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Let Me Introduce You to ... Shirley Tyderkie

An interview by Patty Hawkins, originally published in Embroidery Canada.

(On a sunny Sunday in mid-April, 2013, I had the great pleasure of sitting down with Shirley Tyderkie, a spry octogenarian and one of the founding members of EAC.  This warm and lovely lady welcomed me into her home in North Winnipeg and graciously answered my questions.)
I'd like to start with your needlework history. When did you begin to stitch?
My grandma taught me to knit when I was four. I began by knitting doll clothes. When I was nine, I remember buying one skein of green Lady Fair yarn from Eaton's; it cost 20 cents!. I also learned to sew. I became interested in weaving but I had no access to learning. In my teens, I met my husband and we both did rug hooking! His sister did petit point so I bought a book about it from Eaton's and made two petit point pictures. These are now mounted in boxes that I made. I used McCall's magazine for inspiration. Then I began doing needlepoint. Eventually I joined the Craft Guild in Winnipeg. I did macramé with Mrs. Lawrence. I completed one of the panels of the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library's screen and helped with several others. I also began teaching and taught for a number years. I led classes on pulled thread and canvas, and completed samples for books. I also took up quilting and beading.
How did you learn?
At first I was self-taught. I eventually met Leonida Leatherdale (more about her later) and learned a great deal from her. We then worked together collaboratively.
What types of needlework do you do?
All types of canvas, pulled thread, petit point, and needlepoint, but not so much surface embroidery.  I designed my daughter's wedding dress. It had a panel of linen with pulled thread embroidery on the back. I also made bobbin lace for my youngest daughter's wedding dress.
I took classes in  silver-smithing at the Craft Guild and studied bobbin lace with Elise Osted. I do goldwork and Brazilian, too.
What's your favourite?   Goldwork.
Have you exhibited your work in any shows?
Yes. I made boxes and took them to a show in Toronto. And I exhibited needlework pieces and quilts at craft shows from time to time.
Have you won any needlework awards?
Yes, I made a leather box with inset needlework; it won a prize at the first Craft Guild show.  
Tell me about your history with WEG and EAC. You were in at the beginning. How did you get involved?
Leonida brought in teachers to her shop – Constance Howard and others. With some input from Leonida, Wilkie Smith came to the Crafts Guild. There was also a finishing teacher and others. Leonida went away to different seminars and came back with the idea of starting a guild here. Several interested women gathered at her house in St. Norbert (just south of Winnipeg) for a lovely dinner. We talked about it and got it started. The legal things took time but from the idea to the agreement to start, it was very quick – just a few minutes!
Have you been a member of both EAC and WEG for all 40 years?
Yes, both from the start.
Have you been active in WEG and EAC?
I have always been an active participant and I worked on early seminars in Winnipeg, helping behind the scenes. And I was supposed to teach box making at a Seminar in Vancouver but I had to cancel at the last minute even though everything was ready. I also took workshops. Some of these were held at the Lions Manor and the Deer Lodge Hospital.
How did you meet Leonida?
It was at Polo Park (shopping mall). The Craft Guild had a demonstration.  Leonida was working on a picture and it interested me. She later taught a class at the Craft Guild and I registered. Eventually I ended up teaching some of the classes. It started with needlepoint and then branched out into other areas. This was in the late '60s. Eventually I began teaching elsewhere as well – at Leonida's shop on Osborne street and at home on East Gate.
Have you done any designing?
Yes, I do my own designing and have designed many things. I also work from patterns.  
Do you pursue any other artistic or craft endeavours?
After I took the course in silversmithing I became interested in rocks and minerals and I began making jewellery.
Can you share a bit about your personal history? 
I was born and raised in Winnipeg. I took a course at the Angus Business College. I was married to my husband, Ed, for 60 years. We have three daughters, Laurel, Diane, and Merrill, and I have four grandchildren. I did lots of stitching for the kids.
Did you do any work outside the home?
Right after school I became a clerk at the Royal Bank. I also worked as a secretary for the Carnation Milk Company and GE. I left work when I became a mom. My parents had greenhouses and I love gardening. I also love cats. (Indeed, Milo made his presence known constantly during our conversation and he is adorable!)
Beyond your membership in WEG and EAC, do you continue to be active in needlework?
I love to bead and have continued to work on beading projects. I will always love needlework but I am no longer able to be too active at making projects.
Do you have any special memories of your time with WEG and EAC that you'd like to share?
I especially remember the 25th Anniversary dinner; it was a lovely reunion. We were able to renew friendships and the camaraderie with those I've known for a long time was wonderful. I have fond memories of classes at Jo Hewitt-Nickel's. I enjoyed Tuesday afternoon stitch-ins with Jo and Miriam (Birkenthal) and our meetings at the Cornish Library and the church off Portage Avenue. But the designing and stitching was the most fun of all. It has been wonderful and has enriched my life tremendously.
PH:  Shirley, thank you so much.  It has been a pleasure speaking with you (and Milo!), and seeing your beautiful work.
Along with WEG/EAC founding member, Jo Hewitt Nickel, Shirley was honoured at the 40th Anniversary Banquet at Seminar in Winnipeg with a Service Pin recognizing her contribution to the founding of EAC and her 40 years of active participation and support.

  • Patty Hawkins has been stitching for most of her life but became addicted when she met Carolyn Mitchell in 2000. She has taken classes in a wide variety of techniques and is especially fond of canvaswork, Hardanger, and pulled thread. She has been a member of WEG and EAC since 2004. Like Shirley, she also loves knitting and cats. She was on the organizational committee for Seminar 2013 and was thrilled to be present at the banquet to honour both Shirley and Jo for their long and outstanding service. They both represent the best of EAC.

Shirley Tyderkie died in 2020

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