There are some things that I would never part with. The tiny white-and-gold monogrammed needlepoint pillow made for me by a dear friend for our ring bearer to carry at our wedding, the belt with topless mermaids I made for my husband Mike when we were first dating, and the elaborate pieces made by my mother. Over the years, I’ve made many needlepoints for myself and lucky recipients, and I treasure them all.
My lifetime of adoration for needlepoint is not tethered solely to the artistry of the finished piece. Oftentimes needlepoint’s vibrant woolen or silk threads culminate into the sort of inspiring patterns that define my design DNA. Yet when it comes to those works crafted especially for me, I can visualize the process of my heirlooms. I remember my mom sitting in a row of director’s chairs on the side of the riding ring at countless horse shows stitching away with the other “horse show moms” to pass the long days of waiting for my turn to ride. All while threading the bare, hand-painted canvas that she had designed or chosen into a work of textile art. And just as I inherited my mom’s brown eyes and love of fashion, entertaining, and interiors, when I realized the charm of needlepoint in my teens, I caught the bug for it, too.
Needlepoint has woven its way back to the mainstream. As makers and small-batch movements soar to popularity, the visual arts and fashion communities have revisited time-honored textile techniques, too. My last post focused on the London-based company, Hunt and Hope. They address needlepoint from a modern angle and earn the credit as visionaries behind the monogrammed chevron pillow in the image above. The technique is also puncturing its way to other small boutiques, megawatt fashion houses, and design brands such as Tory Burch and Jonathan Adler.
As a designer, I appreciate the clients who welcome the addition of a needlepoint rug for their interior spaces. Unrolling a piece of what’s essentially “artwork for the floor” elevates the furniture that is placed atop. With less of a commitment, a pillow whether old or new, honors design history while personalizing with hand-crafted appeal. And who can argue a charming framed needlepoint hung as artwork that instructs to “Wash Your Hands” or declares that “The Queen Is In”?
So often in my world, I embrace a motto of “If it can be lived with, it can be worn.” So the fashion lover in me finds sophistication and wonderful chicness in this embroidery. It’s common to spot needlepoint wrapped around the waist. My husband wears it every day. This striped belt boasts the most saturated brights, all colors that make his outfit joyful. Then there is the vintage Chanel. You read that right. I discovered a little gem of a handbag (you can see that above, too) on the pre-loved website The Real Real. And you don’t have to know me for long before noticing that Stubbs and Wooten slippers claim plenty of real estate on my shoe racks. I’m especially intrigued by the needlepoint versions, which were the first ones I ever owned, circa 1992.
You might be considering learning a new skill this winter. What about needlepoint? Take a class with a friend, buy a canvas to complete while binge-watching Netflix, or add your favorite finished piece to an online shopping cart. If you are ready to take the plunge and start a needlepoint project of your own, I suggest something small like an ornament, a case for glasses, or a little pillow. One of my favorite shops, Lycette, has many wonderful options and the shop’s proprietor will help you with a selection. Fitting right into the “grand millennial” style that has been flooding the design and fashion world, it’s back and it’s big again. Needlepoint is what makes design dashing, right now.