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Past times for a Lifetime

12 October, 2013 / Jules Reid / COMMENTS (0)


N E E D L E P O I N T.   N E E D L E P O I N T. What a way to relax. A way to create art and still be present with your guests and family. Who feels guilty when you have company but are DYING to read a book or watch something on TV?

My first needlepoint kit. Completed in 1976.

Needlepoint is something I learned from my mother, my aunt and my grandmother when I was 10 years old. We were vacationing on Crystal Lake in Michigan when they taught me to thread the needle, learn the continental stitch… and away I went. My first creation still hangs in my library. How appropriate and sooooo 70′s.

One of the most influential needlepoint women of the age, I believe, was…. Maggie Lane. Her first book Needlepoint by Design published in 1970 really brought the past time the the forefront. The genre was Variations on Chinese Themes. Maggie’s idea was to pick a central motif and then pick and interchange the border. This allowed the reader/needlepointer to essentially create a one of a kind piece. Maggie Lane was born in China and came to the US right before Pearl Harbor. Maggie believed that needlework was not WORK for her, but her main outlet of creation as well as recreation. A HA~ a pleasing past time! Maggie Lane lived and worked in New York City.

Maggle Lane Needlepoint books from the 70′s.

This piece has the most varying stitches. The bandit fish and the sewn on jewels were my first try at anything other than basketweave.

There are so many various stitches you can learn to do in needlepoint, but the easiest and the most common is the traditional basketweave stitch. It keeps the canvas straight and doesn’t allow it to get out of center as you complete your work. Also, the back of the canvas looks like a piece of art as well… This is the stitch that we see most often when we find needlepoint belts, pillows or coasters.

An owl pillow I did while pregnant with my 3rd son.

For me, needlepointing is easier AND more relaxing than cross stitch. The main difference being that in cross stitch, you have to count and start with a completely blank canvas. With needlepointing, the artwork is already painted onto the canvas before you begin. One of my favorite needlepoint shops is in NYC on the Upper East side called Woolworks on East 81st Street. They do custom canvases and have a variety of choices to select. If you purchase a canvas with them, the wool is handpicked and comes with your needlepoint.

I completed this is 2000, heartbreakingly right before 9/11. I found this in a great needlepoint shop in Naples, Florida and completely changed to colors… making the 2 Twin Towers metallic pink.

On my kitchen wall at the beach house. I try to remember this every day, even those days that we do’t feel so good.

A chair in my little boys room which holds many of the pillows I have made. The ottoman is covered in a large turtle by Maggie Lane. The alphabet pillow I made during my first pregnancy.

When I go into someone’s space and find needlepoint pieces, it makes my feel more at home. I love the chance to look at someone’s unique work and think of the hours they spent completing their project. The best projects are one’s that stand the test of time, and become pieces in your children and even your grandchildren’s homes as time goes by.

This door stopper is my children’s favorite. It has the wrappers of the best candy bars on all 5 sides. Finished with a red velvet base and covering a brick, it makes you happy when you see it.

 This pillow says it all.

Probably one of the most rewarding pieces I have done. I had fun changing the colors the ladies wear and the patterns as well. I thought a lot about Maya Angelou when I was working on this.

Some needlepoint “ladies” in shops can be a bit intimidating, to say the least! I had to learn to get thicker skin as I came into the store after doing part of a project, only to have an employee scold me for not consistently using the same TYPE of thread on a canvas. The excitement  of it to me… is changing the type of thread from regular DMC, to metallic threads, to wool, to silk/wool. Picking varying types of thread as well as changing the colors of the painting canvas is what makes this pastime FUN. You can make your piece completely original by choosing to use colors that are not shown as the original painted colors on the canvas.

SO dive in and create a something original~ a lasting heirloom for your boyfriend, husband, children or even your best friend!

Bye for now, Jules