The theme for the March 2023 Woodlawn Needlework Show has been announced: “Craft As Comfort: Joy In Needlework.” If this theme is exciting to you, perhaps you will stitch a piece and submit it for judging and display at the show, which runs March 1-31.
This show has been held for 59 years at the Woodlawn, a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Alexandria, VA. Entry fees and tickets to see the show, plus other fundraising activities, support the maintenance of the house, which was built in 1805 on land given by George Washington to Martha Custis Washington’s granddaughter Nelly Custis when she married Lawrence Lewis.
EGA’s Northern Virginia chapters Washington D.C. Chapter, Oatlands Chapter, and Winchester Chapter, as well as the Molly Pitcher Stitchers and a New Jersey chapter, each have members who enter and who help to put on the Woodlawn Needlework Show each year. It is open to embroiders everywhere who want this opportunity to have their work judged and hung for display. The quality of the nationally certified judges and how carefully they evaluate the quality of the stitching lends weight to the awards given in a wide range of categories. The 2022 judges were certified by EGA, the American Academy of Needlearts and the American Needlepoint Guild, and we expect to have judges of similar caliber for 2023.
The show itself is managed and put together by Nelly’s Needlers, a service organization dedicated to the preservation of Woodlawn, fine needlework, and sharing the craft with the next generation of stitchers. Several EGA members participate as members of the Needlers who do all the work to create the show. We coordinate with Woodlawn Director Shawn Halifax and the National Trust staff to plan, promote, register exhibitors, and hire judges for the show. The show’s co-chairs and their committee organize entry paperwork, plan the display layout, and lead the volunteers. Members sign up for shifts to accept pieces delivered for judging, label each one, divide them into the judging categories and display them for the judges to evaluate. Then up on the walls they are hung or into the display cases they go, arranged to showcase each item.
Meanwhile, other volunteers prepare to open Nelly’s Café, where sandwiches, salads, and other luncheon treats will be prepared and be enjoyed by visitors to the show.
Tickets for the show go on sale Feb. 1. Entries will be accepted in person Feb. 3-5, or by mail Dec. 15-Jan. 27. More information can be found online here.
When the show officially opens March 1, hostess teams from the area’s EGA Chapters and Nelly’s Needlers are ready to greet and talk to guests about the house, as well as about the work on display. Nelly’s Café is ready for luncheon guests. The gift shop is full of a variety of useful tools for stitchers and decorative items stitched by all the members of Nelly’s Needlers.
One famous feature is the Vintage Teacup Pincushions. And don’t leave without a bag full of Martha Washington’s Ginger Spice Cookies. You can purchase some at the raffle table, where tickets are sold for an opportunity drawing to win the special needlework project of the year. For 2023, it will be a stunning brown-and-white quilt, with cutwork appliqued squares.
It is not yet clear in what ways the show theme will be carried out in 2023. Each year, there are exhibitions, events and programs throughout the month of the show. Four special exhibits supported the 2022 theme, Common Threads: Connections People, Families and Communities, Past and Present.
For “Needlework Connections,” local needleworkers brought in pieces made by and about their families, celebrating weddings, births, anniversaries, and first stitching projects. Personal stories were posted about so many of these pieces. A wonderful display of work by EGA Winchester members celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Chapter in the Shenandoah Valley. Elaine Evans was the driving force for the display. Assorted needleworks created by Martha Washington, Nelly Custis Lewis and their families were brought out of the Woodlawn archives for the first time in several years. And to whet appetites for a new project, Queenstown Sampler Designs filled a room with completed samplers made from the historic reproduction patterns it sells.
Are you intrigued? If you have a chance to visit northern Virginia in March 2023, consider putting the show on your itinerary. Find more information about the show on the Woodlawn website as the dates get closer at http://www.woodlawnpopeleighey.org.
Written by Kay Jarrell, from our Washington D.C. Chapter