The Big Reveal

IMG_6633About once every decade or so, I get the urge to tackle a monumental cross-stitch or needlepoint project. I finished a Celtic Lion and Lamb rug designed by Alice Starmore and featured in her book, Celtic Needlepoint (Trafalgar Square Publishing, 1994) in 2005. I think I actually started that rug in 1999, so it was a six-year labor of love.

When it comes to needlework, I tend to work on projects in fits and starts. I’ll stitch steadily for a few weeks, and then I’ll put the project aside for a while—sometimes years. I currently have two projects in progress that I haven’t touched in several months. I’ll eventually finish them, but for now, they’re waiting patiently in a drawer in my craft armoire. When I decided to make a very personal wedding tapestry, though, I didn’t want to drag that project out over a period of months or years. I wanted it to be displayed in our home as soon as possible considering I didn’t even start stitching it until the month after our first wedding anniversary.

I originally envisioned a hanging tapestry finished something like my rug, but I ultimately decided to frame the stitched piece to better preserve it. It is, after all, something that will be displayed in our home for the rest of our lives. Our daughter was very interested in watching this piece come to life, so perhaps it will even become a treasured family heirloom that she can pass down to her own child someday. A mom can only hope…

I documented the progress of our wedding tapestry here, here, and here in case you’re curious about the process. We picked up the finished piece from the frame shop on Valentine’s Day (a happy coincidence), and it’s been hanging above our dining room table ever since. Photographing the piece has proved to be a challenge because the lighting in that area of our apartment is poor, and the conservation glass I selected to protect the tapestry from UV damage is highly reflective. The photo above doesn’t do the finished tapestry justice at all, but it’s the best image we were able to get.

This is, by far, the largest needlepoint piece I’ve ever done in terms of stitch count. I limited the palette to just three colors, which made for a fairly simple pattern, but the stitch count alone (239 stitches wide by 310 stitches high) made it an incredibly labor-intensive project. I never keep track of time when I’m stitching because it’s something I do purely for pleasure. But if I had to guess, I’d say there are over 200 hours of stitching alone in this particular project. That doesn’t include the many hours I worked on the design. It’s the first semi-custom pattern I’ve ever done. I purchased a pattern for the center monogram from New York Needleworks and added our name, wedding date, and a simple border.

Truly a labor of love.


Itching to Stitch – Part III

Part of my charm is that I’m undaunted by large projects. The bigger the better, really. My proclivity for massive undertakings does present certain challenges in terms of balance, however. This particular project has proved to be more of a full-time job than an evening pastime, I’m afraid. I’m not getting much of anything else done while this project consumes my time, but it’s been fun to watch our wedding tapestry evolve from a cartoon to a nearly finished piece.

Here’s a quick look at the evolution of a needlepoint tapestry.

House of Reamy

Center monogram pattern designed by Marlene of New York Needleworks.




As I approach the home stretch on this needlepoint project, I’m already thinking about my next big project, which is to set up an online store for my jewelry. And of course I have tons of ideas for jewelry that I’m anxious to create.




Itching to Stitch

House of ReamyI’ve loved the needle arts since I was a little girl when my grandmother first taught me some basic embroidery stitches. Since then I’ve completed dozens of cross stitch and needlepoint projects—most of them from kits or books. My largest and most ambitious project to date is a cross stitch rug that is approximately 3’ x 5’. The rug, which depicts a Celtic lion and lamb, is designed by Alice Starmore and is featured in her book, Celtic Needlepoint (Trafalgar Square Publishing, 1994). That rug hangs on a tapestry rod above the TV in our living room presently, and it’s one of my most treasured pieces of personal art.

Last year when my husband and I got married, I decided I wanted to stitch a personalized tapestry to commemorate our marriage. After weeks of toying with design ideas, I ultimately settled on the design pictured here. I purchased the pattern for the center monogram from New York Needleworks, and then I added our name, marriage date and a border using PCStitch. It’s my first semi-custom design, and I’m dying to finally begin stitching.

It took quite a long time to gather the materials necessary to complete this project. It’s been many years since I completed my needlepoint rug, so I was blissfully unaware that the original manufacturer of Paternayan wool (my favorite needlework yarn) had gone out of business not long after I purchased the wool to complete the rug project. As luck would have it, however, a new manufacturer, Saco River Dyehouse, recently began reproducing this gorgeous wool. I managed to locate a wonderful local retail supplier for the new Paternayan wool. The timing of my itch to stitch a new needlepoint project and the renewed production of my favorite wool is truly remarkable. I was amused to discover that nearly all of the wool in stock at my local supplier was from dye lot 001.

Needlepoint is sort of a bastard art in the United States. It’s far more popular in Europe, so it’s not always easy to locate materials here in the US. If you or anyone you know is looking for a reliable source for stitching supplies, I highly recommend A Stitching Shop. Ask for Christine and tell her I sent you. She caters to several stitching disciplines, she carries a fantastic range of products, and her customer service is truly exceptional.

Life is short. Do something you love, no matter how long and hard you must search for the perfect materials. The challenge of locating the materials to stitch this very personal piece makes this tapestry even more special for me and my husband. Now that I finally have all the materials I need and I’ve nearly finished graphing the canvas, I can hardly wait to start stitching.