Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chocolate, Samplers and Me

I've always known that a certain percentage of needlepointers only work needlepoint designs in all tent stitches.  But until the needlepoint group on Facebook came into being, I didn't interact much with this subset of stitchers.  After all, my main focus has been embellishment and light coverage stitching, which certainly isn't what traditional needlepoint has been.  Traditional needlepoint is full coverage, often in wools, and mostly used for utilitarian objects like upholstery, rugs and pillows.  These things need to wear like iron and stand up to use.  They are not like the framed pictures and designer models that I mostly stitch these days.

Hanging out at Needlepoint Nation on Facebook, I have made many classic NP friends and suddenly realized that not only were there many more stitchers than I realized who are into classic needlepoint, they are a bit ashamed that that's what they like best.  Some are puzzled by what I do, some are repelled by it.  Most also wonder if they are like the reproduction sampler stitchers--a bit behind the times.

You guys should always remember that the repo sampler people are actually time travelers!  They are stitching like 17-19th Century stitchers to better understand them and their time period.

Thanks to Two Nerdy History Girls (yes, that's the name of their blog--it's great fun!) I have a video that encapsulates this view of historical stitching.  The video itself is about recreating a chocolate kitchen in Hampton Court but that's just the subject matter--the real theme is honoring the craftsmen who came before us and understanding them by making the things they did in the way they did.

So here is to traditional stitchers, whoever you are.  You are walking in the footsteps of our needlepoint ancestors, practicing their craft as a way of understanding them, and keeping it alive for our stitching descendants to admire, practice and enjoy!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright February 19, 2015 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.


  1. I am one of those who continues, even after twenty-five years, to do a lot of basketweave. I do so because I am one of those William Morris beautiful things for everyday living types who places her needlepoint rugs on the floor. Even so, I love canvas embellishment for those items that are strictly decorative. Another important factor in my choice of stitches is the canvas itself. I tend to prefer detailed, realistic subject matter (think Liz) over more broadly painted cartoon-type or whimsyish pieces (think Karen Cruden), which I think lend themselves more readily to fancy stitchwork. More often than not, I find myself embellishing with thread choices, preserving specialty stitches for backgrounds. I should add that as a Scottish terrier owner, I stitch a great many Scotties and have wrestled with my share of shading.

    1. Hello, Lisa! Nice to meet you. It's lovely to think of all the beautiful and durable rugs you must have now! Shading animals isn't easy, which is one reason I like light coverage stitching--I can let the beautifully painted shading do most of the work! But that will not do for rugs, alas! Anyway, I'm glad to know you are Out There, stitching away, and creating beautiful and useful items.

  2. This was an interesting post Jane - I think there is room for everyone in Needlepoint Nation and for everyone to do what they love doing with their precious free time. I still love a beautiful William Morris type canvas stitched in basketweave with Appleton wool. I also enjoy doing a fun canvas with a bevy of interesting fibers like the Ruth Schmuff bunny tree I am currently stitching. Repro samplers are still a passion for me, canvas workers usually can't relate to all that tedious stitching on tiny linen but I hope they will do some blog hopping and see all the magnificent work being created with a needle and thread. Cheers Mel

    1. Hey, Melody! You are right--there's plenty of room for all sorts of stitchers (and for those who switch around a lot, too). I don't really "get" samplers but there is a large and passionate guild that stitchers them over the mountain from me so I get to see many finished. Some are quite beautiful and intricate, too. It's always good to keep up with the other styles of stitching, anyway, even if not tempted to do it oneself. And the rug making, by the way. Keep up the good work there! LOL