Handmade: NTGM offers a range of fiber art skills

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of trying your hand at a particular fiber art, you might want to consider joining the Needlework and Textile Guild of Michigan (NTGM) to further pique your interest. Members are exposed to a plethora of fine art activities — from crocheting to dollmaking.

“It’s one of the oldest continuing fiber art guilds in Michigan,” said Rochester Hills resident and current president Debra Gash, whose mother, Barbara Gash of Bloomfield Hills, was a founding member when the group formed in 1973, and once wrote a sewing column for a local newspaper. “We have people who are interested in all types of fiber arts, and the main mission is to help people learn from one another, and from regional and national experts.”

Other than “enthusiasm to learn,” there are no requirements for membership. “We have a range of members and everybody is willing to teach others. In fact, we have two special interest groups. One is called the Knit Wits, and they meet on the first Monday of the month in someone’s home. People bring whatever they want to work on, and it doesn’t have to be knitting,” said Gash, who’s assisted by a program committee and several officers.

“A new group just started up, and that’s around beading. We have some beading experts who organized that, and again, people bring in projects they want to work on, and they get help on designing and beadworking. They meet (in the morning) and usually work until lunchtime. That group has been going for a while with about 10 members. They also meet in people’s homes on the first Tuesday of the month.

“NTGM (regular) meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 5500 N. Adams, Troy, from September to June,” continued Gash. “Doors open at 9:30 a.m., and the morning program ends at noon. Workshops vary in length, but run from 12:30-3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, and 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

“NTGM has three special meetings during the year. The December session is a Whistlestop, which is a one-day fun project taught by members. February is either a community service project or another day-long workshop taught by members. In June, we hold our annual Creativity Show and Luncheon to show off the works made during the year, and celebrate with a potluck luncheon to which guests may be invited.”

The fact that they offer a variety of workshops makes them different from many other such groups. Gash said, “One of the things that distinguishes us from some of the other fiberart groups in the area is that we include all types of fiber art. We have had workshops in knitting, crocheting, art dolls, and we’ve done a lot of surface designs with dyeing and fabric painting and different surface treatments — quilting, embroidery, papermaking, felting, beading, rug hooking (etc.).” The guild is “always looking for quality, interesting presenters and teachers for programs and workshops.”

“Committee groups come up with a list of programs for the normal meetings and present them to everybody at the luncheon in June. Then you decide what you want to take over the year, and you pay per workshop,” said Gash. Yearly membership dues are $40, and prorated after January, and “the fee for a half day workshop is $20, a daylong workshop is $40, and a day and a half workshop is $60.”

Longtime member Jeanne Sarna of Troy wrote, “NTGM brings in great speakers, and I love taking the workshops because they give you a chance to get some hands-on experience in a different textile technique each month.”

But, in spite the many different workshops, members will sometimes discover fiber arts aren’t for them, however, Gash feels “It’s a great inexpensive way for them to find out. It’s a very friendly group, and people share supplies.”

Craft books are also shared among the 75-80 members. Gash said, “We have a lending library with about 600 books and DVDs. Some are donated by members, and being the librarian, I’m pretty particular. I go through them and weed out the old ones. We take the money from the flea market sales and purchase newer items. We have them on all topics.”

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, or

Contact the Needlework and Textile Guild of Michigan at (248) 601-3104, or visit