Making Matters. A Backstory About Needlepoint

My love affair with needlepoint began in Oshkosh, WI as a result of my deep friendship with Dorothy Gram. Although she was long past retirement age when I met her, Dorothy was the manager of a Seifert’s retail clothing store in the area. She always laughed that HR had her down as age 58. 

I moved to Cedar Rapids, IA (Dorothy’s son was then a professor in Iowa City, a mere 30 miles away) and then to Little Rock, AR continuing my needlepoint hobby using the standard tent stitch. Dorothy and I visited back and forth. She even flew to Houston to see me at one point. 

All handwork interested me but when I moved to Albuquerque, NM in 1989 I abandoned everything but needlepoint. My needlepoint morphed to the higher levels, thanks to the supervision, instruction and high benchmarks set by Ruth Williamson, owner of the Nifty Needle Needlepoint shop.

Truth is, I walked into her shop with a cat piece I’d purchased in New Orleans rolled in my bag. Ruth quickly straightened me out. I left with my needlepoint “properly mounted” on stretcher bars, so my stitches would be even. 

Shortly thereafter I began stitching every Tuesday evening in a group hosted at The Nifty Needle. Four of us still stitch today, though less frequently. And, I’m often beading at our afternoon stitch-ins. Hundreds of canvases and “tools of the week” later, I credit needlepoint with saving my sanity. We passionately pursued designers, tools and all things needlepoint related. We stitched at retreat events, in structured class settings and every Tuesday evening.

I traveled with needlepoint because I could talk and stitch. Weekends at the Lake, trips to Europe and Canada, road trips to Missouri and more. I visited needlepoint stores in every city. My stitching was a daily habit and, until I found beads and the place of no pattern in 2007, needlepoint was an all-consuming hobby. (The place of no pattern referred to my original design; most of my needlepoint embellished pre-painted canvases.) After 2007, my shift to beads changed that.

I honor the maker spirit in all of us as I honor this needlepoint ornament with a post. While most of my needlepoint designs are not my own, the stitching and finishing includes many hours of “Mary Ellen” handwork. This ornament was made with love – love for color, texture and stitching. My hope is that you will discover Joy in everyday artisan creations as I’ve done and think fondly of maker magic in the process.

See other maker projects here or here. The American Craft Council, the leading arts nonprofit cultivating a culture of making, states: “making matters.”

What will you make today?

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