Saturday, November 29, 2008

Where to begin?

At the very beginning, I guess. My introduction to needlepoint was as a small child, when my aunt and grandmother decided to stitch a set of dining room chair seats. They and two cronies undertook the task using pre-worked needlepoint canvases--penelope, of course-- and tons of burgundy tapestry wool. The finished products are still stashed away somewhere in my house.

When I was in college, this same aunt showed me the basics, and I happily trotted off to the little shop in our college town which carried a variety of craft materials. I purchased a small amount of penelope canvas and some blue tapestry wool, with the intent of creating my own sampler. I'd found some graphs of fruit and flowers, which I planned to incorporate into squares around my own initials in the center. From this first experiment, I learned two very important lessons: first, it helps to count straight; and second, always buy as much thread as you think you'll need before you start a project. When we moved from Texas to Cape Cod in 2006, I came a hair's breath away from pitching this monstrosity--even the frame was dinged! My sons convinced me to hold onto it as a symbol of how far I'd come in my needlepoint pursuit, and it now has its proper place on the wall of the bathroom in my office.

My needlepoint journey can be traced in stages. First came the bargello experience, in which I pillowed the living room in glorious shades of avocado and gold. I graduated to the Maggie Lane phase, aided and abetted by my mother, who imparted to me her love of all things oriental. Now my whole house, and hers, was pillowed. Along came our sons, however, and I temporarily traded my tapestry needle for knitting needles to keep them in sweaters.

There are two rites of passage in our family: when you turn five years of age, you are automatically eligible to attend The Nutcracker Ballet at Christmas. And when you are six, you become the proud owner of an electric train set. Our youngest son hit the jackpot on the train set a little early. He had seen The Nutcracker in December 1993 and become totally enamoured of nutcrackers. The day after Christmas, when my husband and both sons descended to the basement to "play trains," I made a beeline to my local needlepoint shop for the after-Christmas sale. I picked up a little nutcracker ornament canvas to amuse both myself and my son. Four days later, the canvas was finished and I went back for another. This pattern continued until the sale was over and the canvases at full price were not as appealing. At that point, both boys said, "Mom, you could do these yourself!" I picked up a pencil and some graph paper, doodled a bit, bought some blank canvas, and--the rest is history. My line of cylindrical ornaments, affectionately known in the family as "Ma's Little People," was launched!

Now that all the preliminaries are out of the way, I can get on to a more exciting topic--my newest needlepoint project--in my next post!