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History of the West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild

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History of the West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild
Catherine Lorraine of Stonegate Manor
Filum Aureum, Winter 2008

Missing documents… blurred memories… absent eyewitnesses…. does this sound familiar? It’s an interesting exercise in history: reconstructing the history of the West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild. It’s probably been less than 25 years since this Guild began, and yet our knowledge of the exact names, dates and circumstances may be even less than we know about many kings and queens from the real Middle Ages.

The earliest evidence we have of the West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild’s existence is an issue of a newsletter called Needle News, dated February 1980 (A.S. XIV). Clearly the Guild was in an early stage, since the newsletter discusses organizational guidelines.

The second newsletter currently in the Guild’s possession is dated January 20, 1983 (A.S. XVI). The name has changed slightly, to Needlers’ News, and we’re still getting organized! Under discussion are further guidelines, this time about members’ skill levels and what they should be called. This issue also dates the “first Official meeting” of the Guild was to be held on January 29th, 1983, in the home of Beth. (Beth who? Curious minds want to know!)

In the spring of 1983 (A.S. XVII), a Guild Charter was presented to Their (then) Highnesses of the Mists, Ronald Wilmont and Kathleen de Tara, and thus the Needleworkers Guild was officially born as a Guild of the Principality of the Mists.

The first Guild Minister of this early Guild was Ava Trudine of Tregoenning, who stepped up in the spring of 1983. Through the wonders of Google, we’ve managed to track Ava through some subsequent travels. She moved from the West to the Kingdom of Atlantia, where she organized, and again became the first Guild Minister of, the Arachne’s Web Guild (lace makers) in Atlantia. In April of 1990, the Kingdom of Atlantia honored Ava with elevation to the Order of the Laurel for her skill in lace making. Some things never change!

The third newsletter the Guild holds is dated October 1983 (A.S. XVIII). The newsletter is now named Needler News (!) and expresses hopes that the Guild will grow and prosper and spread through out the Known World. (Ambitious, aren’t we?) A recent survey indicates there are now guilds for needleworkers in at least 12 other kingdoms — some separate, some combined with textile and other fiber arts, some active, some dormant. Names include the Middle Kingdom’s “Withie and Woolmongers” (textiles, needlework, basketry), the An Tir “Embroiderers and Embellishers,” the Worshipful Company of Broderers in Caid and Athena’s Thimble in the East Kingdom.

The fourth newsletter we have is dated May 1984 (A.S. XIX). Jania of Call Duck Manor became the second Guild Minister, and continued to serve the Coronets of the Mists as the Principality Needleworkers Guild Minister for many years.

Guilds are born, they grow and then they rest. The Needleworkers Guild took a respite from its years of labor in the late 1980s, and the idea lay dormant for years.

In 1992 the idea of having a West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild was born —or re-born!— and so began the reorganization of the Needleworkers Guild, this time as a Guild of the West Kingdom.

The first meeting of the new West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild was held at June Crown 1993, (A.S. XXVIII) with members electing Isela di Bari as the first Guild Minister for the new Guild. A new charter for the Guild was presented to Their Majesties Garick and Talitha in the spring of 1999 (A.S. XXXIII). Isela di Bari served as Guild Minister until June Crown 2000 (A.S. XXXV) when she chose to step down. Guild members elected Sabrina de la Bere as her successor. She in turn was succeeded by Aelia Apollonia at October Crown Tournament 2004 (A.S. XXXIX), and at March Crown 2006 (A.S. XXXX) by Catherine Lorraine of Stonegate Manor, our fourth Minister.

The Guild’s 1999 charter contained a lot of detail, not only of the Guild’s purposes and governance, but also of specific programs and achievement levels. In the interest of clarity and simplicity, a revised charter was presented in the spring of AS XXXX to Their Majesties Fabian and Eliska, who were happy to confirm it, together with all the Guild’s rights and privileges.

Some of our Guild Patrons and former

Jania stitching (1994 photo)
Sabrina de la Bere
Sabrina wearing her art
Aelia showing off a new project


Catherine Lorraine
Catherine Lorraine (on the right) showing off work to Diane de Winchester


Copyright of each article belongs to the original author.

Reproduction rights are not given by virtue of their appearance here.

If you wish to reprint any of these articles, in whole or in part, in any medium, you must first get permission from the the author. Please contact a Guild Minister or the Guild Webmistress, who will forward your request to the appropriate party and respond to you.

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