As a largely self-taught needlepointed, I have little patience with the self-appointed needlepoint police. The fact of the matter is that the folks who are quick to criticize, quick to point out that needlepoint is an “expensive hobby,” or insist that things be done the “right way” take much of the joy out of needlepoint. They create an unfair picture of our art, they discourage new stitchers, and they turn what could be for so many a fulfilling pleasure into a closed clique.
When I hear from folks like these, see their comments on social media, or hear how they have hurt and discouraged stitchers new and experienced my heart breaks. They do more to prevent new stitchers than they encourage existing ones.
I’m reminded of a woman who once owned a shop near me. She had a little group of invited stitchers who sat at a table in her shop with her and stitched all day. The owner often looked on customers (i.e. folks who were buying things from her) as interruptions. She would throw you out of her shop if she didn’t like where you bought your canvas. And she wouldn’t let folks touch threads. She actually kept a bulletin board at the front of her store with one of each thread tacked on it. Not so you knew what she carried, but so you would touch only those. By her policing and cliquish behavior she prevented area stitchers from trying needlepoint.
That’s needlepoint policing with a vengeance. Today’s needlepoint police don’t have far to go to catch up.
It took me many years of stitching to learn Basketweave. Not because I find it hard, but because no explanation I read made sense to me. I have no idea if I make some stitches correctly or not; I make them the way that makes sense to me. I happily stitch Continental often because I like it. That’s how we should stitch, open to others and to learning new things, but stitching because we like what we do.
I indulge in plenty of bad needlepoint habits and rarely do I stitch towards perfection. I stitch because it meets so many needs. It relaxes me and feeds me creativity. When I stitch I can feel productive, something that is often too lacking in my life.
And, let’s face it, isn’t that really what needlepoint is for? To create, calm us, make us happy, and make beauty.
Now your idea of beauty and mine might be totally different. Your idea of the perfect way to stitch a canvas and mine certainly will differ. You might love tons of glitz and be delighted at acres of French Knots and tricky stitches. You might be stitching your umpteenth rug, while I struggle to finish a small pillow. But that does not matter, what does matter is the result — not in what we stitch but in that we stitched we like. That’s not something any Needlepoint Police can take from us!
For more thoughts on this and a great list of what is not “wrong” to do in needlepoint, read Tricia Heaton’s great post.
What do you think?