November 26 - Light On!
November 28 - New World

November 27 - First Steps

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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. 

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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. 

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To be continued...

Comments

Your needlework is beautiful and I love that you kept the pillow to show as a mistake and didn't just trash it. I did a lot of cross stitch in the 80s and 90s and there was a wonderful needlepoint shop near me. I could spend HOURS in there! One year they ran an "ornament of the month" club and that was super fun. Each month we got a kit with all of our supplies to stitch the ornament and then in December they held a class where we came in with our stitching and then finished the projects and turned them into ornaments.

Your needlework is beautiful and I love that you're sharing it with us, along with your learning journey. I did a bit of counted cross stitch as a teenager, but what I liked most was looking through all the gorgeous threads, kits, and supplies, deciding what to spend my babysitting money on at Woolworth's. It was a struggle to decide between the new Rolling Stones album or colorful floss! Looking forward to your continuation ...

Your needlework is amazing, Margene! Thank you so much for sharing! Wow, your library of stitch books! Incredible! I have had no stitching classes, either... but perhaps I should! I am truly a rank amateur at this process. I have tried (and did not enjoy) counted cross stitch. But your hardanger stitchwork... wow! I can't wait to read more of your stitching! XO

Margene - your work is beautiful! I look forward to seeing more of it and following along with your re-inspired exploration of another craft.

What a great journey to follow! I’ve never done any stitching...this is so interesting:

Thanks for sharing your journey with us, Margene. Your needlework is just stunning (even more so when you get to see it up-close-and-in-person!). I loved embroidery when I was a little girl/adolescent, and I tried some counted cross stitch in the 80s -- but never learned from a teacher. (Maybe my satin stitch would be more even if I had . . . ) I love hearing about your experiences and can't wait to learn (and see!) more. XO

I read this on my phone last night... photos too small!! :) I love your story about the tulips! I am reminded of a mug that my grandmother made; the glaze was so thick it dripped right off, so the design is blurred and the mug has three little drip-glaze "feet." She kept it as both a reminder to herself, and to show her students that everyone makes mistakes!! I am so looking forward to reading more!!

You have effectively disabused my idea that this kind of needlework skips a generation. I learned about needlework from my grandmother. Mom disliked that sort of thing. As a youngster she was a tomboy lol! Anyway, your work is pretty as can be and a nice way to cherish memories.

Your stitching is beautiful! I, too, love that you kept the tulips to demonstrate what not to do. I've done a lot of cross stitch, hardanger, pulled & drawn work, and now I seem more drawn to knitting though I occasionally pull out some stitching to work on. Looking forward to your future posts on this.

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