A few years ago on the New Needlepoint blog, Marianne wrote about fancy stitches and the tendency for people to go for ever more difficult stitches in needlepoint.
She writes “I fear *we* , as a needlepoint community are losing touch with the simple beauty of the threads, colors, designs etc, that needlepoint used to be all about, before it was swamped by the “fancy stitch monster”.”
Thinking about what she wrote, you might suspect that Marianne and I have been discussing it. I definitely agree with her that there has been a fascination with difficult stitches and with piling on the effects on the canvas.
I compare it to those musical groups who are so enamoured of the great vocal effects they can get, that they use them to the deteriment of the music, indulging in “vocal histrionics.” Or the web designer who is so delighted he can create animations that he puts them everywhere.
In other words, people who have adopted the motto “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.” With all due respect to Mae West (who said this initially) — it’s not.
Is it wonderful when someone is wearing so many different fashion trends she becomes a “fashion victim?” No it’s not, and it isn’t wonderful in needlepoint when so many different complex stitches are piled on with so many different threads, that you lose the sense of the design.
But this doesn’t mean we should throw the baby (different stitches) with the bath water and only do plain old needlepoint in wool, like my Grandmother did. She didn’t finish that piece, I’m sure she was bored. While there is a place for plain needlepoint, there is also a place for different stitches.
Every needlepoint canvas is a work or art. We, as the stitchers, can do several things with it.
We can reproduce it faithfully, stitch by stitch, in Tent Stitch. Yes, we get a faithful reproduction, but we have done a mechanical process, and the result didn’t engage our creativity.
– or –
We can collaborate in the creative process of which the canvas is the first stage by using our knowledge of threads and stitches and our desire to make something “our own” to create a canvas which is unique.
The process of collaboration doesn’t mean no Tent Stitch, nor does it mean too many stitches. What it does mean is an appropriate and considered use of the tools we have to make something which is an interpretation by you of the original artist’s idea.
Take the abstract pictured at the top of the article. Yes, I could have stitched it as Connie originally charted it, and that would be fine. Instead by choosing my own color scheme and picking some stitches, the end result will be a collaboration, an expression of Connie’s ideas as well as my own.
And shouldn’t that be what needlepoint is all about?