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.
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.