Guild invites others to learn the art of the needle

Members of the Semiahmoo Guild of Needle Arts pose with some of their creations. (Clockwise from left) Fran Compton, Linda Brenner and Alison Watson are celebrating the guild
Members of the Semiahmoo Guild of Needle Arts pose with some of their creations. (Clockwise from left) Fran Compton, Linda Brenner and Alison Watson are celebrating the guild's 25th anniversary this year.
— image credit: Dan Ferguson photo

“If you’ve never picked up a needle before, we’ll help you,” Linda Brenner says.

“We’re very friendly,” Alison Watson adds.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Semiahmoo Guild of Needle Arts, and Brenner, Watson and guild president Fran Compton are hoping to sign up new members.

There are currently 13 people in the local guild, which is devoted to the art of hand embroidery.

The members include residents of White Rock, Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford and Richmond.

They meet twice a month.

The Semiahmoo group is part of Embroidery Canada, a national non-profit educational organization whose stated purpose is “to have a fellowship of persons who enjoy needlework and wish to learn and share their knowledge; and maintain higher standards of design, colour and workmanship throughout Canada.”

Brenner says she got hooked, so to speak, when she went to a needlepoint exhibition in Prince Rupert 22 years ago.

“I was floored,” Brenner says.

That was when she decided she wanted to learn how to do the intricate hand-sewn patterns she’d observed.

Watson says her nanny in Africa taught her how to crochet, but other than that she is essentially self-taught, learning by doing.

“I’d go somewhere and see a picture that I like and say I’m going to make it,” Watson says.

Fran Compton’s mother taught her how, but she got busy being a mother and working, and gave it up temporarily.

Now, with grown children and fewer demands on her time, Compton has resumed needlepoint.

It can take 50 to 60 hours to finish a work, they say, but not all in one go.

It is not a big time commitment if you consider the number of hours people will spend in front of a computer or a television, Watson says.

And you can go at your own pace.

One piece took Compton 25 years to complete, sitting undisturbed for a long stretch of time before she returned to it.

“We’re easily distracted,” Compton says, laughing.

Brenner says it is common to make some progress then put a project aside for awhile.

Watson recently completed a tablecloth that her mother-in-law had started many years previously.

The guild members have an expression for those kinds of extremely long-term projects; “UFOs”, which stands for unfinished objects.

Members are entitled to a magazine, correspondence courses, attendance at a yearly seminar and library privileges.

Over the years the Semiahmoo guild has contributed to several charitable organizations and last year donated a sampler to the Peace Arch Hospital for a raffle.

For more information about the guild, email


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