KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO
Sue Leonard (left) of the Waveny Embroiderers’ Guild of Suffolk, England, demonstrates an intricate stitching technique to Gloria Lennon of Denville, N.J., a member of the Garden State Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America, during last Wednesday’s meeting of the Peconic Bay Embroiderers’ Guild, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
The Embroiderers’ Guild of America defines the craft as “anything made using a needle with an eye in it.”
That broad definition, meant to be very inclusive, is why the Peconic Bay Chapter of the guild, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is reaching out to the entire community, from experienced embroiderers to those who are beginners, to get more involved in the craft by joining, according to the chapter’s acting secretary, Marilyn Flynn.
“We encourage newcomers as well as those with experience,” Ms. Flynn said. “There’s no hoop you have to go through” for membership, she said.
The local guild made this year’s silver anniversary celebration special by including visitors from their sister chapter in Beccles, England, a community close to Southwold, England, Southold Town’s sister city.
The six English visitors participated in the May 24 luncheon, two days of exchanging embroidery techniques and a host of other events, including tea at Peconic Landing. It was a chance to share their love for embroidery and learn more about one another’s countries, Ms. Flynn said during an interview in Cutchogue last Thursday.
The relationship between the Peconic Bay chapter and the Beccles chapter had its inception with Ms. Flynn’s visit in the late 1990s to Scotland. When she returned, she suggested that Peconic Bay members look to the Scottish for a sister chapter. Members decided instead they would look to Southwold because of its already established relationship with the North Fork.
But Southwold already has a sister chapter in the United States and suggested Peconic Bay partner with the Waveney Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild of the U.K. in Beccles. The relationship was solidified in 2000, Ms. Flynn said.
“Our chapter is named after our beautiful Peconic Bay while Waveney Branch is named after the serene Waveney River, which runs through Beccles,” Ms. Flynn said.
Some of the Americans have visited Beccles. Five years ago, some Beccles members came here to participate in the Peconic Bay Chapter’s 20th anniversary, Ms. Flynn said. She, in turn, visited Beccles in 2009 to help the English chapter celebrate its 10th anniversary.
The local chapter here got started in Southold in 1985 with 26 women meeting weekly. It has grown to more than 40 members from Southold and Riverhead who meet at Southold’s First Presbyterian Church on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. They share their craft, have lunch and end their meetings with coffee and cake, making it as much a social gathering as one devoted to sharing their embroidery skills, Ms. Flynn said.
Through the years, guild members have reached out to the wider community, teaching Girl Scouts to embroider, providing more than 900 pairs of pajamas and books at Christmas for children of families served by Community Action of Southold Town, and making gifts for members of the Armed Services and for battered women.
They have auctioned their work to raise money for Eastern Long Island Hospital and East End Hospice and each month they continue to contribute to local food pantries managed by the National Council of Churches.
They also have had exhibits of their work at various libraries. Early this June their work is being displayed in the window at Southold Pharmacy.
Peconic Bay members were invited to submit a tapestry for the kneeler project at St. Edmund’s Church in Southwold, England. They sent one based on a William Steeple Davis pencil drawing of First Presbyterian Church in Southold. The son of one of the rectors of St. Edmund’s, the Rev. John Youngs, founded First Presbyterian Church in Southold in 1640, Ms. Flynn said.