My first encounter with needlepoint came at the hands of my maternal grandmother. She purchased canvases with the detail work completed, leaving only the background for her to fill in. I remember her home being filled with her handiwork in the form of pillows, footstools, evening bags, and bell pulls much like the ones in Downton Abbey. The pieces were ornate and lovely, but also heavy and of another era. I was mesmerized by the texture, running my fingers over the stitches to feel the nubby bumps of wool, all of them identical, yielding depth and detail merely by variations in the shade from stitch to stitch.
My next encounter with needlepoint came at the hands of a dear friend who has always felt like a big sister to me. I met her when I was a college student, and she would stitch during her down time, primarily at night or while waiting in the carpool line. She specialized in stitching ornate, themed Santa Clauses. Her collection was breathtaking, and I was in awe. She assured me I too could be a stitcher. She went with me to the local needlepoint store to pick out an easy canvas, guiding me towards a project that would allow me to gently dip my toe into the needlepoint waters. I bought a simple canvas, and I wanted to be a stitcher, but unfortunately the timing was all wrong. Still in the thick of the toddler and baby years with my four children, my days consisted of non-stop sippy cups and diaper changes and my evenings were focused on doing as little as possible to recover. Having four children in six years brought with it a season of constant need anticipation, and for me there was no room for needlepoint in my life at that time.
Fast forward to the fall of 2020.
I began to see needlepoint projects pop up in my Instagram feed. People I had followed for years were all learning to stitch, loving it, and sharing it with the world. The canvases were cute and modern, at times even bordering on irreverent and funny. The patterns were eye-catching and colorful. The designs were clever and included everything from Topo Chico bottles to disco balls to classic monograms. I began to pay attention.
About the same time as needlepoint began to become a character in my daily Instagram scroll, so too did lockdown fatigue. The pandemic was thick, we were all in the throughs of despair and drudgery, and I was feeling myself begin to fray a bit emotionally and mentally. One day, during a daily scroll session, I saw a needlepoint canvas that instantly called to me. The design by Audrey Wu featured a jar of Bonne Maman strawberry jam. With no hesitation, I ordered the canvas, chose the threads, and began to stitch.
It took me ten whole minutes to become hooked on needlepoint, giddy with the sense of accomplishment found in making one stitch, then another, and another until a satisfying trail of color was left for me to admire. Ever since that first row of stitches, I have not looked back. It took a long time for my needlepoint love story to come full circle and finally land, but when the timing was finally right and the canvas called to me, it was a match made in hobby heaven.
I finished the Bonne Maman canvas in what felt like record time. I did not have another canvas waiting (rookie mistake), so I popped into The French Knot and picked out my next endeavor. I chose a beautiful oyster designed by Morgan Julia featuring shades of blue and a single pearl in the middle. My favorite detail is the glittery thread I used to stitch the sand around the oyster. Sparkles and pearls and shades of the sea made this project easy to love.
Since that first canvas, I have stitched many different designs, always choosing canvases that call to me for one reason or another. I have become such a fan of stitching that I host regular Sip and Stitch events at Hurley House, encourage everyone I know to take up the hobby, and love connecting with other stitchers to hear what they are working on.
Needlepoint has benefitted my mental health, connected me with a creative community, and provided an outlet for when I want to feel productive but don’t want to think. Needlepoint and I are a good fit, friends for the long haul, destined to create a lot of beautiful things together, and full of lovely lessons along the way.
Patty Andrews says
My needlepoint journey began 52 years ago as a new bride. My new mother-in-law was a wonderful stitcher and she asked if I would like to learn, too. I eagerly accepted and I have reaped the benefits for decades. I love that you are spreading your love to others as you always share your hospitality!
I look forward to seeing you tonight.
Mary Raterman says
Want a custom canvas with house and Monarch Farms to needlepoint. Who in Tampa FL could do this?
Marian DeMott says
So enjoying your writing and reflections! Thanks for sharing all your creativity.
Milana Chernick Cox says
My stitching story began 55 years ago when I was 10. My outstanding, loving mother had fine motor coordination problems and did not stitch. One day, she asked me to sew a button back onto dad’s shirt. I discovered sewing was fun. By 14, I had completed my first needlepoint project and have been stitching ever since. When my 3 daughters were babies, I didn’t produce much, but as they grew older, I was able to return to my passion. Now at 65 and “retired”, I am part of a passionate stitching group at my favorite LNS and learning yet more fresh techniques and stitches.
Katherine Sasser says
Milana, what a beautiful story. I love how stitching made its way into your life at an early age and has carried you through all the seasons of life.
Gary Lee Anerson says
I HAVE DONE NEEDELPOINT FOR SIXTY PLUS YEARS. IT KEPT ME OUT OF OF
MISCHIEF. In 1978, I HAD THREE CHAIRS MSTOLEN. I STARTED OVER. I LOVE DOING IT.
Sara Blasingame says
I have done needlepoint off and on with crosstitch, embroidery, crochet and etc since I was nine years old. Then as they say life got in the way plus 4 daughters, divorce, and working 2jobs, back-to-back for 7 years 7days a week till it took a toll on my health and my Dr. Said I needed to slow down before it got worse do a hobby with my spare time. Then I remember what I use to do ,now I going to start doing needlepoint & etc. again.
Katherine Sasser says
Sara, one of my favorite things about stitching is how it forces me to slow down and take it one tiny stitch at a time. I’m glad your hobby is serving your health!
Since being disabled years ago, I shop and explore every needlepoint related resource I can find on Internet and elsewhere.
I LOVE needlepoint and want to learn how to be a stitcher! I live in a rural area with no access to a needlepoint supply store, classes, etc. Although Im lacking in confidence that I can teach myself, I want to try. I want to be a stitcher more than anything. Can anyone recommend the best books, tutorials, etc for a beginning stitcher?.
Katherine Sasser says
Tara, I learned to needlepoint simply by watching a variety of free videos on the internet. There are so many out there for the taking! In fact, many needlepoint artists include a simple stitch guide with each canvas. I hope this helps!
Thank you! It does help! I’ve never been a creative person so anything artistic or crafty, is intimidating. lol I believe needlepoint is a form of art and I love it’s history. The expense associated with buying needlepoint projects/kits also made me ask myself (being on such a limited budget now) “What if I can’t figure it out?” I’ve invested a substantial amount. I’m going u o take your kind feedback and try as I really think needlepoint I’d a beautiful art!@ Thank you so very much!!
Terry Mead says
Tara I am in an area with no needlepoint shops. I would recommend purchasing a canvas that has a stitch guide. You can call and the shop will get the canvas, stitch guide and they will pull thread for you. Stitches to Go is a wonderful and very easy to use book of stitch diagrams. I believe it is under $30. It will be the only book you need for a long time. The stitch guide will lead you step by step and show you diagrams of how to do the stitches. Start small so you don’t get intimidated. You tube has great videos. Needlepoint.com has canvases with guides and a option to buy the thread. Patricia Sone has some really pretty small projects that come with a guide, and you could tell the shop to pull the thread for you. I hope you will love it as I do. I’ve been stitching 52 years! Terry Mead
Samantha L Dillard says
I remember when I was 7 8 years old my mother sitting me down in between her legs and teaching me how to crochet then a little later in life doing the same thing with needlepoint between her and my grandmother I have such love for needle point and plastic canvas and crossed stitch crocheting now both of them are gone but I still have that memory as well as the ability and love for all of those items