My Grandy has needlepointed since long before I came into this world (remember the needlepoint kneelers in the chapel where we got married?) and is always working on a fun project (like the needlepoint collar and leash Rory wore as our ring bearer last summer). Last summer I asked her to teach me (and Ali!) how to needlepoint and she was the most encouraging and patient teacher. We practiced on a few leftover pieces of canvas she had around the house before heading to Erica Wilson on Nantucket to pick out our first projects. I was making good headway under Grandy’s tutelage, but when I got back to Connecticut and tried it on my own I’d get super frustrated and have to put it down.
If you follow me on Instagram you might remember my cousin’s husband gifted us the most incredible Christmas ornament that he’d made with our wedding crest and he totally inspired me to try needlepointing again after largely ignoring it last fall. He helped me figure out a few of the things that were stumping me and I completed my first project, a super simple Christmas ornament that spells out ACK, just after the holidays. It’s not half as pretty as the one he made us and one of the thread colors was actually the wrong size for the canvas so you can see some of the white canvas underneath, but I was happy just to have my first project behind me and felt so much more confident at the end than I had at the beginning.
I took on a sizable challenge when I decided I could make a custom needlepoint belt for Will’s 30th birthday. I ordered the canvas through an Etsy shop called Needlepaint and worked with them to design icons for Princeton, Texas, Nantucket, Rory, golf, tennis, and Will’s initials. Then they painted that design onto a canvas, picked thread colors to match each design, and (most helpful of all) sent the canvas with a stitch-by-stitch guide showing which color should go where. This isn’t sponsored or comped in any way but I’ve gotten so many questions about the belt I’m making for Will so I wanted to share where I ordered from! They also have a list of online needlepoint resources on their blog if you don’t have someone to teach you in person, but I highly recommend finding a local needlepoint shop where you can go in and ask questions and ultimately have your project finished with leather, binding, etc. (I’ll have mine finished at House of Needlepoint in Darien if you’re local!)
Learning to needlepoint was challenging because I’m not a remotely patient person and needlepoint demands lots of both patience and practice. I’ve learned you can’t race to complete a project; you have to pay attention to every single stitch, because taking out stitches and starting over is way more time-consuming than taking the time to get it right in the first place. Thankfully I had two patient and talented in-person teachers and now I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of it. It’s been a great exercise in patience for me and now that I’m making mistakes a little less frequently, I find it super relaxing!
For the “icon” of Rory, I actually sent Needlepaint a favorite photo of him and they incorporated it into the needlepoint canvas, complete with different threads and stitch count for all the shades of his coat. Now he’s just as cute in needlepoint form as he is in real life!
I’m about 2/3 of the way through making Will’s belt (when I “gave” it to him, I joked he might have it in time for his 35th…) so I actually feel pretty good about the progress I’m making there! After that I’m going to stitch a Siasconset ornament my mom found for me. And I’m torn between framing the collar and leash Grandy made for Rory and letting him wear them so we can see them every day (maybe frame one, use the other?) so I might make something for him next depending on what I decide there. And of course I want to make lots of needlepoint gifts for family and friends! Needlepoint isn’t the quickest thing to learn or the cheapest hobby to take on, but knowing how intimidated I would have been by this belt project even nine months ago gives me a good deal of satisfaction seeing how far I’ve come!
Crossing off #49 on my 101 in 1001 list as we speak! Do any of you love needlepoint as much as I do? What project(s) are you working on now?
P.S. A few other Etsy shops I’ve bookmarked for future needlepoint projects… Hermit Crab Stitchery, Jenny Henry Designs, Kay Morse Design, Lucinda Gregory, Pepita Needlepoint, and Sally Corey Designs. Do you have any other favorite places to order from?!
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