In the beginning...
There were five women, Anne Bauer, Mary Croes, Emma Kendall, Virginia Lippincott and Shirley Stuelpnagel, who while enjoying lunch and stitching together, felt it would be wonderful if there were a stitching group in the South Bay area to make it possible to hire teachers and study together. At the time, no such local group existed. On September 18, 1985, thirteen women met together in the living room of Shirley Stuelpnagel who was appointed organizing coordinator.
The first official meeting was in October in the Courtyard Community Room, and by February 1, 1986, Needle Artists by the Sea was chartered as a Chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild, Inc.
During the first year, the members worked together on samplers from a pattern designed by Sara Wolf of Austin, Texas. The samplers varied according to the desires of each stitcher, and eleven were entered in the 1987 Gold Thimble Show as part of a special exhibit. Members enter local needlework shows and display their work in our local Palos Verdes Library.
Our Chapter has continued to grow with an active and friendly membership with members participating in workshops and monthly meetings where they study needlepoint and counted thread techniques.
There were many proposed names for our group, and Shirley Stuelpnagel’s suggestion of “Needle Artist’s by the Sea” was chosen. Alta Graham, the Organizing Vice President, refers to Shirley as our Founding Mother and Organizing President. Shirley did all the work of contacting National and helping us meet the requirements for becoming an official chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild.
There was also a contest to choose a design for the logo. The porthole design submitted by Alta Graham won. Faye Heiden, a Palos Verdes/Needle Artist’s by the Sea Member, volunteered the assistance of her husband. Dick Heiden was a semi-retired commercial artist. He took Alta’s design and refined it, giving the chapter a camera-ready piece of art for our logo.
The logo quickly appeared on the Newsletter and Alta charted the original name tag pattern. A workshop to make the name tag followed.
The 109th brand-new chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild, so named Needle Artists by the Sea because as they stated, “If we are not all needle artists, we certainly intend to be and our Palos Verdes Peninsula and adjacent communities are on the coast of the bright, blue Pacific,” quickly settled into the business of stitching with their first group project, a Victorian Sampler designed by Sara Wolf. What these thirty-nine dedicated ladies also embarked upon was our Chapter Banner.
Margaret Fleming selected the stitch blocks with their variety of stitches for the banner design. The inspiration came from a design called Shalimar that the group was working on at the time. Margaret chaired the NAS banner committee at the same time that she was designing and supervising the banners for St. Vibianas in anticipation of Pope John Paul’s visit to Los Angeles. She designed a banner and two hangings for the front and back of the rectory of which she is especially proud. Margaret describes this work and the reception for His Holiness that she and her husband, Ed, attended as a very special experience and one that she will always treasure.
With a broken finger, (!!) Margaret stitched the center logo motif. Individual members volunteered to stitch the surrounding blocks and did so with skill and care. The beautiful finishing was done by Mary Croes using her own lovely fabrics. Alta Graham painted the wooden pole used for hanging in a marbleized design and sometime later the wooden stand was made by Angie Carney’s husband, Jim. Mary Croes and Margaret Fleming presented the completed banner to the Chapter at the May 12, 1990, general meeting.
The beautiful collective effort by these dedicated and talented stitchers is on display at the sign-in table at each meeting. Take the time to look closely at the results of their work; you won’t be disappointed.
It has been a special treat to read through the early newsletters of our Chapter to research our logo and the banner. The founding member’s eagerness and light-hearted enthusiasm was infectious. Our founding members also seemed to not be as serious as us about UFO’s. Some of their comments were: “I want to have plenty to do if I get snowed-in in Southern California.” And a favorite, “This is my 90-year box; which means I’ll have 90 years to finish, or, I don’t have to start work on them until I’m 90.” There is also a picture of Angie Carney in the photo album with the caption, “Of course I finish everything I start.” Perusing the photo album was wonderful also. The faces are not all that different. Any one of us could easily slip right into those photos, which speaks of the timelessness of our needle arts and our devotion to it.
Remember this admonition from one of our founders,