On one of my frequent sightseeing tours around the Internet, I chanced upon another meaning of the word “needlepoint” of which I wasn’t previously aware. I’m referring to an ink writing instrument known as a “Needle Point Pen”. Here is a review of the Uni-Ball 207 Needle Point Pen by Sanford.
Any business that involves a word that is ambiguous, is harder to find using Google or one of the other search engines. For example, if you are looking for a product for your nails, your search will turn up the other type of nails as well. Not everyone is savvy enough to type in “fingernails” instead of just nails. Needless to say, it isn’t good for business.
Our industry up until now has been free from this particular ailment. Let’s hope Needle Point Pens don’t become wildly popular. Searchers have a hard enough time finding our websites already.
On the other hand, it’s a perfect gift for a needlepointer friend!
A needlepoint frame is a wood contraption that holds your canvas taut while you work. Using a frame offers the following advantages:
Warp Drive. All those stitches pull the canvas in different ways. The tension can result in a warped canvas. A frame protects your canvas from this by holding it firmly taut at all times.
Get Around the Blocking. For smaller canvases, using a frame may eliminate the need to have the canvas blocked once it is finished. This is not the case for larger projects.
Getting Down and Dirty. Your hands aren’t always perfectly clean. Constant handling of the canvas can result in noticeable dirt accumulation or other soiling. When the canvas is pinned to a frame, you touch it less.
Some needlepointers take the point of view that you must use a needlepoint frame or stand to do good work. Others say that without a frame you are more susceptible to injury, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, by the constant repetitive cramped-hand action. I don’t think either of these have been scientifically proven, though. I’d love to see some data! 🙂
The main disadvantage of using frames is mobility. If you will be taking this stuff with you everywhere, on the bus, train, in the car, up and down the stairs in your home, to the hairdresser, whatever, the bulk of extra equipment will make it harder.
The warping issue can be mitigated by reviewing your work periodically for signs of distortion. If you nip it in the bud, you can fix it by loosening some stitches to ease the lateral stress. Or you can try applying opposing tension nearby to compensate. In any event, your framing service will do a decent job of blocking the completed work.
Another thing to consider is your personal stitching style; it is profoundly affected by the use of a frame. Since the frame is maintaining tension in your canvas, you will find it difficult to pull thread through more than one hole at a time. Since the canvas material will not bend, you need to push the needle down, catch it on the underside and then push it back up. Many stitchers find it easier to thread the needle through a few holes at a time, if that’s how you like to do it, don’t use a frame.
Some other useful links related to needlepoint frames are:
This segment from KX News about Elmer Jose is both interesting and inspirational.
In all, Elmer has created over 200 of these needlepoint works of art, some containing nearly 170,000 stitches. He doesn’t usually take requests, but if you have something in mind, chances are, he’s already done it.
Oh and by the way, “he does his work from a wheelchair, using one good eye, and limited use of one hand. If that’s not incredible enough, he’s also a cancer survivor.”
Leigh-Anne Mullock, a designer, has a portfolio at her website where she showcases some of her more interesting stuff. Among these are book covers she designed for 2 Jane Austen novels: “Pride and Prejudice,” and “Mansfield Park”. In her words:
Hand stitched cover ilustrations feature imagery about their relationships the novel’s protagonists might have been inspired to stitch.
Christine Mann has done it again, this time with an article titled “Guide to Needlepoint Yarns and Threads“. A good introduction to the different types of threads and how to choose between them.
The vast assortment of different yarns and threads available today can be confusing. Which ones work best for needlepoint? How should a needle pointer choose the right yarn or thread for a particular project?
Then came the needlepoint project. Needlepoint finally pierced the quiet. “How long did it take you to do this?” the first lady asked, loud enough for all to hear, when the girl gave her the handiwork. Two days, the child said, speaking Russian.
Christine Mann has posted a Guide to Needlepoint Canvas over at Suite101. The article summarizes the differences between the various types of needlepoint canvas and is a pretty good introduction to this topic.
Good quality materials are essential for creating works of art that last, and they help avoid frustration while you work. Before beginning a needlepoint project, inspect the canvas to make sure the threads have no knots or cuts. The grid should be even, not warped or distorted. Make sure the weave and gauge of the canvas is the right scale for the design and yarn you plan to use. Make sure its stiffness and sturdiness are a good match for the way the needlepointed item will be used.
In other words, it pays to buy designs that were done on quality canvas. At Pepita Needlepoint, all designs are printed on expensive Zweigart Mono Deluxe canvas, widely preferred by stitchers everywhere. Threads are clean and straight, the weave is uniform and stiff, and the material is sturdy yet gentle on your hands.
A while back, a customer contacted me through my website and requested a Backgammon board pattern that featured a compass rose. I designed one special for her and she was very happy with it. It’s now available for anyone else as well on the website.
Our customer had shopped around for a designer that would do this for her. One designer wanted to charge her $800! She was amazed when I priced this for her at under $100.
If you are looking for a custom-designed canvas, make sure to drop me a line. You won’t be disappointed.