A New Trick for Needlework Geeks

erica wilson rockercate pratoMy friends, I must reveal something to you. When I was 16, I used to sit home on Saturday afternoons waiting for my favorite show to begin: "Erica" on PBS. This show featured Britain's queen of needlework, Erica Wilson, demonstrating crewel and needlepoint stitches.

Yes, I was a teenage needlework geek.

While my peers were going to rock concerts and the beach, I spent hours learning the finer points of the bargello stitch and turning French knots, making needlepoint pillows and glasses cases, and learning how to embroider my chambray work shirts with mushrooms and flower vines, using Erica's good-humored advice and her book Erica Wilson's Embroidery to guide me.

erica wilson signatureI still have that book, and was thrilled some years ago to meet Erica and have her sign it.

Yep, still a needlework geek.

In the past few years while working on Cloth Paper Scissors and Quilting Arts I've renewed my interest in needlework, especially creative embroidery. But I've run into a couple of barriers to my enjoyment. One is my eyesight, which now requires good light and glasses to do close work.

The other is my hands, which balk at pulling a needle through a canvas or stiff fabric after a day of pounding the keyboard.

I had recently begun to wonder if my hand-embroidery days were numbered when, lo and behold, I learned a trick from a member of the younger hand-stitching generation, Lynn Krawczyk.

fabric pendant in stitchesLynn is a mixed-media artist whose interests run from Thermofax screen printing and assemblages to all kinds of stitching. I learned this about Lynn while interacting with her article inQuilting Arts In Stitches eMag, Volume 2, that debuted this past week.

In the pop-up interview with Lynn, she reveals that her number one quick stitch-related tip, trick, or technique is: If you do a lot of hand stitching, consider using long upholstery needles. I find that it reduces the fatigue on my fingers and wrists because there is more needle to grip. I can work much longer when I use these needles.

upholstery needle in stitchesI tried it and guess what? It works! I would have done the happy dance, except I was holding a needle and thought that might be a mistake.

I also liked Lynn's tip for making a hole for a jump ring in the fabric pendants she demonstrates in In Stitches2. She passes the same type of upholstery needle through the fabric because it makes the connection point less visible than if she used a hole punch or made an eyelet hole.

Lynn's pendants are fun and easy to make. And now, armed with my new upholstery needle and Lynn's directions and tips in In Stitches 2, I can make them and get back to my other needlework comfortably.

Owl's nest rocker, here I come!

Do you have tips for making hand-stitching easier? I could sure use some more. Leave yours in the comments section below.


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