Betty Chen Louis

I am breaking one of my personal rules about commenting on another teacher’s work, especially when I had a small part in its production. I am doing this for two reasons:

#1.  I want to give those of us who do not design an idea of how long it takes a concept to go from rough draft to completion. This is but a small part of the design process.

First is the “Idea phase”; this can be as crystal clear as Stuben Glass (  or just a vague concept and may take a an hour, day week or month(s).

Next is the “Incubation stage”, this is another time variable; it can be long and arduous or short and to the point. This phase is the “what if” phase. What if I try this technique with this thread? 

Next is the “Execution phase”; this is the one that where you pick chose and try the threads and stitches you have visualized in the “Incubation stage” and hope they work without a hitch. How long does this take…until the designer/teacher is happy with her work.

Next is the “Planning Phase” and I like to tell teachers/designers this should be done in conjunction with the “Execution phase”.  Write down (“Planning Phase”) what you do in the order in which you do it (“Execution phase”.) It helps the designer teacher remember what she/he did when they go to write their instructions and it makes the graphic editor’s job easier too.  If instructions are written as we go about the same time as “execution phase”…If not add an extra week or two.

“Production phase” is when the teacher instructions, student handbook or stitch guide is written, proofed, re-written, re-proofed until it is as good as the teacher/designer feels it can be. This phase also includes photos of the project. Somewhere in this process the teacher/designer usually pilots the piece…tries teaching or allowing someone to stitch the project with the written instructions. Then usually there is more rewrite. Then it is off to the printer…This is about 2 to six months or longer depending on the size of the project.

Even after it is completed at the printer it may take longer to reach you the stitcher…If this is a project that has been submitted as a teaching piece for one of the four major stitching venues; ANG (, Calloway Gardens,  EGA (, NAN ( ; it may not be released until after it has been taught at the event and depending on the popularity of the piece may be chosen by another event and even local guilds.

So, by the time this piece reaches you as a class piece or even a retail piece, it could be a year or years. Remember this when you take a class or buy a “new piece” and one of the threads on the materials list has been discontinued. Your local needlepoint shop or the teacher will usually have a suggested substitute handy.  

So with this in mind, remember in  Jan 2009 ( ) I mentioned great things were coming….it has arrived ( . Betty Chen Louis is releasing a design and is going to also teach online at Shinning Needle Society ( ).

See how long it takes for a project from just the planning phase to today!


In my opinion, Betty Chen is one of the greatest teachers in the needlepoint art community. What an opportunity! I so agree with Gay Ann Rogers:

( “I think Betty is the mistress of line and color and if you look at her work you will see why she holds the title. Betty is all about subtlety and transition, about the flow of line and the organization and use of space in a design.”

( “Here is another opportunity to see more work by the person I think is the best designer/teacher now working in my world of needlework, so don’t miss the opportunity to study her sense of line and color.”

And since I have been compensated and will receive nothing more than the satisfaction and pride of knowing that I was asked to be a small part of this endeavor I am going to extol her greatness shamelessly. I was privileged (And I do mean privileged!) to be asked by Betty Chen to assist her in this project; I was but a drop of sand in this very creative process. I have been needlepointing for well over 40 years and have been a member of the stitching organizations for better tan 20 years. I have known Betty for many years and have always been in awe of her creativity and knowledge.  I have signed up for two of Betty’s classes and got sick one time and was in the middle of a house remodeling the second and so when Betty asked me to help with this project I jumped at the idea.  I even shamelessly suggested I should stitch the project as I did the work. Betty agreed and I was very privileged to receive one on one instruction if I needed.  I would just ask a question to hear her talk.  If you have the time, do not miss the chance to take this class online at Shinning Needle Society ( )…the only thing better is to have her live in a class! Betty is truly one of the Masters of Needleart, a truly gifted artist, and just a wonderful person at heart.  

And check out Gay Ann’s website ( to see more of Betty Chen’s fabulous work.

Okay, now I broke my rule, BUT it is my rule and I can break it for greatness.


P.S. Here are my hearts…I love them! They are a cherished memory of my brief time with greatness.


My NAN Entry

Two posts in one day…

very unusual for me but when I have the time to catch myself up I need to take advantage…so…


This was my entry into the NAN ( Exemplary as a Non-Original Professional with instruction. It is as yet an untaught piece by Eileen Aird, who owns Ridgewood Needlepoint, Ridgewood NJ. (  I have permission to use the picture and to talk about the piece from Eileen. This is a class teaching piece designed by Eileen and as yet not taught…I knew about it because I did the stitch diagrams and page layouts for the student handbook.

I liked this piece because I live close to the Kansas City Country Club Plaza (;   and  I always try and buy and want to stitch pieces that depict the Plaza. NAN is held on the Plaza too, so if you come you will see the Plaza from your room. The Plaza is a great place;  shops, hotels, fine dining, carriage rides, and is usually decorated for the season. This time of year we have bunnies on the Plaza and it is a tradition with many families to go to the plaza and have your picture taken standing by the bunnies. At Christmas, the Plaza is a winter wonderland; all the buildings are outlined with electric lights and it is a magical place. Until a two years ago there were no stop signs and few traffic lights on the Plaza but with the enlarging population, and less thoughtfulness of drivers this has changed.

I thought Eileen had chosen interesting architectural buildings to demonstrate needlepoint techniques. The curved dome on the right of the piece only had the left lines marked on the canvas, so as the student you are to mirror this on the right side making the dome symmetrical. To help the illusion of a smooth curve a couching technique is applied to this  roof. The building on the left uses mirror stitching to present perspective and change of direction. And the center tower shows perspective by using similar stitches that either vary in size, direction or variation. This was a fun piece to stitch and a great intermediate class to try beginning mirror and compensation techniques as well as good stitches to use as architectural elements.  

This will be a great teaching piece and does not only represent the Plaza but any architecture that has a Spanish, Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern elements. I enjoyed stitching this piece and it will hang in my dining room in a place of honor with my other Plaza pictures that I frame.


Spent the Day absorbing

Yesterday I indulged myself and spent the day absorbing needleart.

I went to the final day of the NAN (National Academy of Needlearts) Exemplary show. NAN has there annual conference in Kansas City, Mo. It is a week of classes and the exhibit with excellent teachers to motivate and inspire. You can read all about NAN on their web site: and even look at many of the former prize winners of past Exemplary exhibits. It is pretty inspiring.

One of the things that really impressed me was a entry from Mary S. In her artist statement she stated that she prefers to work in “…’common materials’ cotton rather than silkmaterials accessible to everyone”…and “by keeping the cost reasonable can motivate /inspire others.”  I think silk is a great old thread, it is expensive but I still do not have a problem using silk. I think many of out antique needlework pieces are stitched in either silk or cotton and look how long they have lasted. But in theory I agree with Mary, I think it is nice to use the new threads and without them our needlework would be very boring, but sometimes from a teaching/designing point of view this can be very frustrating. Sometimes by the time a design gets to the retail level threads have been discontinued. If you are designing a piece for teaching, this can be very frustrating since the teacher either has to try and buy up enough of the discontinued thread to teach the piece at least once (maybe more if she can buy enough thread) or find a substitute for this thread without disturbing the color and design balance of the piece. Usually this replacement involves stitching a new class model too. And sometimes using the old stand-bys is no guarantee either…who would have thought DMC would discontinue Medici.

Another thing that really inspired me and I hope motivated me were the color and design notebooks of the teaching candidates. I love color and design and have taken many color and design classes, I have shelves of books on color and design, AND have this computer paper box(s) filled with “stuff” that I have saved for a color and design notebooks. I even have the 4 inch notebooks sitting on the shelf but the box and the notebook have yet to come together. It is one of my “round tuits.” I am motivated to work on this project!

After a great lunch with friends and many of the NAN participants, I picking up my entries in the Exemplary ( 2 of the February TIF temari balls), and I headed home with my mind full of good ideas and great intentions.  And yesterday was another beautiful day…a taste of Spring and today promises to be another beautiful day before the rain comes in.

Have a beautiful day! ttfn…sue