As I’ve mentioned (again and again) my love of needlepoint, both the product and the process, a few readers have emailed occasionally to say, “Hey, where do you find your projects?” Because, honestly, some canvases are a smidge dated. I’ve had a lot of my canvases painted by our local needlepoint shop, the Studio
, but I fear not every one is so lucky as to have such a nice resource.
But there are lot of fresh patterns whether you are enhancing living room, child’s room or den. These butterflies
would be unbelievable finished.
could add a graphic dash of style and color
to tired sofas everywhere.
Some canvases are sold as kits, regardless, Art Needlepoint is happy to pull yarn of any variety for your project. Custom specifications available. If you stitch quick you still have time to get a project completed by Christmas. That’s what I’m hoping anyway.
All images courtesy of Art Needlepoint.
A friend is considering stitching a rug. “Do it!” I proclaim, “Stitching is so soothing.” Like a rosary, the repetitive motion is thoughtless; it steadies the mind, allowing it to take liberties. Rhythmic and reassuring, the threading of the needle causing pause and concentration, then the rasp of the wool against the canvas. In and out, over and over. And if your reverie is disturbed by the slo-mo of the replay or the recount of the trivia of the day, it matters not. Not like losing the place on your page, the interruption of critical dialogue or the bother of the counting, purling, or casting off. If you are good, or practiced at least, you can look up over the edge of your glasses and offer a meaningful, “Mmmm-hmmmm,” or, “Wow, that is really something,” without so much as a hesitation. Even if you are not, if this is a new endeavor, you can just stop, needle half in this stitch, half in that, while you confirm that, yes, of course you are watching, listening, before you travel on your way to the resolution of the day’s tangled threads.
The image, above, is of the late Russell Lynes
, a writer, who, at the time of its publication (HG, January 2003) was the president of the MacDowell Colony
. The piece was a reprint of an article from July, 1972. Of his passion for needlepointing Lynes said, “As we grow up we become more and more confined by patterns of socially acceptable behavior. But how we spend our leisure does not need to conform to patterns. What I stitch into a canvas is what I feel like putting there.” He also noted, “Needlepoint nearly took over my house.” This is something I can completely understand.
Photography by Dean Brown.
Everything seems muddled. Nothing is quite coming into focus which makes it hard to act and I am very bad at waiting. Letting the universe reveal itself to me has never been a strong point.
So when I had coffee today with a very wise woman I was hoping she would be something of a lens. What she told me surely, with steady gaze and firm conviction, was that it is good to try new things. And that not everything goes as expected. And sometimes that is better. When I asked direct questions she just shook her head slightly and said, “I don’t know; you’ll find out.” And we moved on.
Literally and figuratively back to her house where she very generously loaned me some books. Self-help? Philosophy? Poetry? No. Needlepoint books. Vintage needlepoint books. Needlepoint has always brought comfort in process and in plumpness and these books have offered more comfort than piles of eider down quilts.
“Black and white mark the outer limits in tonal value. There is nothing darker than black nor lighter than white. When the two are used together they generate more visual excitement than two shades of gray used together. The closer the tonal value the greater the loss of contrast, therefore the greater the loss of drama and excitement..”
I’m not a girl for gray and muddled. Universe, bring on the black and white, the drama and excitement.
All this beautiful work is by Stephen Knollenberg who was featured in the May/June issue of Chicago Home + Garden. These images are used with Mr. Knollenberg’s permission from his site. Photography is as follows: top three, Beth Singer, next two, Gordon Beall and last, Dana Hoff. The quote is Maggie Lane from Needlepoint by Design.
Normally, I would have stitched on the plane. Stitching on planes is especially handy if you actually want to talk to the person sitting next to you. Handier still if the person sitting next to you is the sort who continues to talk even if you are reading.
I turned my last project in to the Studio before the holidays and have yet to provide them with fabric for backing the pillow. Without this closure I have been unable to move on to the next canvas, though three hang in my closet. I am floundering on both fronts.
In the meantime, I saw a post on another blog about a book, Needlepoint Design by Louis J. Gartner, Jr., a former House & Garden editor. So taken with the images I found there, I bought the book.
And its companion More Needlepoint Design. (Hey, he had a good thing going with Needlepoint Design; why screw it up?)
Several readers have asked about needlepointing, creating your own canvases, finishing, etc. It’s all in here. Mr. Gartner was kind enough to include instructions on basic stitching and materials as well as black and white designs that he encourages his readers to modify both in form and size.
There are many engaging designs, not the least of which is the rattan chair seat that appears to need a bit of faux repair. This is the kind of thing that delights me, this project featuring imperfection so carefully wrought.
You can find Needlepoint Design and More Needlepoint Design via a quick web search. I acquired both volumes for under two dollars total.
All images are from the aforementioned books; I could not find a photography credit. The scans are mine, though several of the same appear on Balustrade & Bitters.