Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Once upon a time, I didn’t know anything about needlework of any kind. 

So I researched it.  It was 1966; there was no internet.  Therefore, I went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, jumped a rope when nobody was looking, and lifted the edge of a medieval tapestry to see how it was made.  I didn’t learn much before I was discovered and thrown out.  The second time I tried that, while enduring a Bum’s Rush to the exit, I protested.  “But I want to learn!”  “Get a book!” was the prompt suggestion.

So I did.  The closest I could come to “How To Make a Medieval Tapestry” was a McCall’s publication, “How To Do Needlepoint”.  It was (and still is) very simple – get a canvas, put the needle down in here, bring it up there.  OK. 

Off to the local five-and-dime, the only store in town that carried yarns, notions, and fabrics.  The tapestry needle and wool (not specifically “tapestry yarn”) were no problem to find.  But the clerks didn’t know what needlepoint canvas was.  They showed me the available canvas fabrics.  Well, it didn’t look like the mesh canvas in the book, but I wanted to get stitching, so I bought a half-yard.

I drew a picture on the canvas and counted the threads of the weave to achieve decent-looking stitches – two threads to the right and three threads up.  Of course, it isn’t real needlepoint; it’s counted thread embroidery and very wobbly since the fabric was definitely not an even-weave.  But I finished it because I wanted to hang it above my first son’s crib.  When my mother-in-law (an exquisite needle-worker) saw it, she first laughed and then educated me about the characteristics of a proper needlepoint canvas, proper tapestry yarns, and where, properly, to get them.  My second piece was much more correct.

But not more appealing.  This, my first piece, shows heart, determination and ingenuity.  Stitching it taught me many things, not the least of which is the beauty and efficacy of impropriety.

Don’t worry about doing it "right" – just get it done.

Stitch in Peace!  Karlin    (© 2012)

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