My Fascination with Needlepoint
Y’all…the Curious Cowgirl has a hard time sitting still. Anybody else? When I have down time, I still putter around, finding projects, looking for this and that to keep myself busy. Even while watching TV, I almost always have something in my lap to work on. My very wise Mom knows me well, and in my early 20’s, I was facing a situation where I would be sitting for a few days, not in my own home with easy access to things that would keep me busy….so in the interest of helping me avoid a quasi-International incident, she suggested I learn how to needlepoint. I could keep busy, but also continue to make polite conversation. And eye-contact. And not lose my mind. And….Hello my name is Mary, The Curious Cowgirl…I became addicted to needlepoint!
Needlework of any kind is interesting to me. Whether it’s needlepoint, cross-stitch, knitting, embroidery, or quilting, I admire fine needlework, knowing the hours and hours the creator spent on a particular piece. When Will and I attend antique shows, I am always drawn to needlework, whether its quilts, samplers, or even silk embroidered battle flags. I even totally love the antique pin cushons!
Personally, I only needlepoint, and simply love the process. It’s fun for me to look at the various painted canvases, and then choose interesting threads I will use to complete the project. Over the years, I have collected many different canvases and fibers….to the point that I have a couple of large tubs to store all my supplies. See…..Hello my name is Mary…..addicted! In addition to my Mom who got me started, my next tutor was Diana Strauss, whose needlepoint is so unbeleivably amazing, particulalry at Christmas, I could spend hours looking at each and every piece, and never leave her home….but that would be super awkward, right? My first real project was my son’s Christmas stocking, which was a pretty big undertaking for a novice needlepointer, but Diana was so encouraging, and she showed me several different stitches, which were not hard, but made me feel like a real needlepointing rock star. Also, precious Margaret, who is deceased now, but worked at a store in Dallas two days a week, was very instructive. I could bring in a project, and she would spend up to an hour with me discussing the various stitches I could use to make the final product really special, and which fibers would be best to select. She was such an angel, and I truly cried big ugly tears the day the shop called to tell me Margaret was gone.
90% of my needlepoint is Christmas-related, but Halloween is always fun too! I also needlepointed a pillow for my parents many years back….that was a fun project, and it now lives at our family ranch in East Texas. And years ago, I belonged to a fun group of needlepointers. We called our monthly gatherings “Stitch & Bitch” and we had a total ball!
When I travel, I always try to find a needlepoint store to visit. In recent years, that’s become harder. I don’t know if the younger generation is not learning needlework anymore, or if retail space is so pricy, it’s hard to operate a successful needlework business. And while I can find canvases on line, I feel strongly about supporting locally owned shops, that are preserving a hobby that I dearly love, and hope will never disappear.
In Dallas, Needlepoint This on Lovers Lane has a huge selection of canvases, and hundreds of different fibers. In the center of the store is a huge table, where customers can come and sit and work on pieces, enjoying the company of other needlepointers and exchanging ideas.
In New York City, I love Annie and Company. Located on the Upper East Side at 2nd between 91st and 92nd, I found every single employee so kind and willing to help! They special-ordered a canvas for me, set me up with a punch card for freebies on down the road, and encouraged me to come back on Wednesday nights from 6:30-8:30 to join other needlepointers around their big table. LOVE!
So, how do I “level up” you might wonder….well, as far as I am concerned, the Battle of the Alamo of Needlepoint is the State Fair of Texas Creative Arts competition. I enter every year, and have won some respectable ribbons…but not the elusive 1st Place blue….and believe me….when the Fair opens up, I am front and center in the Women’s Building, carefully studying all the prize winners for technique tips, fancy stitch ideas, and general inspiration. Obsessive? Maybe a teensy bit, but hey….I’m competitive y’all!
So, needlepointers out there….please tell me where your favorite shops are around the country! I will absolutely make sure to pay them a visit and drag home another canvas or two!!!! Let’s keep each other in stitches!!!!
P.S. Curious Cowgirl has a confession to make. After I completed my son’s needlepoint stocking (he was about two), of course I had to do one for my daughter. And y’all….you can’t hang only one child’s stocking up each Christmas if there’s more than one child…so years went by, and no stockings were hung by the chimney with care. Years. Years to the point that I had to ask dear friend Mary Kay Whaley to help me finish my daughter’s stocking. That’s not the shameful part. The shameful part is…my daughter was like eleven or twelve before I waved the white yarn of surrender. So, my children literally have no idea that stockings are a THING at Christmas. Yes, they both have one now. Yes, I hang their stockings by the chimney with care every Christmas. But there’s nothing ever inside on Christmas morning….because they don’t know there’s supposed to be.
P.P.S. I now have two step-sons. Do I need to needlepoint stockings for them? Sigh….hopefully I’ll get those done before they reach their early forties.
If you love needlepoint, you will love this post about Needlepoint Teacher Patricia Sone!