As I said a few days ago, I learned to embroider at the age of eight. By my mother's hand I learned the outline and satin stitches I needed to bring the face of a happy dog to life. Mom then made my creation into a baby's bib. From there I made simple samplers, pillow cases, and handkerchiefs. My repertoire grew over the years.
This was the start my journey into a whole new world of art, endless learning, and community. I lived in a time when you could buy needlework supplies at the finest department stores. I loved walking through the magical department of yarns, and threads, kits, and fabrics, the walls covered with beautiful things to make. Supplies could also be purchased at any 5 and dime, like Woolworth's. Also, in the 70s independent needlework stores became a popular place to buy yarns, cottons, linens and other needlework supplies. For a time I worked at a shop on Main Street in downtown SLC. Since I was also a lover of books, I bought every new book available. Over the years I collected books right along with supplies, gaining a varied needlework library.
While I was working at the needlepoint shop a new phenomenon came about, in which artists painted right onto the canvas. I bought the tulips and without any instruction started stitching. Working at a shop does not mean you know everything there is to know. I was a rank beginner when it came to needlepoint. I was daunted by the outline around each motif and decided the lines would be too heavy if I filled every hole. Instead I tried to give the "impression" of a line and ended up with "ants" all over my tulips. I could see this was a mistake, but I didn't know what to else to do. I stuck it away and years later I found it, stitched in the yellow background, and had it made into a pillow. I thought it a good way to show my students how not to outline a motif.
The other pillow was made following a chart and counting each stitch. The bottom right corner design shows a bit of hardanger, a technique in which an area is stitched and then threads cut away to create a lace effect. Stitching through my 70s and 80s continued along this line, trying this, self-learning that. It was at the end of the 80s I discovered the joy of taking classes from professionals and that changed my life.
To be continued...