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NJNA/Morris County Library Exhibit: Not Your Grandmother’s Needlepoint

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The New Jersey Needle Artists/Morris County Library exhibit speaks for itself. But we couldn’t leave it at that.

So accompanying the current exhibit of our members’ stunning work, which runs through August 9, is the following brief description of what makes modern needlepoint so challenging, compelling and fun. 

Happy stitching!

……..

Metal on velvet. Exploded geometrics. Bling and more bling. Fiber artists are reinventing this age-old craft — in which stitches are worked with a needle over a canvas mesh — by experimenting with texture, color, and design and by utilizing fibers that didn’t exist a decade ago.

“It’s certainly not your grandmother’s needlepoint,” Diane Burgess, Chapter President of the New Jersey Needle Artists (NJNA), says in describing the work of members now on display at the Morris County Library. “Modern needlepoint gives crafters more choices and more ways to expand their creativity.”

Wool, the traditional mainstay of needlepoint, still has its place. But now, so do silk, cotton, metallics, beads, rayon, ribbons and other fuzzy, shiny, prickly threads. These novelty fibers let needlepointers build texture into their projects. A traditional floral canvas may include flourishes with ribbon to give it dimension. An image of whitecaps on water may be stitched in a metallic thread to give it depth. And as for beadwork, it adds luxury and shine to the handbag worked by one NJNA member and on display.

Artists are using color in new ways, too. Take Stars for a New Millenium, the centerpiece of NJNA’s exhibit this month. Noted fiber artist Tony Minieri, who designed Stars, explains that this project is intended as a “study in color, texture, stitch and thread.” Each square is based on a traditional quilt pattern and, “… is named after a movie star from Hollywood’s Golden Age.”

Stitchers who completed Stars expressed themselves through their choice of color and thread. In the process, they highlighted the impact that color choice has on pattern. While some of the display pieces appear more traditional than others based on color choice, one artist’s decision to use bright pinks, oranges, blues and greens is strictly 21stcentury.

Experiments with new technologies and three-dimensional finishes also mark modern needlepoint. One piece in this month’s display is a needlepoint-embellished photograph. The landscape photo was transferred onto canvas and then worked with stitches to enhance the image and add dimension. And newer types of finishing techniques ditch the frame altogether, giving depth and a playful quality to what’s generally been considered a two-dimensional art. On display here, note the three-dimensional Christmas house, wreath, and red, white and blue piece called Patriotic Topiary.

Then there’s stitch choice. Traditional needlepoint relies on tried-and-true slanted stitches known as “tent” or “basketweave,” and those stitches remain go-to options for most needlepointers. But scores of easy-to-learn stitches are now commonly used to mimic grass, a barn roof, a bird’s wing and other objects on painted needlepoint canvas. And Starshighlights the way in which a variety of stitches can be combined for varied effect.

Want to learn more? First, take a look at the partially-stitched travel ornament included in the display for inspiration. Then head to your library for its supply of “how to” books.  The Needlepoint Book by Jo Ippolito Christensen is a classic. For sheer inspiration, find Kaffe Fasset’s Glorious Needlepointor Beth Russell’s Traditional Needlepoint. Other resources include the American Needlepoint Guild at http://www.needlepoint.org and https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/basic-tent-needlepoint-stitches-2479706. YouTube also contains a wealth of information on how to prepare a canvas and specific stitches. Free beginner patterns are also widely available on the web. Here’s one pattern that offers clear instructions and a variety of stitches: http://www.lizartneedlepoint.com/uploads/Rhodes_Fish_Cover___Text.docx

Finally, the New Jersey Needle Artists, which meets monthly at the Bernards Township Library, always welcomes new members. Its meeting schedule is posted at: www.njneedleartists.org.

 

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July 2019 SOTM

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Hi Everyone —

We had a small gathering of eight members at Sue’s house today.  I had not expected to be there, but because of a leg injury, I had to cancel my weekend travel plans.  Sue helped me out with a walker and I was delighted to get out of the house (and Harold was delighted to not have to be home health aide) for the day.

I forgot to take pictures of Robin, Jill, Diane, and Sue’s stitching — here’s hoping that they will post them on our blog!

There was minimal stitching for July SOTM, so I was able to get caught up after missing June.  Here are three of our pieces:

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Joan’s SOTM

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Nancy’s SOTM

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Rosie’s SOTM

How different they are turning out!  Five more installments to go!

Cheers!

Rosie

Needlepoint Geography

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As many of you local folks know, I spend a lot of time in CA with my “little people”.  My last trip there coincided with the celebration of the spring major religious holidays.  In my case this meant celebrating at a Passover seder.  Now in Jewish culture (not religion) we have a “thing” called Jewish geography.  It is similar to Kevin Bacon’s six degrees of separation.  In it, when we meet someone new, we begin by finding out their geographical history, immediately followed by, do you know “ so and so”?  Inevitably we find some distant way in which we are connected. Now bear with me, this blog entry is not about Jewish geography, but really is about needlepoint geography and friendship.

It just so happened that on the second day of the Passover holiday, I had two invitations for the seder.  My daughter’s sister-in-law and brother-in-law were hosting a kids’ seder.  My sister-in-law and brother-in-law were hosting an adults only seder.  So I figured out a way to attend both.  

Since I was arriving late to my sister-in-law’s and brother-in-law’s seder I knew the religious part would already be underway. So, I tried very hard to enter the room as inconspicuously as possible.  Rather than climb over people to my assigned seat, I just plopped myself down in an available seat at the end of one of the tables.  I knew the woman to my right, but the woman to the left of me had her head down and so I paid her no attention.

After a bit I got up to use the rest room.  As I was returning to the table, the woman who had been to my left got up and whispered to me, “Barbara, I know you.”  It took me a moment to place her since she was out of context.  I soon realized that this woman was Deb R.  I knew her from the shop in San Mateo, Luv2Stitch, where I hang out to stitch while visiting the west coast.  She has also been present at the few ANG chapter meetings out there that I have managed to attend.

As I was thinking to myself, but trying to not say, “what is she doing here?”, Deb asked me that very question.  I paused and said, uh, my husband is Marcia’s (our hostess’) brother.  At that point, Deb said, “get out.  I’ve been in this family for 32 years.”  To that I replied that I had been in the family for 44 years.  Now my curiosity was really piqued.

For many years I had heard my brother-in-law speak of his Long Island, NY childhood friend, “Rocky”, who lived on the west coast and helped to ease the family’s transition when they moved to the the Bay area back in the ‘70s.  I believe I even met Rocky’s mother at another long ago seder.  So I was a bit more than surprised when Deb asked if I had ever heard of Rocky.  I said, “of course!”  It turns out that Deb is Rocky’s (aka Joe’s) wife.  We were both thunderstruck.

By now the religious part of the meal was over and visiting time really began in earnest.  

During the year or so in which I became acquainted with Deb, we had happily been sharing wedding planning notes since her son got married the same weekend that our daughter did, last fall.  At some point, my brother-in-law Elliot came over and Deb suddenly said to him, “that’s why you didn’t come to our son’s wedding!”  The connections went on from there.  Deb was sharing how her daughter was a speech therapist.  I started to laugh and told her that so was mine.  At that point, Rocky chimed in that their daughter had consulted my daughter several times before deciding to enter the field.  Deb and I were further amused!  

Needlepoint shops, ANG chapters, shared wedding weekend and daughters in the same field made this out of context encounter so much fun!  I think in that short hour and a half I went from having a very nice needlepoint acquaintance to having a lovely, fun needlepoint friend.

Now that is how needlepoint geography works!

The Edwardian Needle: Spring/Summer Class Schedule

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Shibori Butterfly Box

Shibori Butterfly Box

The Edwardian Needle in Fairfield, New Jersey, is offering some fantastic classes this spring and summer. So if you’re looking for a new project or a new skill, consider signing up for the following:

MAY

Saturday & Sunday, May 4 – 5 (10 am – 4 pm) – Betty Pillsbury: piecing a crazy quilt on Saturday and embellishing & seams on Sunday ($235)

Memorial Day, Monday, May 27 (Noon – 4 pm) – Pam Miller: beginning level ribbon embroidery ($95)

JUNE

Sunday, June 2 (10am – 4 pm) – Andrea Santiamo: bargello patchwork piece ($170)

Friday, June 28 (Noon – 5pm) – Tony Minieri: studio ($50)

JULY

Saturday & Sunday, July 13 – 14  (10am – 4pm) – Betty Pillsbury: shibori butterfly box ($245)

Sunday, July 28 (10am – 4pm) – Andrea Santiamobargello pocket book ($170)

AUGUST

Sunday, August 18 (10am – 4pm) Pam Miller: intermediate ribbon embroidery (large ribbon initial)

As you all know, you can find The Edwardian Needle at 390 Fairfield Road, Fairfield, NJ (973-743-9833).

We’ll keep you posted about new offerings at other local needlepoint stores in the near future. In the meantime, happy stitching.

 

 

Pliers, Flat Irons & C Clamps

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“What’s that?” I asked Andrea over the din of last year’s Needlefest.

The room was large, noisy and yet cozy with stitching friends catching up on news and projects. She and I had sat next to each other, and I couldn’t help but notice the pliers she extracted from her project bag. She turned her small needle nosed pliers one way then the other for me to admire and explained that she used the tool to pull the end of threads through stubbornly tight stitches on the back of her canvas.

A relative newcomer to stitching, I loved the idea that I could raid my husband’s workshop to improve my needlepoint. (He’s been smart enough to ignore the occasionally borrowed pair of pliers ever since.)

And recently I wondered what other hardware, drug and office supply items my stitching friends were using to up their needlepoint game.

So I asked them all at our most recent “Stitch of the Month” session. The answers came fast and furiously:

To pull the ends of stubborn threads through stitches on the back of your project, try hemostatic forceps, needle nosed pliers, tweezers or a one-to-two inch square piece of nonskid rug pad material.

A meat mallet can help you assemble a wooden needlepoint frame. To protect the wood, place a pot holder on top of the spot you’ll be pounding.

A pill case like this one – https://www.travelsmith.com/product/am-pm-vitamin-pill-case.do– can keep needles organized, which is especially helpful if you’re carrying multiple types to class(es).

To straighten out neon rays and other “kinky” fibers in a flash, use a small flat iron. If you’re planning to use the device throughout a stitching session keep everyone safe by resting the flat iron in a mug.

To hold multiple threads as you work, gently attach magnetic paper clips like these – https://oliblock.ecwid.com/Small-Magnetic-Clips-c22190385 – or quilters’ clover clips to the edges of your canvas.

An industrial C clamp can be used to attach your project to a table and stabilize it while you work.

Try making your own needle minder to perfectly match your new project. All you’ll need are two small craft store magnets, industrial strength glue, such as E6000, and charms, unusual buttons, or pieces of leftover fashion jewelry.

I’ll take the blame for including this last item, which finds a place here mostly because I never expected to hear these three words uttered together: magnetic; bingo; and, wand. Yep. If some of your needles are MIA on the floor, try sweeping an inexpensive magnetic bingo wand over your rug. It’s a thing.

Thanks especially to Margaret, Linda, Rosie, Jill, Sue, Marge and Amy for sharing this information.

Happy stitching, everyone.

 

EGA Regional Seminar

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Hi Everyone —

This past weekend I attended my third EGA Metropolitan Region Seminar in Madison, NJ.   Usually, I just take a class, but this year I was responsible for coordinating the Opportunity Basket Auction.  I was nervous about handling the large amount of cash, but in the end everything balanced to the penny and the money was distributed without incident.

I had initially signed up to take studio time because Opportunity Baskets and, DUH, UFO’s!   But, when I was in Scotland last summer, I bought a Mackintosh Rose tote bag on deep discount and convinced myself that I had signed up to take Toni Gerdes’ Mackintosh Rose Kimono.  So imagine my surprise/disappointment when my registration came and said “Studio Time”.

The Mackintosh Rose tote bag and Toni’s Kimono!

Luckily, I knew the registrar and was able to change into Toni’s class!  Charles Rennie Mackintosh was known for his Mackintosh Rose stained glass windows, but the motif appears throughout his designs.

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A set of tiles in the Mackintosh Rose design.  Can you see the source of Toni’s inspiration?

(As an aside, Toni is doing a series of artist-inspired kimonos:  The Wright Kimono taught at ANG in Chicago, The Mackintosh Rose Kimono, The Klimt Kimono to be first taught at ANG in Houston, and The O’Keeffe Kimono in design for ANG Tucson.)  Are you tempted yet?

As usual, Toni’s class was awesome and I came away with some new techniques and ideas for use on other projects.  One of these was Wonder Ribbon and the other was the best ever use for Flair!  Here is my progress at the end of two days:

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The Wonder Ribbon appears in the bottom right corner of the design.  This ribbon started as about a 3/8-inch wide tube.  It stretches when you pull on the sides and goes back to its original shape when you pull on it lengthwise.  So you can pull it into any number of shapes; the website says it is good for waves.  It comes in five widths.  (Carol, do you remember those necklaces we bought in Mexico?  Same idea.)  Toni had us use two balloon sticks to widen the ribbon to the approximate width that we needed and then tack it down with Accentuate.  The ribbon will be stitched over when the design is nearly done.

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A close-up of the Wonder Ribbon.  Note that you can see the canvas through it!

For any of you who have stitched with Flair, you know what a mess it can be.  I promised you the best use ever, so let’s look at rosebud on the Kimono,  Here’s a close-up:

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The center of the rosebud is Flair that is stretched open and tacked down in exactly the same fashion as the Wonder Ribbon.  An oblong Jessica is stitched over it.  The Flair fills in the center of the Jessica.  It creates a translucent effect and IMO is the best idea ever!  When I said that to Toni, she suggested that Wonder Ribbon or Flair, depending upon width, would be great for windows — covering the area, but receding as well.  I plan to try it out on Lombard Street and The Neighborhood!

I HOPE to finish this piece since it is my remembrance of Scotland.   However, the kit came with two spools of the same color of Accentuate…….

Cheers, Rosie