Kindred Spirits Retreat II
of With My Needle
Wednesday & Thursday, October 26-27, 2016
at the Publick House in Sturbridge, MA
My first needlework project was filling the background on a small needlepoint piece when I was in junior high school. I didn’t stitch any more until after my husband, Tom, and I, both recent graduates of Florida State University, moved to Charleston, South Carolina where he worked as a chemist and I as a teacher. I needed something to occupy my time before school started in the fall, so I bought a very large crewel kit. I must have had "big eyes"--the project I picked was 22 by 26 inches…probably not the average starter project. The following year, we returned to Florida, and Tom started graduate school. During this time, I discovered cross-stitch--the stamped kind. I stitched several samplers and quilt squares.
In 1976, we moved to Ohio where Tom worked as a research chemist at the Procter and Gamble Company. We raised our two children, Carolyn and Stephen, in Cincinnati. Tom and I are now enjoying being grandparents to Haiden (son of Carolyn and her husband, Greg) and Garrett, Katie and Norah (children of Stephen and his wife, Michelle).
When our kids were young, I did lots of volunteer work at church, at their schools, and for Kindervelt, a community organization that raises money for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. It was during this time that I discovered counted cross stitch on aida. I really liked the freedom it provided to make design and color changes compared to previous pieces I had done on stamped linen. Then came the great "awakening" when I discovered linen. Today I would never use anything else.
Although Tom and friends encouraged me to try my hand at designing, it was Edna Medlin of Threads of Gold who convinced me that I should really do this. Edna and I were together with a small group touring needlework collections in Germany, the Netherlands, and England in 1999. After a long conversation on a train from Hamburg to Amsterdam, Edna convinced me to jump right in. And so, With My Needle was born. The inspiration for the company name comes from a verse that appears on many samplers: "... is my name and with my needle I wrought the same". When looking at old samplers, not only do I admire the marvelous needlework, but I also often think about the young girls who stitched them, and I wonder about their lives.
Over the years, I have done several sampler reproductions and created many original designs including samplers and unique needlework “treasures”. These include folding cases, needlebooks, scissors weights, pincushions, sewing rolls, huswifs, boxes, stitching bags, and basket linings and accessories.
I love reading about antique needlework and visiting museum collections when I travel. I have many wonderful needlework books, and I have seen many incredible private and public needlework collections. A lot of my inspiration comes from antiques in my collection. For example, the antique that inspired the Rose Garden Sewing Case was made of wide, red satin ribbon. The antique has only a few embroidery stitches on the needlepage and a decorative casing stitch on the drawstring bag. I used that format for my design, but added lots of embroidery. A warning: these little treasures, both antiques and new designs, can become quite addictive.
I enjoy stitching my own models because I use this work as part of my design process. Sometimes I find that things that looked fine on the chart just don’t work properly when stitched, so both the model and the chart may get changed several times before I’m happy. If I don't like a color, a stitch, or another aspect of the design, I pull it out and replace it. I’m not inclined to use other people to stitch my models since stitching is so important in my design process. Plus, by stitching my own models I can check the accuracy of my charts. I like to use a variety of stitches in my designs; doing only cross-stitch is not my cup of tea.
I feel very fortunate to have the support and encouragement of my family. My daughter, Carolyn, designed my chart covers and corporate identity. My son, Stephen, made my first website. My biggest supporter and helper is Tom. Not only does he give comments and suggestions on my designs, he also does the photography, stitch diagrams, editing of the directions, and maintenance of my website (http://www.with myneedle.com). I always say that he makes me “look good". He is very detail oriented, and together we write very thorough directions. I couldn’t do this without his help.
I began teaching needlework classes in 2004 thanks to the encouragement of Rae Iverson of Moss Creek Designs. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy teaching, but I found I love it! I taught for Stitcher’s Hideaway in 2005 and am thrilled to be returning in 2012.
I believe in giving back to the needlework community. In 1995, I co-founded the Queen City Sampler Guild in Cincinnati. A couple of years later, I started a free internet sampler newsletter, With My Needle and Pen, which I published on-line for 17 years. Through the newsletter I met many stitchers from all over the world.
I want stitchers to enjoy their needlework and to feel free to make changes to a design to make it special and unique. This is your “work”. Enjoy!!!