https://poppypointe.blogspot.com/2020/08/finishing-tips-perhaps-before-we-talk.html

Newsy News!
July 09, 2024

Newsy News!

Some news from our most recent newsletters!

https://mailchi.mp/poppypointe/kicking-off-july

https://mailchi.mp/poppypointe/summer-sun-somethings-begun

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Spring Market 2024
March 21, 2024

Spring Market 2024

We are about to hit Charlotte for what looks to be a fun market! Please check out our latest newsletter for shop happenings!

https://mailchi.mp/poppypointe/market-previews

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April 08, 2021

Some local resources and activities

 

This last year has been remarkable for how much it changed and how much remained the same.  I have found myself pulling inward to cope with all of the stresses - and looking at my own experiences, biases and what I contribute to making others feel safe and comfortable.

I normally celebrate all of these random holidays - like National Cotton Candy Day or National Iced Tea Day.  You may have noticed that I didn’t publicly celebrate Black History Month or Womens’ History Month these last few months.  In fact, I think the stories shared during these months should be part of history and not separate.  

Having said that, I’ve tried to honor the meaning of the events from these last few months by highlighting some stories that deserve a wider audience - using several local resources.  These are resources that I’ve explored to check my own privileges as a white woman.  They offer my children role models that I can’t find in their own history books.  They share stories that we might not have heard, and they help us grapple with the dichotomy of Charlottesville.  These organizations also offer many local and virtual programs if you wish to explore yourself.  And as always, I welcome commentary and suggestions for my own further education and to share with others. 

As I’ve gotten older and hopefully wiser, I’ve learned so much more about the world, about needlepoint and design, about people, and about myself.  The biggest lesson is that I have so much more to learn, and that opportunities for growth are everywhere. The more diverse my world, the richer it becomes. I hope to honor some people who are helping me along my journey.  I also recognize the many privileges I have been afforded.  And I recognize and acknowledge  that what these organizations mean to me have different meanings to others.  

Jefferson School African American Heritage Center

The Jefferson School City Center houses many different organizations under one roof, including Carver Recreation Center, The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, Common Ground, Pearl River Catering (YUM), The Womens’ Initiative and several other health and education focused organizations. 

I am going to focus on the programs that the Jefferson School African American Center offers.  We are lucky to have such an organization in our community, as they honor and preserve the heritage and legacy of the African - American community.  They promote, through their theatre, arts and lecture programs, a greater understanding and appreciation of the contributions of African Americans locally, nationally and globally.   

In recent years, as part of their Living Education series, they offered August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle, a series of 10 plays which which chronicle the experiences and heritage of the African-American community in the 20th century.  

What I’ve appreciated as I raised my own children is the programming and research for local educators to supplement their lessons with more information about African American history.   They have several permanent exhibitions that celebrate African American art, as well as many temporary exhibitions by Afrian American artist.   

Lastly, they offer virtual lectures, most recently highlighting the roles that African American women made in advancing the Nineteenth Amendment.

For more information, please visit them in person or virtually https://jeffschoolheritagecenter.org/

The Kluge-Ruhe Museum

The Kluge-Ruhe is the only museum outside of Australia dedicated to the exhibition and study of Indigenous Australian art.  It is located near the grounds of the new Martha Jefferson/Sentara Hospital, and it is part of the UVA Arts program.

We salute the Kluge-Rule for its culture of inclusivity and respect for native and indigenous artists.  As we explored the exhibitions, we were impressed by the sensitivity to the needs of the artists whose work is represented.

The museum highlights the challenges that many indigenous artists face. It gives the artists outreach and a voice to tell their stories. Some are stories of triumph, some of  despair. Many have story lines parallel to the histories of Civil Rights and Native American Rights in the USA.

 

The museum’s efforts help open new markets to many of the artists they have showcased as well. Museum staff works closely with artists to establish trust. They respect the artists’ wishes about where and how their art is to be displayed. The museum is keenly aware of the egregious harm and appropriation that has been done to indiginous peoples throughout history. At Kluge-Ruhe, the artists represented have chosen to have their work shared with a wider, international audience. 

 

When artists were able to travel here for residencies, the audience who heard their stories and saw their work was vastly expanded.  In many cases, this opened up new art markets for these artists, giving them financial empowerment.

The museum offers in person and virtual tours of their exhibits, which include paintings, fiber arts and textiles. We are grateful they are part of the Charlottesville community.  For a virtual tour of a recent exhibit showcasing Fiber Art, please follow this youtube link: With Her Hands: Women’s Fiber Art from Gapuwiyak | The Louise Hamby Gift.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AjudNOK07Q

For more information about visiting the museum, which is open by reservation, please visit them online https://kluge-ruhe.org/.

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A Conversation with Designer Paige Lauster of Blue Ridge Stitchery
January 23, 2021

A Conversation with Designer Paige Lauster of Blue Ridge Stitchery

We recently had the opportunity to spend some time talking with Paige Lauster, the talented designer behind the eye-catching canvases at Blue Ridge Stitchery. Paige shared with us a little bit about her journey from corporate finance to needlepoint design, and what has honed her eye as an artist. It’s a journey that has its roots at the foot of the blue ridge mountains in Charlottesville, Virginia, but which also spans Europe, India, and now her home for the last 20 years, Cleveland, Ohio.

 

Paige grew up on a cattle farm just outside Charlottesville, VA. She recalls enjoying time spent with her godmother at  The Chimney Corner, where there was a stitching and knitting section. After high school, she attended Virginia Tech, studying accounting and finance. She became a CPA, and ultimately obtained her MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Darden is where Paige met her husband Stefan, who is originally from Munich, Germany. The couple lived and worked abroad for many years, first in Munich then in Mumbai, India. They had their first child in Germany and two more children while living in India. 

 

Launching a New Career

After returning to the United States, Paige and her family settled in Cleveland. She spent the next chapter immersed in family life, but always found time to stitch and knit. While not formally trained as an artist, Paige has made things all her life (even as a child, she made Barbie clothes out of newspaper!). In Cleveland, she patronized local needlepoint store, Wool & Willow, so frequently that she became - and still is – an employee. Paige credits the welcoming and inspiring community of Wool & Willow for helping her transition from enthusiast to designer, noting the support of designers like Joanna of The Plum Stitchery, as well as many others who gave pointers as she began to create her own canvases. 

 

Paige noted that there was a heavy concentration of designers in Texas and further west who were creating incredible designs, but that she wasn’t seeing canvases that spoke to her experiences of growing up in the Blue Ridge. She formally launched her business in April 2019 and saw almost immediate success. Interestingly, the growth of Blue Ridge Stitchery has occurred almost exclusively through social media and word of mouth. Facebook and Instagram are the primary streams, and Paige notes that it has all felt very organic.

 

When asked how it felt to pivot into such a different career path, Paige responds cheerfully, “My superpower is that ‘I think I can.’ What have I got to lose?” This positive attitude has served her well as an entrepreneur and as an artist.

 

Inspiration

Paige stitches what she loves. It started with reminders of home. She refers to driving over Afton mountain in central Virginia and seeing the sweeping views of the hills and valleys below, saying, “even today, it still gives me goosebumps.” Dogwoods, cardinals, and iconic University of Virginia images all make up her Blue Ridge series. The Munich series, not surprisingly, is inspired by her time in Germany, replete with lederhosen and steins of beer.  A hike on the Appalachian Trail for several nights was transformative. Paige says, “getting out there on the ridge line and unplugging was a great way to recharge.” Elements of nature can be found throughout her work. Travels to Hawaii and love of her current “hometown,” Cleveland, also serve as creative inspirations. 

 

Design Process

Paige’s process is ever evolving. She typically begins by taking lots of photos, trying to capture inspiring images. She uses a digital program to make sketches from the photograph, tinkering until she’s happy with the design. She exports that image to a computer program, makes a black and white outline of the original image, and places that under the canvas. Then she starts again from scratch: mixing paint colors and recreating the design within the constraints of a grid. She makes a master painting on canvas with acrylic paint. This original is what is sent out to painting services for reproduction. Paige observes that many of these services are abroad and the supply chains have been disrupted by Covid-19.

 

Creative Process

Paige is candid about the benefit of walking away from a piece of work when fresh eyes are needed to assess what’s in process. She states, “Even a little distance can be good. It’s important to learn to sit with the discomfort of a design that isn’t shaping up to what it seemed to be in the mind’s eye. It’s very much a part of the process. There is something good in the work somewhere, and I’m learning that even ‘OK’ designs can grow on me.”

 

Paige finds that a benefit to working in a needlepoint shop is having an ear to the ground regarding what customers are seeking in the way of new designs. She is available to customers and fellow stitchers and listens to what they do and don’t like, what their interests are, and where there is an unmet need. That said, it’s important for her to stick to her own voice and vision. She tries not to be too influenced by all the fun things that come into the shop, or by social media.  It gives her a chance to explore new thread colors and to see what other innovations are happening.

 

Philosophy

Paige has firm beliefs about the stitcher’s role in her design work. “It’s important to claim each canvas as your own. Don’t feel obliged to follow some rule, don’t worry about insulting the designer. Change color. Experiment. Take license to make each work your own. Each person sees and interprets color differently. It’s totally fine to let your creativity take over once the piece is in your hands.”  

 

Favorite Threads?

When asked about threads, Paige replies that she uses almost everything. She likes pepper pot silk for basic stitching, as well as vineyard silk, silk road straw, and rainbow threads for a touch of sparkle or shine. 

 

Advice for Designers and Stitchers

When it comes to advice for would-be designers and stitchers, Paige invokes her, “what do you have to lose?” mantra. She states, “It’s best not to worry too much. You don’t need all the answers when you start. Get a canvas and some paint and give it a try. Don’t let worry about perfection keep you from the enjoyment of the art. When stitching, don’t worry about the back of the canvas. Be open to the fun and experimentation. Your local shop can help with getting better, and there are tutorials on the internet. It’s also ok to tear things out if you don’t like how they are going. It’s not much fun, but it’s perfectly ok. Stitchers tend to feel bound by rules and code, but no one should judge you and you will improve in time. It’s a process, but in the end, it’s needlepoint, right? It really is all going to be ok.”

 

Future Work

Businesses of all types have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, and the needlepoint industry is no exception. The major market shows were canceled this past spring, which prohibited Blue Ridge Stitchery from launching to shops in person. With new stitchers taking off and old stitchers coming out of the woodwork, demand for canvases is very high. There was  a virtual market at the end of October and Blue Ridge Stitchery revealed 7 new designs, several of which are now in the shop.

 

Orange and Blue?

Poppypointe is located in Charlottesville, VA, alongside one of Paige’s alma maters, The University of Virginia. We couldn’t resist asking Paige what she really thinks about the school’s emblematic colors, blue and orange. Paige confessed to having divided loyalties, as her undergraduate work was at UVA rival Virginia Tech (whose colors are maroon and orange). By naming her company after the mountains that run between the two schools, she is spared from having to reveal any preference for one over the other. Clever!

 

Many thanks to the talented Paige Lauster of Blue Ridge Stitchery for sharing her time and her creative philosophy with us.  We love her canvases, and we can barely keep them in stock! 

 

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Needlepointing Life's Events
October 21, 2020

Needlepointing Life's Events

One of the things I love about needlepoint is that there is always a reason to stitch. 


A Personal Touch


Why is needlepoint particularly well-suited for personalized projects?  In today’s world where so many things can be obtained with the click of a button and received within a day, there is something special about lovingly creating something homemade. Slowing down and taking time to think of the occasion, the recipient, and the future use of the product invests the work with a very personal touch. Also, everywhere around us are things for which we don’t know the provenance. When you take time to choose an inspiring canvas, to select the threads and the finishing elements, and to complete the stitching, there is a built-in history to the final product. 


Recent interactions with customers have clarified just how perfectly needlepoint can highlight a myriad of life events. Several weeks ago, I connected a customer with designer Ann Wheat Pace.  Ann designed a ring bearer pillow to be used for the first of the customer’s 4 children to get married.  What a cherished heirloom it will be! It was lovely to see the care and time put into a keepsake that will be used on such a happy and momentous occasion. 


Another customer is working with  Caroline Brand of Cabell Stitchery to design a canvas he will stitch for a friend as a gift.  It is the logo of the friend’s long-owned family business - once the gift has been given, we can share the identity of the lucky recipient.  


There truly is a canvas for whatever life interests you have or whatever occasion you wish to commemorate. In fact, keep an eye on social media for the hashtag “there is a canvas for that.” We will be using it to highlight the many creative and thoughtful ways needlepoint projects can mark life events. 



Highlighting Hobbies


When it comes to other hobbies, needlepoint projects can support a favorite sport or team, show school spirit for an alma mater, celebrate a milestone like a bar mitzvah, or highlight a love of nature, cooking, holidays…the list goes on and on. Whether for oneself or for a gift, there are so many ways to mark an occasion with a unique item that caters to the interests of the intended recipient.  The beauty that comes through in the colors and the stitches can transform a fun idea into something that will be treasured. 


Recently, I’ve had multiple grandmothers come into the shop to find projects honoring their grandchildrens’ interests.  A belt for a grandson in honor of his first year in college.  Celebrating joining a sorority.  A grandchild who loves cats, horses, dinosaurs, baseball - we see so many varied hobbies that can be captured by a stitching hobby.  


One customer has a holiday tree with ornaments for every holiday.  Easter, Valentine’s day, Memorial Day/July 4th, Fall themed, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas.  It is a lovely way to celebrate with the brightly colored pieces.


One customer is looking to start her granddaughter on needlepointing by working on a project together.  Another finished ornaments with sloths on them.  Several recently made gorgeous stockings for their grands.


It is especially poignant to see the pieces that are being created during our forced isolation. Sadly, many of my customers are not able to see family because of COVID restrictions.  The need to minimize exposure risks, along with the fact that many family members live far away from each other, means that people have been separated from loved ones for a long time. It is humbling to see these loving gestures that say to someone, “I was thinking of you when I made this.” 


Celebrations and Connections


Needlepoint can help connect us to friends and family.  Needlepoint projects are wonderful ways to recognize milestone events.  Happy or sad times, we can stitch projects to honor these times and the loved ones in our lives.   


Our new normal has made us look differently how we celebrate.  Pop-up weddings, drive through graduations, virtual reunions….in some ways, I kind of like this new normal, despite the sadness that COVID has brought.


The act of stitching itself is a therapeutic way of dealing with grief, loss, and the stressors all around us.  We  honor the loss of a pet or loved one by stitching a project.  One customer recently completed a personalized picture frame using her late dog’s name and decorative motifs of the dog’s favorite things - bones and balls - and she has placed a gorgeous photo of her dog in the frame. Even in loss, she finds happy memories from this needlepoint piece.


I find myself inspired by nostalgia these days.  Maybe it is that I am about to turn 50 or that my oldest hopefully will be leaving for college.  Maybe it is latent grief due to the passing of my father this year - or the more recent passing of a good friend .  He owned a favorite bar in my hometown and would always let us in despite us being under 21 - we just wanted a place to hang out (promise).  Regardless, like many of us, I am in a strange space right now.  When our trunk shows arrived earlier this month, I immediately bought the Prince canvas from Thorn Alexander/KCN Designers.  It reminded me of my college years and my good  friends - of simpler times, of fun parties, dancing and even bad karaoke.  Yes, even though Prince and I share the same birthday, I know he is a way better singer.   I don’t know if I will frame the piece, make a pillow, put it onto a bag or something else (open to ideas), but it brought me to a happy place and time.  And that is one of the reasons why I love stitching.


No Wrong Answer in Needlepoint


There are many tricks and hacks to making needlepoint easier.  And there are many ways to stitch a project.  There are some schools of thought where stitching is only this way.  OR that way.  OR my way or the highway.


My philosophy is that if I am making something for someone, the joy is in the process.  I want it to look good of course (thank you, amazing finishers).  I don’t always follow the rules and I expect that if I have grandchildren, which better not be for a loooooooooooong time, my work will be PERFECT by then.  Mistakes happen but the end result is that someone has a piece lovingly handmade for them.  Admittedly, some things might be grudgingly made too, but that is for another post.


My eldest daughter’s Christmas stocking is the first needlepoint project I took on as an adult. As a more seasoned stitcher, when I look at it now I have to resist the urge to redo it! And, believe me, I’ve offered, cajoled, begged to redo it.  My sweet daughter refuses to let me because it has value to her even though I see the flaws in it.   She has used it for every Christmas, and  her memories are tied to this stocking.


To me, this is a great reminder that we are our own worst critics and we miss the biggest takeaway here.  In truth, people cherish a thoughtful, homemade gift, especially when it has been made and given with love.  

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Should I join a club, group or guild?
September 27, 2020

Should I join a club, group or guild?

Should I join a stitching group or guild?


The answer is a resounding yes! Here are our thoughts on what benefits there are to joining a group or a guild. Before delving into this topic more deeply, however, please be aware that many groups are meeting virtually, if at all during this COVID time. Be sure to confirm whether meetings are in-person, virtual, or on hiatus for now. 


Where to find stitching groups? 

There are 2 guilds and a myriad of other groups to explore.


The Embroidery Guild of America (EGA) and the American Needlepoint Guild (ANG) are two national guilds with very active local chapters.


EGA is a membership organization dedicated to the art of embroidery.  The guild offers free and paid education courses, outreach programs in the community, preservation programs, judge certification programs, and national seminars. EGA’s focus is to foster the art of embroidery.  For more information, please visit www.egausa.org .  Our local chapter is fairly active, and they recently created heart ornaments for our local Hospice. There is a fee to join, and typically one would join the national organization and then add on chapter membership for an additional fee.


ANG is a membership organization dedicated to the art of needlepoint.  Like EGA, ANG offers free and paid courses, extensive programming, and a myriad of training programs.  There are many very active chapters in Virginia.  They offer a national seminar, which was held virtually this year.  You can join  the national organization and then add on chapter membership for an additional fee.  Many chapters allow non-resident members so you can join a chapter that is very active.  


Here is what one local chapter leader shared with me about her experiences with a guild.


I was fortunate to be introduced to needleart at a young age.  I worked my way up from charted cross stitch, to black work, to counted canvas and now painted canvas...but my very first piece was a painted canvas when i was around 9 which my Aunt helped me persevere thru.  Years ago, I was able to attend a national ANG seminar with my Aunt in PA - I was in needlepoint heaven!  The work on display was amazing and inspiring.  Oh and the classes were just magical.  I love to take classes and hope for an opportunity to be in an in-person class again one of these days.  Being a part of PANG gives me a group of wonderful women that I've been able to share my love of needlepoint with. They've taught me so much and my stitching skills have increased with their encouragement.  They've also given me an opportunity to serve them and the needlepoint community which I'm very grateful for.


I can’t speak more highly of the two organizations.  Both groups offer training and education to stitchers.  There is no minimum skill level, so stitchers of all skills are welcome.   It is  humbling and inspiring to see what our fellow stitchers can accomplish, plus there is a generosity of spirit in what knowledge or thoughts other stitchers will kindly share with you.   


These organizations can often access teachers and teaching pieces that are not available to the general public, which is a wonderful benefit to Guild members.  Both groups cost to join, but they often can access these projects at affordable rates, helping keep the cost of the hobby somewhat lower.   I’ve also been fortunate to meet a wide variety of stitchers that I might not normally meet.  As an added bonus,  I offer special shopping days and discounts to ANG and EGA members!


Fiber Arts Groups

Charlottesville has a very active Fiber Arts Community.   The Central Virginia Fiber Arts Guild (https://cvfg.org/)  is an affiliate member of the Mid-Atlantic Fiber Arts Guild (https://mafafiber.org/).  Both organizations represent a community of members with a wide range of interests and expertise in fiber arts techniques – spinning, fiber prep, weaving, knitting, crochet, sock machines, embroidery, surface embellishment, braiding, sewing, quilting, basket making, rug making, etc.  This is a great group to explore the talent in our community, as well as explore other options within the fiber arts spectrum.


Stitch Club

Stich Club Official popped up in 2019 and organized approximately 80 stitch clubs throughout the country.  There are 4 talented needlepointers who set up and recruited close to 1000 stitchers.  Most groups share information via instagram (mainlink is below).    Meetings will vary now due to COVID, but I’d encourage you to seek out a local chapter.  Like with the guilds, this group has done a great job of attracting more people to the art and keeping it going.


https://www.instagram.com/stitchclubofficial

Little Needlepoint Shops

Many shops offer drop in stitch times - virtual or otherwise.  These are good ways to swap ideas and stitch with others.  There usually aren’t fees associated with these events, and they are purely social.  One of my stitch groups came about as a result of a class several of us took together. Several of us clicked and formed a group that meets on a monthly basis.


Stitch clubs and groups through shops are good options if you want something less formal or structured.  


With the pandemic, groups have been meeting virtually which helps overcome geographic barriers.  I know of groups that formed through these shops with stitchers from New Jersey to California.


Costs

Needlepointing can be expensive - threads, canvases, finishing, your time…you may wonder what other costs are involved with joining a group.


There are membership costs to EGA/ANG.  Membership, chapter dues, class fees, materials and travel fees if you end up going to in person seminars.  Many chapters offer affordable education and access to pieces you might not be able to find retail.  If a chapter hires a national teacher, there will be fees associated with that class.  In many cases, chapters fundraise and save money to subsidize the cost of bringing in a teacher or a specialized class.


Most groups don’t charge fees. Most shops offer groups as a courtesy - if it is a drop in embellishment group, there may be a cost associated with instruction or working with you.  



There  are a lot of benefits to joining some sort of stitch group.  Even if you aren’t a group person, the hobby gives us a connection to people  that is important.  For those familiar with Myers-Briggs, I hover between being an E (extrovert) and I (introvert).  These groups provide me with the perfect balance of some socializing, but with some structure and bonding over our love for the craft.  This commonality has helped me form friendships that transcend age, personality, politics, race, gender and helped me become a better stitcher.    And, I find that the talent runs deep in these groups.  Many members are quilters, finishers, cross-stitchers, needlepointers, knitters and more.   

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Mindfulness and Needlepoint
September 08, 2020

Mindfulness and Needlepoint

Eons ago, my first job out of graduate school was in a mental health clinic in Brooklyn, NY.  I worked with clients who had experienced severe trauma.  My primary role was to help them build coping abilities. One goal was to help the clients learn to tolerate uncomfortable emotions through mindfulness techniques.  I worked on grounding and breathing techniques, and I often created crafts with clients through an art therapy program occasionally offered at our clinic.  It was beyond challenging, but we saw small breakthroughs here and there. I realized that craft work is inherently therapeutic and that I could benefit from incorporating mindfulness into my own life.


After eventually moving to Charlottesville, I expanded my repertoire of techniques, both personally and professionally. I increased my stitching education and expanded my stitching skills. Whether parenting my children, volunteering with immigrants, or researching how to open a small business, I have found stitching to be the perfect refuge from the stresses in my life.  

 

Now, as we hit month 6 of the pandemic and try to cope with so many unknowns, I have some thoughts on the connection between needlepoint and mindfulness.

 

At its core, mindfulness is the process of slowing down and taking time to focus our full attention on where we are, and what we are thinking, feeling, and doing in the current moment. It’s the practice of being aware of and engaged with our emotions and actions as they occur, accepting them without judgement. When we are aware of our feelings at a given time, we create the opportunity to interact with others thoughtfully, as opposed to simply reacting or acting out reflexively. Mindfulness is an enormous piece of self-care and wellness, particularly given how negatively stress can affect our health.

How does crafting –stitching in particular-- relate to mindfulness?  When we engage in a task with our hands it allows our minds some space to wander, or just be. The work itself has a meditative, rhythmic quality to it, and it allows our thoughts and feelings to percolate. We can stitch while a thorny issue simmers.  Often, at the end of the time spent stitching, we have arrived at some resolution or are at least better able to tolerate the ambiguity of the situation. The kinetic aspect of stitching gives our brains a little space to pause, to reflect, and to observe our emotions without judgement. 

The Covid 19 pandemic has filled our world with uncertainty, anxiety and grief.  Questions abound regarding the health and safety of our loved ones, financial instability, how to educate our children safely, and how to navigate the constantly changing landscape. Our country is wrestling with generations of racial and cultural biases, leading to strife and civil unrest. As we try to find a way to be part of the solution, many are asking, “what is to become of us?” Stitching can help quiet the mind, can help us to sit with the discomfort of all that is whirling around us in our lives. It can be both a distraction and a way to help cope with the turmoil.

Another way mindfulness plays a role in stitching has to do with setting an intention. When I begin a project for someone, I am mindful of the purpose and the recipient. I try to make each item with gratitude toward that person for being in my life. I put good energy into my work and each item is truly a gift made with love. By putting positive thoughts toward others, I am reminded that there is something bigger than me out there, connecting us. Stitching has also been a therapeutic outlet for grief. It is a comforting ritual during difficult times. A client recently completed a beautiful personalized frame that will house a photo of a beloved pet who has passed away. It is a lovely way to honor her dog and to work through her loss.  Several customers recently shopped for their grandchildren, from whom they have been separated due to the pandemic.  They found lovely gifts for these family members - stockings, pillows, ornaments, even footstools.  We may be separated by distance or quarantine, but we can share our positive energy and hopes through our work.

Between the brilliant colors and tactile senses that the wools, silks and cotton threads provide, there is exquisite beauty in needlepoint.  There really isn’t anything like looking at a new project fully kitted and all the threads ready to be stitched.  Watching the project evolve as stitches come together can provide great comfort and peace.  And the sense of achievement as you finish the canvas is meaningful.  Recently a fellow guild member stopped by the shop with some of her works - her stitching was breathtaking.  And the ultimate compliment: with one of her pieces, I couldn’t see the difference between the front and back at first glance! 

Stitching itself can be difficult and takes focus and persistence. Doing complex, embellished stitches like French knots, turkey work, or beading requires me to be present in the effort. Working on something difficult to achieve something beautiful can be a metaphor for life. Sometimes I take on a needlepoint project that ends up being a lot more complicated than I anticipated. I’ve learned to slow down and just plug away at it. I sit with my stitching and my thoughts and I work through both. Stitching calms me. Focusing on the challenge of the task at hand recenters me, and I make progress. In the end, both the process and the product of this art can bring joy.  I sincerely hope you find the same through your own stitching.

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August 03, 2020

Finishing


Finishing Tips


Perhaps before we talk about finishing, we should take a moment to address what needlepoint actually is. I know this might be redundant for many of you, but I want new stitchers to feel as welcome as they can in the shop and with needlepoint.  


Finishing Tips


Perhaps before we talk about finishing, we should take a moment to address what needlepoint actually is. I know this might be redundant for many of you, but I want new stitchers to feel as welcome as they can in the shop and with needlepoint.  


What is Needlepoint?

Needlepoint is a kind of needlework where a variety of stitching with thread is done on a stiff, open weave canvas. The canvas can be pre-painted, or the stitching can be done counted or freeform but at its most basic level, needlepoint is a relaxing, creative endeavor that yields items that can be both beautiful and functional. 

 

Selecting a Needlepoint Canvas

When you select a canvas, it’s a good idea to have a sense of what you want to do with the completed project. You might make a patch, a pillow, a framed piece of art, shoes, a holiday ornament, a coaster, a standup tray, a wall hanging…the possibilities are almost endless. 


Knowing the future purpose of a piece in the beginning will help you plan appropriately, as you select the best threads and stitches for the project.  Thread choices vary, and they matter (use wool for coasters, and silk blend for an ornament, for example). If you have a 4” round that you want as a 12” pillow, you need to map out how to achieve your goal.  You may not want embellished stitches that can snag on a key fob that will be handled with some frequency.  This is a good time to talk to your LNS (Local Needlepoint Shop) about what finishing needs your piece might have. He or she can guide you in the right direction and tell you what their finisher’s specifications and timelines are.

 

You have chosen a canvas that inspires you, selected beautiful threads, and you’ve even successfully stitched the project. What next?  This is where finishing comes in. Finishing is the conversion of your needlepoint art into an end product that can be decorative and/or functional. 


Finishing Basics

  • Stretcher bars or no stretcher bars? I am a fan of stretcher bars.  I understand why people don’t use them, but they help retain the shape of your project.  This can cut down the blocking time.  If you regularly finish with a rhombus vs a rectangle on many of your projects, you may want to consider stretcher bars.
  • In most cases with some exceptions, you do not need to add extra stitches for finishing.   Please ask your shop or finisher about adding extra stitches.
  • For most belts and key fobs, you should add binding stitches.
  • If a self-finishing item, we can finish or you can do yourself.  You don’t need to stitch extra space, but you want to make sure it fits the size of the piece.
  • You can provide your own fabric, but not every finisher’s machine will work with it. This is something to ask the shop at the beginning of your project.  Or send a sample of the fabric to give the finisher an idea of what you’d like.  
  • It helps to provide a sense of style/color of what you want.  And talk about how it will be used - a pillow in a tv room might be used more than a pillow for a living room.  A tooth fairy pillow will be used for only a few years (if we are lucky!), but it is usually in a child’s room or in their bed.
  • Review your stitching with a magnifier to make sure you haven’t missed a stitch.  Bring leftover project threads to the finisher in case of emergency stitching to fill in if you’ve missed a stitch or two.  
  • The backs of our canvases don’t need to be perfect, but they do need to be somewhat flat for finishing.  If you need help with flattening out your threads, talk to your LNS about waste knots and starting threads.  It can mean a world of difference.
  • If you are stitching a piece that is an unusual shape, please clarify with your finisher or LNS whether you need a background stitch or how they will finish the unusual sides.  Typically, if there are spots on the canvas that are one - two stitches wide, it can create bulk when finishing.  Some finishers need a background stitch to avoid the bulk.
  • If you bead right up to the edge of the canvas, you may want to confirm with the finisher or LNS as to whether you need background stitching.  Our finishers need the stitches underneath or aside the beads for finishing.
  • Make sure you know how your finisher ships items so there is traceability.  If you ship to your finisher, put every piece into a separate plastic ziplock type  in order to protect from the elements.  We had a shopper recently ship her pieces all together in a box that was likely dropped in a puddle and delivered to us wet - heartbreakingly unsalvageable.  Please do not use old grocery bags - their logos can run if they are wet.
  • Make sure your finisher can finish the canvas or cross stitch piece - not every finisher works with every type of canvas.


Please keep in mind that with our current COVID-19 world, some fabrics are unavailable because of factory closures and travel restrictions.  Your finisher or LNS should contact you if that is the case.



Phrases You Will Hear When Discussing Finishing


Blocking

Blocking is the method used to restore your finished canvas’s shape.  Many finishers will block before finishing.  This often helps spruce up your stitches too.


Cording  

Cording ties your piece cleanly together.  You can use welting from the fabric for a pillow or include your threads to tie the piece all together.   You don’t need to supply these materials unless you wish to include them.


Fabric Selection

You will be asked about silk, velvet, suede or patterned materials for the backing of your piece.  Many finishers can embroider initials or a message onto the fabric.  Not every finisher will provide samples for you to see - but do ask your shop or finisher.


Pillow Selection

You will be asked about box pillow or knife edge, whether you want a border, about  cording/welting, and about pillow firmness.  You may be asked about using a zipper to be able to add or remove stuffing.


Holiday Stocking Options 

You select fabric for both the backing and inside of the stocking, cording/welting and how you want the hanging loop.  


If you have not personalized your stocking already, you may want to consider stitching a small ornament with initials or a name to attach to the stocking.  This gives you some flexibility.


Ornament options  

You will select fabric, cording, size, firmness, box shape / gusset, or  hanging loop or hanger.   You may be asked about the drop of the hanging loop,  because you may need a longer hanging loop for a door knob vs a holiday tree ornament.


Standup Options

Standups are popular around each holiday.  You will be asked about fabric and cording as with other projects, but here, you can talk with your shop and finisher about being creative.  Do you want a flat bottom or with feet, how thick do you want to make something and what do you envision.  You may have a discussion with the finisher about weight to ensure the piece stands up well.  Larger pieces might be trickier to finish depending on how the finisher uses weights to ensure the piece stands up.


Tray

You will select the material - acrylic or wooden insert. In some cases, especially with the acrylic pieces, your piece will be finished and then inserted, so you will be asked questions about finishing, similar to an ornament.


Patch

You will be asked about cording and the placement of your piece on clothing or a bag.  Bags can be tricky for finishers since they can be thicker than regular fabrics.  I know others may disagree, but in my opinion it is ok to use glue to adhere a piece onto a bag or clothing.  


Other Projects

There are so many other ways to use needlepoint, including the list below.  Each piece will vary in terms of questions asked about materials you prefer to use

-wreaths

-rugs

-picture frames

-bean bags

-coaster

-stuffed animals

-bricks

-wall hangings

-flip flops

-clutches/purses/cosmetic bags

-shoes

-clothing patches

-eyeglass cases (single or double sided)


Cost of Finishing

We recognize that needlepoint is an expensive hobby.  Finishing is also pricey, but here is what goes into those costs.


Time/Labor

Materials 

Expertise


Certain projects take more time depending on the complexity of the piece.  More time means more hours for the finisher, plus more materials you may need. Some materials are pricier than others.  If you are finishing canvas with open stitches, you may need extra lining to cover the backside.  This all adds up.


Finishers are experts for us. They provide us a service to make our stitching into the final art form we envision.  When we pay for finishing, we are paying for their time, materials and frankly, for their knowledge.  Most finishers have seen it all and can work with us.


Please encourage others to go into finishing.  Home economics isn’t a part of many school curricula any longer - which means that fiber artists and sewers are taught through family and friend connections.  This is wonderful, but we may have missed a generation of stitchers and finishers as a result.  



This can be tricky work, but it is creative and rewarding.  There are so many options, but there aren’t enough finishers to keep up with demand.  


Please speak up with questions about cost when bringing in finishing.  This is a service that shops provide, but no shop wants you to be kept in the dark, expense-wise.  Most shops will give you a price range.  Or you can ask what the typical expense for a certain type of project is. 


Typical cost of finishing - this is all dependent on labor, materials, etc:

-basic ornaments start $65

-stockings start $200

-standups start $75

-frogs/animals start $90

-small pillows start $100, price increases by size

-belt start $90

-key fob start $60

-blocking starts $25



Why Things Take Time in Finishing


  • Everyone has been stitching!  Due to the pandemic, people have had some time on their hands. In some cases customers are dropping off 8-10 items at a time!
  • There aren’t enough finishers – we need more people in the industry.  Home economics isn’t taught with the same frequency, or at all, as when we were in school.  
  • It has been difficult to source fabric and threads – some materials are limited by country of origin.  Factories have been closed because of COVID but now, for example in Italy, even though the factories are open, they traditionally take off the month of August.

 

Expected Timelines

You should expect a minimum of 6 weeks finishing time. Lately, the timeline has hovered around 12 weeks, in some cases. Due to a shortage of finishers, I recently had the experience of a 6 month wait for some products. 


POPPYPOINTE Deadline

As a reminder, our deadline is August 12. We will not be accepting anything after that date.  We do not store anything in the shop until finishers re-open again.  If you ship something to us after our deadlines, we will return them to you at your expense.  For holidays other than Halloween, Christmas and Hanukkah, please anticipate 6-8 weeks for most finishing projects in 2021.    



Whether you are planning your first project or are a seasoned stitcher, I hope you’ve found this information helpful.  We will be posting more onto the blog in the coming months.  


Happy stitching!  



What is Needlepoint?

Needlepoint is a kind of needlework where a variety of stitching with thread is done on a stiff, open weave canvas. The canvas can be pre-painted, or the stitching can be done counted or freeform but at its most basic level, needlepoint is a relaxing, creative endeavor that yields items that can be both beautiful and functional. 

 

Selecting a Needlepoint Canvas

When you select a canvas, it’s a good idea to have a sense of what you want to do with the completed project. You might make a patch, a pillow, a framed piece of art, shoes, a holiday ornament, a coaster, a standup tray, a wall hanging…the possibilities are almost endless. 


Knowing the future purpose of a piece in the beginning will help you plan appropriately, as you select the best threads and stitches for the project.  Thread choices vary, and they matter (use wool for coasters, and silk blend for an ornament, for example). If you have a 4” round that you want as a 12” pillow, you need to map out how to achieve your goal.  You may not want embellished stitches that can snag on a key fob that will be handled with some frequency.  This is a good time to talk to your LNS (Local Needlepoint Shop) about what finishing needs your piece might have. He or she can guide you in the right direction and tell you what their finisher’s specifications and timelines are.

 

You have chosen a canvas that inspires you, selected beautiful threads, and you’ve even successfully stitched the project. What next?  This is where finishing comes in. Finishing is the conversion of your needlepoint art into an end product that can be decorative and/or functional. 


Finishing Basics

  • Stretcher bars or no stretcher bars? I am a fan of stretcher bars.  I understand why people don’t use them, but they help retain the shape of your project.  This can cut down the blocking time.  If you regularly finish with a rhombus vs a rectangle on many of your projects, you may want to consider stretcher bars.
  • In most cases with some exceptions, you do not need to add extra stitches for finishing.   Please ask your shop or finisher about adding extra stitches.
  • For most belts and key fobs, you should add binding stitches.
  • If a self-finishing item, we can finish or you can do yourself.  You don’t need to stitch extra space, but you want to make sure it fits the size of the piece.
  • You can provide your own fabric, but not every finisher’s machine will work with it. This is something to ask the shop at the beginning of your project.  Or send a sample of the fabric to give the finisher an idea of what you’d like.  
  • It helps to provide a sense of style/color of what you want.  And talk about how it will be used - a pillow in a tv room might be used more than a pillow for a living room.  A tooth fairy pillow will be used for only a few years (if we are lucky!), but it is usually in a child’s room or in their bed.
  • Review your stitching with a magnifier to make sure you haven’t missed a stitch.  Bring leftover project threads to the finisher in case of emergency stitching to fill in if you’ve missed a stitch or two.  
  • The backs of our canvases don’t need to be perfect, but they do need to be somewhat flat for finishing.  If you need help with flattening out your threads, talk to your LNS about waste knots and starting threads.  It can mean a world of difference.
  • If you are stitching a piece that is an unusual shape, please clarify with your finisher or LNS whether you need a background stitch or how they will finish the unusual sides.  Typically, if there are spots on the canvas that are one - two stitches wide, it can create bulk when finishing.  Some finishers need a background stitch to avoid the bulk.
  • If you bead right up to the edge of the canvas, you may want to confirm with the finisher or LNS as to whether you need background stitching.  Our finishers need the stitches underneath or aside the beads for finishing.
  • Make sure you know how your finisher ships items so there is traceability.  If you ship to your finisher, put every piece into a separate plastic ziplock type  in order to protect from the elements.  We had a shopper recently ship her pieces all together in a box that was likely dropped in a puddle and delivered to us wet - heartbreakingly unsalvageable.  Please do not use old grocery bags - their logos can run if they are wet.
  • Make sure your finisher can finish the canvas or cross stitch piece - not every finisher works with every type of canvas.


Please keep in mind that with our current COVID-19 world, some fabrics are unavailable because of factory closures and travel restrictions.  Your finisher or LNS should contact you if that is the case.



Phrases You Will Hear When Discussing Finishing


Blocking

Blocking is the method used to restore your finished canvas’s shape.  Many finishers will block before finishing.  This often helps spruce up your stitches too.


Cording  

Cording ties your piece cleanly together.  You can use welting from the fabric for a pillow or include your threads to tie the piece all together.   You don’t need to supply these materials unless you wish to include them.


Fabric Selection

You will be asked about silk, velvet, suede or patterned materials for the backing of your piece.  Many finishers can embroider initials or a message onto the fabric.  Not every finisher will provide samples for you to see - but do ask your shop or finisher.


Pillow Selection

You will be asked about box pillow or knife edge, whether you want a border, about  cording/welting, and about pillow firmness.  You may be asked about using a zipper to be able to add or remove stuffing.


Holiday Stocking Options 

You select fabric for both the backing and inside of the stocking, cording/welting and how you want the hanging loop.  


If you have not personalized your stocking already, you may want to consider stitching a small ornament with initials or a name to attach to the stocking.  This gives you some flexibility.


Ornament options  

You will select fabric, cording, size, firmness, box shape / gusset, or  hanging loop or hanger.   You may be asked about the drop of the hanging loop,  because you may need a longer hanging loop for a door knob vs a holiday tree ornament.


Standup Options

Standups are popular around each holiday.  You will be asked about fabric and cording as with other projects, but here, you can talk with your shop and finisher about being creative.  Do you want a flat bottom or with feet, how thick do you want to make something and what do you envision.  You may have a discussion with the finisher about weight to ensure the piece stands up well.  Larger pieces might be trickier to finish depending on how the finisher uses weights to ensure the piece stands up.


Tray

You will select the material - acrylic or wooden insert. In some cases, especially with the acrylic pieces, your piece will be finished and then inserted, so you will be asked questions about finishing, similar to an ornament.


Patch

You will be asked about cording and the placement of your piece on clothing or a bag.  Bags can be tricky for finishers since they can be thicker than regular fabrics.  I know others may disagree, but in my opinion it is ok to use glue to adhere a piece onto a bag or clothing.  


Other Projects

There are so many other ways to use needlepoint, including the list below.  Each piece will vary in terms of questions asked about materials you prefer to use

-wreaths

-rugs

-picture frames

-bean bags

-coaster

-stuffed animals

-bricks

-wall hangings

-flip flops

-clutches/purses/cosmetic bags

-shoes

-clothing patches

-eyeglass cases (single or double sided)


Cost of Finishing

We recognize that needlepoint is an expensive hobby.  Finishing is also pricey, but here is what goes into those costs.


Time/Labor

Materials 

Expertise


Certain projects take more time depending on the complexity of the piece.  More time means more hours for the finisher, plus more materials you may need. Some materials are pricier than others.  If you are finishing canvas with open stitches, you may need extra lining to cover the backside.  This all adds up.


Finishers are experts for us. They provide us a service to make our stitching into the final art form we envision.  When we pay for finishing, we are paying for their time, materials and frankly, for their knowledge.  Most finishers have seen it all and can work with us.


Please encourage others to go into finishing.  Home economics isn’t a part of many school curricula any longer - which means that fiber artists and sewers are taught through family and friend connections.  This is wonderful, but we may have missed a generation of stitchers and finishers as a result.  



This can be tricky work, but it is creative and rewarding.  There are so many options, but there aren’t enough finishers to keep up with demand.  


Please speak up with questions about cost when bringing in finishing.  This is a service that shops provide, but no shop wants you to be kept in the dark, expense-wise.  Most shops will give you a price range.  Or you can ask what the typical expense for a certain type of project is. 


Typical cost of finishing - this is all dependent on labor, materials, etc:

-basic ornaments start $65

-stockings start $200

-standups start $75

-frogs/animals start $90

-small pillows start $100, price increases by size

-belt start $90

-key fob start $60

-blocking starts $25



Why Things Take Time in Finishing


  • Everyone has been stitching!  Due to the pandemic, people have had some time on their hands. In some cases customers are dropping off 8-10 items at a time!
  • There aren’t enough finishers – we need more people in the industry.  Home economics isn’t taught with the same frequency, or at all, as when we were in school.  
  • It has been difficult to source fabric and threads – some materials are limited by country of origin.  Factories have been closed because of COVID but now, for example in Italy, even though the factories are open, they traditionally take off the month of August.

 

Expected Timelines

You should expect a minimum of 6 weeks finishing time. Lately, the timeline has hovered around 12 weeks, in some cases. Due to a shortage of finishers, I recently had the experience of a 6 month wait for some products. 


POPPYPOINTE Deadline

As a reminder, our deadline is August 12. We will not be accepting anything after that date.  We do not store anything in the shop until finishers re-open again.  If you ship something to us after our deadlines, we will return them to you at your expense.  For holidays other than Halloween, Christmas and Hanukkah, please anticipate 6-8 weeks for most finishing projects in 2021.    



Whether you are planning your first project or are a seasoned stitcher, I hope you’ve found this information helpful.  We will be posting more onto the blog in the coming months.  


Happy stitching!  

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