I have been struck again and again by the lovely needlepoint done by Carrie Wolf. ou can see it on her blog, Needlepoint for the Modern Home, you can see it on her Etsy store, where she sells her finished needlepoint pieces. I love her clean graphic style and so I asked her to be the subject of this month’s Designer Profile.
Nuts: I love your approach to needlepoint, making it modern and hip. Can you tell me something about your philosophy?
Carrie: My philosophy on needlepoint is a very basic one. I look at needlepoint as fabric. A textile from which I can make virtually anything, any color, any style to fit any taste or aesthetic. With that much possibility, there are really no limits to what I can create. Part of my philosophy is that since needlepoint is so versatile, it can be cool and modern and hip! I am a little surprised that knitting and crochet have made such a huge come-back, while needlepoint has not caught back on with the mainstream public.
So part of my mission is to let people know that needlepoint is very modern and that it is a medium that is evolved and can be in tune with modern design.
Nuts: Your needlepoint cuff bracelets are amazing. Where do you get your ideas for designs?
Carrie:I have been having a lot of fun designing my cuff bracelets. The great thing about these is that they are relatively small pieces that I can stitch up in a reasonable amount of time and use to test out new patterns. My patterns tend to be geometric in nature and how I create them is to sit down with a piece of graph paper and pencil and just start filling in squares (and erasing and filling and erasing) until I come up with something that I like. I was fortunate enough to be able to buy out a needlepoint shop’s inventory of Paternayan wool yarn about 15 years ago, and having all of those colors right in front of me has been the most important design tool for me. I am a very visual person and in order to feel inspired and creative I need those colors right there in front of me so I can play with them and put them together to see what it is I want to create. For me, the creative flow can be such a tenuous thing, that any barrier to it can be hugely detrimental. If I had to go to a store every time I wanted to play with wool colors as I was coming up with ideas, I would be completely stifled. So I am a firm believer that the greater the “stash”, the more unlimited the possibilities are for my creativity.
Nuts: I noticed in looking at the bracelets, you are using many different kinds of closures like lacing, buttons, jeans snaps, I’ve always found it really difficult to attach things to needlepoint canvas, how do you get around that problem?
Carrie:) The snaps, grommets, and studs are something that took me quite a long time to work up the courage to try. Since needlepoint takes so long to create, the last thing I wanted to do was have a great piece that I ruined with a snap gone wrong. So I took the leap with a small test piece and realized that since the structure of needlepoint canvas is so sturdy, I am able to cut the canvas within one strand of the actual needlepoint, so I can create holes in my needlepoint that do not lessen the integrity of the piece in any way. This opened up a whole new realm of possibilities in design and wearable art that I am continuing to explore.
Nuts: The pincushion blocks are also charming. How do you decide what to put on a side?
Carrie:The pincushions have been fun to design and great to use as well.
I like designs that repeat and wrap around the sides of the cube so when it is turns it is one continuous pattern. The pincushion cube was my first 3D needlepoint creation and helped my get out of the “flat” mindset that I had previously had for needlepoint.
Needlepoint can be any shape that you want!
Nuts: Of everything you’ve done, I’m most blown away by the 3-D monarch butterfly. What challenges did this piece have for you?
Carrie:The Monarch butterfly was a design that I had been stewing on for about 5 years before I finally figured it out. I had created the basic flat Monarch pattern and stitched that multiple times, one as a whole Monarch life cycle and another in cross-stitch in beautiful greens and black on green fabric. But I knew what I really wanted to create was a life-sized fully adjustable butterfly that was completely 3D. There is actually a wire armature inside the butterfly that I slipped the individual wings and body over so I could get that real 3D adjustable effect. They really look like they could fly! The part that held me up the longest was figuring out how to create perfectly double-sided wings and body without it looking too bulky and the edges from looking weird. Again, it is the fact that the canvas holds up so well that I was able to clip each wing side close up to the edge of the needlepoint and then whipstitch the two sides together to create the wing pocket that went over the armature. So from this experiment, I have learned that I can make almost any double-sided shape (I have not yet tried convex curves) out of needlepoint with a nice finished edge. I would love to create a dragonfly or even a little bird out of needlepoint.
Nuts: I’m sure many of our readers will want to try their hands at your designs, both small and large, where can people find them? What about your finished pieces?
Carrie: I currently sell my finished products in my Etsy shop:
Modernneedlepoint.etsy.com. I am also working on patterns for sale so people that are interested can check there and contact me if they are interested in a custom pattern.
Nuts: What inspires you?
Carrie:I am most inspired by color, pattern and nature. I live and work in a very natural setting and getting up each morning and watching the birds and walking around looking at the beauty that surrounds me is what inspires me most. The fashion industry is also very inspiring. All that color and pattern and how it relates to the body is amazing and talk about an industry that is ever-changing!
Interior design magazines are also a good source of pattern and color.
Nuts: What’s next?
Carrie:I want to delve further into wearable needlepoint art. The cuffs are a good start, but I would love to use needlepoint in couture clothing, to accent with needlepoint pockets, insets, etc. I also want to delve further into bags and purses. Any other ways that I can create 3D needlepoint is also high on my list of to-do’s. So much stitching, so little time…