My history

 This post camFe about because of two things. First I have been thinking about Sharon B’s challenge for July ( “What is it to be at the half way mark? For me three word lead to a mix of ideas. “Half”, “Way” and “Mark” all lead off into interesting directions that can be represented in all sorts of ways.” I have decided that I am probably “half way” through my life expectancy, but I know I have not learned “half” of what I would like to know. In some “ways” I know more than “half” and in other “ways” I have not hit the “mark.” Will I leave a “mark” on this world? Sure…but is it “half” the “mark” I should have or could have left? This is a very thought provoking, and I’m glad I’m doing the color scheme for the month….I know this is a cop out, but what can I say…This question is much to deep for a gal who just came out of the June fog! 

And then second, when I finally remembered to registered with Stitchin Fingers ( I thought about what lead me to this point and why do what I do. While roaming around here I came to realize I am but a grain of sand (and a small one at that) on a very large planet of creative people. There are so-o-o many wonderfully talented people in this world that I am constantly in awe. I realize how little I really know and how little I do compared with many of you so very talented people. One of my favorite teachers and mentor told me one time that you will never learn it all and if you think you have learned it all, you need to take up a new creative endeavor because you are not doing the your art justice. And my mother used to say you need to learn something new every day so the day is not a waste. So along these lines I think we can all learn from each other and in order to learn we must know where we came from… what lead us down this path? how did we decide to pursue our art? A friend says: “You are what your are because of those who came before you.” So with this thought in mind, here is my history…I look forward to reading yours on your blog or in my comments soon.
My creativity comes from my Grandmother Gordon. There was nothing she could not do…except reach the top shelf with her feet on the floor. She was one of 14 children, a wife and mother of two, a grandmother of two and lived to see 6 of her seven great grandchildren. She was very creative, I don’t know anything she couldn’t do. She did more in her 89 years than I can ever hope to do. She wallpapered a large dining room when she was 70 years old, this is not on my agenda! I have been very fortunate to have met, known and learned from some really talented people, not only in needlepoint but in many areas of my life. But my needlepoint history is…
These are the very earliest needlepoint of from our family. The three lower ones are the oldest and stitched by (l-r) My Grandmother, Florence Gordon; Me: and My Mother, Jean Gordon Scott. The second picture is my very first needlepoint, continental stitch (some creative stitches too, and even a missed area or two in the middle (see them in the third picture?). But not bad for 8 -10 years old. The forth pcture is my second needlepoint and I didn’t miss any stitches this time, it is the top picture on the right in the first photo. The top pictures were the second adventure into needlepoint and a family affair…my grandmother wanted all of us to do pictures for her. These hung in her bedroom until she passed and then my mother had them in various places in her house and now they all reside in my workroom (last picture). The first picture were stitched by: Top left – my cousin Melissa Gordon Dorssom; Lower left – My Aunt Donna Jean Gordon; Center my Grandmother; Top Right – me; Lower right my mother.
I learned to sew from my Grandmother and school, made the traditional towel and place-mat and napkin for sewing & cooking class. I made the traditional blouse and skirt in high school. Learned all the basics in school but grandma taught me all the shortcuts and tidbits. I never mastered knitting in high school and still haven’t. But my main interests were not stitching but … boys and art… and probably in that order. Went to college and then married (in my 20’s)… I was more interested in making a nest than stitching. I still sewed for myself and did learn to hand smock thinking I have a daughter and make beautiful clothes…alas we have three sons but I had some great maternity tops. I also learned to crochet and tried quilting, macrame, decoupage, oil painting, enamelling, egg making… just about any craft of the day.
Then Christmas 1972 (Yes, I remember the date), my mother gave my this needlepoint book for Christmas. Needless to say I thought this was a strange gift but it was one of several so I just smiled and said “Thanks.” When I asked her why she gave me this book she smiled and said, ” I forgot to tell my book-club not to send it and I didn’t want to return it.” Destiny!
The following summer 1973 our youngest son was hospitalized with unknown illness and it was a scary time. A friend brought me a Family Circle to read and one of the articles was: Teach yourself to needlepoint. I decided to try needlepoint, I sent my friend to a needlepoint store to by me three colors of wool, a piece of canvas, needle and scissors. Told her where the needlepoint book was on my cookbook shelf in the kitchen. If I was going to learn to needlepoint it was going to be more than 5 stitches.
These are the two pillows that started my current adventures into learning needlepoint. The blue, green and white Persian yarn is the pillow I did to learned many stitches. The brown pillow was my second design and I taught this at a local needlepoint shop and at my house for three or four years. You bought Carol Roma’s book; A New Look At Needlepoint…I gave you a poor picture of the canvas and two line drawings: one road map with the stitch name and page reference number in the book and the second road map gave you color suggestions –ie. lightest shade. Since you got to pick 3 shades of your favorite color tapestry yarn, you had to write the color numbers in. I looked closely at these pillows and I didn’t seperate the strands, let alone lay the strands. Talk about primitive teaching. I found these instructions at a garage sale one time and was so glad I had not put my name on these instructions.
I’ve been needlepointing ever since. When I first started needlepointing we had two kinds of wool: Persian and tapestry; if you were really adventuresome embroidery floss, perle cotton and Kreinik . We needlepointed in our hand as you can see by how distorted the pillows are and no amount of blocking keeps them square. We didn’t separate the stands of thread and a laying tool was an unheard of tool. The one thing I never did was allow a finisher to use rabbit glue on my designs. It was suppose too keep your canvas straight after blocking and many shops then recommended this process to keep canvases straight. It didn’t work, attracted unwanted bugs and also rotted the work.

 And the rest is history. My stash is overflowing but I never have all the right stuff. I’m collecting canvases and charts so my friends will have something to remember me by when they come to the sale my husband has been told to have if something happens to me ( he even knows who he is suppose to call). I have amassed a very large art and needlework library for my friends too. I belong to NAN ( EGA ( and ANG ( I’ve completed two levels of teacher certification with ANG. I have designed, taught, learned how to put all this on the computer for myself and other teachers and designers. I’ve taken and take classes from many great teachers. I wrote Diagonal Daring and if I would stay off the web I could get the revisions completed to reprint this book.
This is my history what’s yours?    






4 thoughts on “My history

  1. Hi Sue,

    I enjoyed reading about your history and now I’m inspired to write my needlework history on my blog.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Windy Meadow

  2. That is some history! I don’t have near the recollections you have but I may give it a try. I can pretty well guarantee it won’t be so interesting as yours. I don’t know but a tiny bit of what you know evidently as I didn’t know it was really necessary to separate the strands and a tool besides a stretcher or a needle? Hmmm.

  3. This is my first visit to your blog – It’s wonderful. I immediately spotted a person of my own vintage when I saw these sampler pillows – I started designing painted canvas in 1968, and by 1972, started the line Creative Needle with my Oriental porcelain “reproductions” (Imari). I will visit you often – good job!!

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