Erma Bombeck


Erma's Column
Erma’s Column

Did you know that Erma Bombeck, the famous comedy author and columnist, loved to needlepoint?  I still think about her book, If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits? whenever I see cherry pits.  She laughed, and we all laughed along with her.  She knew what was important in life.  She had her priorities straight.  It’s no wonder needlepoint was her passion.

See this article in the Lakeland Ledger, February 12, 1974 by Erma Bombeck.

Why I Didn’t Stitch the Sesame Seeds

Finished Challah Cover

My customer Janet ordered Oval Challah Cover a few weeks ago with a stitch guide. I matched the threads to a fabric swatch of her dining room decor.  She is an experienced needlepoint stitcher and wants to accentuate her Shabbat table.  I stitched the challah cover oval a number of years ago.  It was the first Pepita challah cover design, and it enhances my Shabbat table each week.

Janet had an excellent question.  She was curious why I did not stitch the “sesame seeds” on the challahs.  I explained that some of my children have a severe sesame allergy, and I just didn’t have the heart to stitch something they could not taste.  Janet loved my answer! She remarked that her daughter and grandchild also have sesame allergy, and she would not stitch them either.

We got into a discussion about food allergies, and I showed her the cookbook Simply Tempting, The Allergy Friendly Kosher Cookbook that I authored.  It contains over 300 egg free, milk free, nut free, and of course, sesame free recipes.   While the sesame seeds would look perfect stitched in french knots on the braided loaves, and my kids certainly don’t have a DMC thread allergy (Thank G-d!), I just couldn’t stitch those seeds.

In Honor of Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple, April 23, 1928 – February 10, 2014

Shirley Temple passed away yesterday at the age of 85. Many of us have fond memories of the precocious little girl on our black and white TV screens from our own childhoods. In her honor, I added a needlepoint design of her portrait as a sweet little actress. This movie still is from a scene in The Little Princess (1939) where she is gazing excitedly over a birthday cake with lit candles.

Judaica Needlepoint Gets a Face Lift

Judaica Needlepoint on tablet and smart phone.
Judaica Needlepoint on tablet and smart phone.

Judaica Needlepoint – the only website dedicated exclusively to Jewish needlepoint design – has undergone renovations recently and it’s looking sharp! The new design uses larger, high-res imagery, large neat typography, and generally looks more professional and appealing. In addition, the new design works fluidly on tablets and smart phones.

Please take it for a spin and let me know if you like it better.

Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas

Chanukah Needlepoint Matcbhox Cover
Chanukah Needlepoint Matchbox Cover

Last week a customer ordered needlepoint kits to stitch as gifts for the holidays. She caught me by surprise, but time is flying by, and this organized woman is preparing. I can’t entertain the thought of shopping for gifts yet, but if you want to give hand-made gifts for that special personal touch, you better get started. Here are some ideas that are easy, attractive, original, and inexpensive.

Dreidel Matchbox Cover
Dreidel Matchbox Cover

Matchbox Covers

For someone who “lights up your life,” or is a “perfect match,” these matchbox covers work up quickly. The results are so professional, they were even featured in Needlepoint Now magazine in the September 2012 issue. They are stitched using DMC perle cotton #3 on plastic (10 mesh) canvas and  embellished with Preciosa Czech rhinestones.

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, to fit different size matchboxes. The larger size fits the matchboxes sold in judaica stores that contain 45 elongated matches each. The Chanukah one has a menorah pattern on the large size, and a dreidel pattern for the small. size There is also both a large and small size in silver and greys for Shabbos and Pesach, featuring a candlesticks pattern. The kits contain all necessary supplies besides for the actual matches. See the photos for all of the varieties.

Please come back for more – I’ll be writing about needlepoint bookmarks and cala lily projects.

Small Shabbos Matchbox Cover
Large Shabbos Matchbox Cover
Large Shabbos and Yom Tov Matchbox Cover
Pesach Matchbox Cover

Boring Writing Assignment? Write About Needlepoint

Scarlet Tanager
Scarlet Tanager

Do all teachers start the school year with the same old writing assignment? “OK, class, everyone write one paragraph titled ‘How I Spent My Summer Vacation.'” I dreaded writing that initial paragraph in school. My summer vacations were typically uneventful, and I pitied the teacher who had to grade so many similar essays.  As a matter of fact, when I taught creative writing to high school juniors, I threatened the students that they would have to write that exact paragraph if they misbehaved!

Well, I am here to eat my words since let me tell you HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION: it featured lots of needlepointing. I’ve already posted some of my creations in previous posts during the summer months, but here are some more I haven’t shown you yet. Perhaps I should tell you in photos and not use words.  So I’ll be quick.

Pictured above this post is my Scarlet Tanager (or in simpler terms – a red bird).

Tropical Fish Needlepoint

This is a rendition of my Tropical Fish 3 design. I stitched and beaded a tropical fish needlepoint.

Needlepointed Tefillin Bag
Needlepointed Tefillin Bag

I finished my son’s tefillin bag.

Bronze Urn With Flowers
Bronze Urn With Flowers

I stitched an urn with flowers design and used 7 mm silk ribbon for the flowers.  I consider 7 mm silk ribbon a delicacy. Some connoisseurs enjoy truffle mushrooms, others prefer caviar.  Silk ribbon tempts me.

In addition, I started a new challah cover in sage and mauve tones. Stay tuned for a post about that piece.

I did not swim.  I did not play tennis.  I did not hike.  I did not take a cruise.  But I stitched and stitched, and it was an ideal way to spend my summer. I hope you did too.

Needlepoint on a Stick

Ice Cream Cone
Ice Cream Cone

Ice cream is nearly synonymous with summer. It’s like roasted marshmallows from the campfire and sun tan lotion – all filed in the same section of my mind. Needlepoint sits there too – in the part of my brain that smells chlorine, thinks swimming pool, hears the jingle of the ice cream truck, thinks summer.

My 17-year-old daughter stitched this piece in time for summer.  Actually, she stitched it while on the phone with her classmates studying together for her high school final exams in June.  The original canvas design sticks to the classic vanilla, chocolate and strawberry; but she substituted pistachio for vanilla to bring in more color. Interestingly, she has never tasted pistachio ice cream, because she is allergic to nuts, but she still likes the color. We carry quite a few needlepoint designs featuring ice cream along with other tantalizing desserts.

Jessica at The Frame Game in Monticello, NY, helped choose a frame.  She expertly blocked and framed the canvas.  I’m proud of my daughter that she actually finished stitching a canvas from beginning to end.  Her determination paid off.  Now, although summer has melted away as quickly as an ice cream on a sweltering day, she has a permanent souvenir of the cherished days of this wonderful season.

Needlepoint in the Catskills

A typical bungalow

Needlepoint is synonymous with the Catskill Mountains in the summer. While some associate the summer with barbecues and others think of swimming and hiking, needlepoint comes to my mind. As a youngster, I recall the fondest memories of spending summers in a run down rented bungalow in Fallsburg on Route 42.  The best days were when Rita, of Rita’s Needlecraft, drove up to the parking lot in her station wagon. “The needlecraft car, the needlecraft car,” was heard on the loudspeaker.  Mothers and daughters ran with their wallets.  All of us kids stitched hook rugs.  Needlepoint was our moms’ job.  But everyone had some sort of project.

Today my family vacations in the Catskill Mountains too.  The bungalows haven’t changed much in the past thirty years. And my favorite part, needlepoint, hasn’t changed either.  Susan Gross of Knit One Needlepoint Too, in ShopritePlaza in Monticello, NY, carries the Pepita Needlepoint line.  Doris Katz of Needlepoint Gallery in Woodridge, NY, has our trunk show too.  But my favorite is Rita since she remembers me as a little girl.  Whenever I meet, her first words are, “So how’s your mom doing?”  When I phone my mother in Brooklyn, she asks about Rita.  In fact, the canvases she stitched from Rita are still on display on her dining room walls!  Needlepoint was special then, and it’s just as special today.



This Needlepoint is All Heart

Needlepoint Heart
This Needlepoint is All Heart

This interesting project was adapted from an illustration found in a medical textbook created in 1899. It is an anatomically-correct depiction of the human heart. From the creator’s blog post:

I am a woman newly obsessed with needlepoint, and this anatomical heart needlepoint is the first evidence I have to show of my obsession.

The design uses 11 colors and was stitched on 14-count canvas.