Friday, January 30, 2015

Smock Across America Contest

Are you planning on entering the Smock Across America contest?

The first contest will be in Las Vegas and the colour that your piece must contain is RED.

The rules are as follows:

1. Piece must include the following color specific to each site. It can either be the fabric, fibers, buttons, lace, etc. The piece does not have to be totally executed in that color, but must include it somewhere on the piece. 

Las Vegas – RED 
Chicago – WHITE 
Valley Forge – BLUE 

2. Edges must be finished. 

3. It can be anything you want to make, “Think outside the box!” ( No pun intended for #8! )

4. One entry per person per Retreat and it must be a different piece if entering at more than one Retreat. 

5. NO, you do not have to live in that particular region to participate. 

6. Winner will be selected by attendee ballot at each site. 

7. One winner per site. 

8. Piece should be able to fit into a medium flat rate box. FED EX 12 3/8” x 3” x 17 ½” or USPS 12 5/8” x 11 7/8” x 3”. This is so everyone has an opportunity to participate even if they cannot personally attend. Return paid shipping label must be supplied and included in the box!
Details can be found on the SAGA website (


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Woodlawn, Virginia SAGA Meet-up

SAGA Meet Up at 52nd Needlework Exhibition, Woodlawn
9000 Richmond Highway (U.S. Route 1) in Alexandria, Virginia.

March 20, 2015  1-4pm 

We invite you all to join us for a fun day out in Alexandria, Virginia at the Woodlawn Historic Plantation ( ) to tour the 52nd  Needlework Exhibition sponsored by Nelly's Needlers, a volunteer auxiliary.

Exhibition tickets may be purchased onsite the day of the event.  Exhibit admission cost is $12. We will meet at 1 pm in the gift shop and proceed to the self guided exhibit from there.
But why not plan on joining us for lunch before the tour? We have reserved 36 places for lunch at the Underwood Room for SAGA members and their guests at the 11 am lunch seating. Lunch reservations are only available by advanced reservation. The lunch cost is $21 and  includes entree, beverage, dessert and gratuity. Visit

to sign up for the luncheon.  (Please remember this group lunch is only available by advance online reservation and advanced payment). 

There will be time before and after touring the exhibit to shop at the Museum store where finished needlework, samplers, kits , books and gifts are available. 

This event is open to not only SAGA members but their guest as well. 
Please RSVP to  so we will have an idea of how many will be
attending. We look forward to seeing you! 

Directions to Woodlawn can be found at the museum website noted at the top of this message. 

We hope you can join us and encourage you to bring a friend !

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

First SAGA Retreat fast approaching!

The first SAGA Retreat will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel on Swenson Street, Las Vegas at the end of February. The hotel is minutes away from the Las Vegas strip and features Wi Fi throughout and the room rate secured by SAGA includes breakfast each morning and the mangers evening reception each evening.
Besides taking the classes SAGA has to offer, there is so much to see and do in Vegas. You can visit the world just walking down the famous Strip as you can ride a gondola in the Venetian Hotel; see the Eiffel Tower at Hotel Paris; watch fountains at the Bellagio; go on a roller coaster ride above the roof tops; watch a volcano erupt at the Mirage; see the Sphinx at the Luxor; go back to medieval times at the Excalibur; see endless shows and then there is the shopping! That is even if you leave the hotel which has a heated outdoor pool to enjoy and a hot tub and a gym.
I for one am looking forward to visiting the sights of Vegas and taking lots of photos! I am also looking forward to the dry, warmer weather as it should be in the upper 60’s which beats the cold Connecticut February weather any day!
But I am mostly looking forward to seeing my sewing friends, meeting some new ones and taking classes. It doesn’t matter where you are when you share a common bond- SAGA.
So will I see you in Vegas? I hope so!
Visit to find out more about the Las Vegas retreat and all that SAGA has to offer.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Callaway Gardens Meet-Up

A SAGA Meet-Up was held on Janaury 20 at Callaway Gardens which is in Pine Mountain, Georgia.  Every year a Needlearts School is held at the Gardens Conference Center. They host a market which is open to the public as was a juried needle arts exhibit sponsored by the Dogwood Chapter of The Embroiders' Guild of America Inc.

SAGA Region Representative Lori Popelka organised a Meet-Up for SAGA members on Janaury 20.

She reports:

"The needlework exhibit was awe inspiring. We saw a couple of old friends, Kathy Neal and Marion Schoular who were also there for the day and were vendors by night.  Dinner was delicious and the shopping that followed was frenzied."

Look for more SAGA Meet-Ups on the SAGA website ( and in SAGA emails, SAGA Facebook and SAGANews Blog.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Who is going to Las Vegas?

I am!

I have booked:

My flights-yeah for air miles!

My hotel room and I have a room mate to share it with.

My classes-yes this time I am taking classes!

So Las Vegas here I come!

Will I see you there? I hope so.

Visit the SAGA website to find out more about the Las Vegas Retreat and everything to do with smocking, heirloom embroidery and more!

These are the two classes I am taking with Brenda Shade.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A New Year and time to renew old friendships.

Many of us make New Year resolutions and within a month, week and even few days have forgotten them, but renewing an old freindship is one that can be done very easily and prove very rewarding.

So have you renewed your friendship with SAGA by paying your dues for 2015?

SAGA has so much to offer:

Retreats in 2015 (Las Vegas, Chicago and Valley Forge) where you can take classes.

Local Meet Ups planned.

Chapter meetings to attend.

Correspondence Courses.

SAGA Stitches programmes.

SAGA website.

Facebook page.

Artisan Programme.

Wee Care.


And lastly, SAGANews which if you do not renew you will not receive as it is a Members Only publication.

Think of all you might miss- so visit the SAGA website ( and renew your membership today. You will be renewing a friendship that keeps on giving!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

SAGA Meet Up-Callaway Gardens

Where:  Callaway Gardens Mountain Creek Inn Conference Center
               17800 US Highway 27, Pine Mountain, Georgia, 31822

When:  Tuesday January 20, 2015  1-9 pm

What:  Regional meet up to visit the juried needle work exhibit, shop a fiber boutique and needle arts bookstore and shop a vendors market that evening. 
Join us for dinner and there will be enough time to tour some of the gardens.  There is no entry fee to Callaway Gardens on this day, since the majority of plant life is dormant during the winter.  We will eat at The Vineyard Green in Mountain Creek Inn between the exhibit and vendor’s market. 
The bookstore, exhibit and boutique are open until 4 pm. 
The vendor’s market is from 7 pm - 9 pm. 
Come and go as you please. 
This is designed to be a fun day out with friends that love to stitch as much as you. 
We will meet at the Conference Center at 1 pm. 
RSVP to Lori Popelka at  if interested in joining us. 
Bring any friends that might enjoy this with you.  It is not limited to SAGA members only.

Holiday Windows in NYC

The first day of the year usually finds my husband and I walking the streets of New York City looking at the holiday windows and tree. This year was no exception as the weather was dry (no doing this trip in the rain!) although cold and quite breezy. We parked the car and walked the quieter route from Second Avenue, up to Madison and then along 59th Street to Fifth Avenue and the start of our annual wanderings.

Bergdorf Goodman is where we always start our windows walk and this year the theme was the arts. Each window display celebrated something different: painting; cinema; sculpture; dance; literature; architecture; photography. All very lavish and creative, but the one that really caught my eye was the literature window.

This window was an all red theme and there were portraits of authors along with stacks of books and a typwriter-but what made this window special was tha fact that all the portraits were hand stitched! There was crewelwork, needlepoint, cross stitch and embroidery. The typewriter was constructed from felt as were many of the books. Bergdorf Goodman Senoir Art Director David Hoey said it is the most labour intensive window they have ever created!


The other windows were fun too. Everything in the architure window was constructed from paper and the model is meant to be the artitect looking at her work-her beautiful evening gown was embroidered using a tambour technique.

A couple of these little guys were in other windows and caught my eye-made from needlepoint.


David Hoey reported that he wanted the windows to be a lesson in art appreciation and more than 100 artists contributed to the items in the windows, using a revival of old school techniques.

I hope we see more of this revival and see smocking come into its own in 2015!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Mansion Christmas

I was lucky to spend Christmas in Newport, Rhode Island. We were there to visit the Newport mansions , or to use their correct term, 'cottages' (not a typical cottage as I know it from living in England, that's for sure!) which are decorated for the season. Only three of the Newport Preservation Society properties are open this time of year, but on visiting the Newport Visitor website, I read about another mansion just a few miles away that I thought we should visit.

Blithewold is in the town of Bristol, Rhode Island, just up the road from the Roger Williams University. Not a huge imposing property, but a nice, large family home with views of Narragansett Bay. The house was built for the Van Wickle family and still looks as if they live there.

The rooms were lavishly decorated for Christmas using the theme "You are invited..." with each room being decorated by a different person or persons. The rooms took on the feel of a New Year Party or an Engagement Party, or Fancy Dress Party to name but a few.

I was most taken with a small bedroom which is called the sewing room, where under the window was the sewing machine, with a party frock waiting for some attention. Fine embroidered linens lay on the bed, ready to be put out for the family and guests.

In a couple of glass showcases two dresses have been conserved and are on display. One lavishly beaded, the other a more simple silk day gown.

Yes, I enjoyed the 'cottages' on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, but the surprise of Blithewold in Bristol made Christmas really special.

Blithewold Mansion, gardens and arboretum can be found at 101 Ferry Road, Bristol, Rhode Island.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

52nd Annual Needlework Exhibition at Woodlawn

The 52nd Annual Needlework Exhibition at Woodlawn, Alexandria, Virginia will take place in March 2015.

Woodlawn was the home of Eleanor Custis Lewis, a great needleworker and the exhibition honours her legacy. Funds raised are used to preserve the estate, which is a completely self-supporting non-profit historic site.

The needlework exhibition accepts entries in a number of categories including Fine Hand Sewing and Smocking- why not consider entering? Entries can be mailed to arrive no earlier than January 16, 2015 and no later than February 6, 2015. You can also drop off your entry in person between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm on February 6 and & 2015.

You could also visit the exhibition which begins March 1 and ends March 31, 2015 (closed Tuesdays). Opening times are 10:00am to 4:00 pm. Admission fee is $12 (free to exhibitors).

A light lunch is served daily from 11:30 am -2:00 pm and reservations are recommended for large groups. Lunch is created and served by members of Nelly’s Needlers. Proceeds (including tips) from the luncheons go to support Woodlawn.
It is daffodil time during the exhibit!

You can also visit the Museum Shop and might find some handmade needlework accessories amongst other items to take home!

Details and more information can be found on the website:

Monday, January 5, 2015

Teaching Smocking

As well as SAGA I belong to a couple of other needlework organzations; one a large national group that many other smockers belong to Embroiderers Guild of America (EGA) and the other, Friends of Counted Embroidery (FCE) a local group. At a recent FCE meeting I taught smocking. The programme was a smocked wing angel ornament which I was to have taught at the December meeting, but due to bad weather was posponed.

I am not a great teacher, but I am organized and I prepared the kits well in advance. I knew the number of kits required as the ladies sign up ahead of time. I gave them everything they needed to complete the project as I like to think they are going to finish it! I spoke about smocking, demonstrated the stitches (cable and trellis) they were going to use and walked around giving individual help. I also took my Read pleater, threaded it and showed the ladies how it worked. They were fancinated! I took a couple of smocking books, A-Z of Smocking and The Best of AS&E to show them different stitches and designs. I also pointed out that smocking isn't just for children's clothing.

Are they going to get hooked on smocking, some of them might. A couple of the members have smocked in the past so I am hoping to have rekindled their spark, but at least I have reached out and shared something I love and introduced them to something new.

Who are you going to teach to smock in 2015?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Smock On!

We all tend to associate smocking with pleated fabric and to pleat the fabric you must either use the labour intensive dots, pick them up to run the threads through the fabric or use a pleater – the much easier option! But have you thought about using a knit fabric and using the rib effect  it creates to smock?

I recently used a smocked wave to edge a baby’s undershirt. Using the ‘pleats’ created by the ribbing, I smocked the fronts and sleeve edges using perle cotton #5 (DMC # 800). As the item is for a baby boy, it was the perfect solution to ‘what can I do with this and quickly?’  It also allowed me to smock, but keep the garment looking tailored for a boy.

I have also used the rib and smocked the tops of socks.

A Thimbleberry chapter member really went outside the box and used the ‘pleats’ created by corduroy and picture smocked a squirrel (don’t you just love that turkey work tail!) and then 'smocked' a similar design on a sweater.

So, even if you don’t have a pleater, you can find things to Smock On!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

                                   The dining room of Blithewold, Bristol, Rhode Island.

Visit the SAGANews blog to read more about Blithewold later this month!