Needlepoint, canvas work is, in my opinion, one if not the best pastime that can be enjoyed alone or in groups however we all need inspiration, information and to be excited by new ideas.
On 1st June we are holding a celebration open day here at the studio in Primrose Hill.  A celebration of 45 years needlepoint teaching, design and writing.  The display we are planning will inspire, inform and excite! 
While cushions have always been the most popular for students I have always encouraged custom design for many other objects.  Small items to large rugs, attractive items for presents, especially new-borns will be on display.   Our policy is always to have a professional finisher for items before we even design them!

Making up for all needlework is important and there will be many examples of beautiful finishing - I know that profession finishing adds immeasurably to the time and love put into stitching the piece.
The exhibition will also have a selection of our own favourite accessories for sale along with kits of our designs
Please let me know if you would like more details and if you might bring some friends, Primrose Hill Is a great area to explore

Meanwhile this month there are two important exhibitions, the Knit & Stitch Exhibition in London and the Annual Needlework Exhibition at Woodlawn Plantation located in Alexandria, Virginia.   The London show runs this weekend 3 – 6 March and the Woodlawn one 2 – 31 March

Each exhibition is very different; the Knit & Stitch is a gathering of suppliers, threads to see accessories to asses.   In addition there is a wide selection of related classes to attend.   For the first time they are holding a similar show in Edinburgh later on.

Ribbon Winner Stitched by Susan Goldberg
 The Woodlawn show is the 53rd to be held in the historic mansion that was given to Eleanor Custis Lewis by her grandmother Martha Washington (and George’s adopted daughter).  This is an exhibition of individual pieces, entered in various categories and hung in the beautiful rooms of the house.  I have been lucky enough to be a judge on three occasions and was enthralled by the diversity and quality of the work.

For many years I also held fund raising classes for ‘Nelly’s Needlers’ in the house and a number of my students entered their work to the show and won prizes.   The format is regularly updated and I believe this year there will be an option for visitors to purchase pieces.   In the past the lunches served by the volunteers were also something special!  
INFORMATION comes from shows like these, from offers on the web or Linkedin or from magazines but, best of all, classes. There are courses available on line or by post but, where possible, attending a day class or even better a short residential course can change your life! 
Besides working on an attractive design, new techniques can be learnt and be introduced to new and different threads.

More than 20 years ago I started Needlepoint Network, women who were trained and offered my designs in their part of the country.   It still continues as people really enjoy meeting with other like-minded stitches, seeing what others are achieving and swopping notes on books to read, films to watch and much else!

The American Needlepoint Guild and the Embroiderers’ Guild both hold regional classes and a once a year national event which are well worth checking out.

I myself run needlepoint retreats – short holidays in Italy.  This year there will be one in Calabria, southern Italy in June (our 9th visit) and for the first time, one in Tuscany in September.   There is one room left in Tuscany which can be a single or shared booking.   Let me know if you might be interested.

EXCITE, to be simple, use your eyes! 

A lovely silhouette I recently saw was of a young couple dancing among flowers, bushes and trees in bud – the comment was ‘One can believe that all this will be in Heaven but already it is here on Earth’   Another comment made by David Hockney in the last gallery of his recent exhibition goes ‘The canvases of the lanes and by-ways that look so beautiful are just views around my studio – the lanes, trees and bushes close to your own home are no different, just a beautiful, enjoy them’   I know I haven’t quoted is exactly, if anyone made a note or his actual words I should love to have them.

Colour is probably something people are most frightened off but it can lift the soul, change one’s mood and make you smile.  Look at the exciting colour combinations that the fashionable make-up brands use for their packaging, room schemes in decorating magazines, shop window displays; if they excite you they will work.   A while ago we visited Guatemala and I was tempted by the vibrant colours of their cotton threads, it is only now that I have made some small items with them, spec cases that can’t be lost and probably a bag front for holidays.
On the other hand colours in a large piece could both dictate or inspire a complete colour scheme for a room.   Three years at the same David Hockney’s show I was inspired by one of his paintings.  My needlepoint interpretation now hangs in our family room as a focal point.
One of our USP’s is we always offer a range of colour schemes for our designs, can often change colours or supply kits without threads so you can choose your very own scheme.

Design detail again comes from everywhere, tiled floors, wrought iron railings, and architectural detail – even gift wrapping paper; look up, look down but don’t trip over!
Design taken by wrapping paper, stitched by Connie Freeman

Finally nature, flowers, birds and animals either from photographs you have taken or cards, art work or exhibitions.  My rhino, from a Durer woodcut was fun to stitch; botanical watercolours are beautiful for fine work and visits to museums well worthwhile.   The Monet to Matisse exhibition at the Royal Academy has both wonderful flower paintings and colour combinations – until 20th April. – At my visit I was particular drawn by the tranquille paintings of trees and bushes, all shades of green so much so my current piece is a bunch of elderflowers, all soft greens, creams and white.  Watch this space!
Finally an early note, there is an Opus Anglicanum exhibitor Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery at the Victorian & Albert Museum this autumn, October 16 – February 17.

Be inspired, informed and excited, its fun!




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