dr Marlies Alvarenga, director of the Monash Clinical Psychology Centre at Monash University, says embroidery is known as logic relaxation. Forming and following patterns requires a certain logic to the practice.

“It makes beautiful sense to do this,” Alvarenga says. “You could sit on the train going to work and look out the window or you could do cross-stitch, engaging the brain in being able to develop and follow patterns, so there is a logic involved. It’s a self-induced state of focusing.”

Alvarenga says focusing on a task for a long period of time has been shown to improve concentration levels and hand-to-eye coordination.

It also stimulates the brain’s right hemisphere, which is associated with creativity.

“When people are working busy jobs that require them to have lots of responsibility and constantly be developing creative solutions, embroidery trains that creative area of the brain, as anything artistic would do,” Alvarenga says.

“This also fits into the concept of mindfulness, because doing embroidery makes you very present. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure, and as people achieve small successes – getting a difficult stitch right and creating something beautiful – their perceived level of confidence rises. Plus, at the end of the day, you end up with a product for your effort and your own creation.”

Here are just 5 reasons why you should give it a go.

Stress Relief

It encourages mindfulness and reduces stress and anxiety. The meditative action of sewing, knitting, crochet, lace making and embroidery encourages positivity and feelings of relaxation. Being forced to concentrate on one particular task enables you to become immersed in a situation and truly unwind.

Improved hand-eye coordination

If you’re keen to enhance your motor skills, sewing does just that; especially hand-eye-coordination. The attention to detail that sewing requires encourages coordination and relieves physical issues such as back pain.

Brain Growth

These skills require creativity, which improves the brain’s ability to grow new brain cells. As mental deterioration is a result of lost connection between neurons, sewing promotes mental growth.


Like other craft activities, sewing, knitting, crochet,  lace making and embroidery increases dopamine in the brain, which makes us feel more positive.

It fights dementia

Because sewing, knitting, crochet,  lace making and embroidery makes you remember specific steps, it works the brain and keeps the mind clear, focused and active. This can help prevent dementia as you grow older.

If you would like to to learn or join the Port Pirie Branch of the Embroiderers Guild
contact the via http://www.embguildsa.org.au/country-branches/port-pirie-branch/

Check out some of the beautiful crafted objects created by some of the members Port Pirie Branch of the Embroiderers Guild

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About the artists

Joylene Smart

Joylene has been crafting for over 50 years. She consider herself a jack of all trades; there is not much she haven’t tried. Embroidery, stitching with a needle in her hand is her way of relaxing, de stressing or just keeping busy.
She has also experimented with machine embroidery, with a purpose built machine and free motion. This is great to get things done in a hurry and explore other techniques.

Joylene states ” Most embroiderers buy their supplies from specialty shops or online, She also shops at Home Hardware for supplies. The Embroiderers Guild of SA has several different Groups that specialise in one specific area, these include Counted (e.g.: cross stitch, black work ) Linen Lace (e.g.: Hardanger)  Canvas (e.g.: Tapestry )  No Limits ( they use whatever they can find to produce unusual items, beads, wire sequins etc.) Pieced and Layered (patchwork). There are several other groups but you get the picture.  If you can do something with a needle and thread there is a group that will satisfy your needs. In the country we all get together and work on whatever takes our fancy”

Her patchwork quilt pictured is a special gift for a 3 year old grandson. She started it two years ago, while State President of the Guild, so time was limited and it got put aside for a while. The State Guild holds an exhibition biannually and 2018 was titled Celebration of Water. She titled this quilt “There is water on Mars”. It’s a compilation of machine pieced, machine applique and machine quilting and probably only took 5 days to do (if she worked on it full time).

Annette Rimmer 

Annette has been spending her time finishing some projects which have been started for a while (we all have them!). Annette’s states “One of the good things about embroidery is that it is so portable”. She can sit in her lounge chair or outside in the sun and still be able to work. Her most recent finish is a quilt using William Morris fabrics and her own stitched areas using leaf shapes common to William Morris. She machine pieced and hand quilted this quilt.

The other thing she really enjoys, is doing Christmas decorations which go to many friends both here and overseas. She finds different techniques each year. Included here are Hardanger, cross stitch and surface stitches.

Fay Worrell

Fay has been a member of the Embroiderers’ Guild of SA for over 30 years.
She attended a workshop with Alison Snepp who taught a Medieval Sampler which was derived from samples in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. Techniques used in her images are Pattern Darning, Double Running, Counted, Herringbone, Drawn thread and Cross Stitch. Some of the designs have been used on this book cover.

2nd pieces are Crazy Patchwork. Stitches included on these are Cast on Stitch for the rose, Lazy Daisy, Bullions, Feather Stitch, Herringbone, French Knots and Beading.

Marian Sandow 

Marian has been a member of the Embroiderers Guild in Port Pirie since 2004. While she enjoys several different styles of embroidery, her first love is cross stitch. She enjoys doing kits as there are so many lovely designs. One of her favourites is Dreaming of Daisies which was a Rosewood Manor kit, designed by Karen Kubla.

Johan Ahola 

Romanian Tape Lace is a bold technique consisting of a crochet 3 stitch braid which is tacked firmly to a design covered with clear contact. Then the design is joined together with either wrapped or buttonholed bars. Some spaces are filled with a woven decoration. This is her own design for the  exhibition “Tea for Two”. Number 10 crochet thread was used throughout the design. Hapsburg Lace is thought to have been worked during the Habsburg Dynasty in Austria as a substitute to the very expensive needle laces of the time. This design is called “Ashes of Roses” from a book called “Fantasies and Fancy work” from the Guild library. It is a counted work technique on 18 count mono canvas with perle 8 thread or 6 strands of embroidery cotton. Fine ribbon and beads are also used within the designs.
Johan Ahola is a founding member of the Port Pirie branch. She  enjoys trying different techniques.

Feature Image L- R
Marion Sandow, Fay Worrall and Johan Ahola
“Working Hard”