Like many people who needlepoint, I fell in love with it immediately and totally. At this point, after almost 50 years of stitching, I can honestly say that I still get thrilled with the possibilities for stitching just by looking at the picture of a canvas, or sometimes even by a picture of something else.
One of the great joys of my life is that I “see” things in terms of stitches. Show me a painted canvas and I know how I want to stitch it. That’s why I like writing stitch guides. It lets me put what I see into words so it can be stitched.
Sometimes when I stitch I think and I think about what makes needlepoint so special. In the world of embroiderers I think needlepointers are something special. They take a wonderful and huge middle ground that leaves so much space for creativity but still has constraints.
In the past I was a computer and Internet person. I loved it for the same reasons I love Baroque music. There are rules and ones which can seem rigid to the outsider. But oh the infinite and subtle variations you can get in a fugue, in a computer program, or in a needlepoint!
The grid of the canvas imposes a constraint on us, you can’t “sort of” hit the hole (at least not most of the time). It’s either there or not.
The mesh size of the canvas imposes a constraint. The same piece on 13 mesh with scaled up threads might lack the delicacy of the same piece done in slightly finer threads on 18 mesh.
Those thing should make needlepoint rigid, but they don’t. They free us to explore threads and stitches, making new effects, They allow us to change a color, learn something new, apply two techniques which normally don’t go together.
That combination, one which most of us take for granted, is a remarkable thing in needlework. An embroiderer has to make many more decisions when stitching on cloth. And she needs to be far more exact in execution.
A knitter gets innovation and creativity in the yarn and most of the time uses a pattern.
The quilter does more with materials (there are even more fabrics than threads) but those constraints aren’t there, so the balance goes more to creativity.
The other needlearts I can think of tip the balance one way or the other — creativity or control. But needlepoint doesn’t. It sits with marvelous balance right in the middle.
Do you know how remarkable this is?