At the age of 8 my mother taught me to embroider. The first project was a green baby bib shaped like the head of a Cocker Spaniel. It was mostly outline stitch, in shades of brown, with a satin stitch pink nose. My memory is that it was never finished into a bib and I'm not sure I finished all the embroidery. In the early years I also stitched pre-stamped samplers (the oldest one on the right) and pillow cases. Embroidery wasn't a passion until my college years…you know the embroidered denim shirts and jeans of the 'hippie days'. It was then it became a bigger part of my life. I worked in a needlework shop for a few years in the 70s, because I was a very accomplished hooker, and it was there I learned to knit. I also learned several types of embroidery. Like knitting, you can never know it all because of the many and varied types of embroidery.
In 1987 I joined the local Needlepoint Guild and fell in love with 'art needlework'. My first class was a very extensive needlepoint piece of 12 Amish Quilt designs. I loved it so much that it took me only 5 months to complete. From then on I took every class I could and traveled to do so when possible. In 1991 I was introduced to Japanese Embroidery and studied it for 10 years. The teacher who taught this technique had a big impact on my life, as did the this form of embroidery. It taught me so much about the process, and the discipline needed, to enjoy the journey of life.
One of the thrills during my needlework years was being asked to design and stitch a stocking for the White House Christmas Tree (as were 4 embroiderers from every State). It was an honor and I was invited to the White House, with 10,000 others, to view the many beautifully decorated trees. I found my stocking on the Blue Room tree and a friend was able to snap a picture. I also did a large piece of embroidery for our Governor's Mansion (a dining room valance).
Much of the needlework I've done has been given away to family members. My album, Needles With Eyes, has many of the 'smalls' I enjoyed stitching during the years that I studied counted thread. Several of my walls are covered with needlework but, only this piece, The Basketman, is in my living room. It is the one I love most of all.
For the last few years I have stitched only Santa's as Christmas decorations or teaching pieces. I have stayed involved in the stitching community by teaching and also as founder of a local Sampler Guild. Teaching has been a very enjoyable experience. My student's work is very diverse and they are all such lovely ladies. All the years of study are put to use in guiding the students through the embellishment of painted canvases. The students challenge and delight me. I teach classes regularly and love to watch as each person grows and becomes a better stitcher. They say a teacher is successful when a students abilities surpass their own. My students certainly have accomplished that. You can see two examples below.
Late in 2000 I began to suffer with an upper back problem which made it very uncomfortable to bend over an embroidery frame. It was then I turned to knitting (which had been a part of my life since 1974) with a vengeance. In 2004, when I started this blog, the desire to embroider evaporated almost entirely. I enjoy being a part of the needlework community and will continue to be involved. I may knit at the meetings instead of stitch but, it is the people I go to see.
Enjoy your weekend. While March is a very unsettled month, the weather man did say that meteorological winter is over!