Embroidery sews ideas together

Barbara shows off her beautiful table runner.

By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff

For hundreds of years, women have been stitching together as a way of getting work done and socializing. While it was once a necessary part of life, stitching has become a beloved hobby for many people living in the United States. To that end, each Thursday night, starting at 7 p.m, the Embroidery Club meets in the Walpole Room of the Walpole Library.

Since its establishment, the Embroidery Club has attracted women of all different ages, from both in and outside of Walpole. Each woman brings a project to work on during the meeting. Janice Raftery, for example, spent the August 31 meeting making a counted cross-stitch sampler. Barbara Matthews continued stitching a table runner. Laura Metz worked on a Christmas quilt for a cousin who recently got married. Nancy Wooley continued stitching a quilt square to add onto an already-existing family quilt, while also working on a pair of moccasins for her grandson. Carrie Conley came prepared, armed with pillow squares she’s stitching for a friend’s anniversary present.

Despite all of their projects being vastly different from one another, the women had one definite thing in common: they love to talk. It isn’t like socializing after a long week of work, though. Instead, these women tackle intellectual subjects and moral conundrums, all while respecting one another’s opinion, like a Socratic circle.

Nancy put her own project down and moved to her bag to get something. “I like to bring up provocative subjects,” she said with a grin as she pulled out a copy of a poetry book by Jack Gilbert. What ensued was a 20-minute discussion of whether or not contemporary poetry is written to be shared, or if it is written as a way to challenge the reader. Then, Nancy announced: “I’m going to read a poem now.” The group listened carefully, all while continuing their sewing. “Alright, you got that?” Nancy finished. There was a pause.

“I think I wrote that,” said Barbara, making everyone laugh.

Laura then posed the question as to what exactly makes a piece of work categorized as poetry today. This launched another 15-minute conversation about “The Canterbury Tales” and the status of poetry throughout time. At one point, it even drifting into an argument over whether or not the Oxford comma is necessary. “So, my question is, am I inept?” asked Nancy.


“You answered that much too quickly,” Nancy joked, with the group chuckling together.

After their conversation about poetry, the women delved back into challenges they’re facing with their projects, as well as things they’d learned.

Carrie Conley has a deadline of September for her pillows. Rather than spend $40 on a pattern book, she has come up with an ingenious method to make her own. Using graph paper, and a reference image from Pinterest, Conley counted out the number of squares and marked each one. Eventually, she had her own pattern that she’s been working with for the project.

Nancy, who is sewing an additional square for an already-completed quilt, wrestled with the idea of how to add on. Each square represents one of her kids or grandchildren. Though it is filled, leaving out her newest grandchild wasn’t an option. Now, she plans to add it to the back once she has finished.

Each of these women have found their way to the club in one way or another. Since then, they have become close friends, sharing parts of their lives and ideas with one another.

For them, embroidery isn’t just a hobby; it’s a time for friends.

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