How I Started Needlepointing

This post was going to be about how to start needlepointing, but then I did what I always do and turned it into a super long, weird, crazy story and decided it's just too much to publish all at once. Instead, we're going to break it into two posts with today being about how I started needlepointing and tomorrow about how you can get started needlepointing. 

My Background + How I Got Started:
Needlepointing may (currently) seem like an East Coast thing with all the bloggers currently picking it up, but I actually think it started in the South! At least that's where I first heard about it. Going to U of Kentucky, one thing I noticed everywhere was needlepoint. People had keychains, hats, belts, bags, pillows, coasters, bookmarks, ornaments -- you name it, it was needlepointed. 

And while the beginning is unclear, I believe I started needlepointing in 2010 and decided to make a belt (you know, go big or go home) for myself. These were the it things on campus, and I didn't know any better, so off to the races I went! These are called "hobby belts" and it's meant to be a collection of what makes you, you. At the time, these were mine lol. Don’t judge!!

Outside of being called hobby belts, they were also known as breakup belts because you'd start on one for your boyfriend (it was customary to make this for your beau) and by the time you were done, you'd be broken up #collegelove. Meaning they take a LONG time to do!! I don't recommend starting with a belt as your first project. It's a daunting task.

We had a local store in town and the process is rather simple: you tell them what you want on it and then they paint your canvas in a week or two. Once it was ready to be picked up, the woman who owns the shop taught me how to do my first stitch: the continental stitch. 

It's the most basic, easy-to-learn, and most-used stitch there is. Once you do it a couple times, you rinse and repeat until you're done. It's that easy! If you're able, I would definitely recommend having someone teach you in person (small needlepoint shops are the best with this) but if that's not an option, there are SO MANY great tutorials online. Yours truly also has an IGTV showing you how!

Most stores will also do this for you if you're a first-timer, but be sure to ask for threads with your canvas. I always leave it up to the shop to pick out the colors, the thread type and how much I need. Usually, when you ask for threads, they will also include needles for your project. 

When they do this, it's called a needlepoint kit. Ask for your store to "kit" any canvas and they should be able to do it! It will be an additional cost, but a lot of times it's worth the hassle (you'll have to spend money on thread one way or another). It's the only way I've ever shopped. Leave it to the professionals, right??

Over the course of my four years in college, I made three belts: one for myself, my ex, and my dad, as well as a few other random knickknacks like keychains and sunglass straps. When I moved to New York in 2013, I was away from my needlepoint store, life got busy, and I stopped needlepointing! 

Fast forward to 2017, I bought Andrew a bulldog needlepoint belt from Smathers and Branson that was blue with bulldogs all over it (we love bulldogs). Around this time I thought: why am I buying this when I could make it? Why not make Andrew a hobby belt?

So for the next Christmas, I pulled the trigger and reached out to my local store to see if they could make something and ship it to me (which, was the beginning of the end for my wallet lol). I had never thought about it before: ordering with them and having it shipped. I didn't even think to get one local or find a store. I'm a creature of habit I guess.

We worked together on creating the belt (you can see that here + read all about how we made it) and from there it was like riding a bike. I had rediscovered the joy of needlepointing and how it was the perfect thing to do when traveling, during a rainy day, or at the beach. There will always be a great time to needlepoint. 

Once I finished his belt, I decided to take on my quickest, but most advanced, project yet: a ring pillow for our wedding. While the pillow is on the smaller side, we used a size 18 mesh (meaning the holes are very little) so it was a lot of stitching. This was the first time I was on a strict deadline (our wedding date) and had to factor in shipping time! Of course, I got it done (no better motivation!) and you can see that final work here, in these photos

After the wedding, I took another small break. Needlepointing (and paying to have things finished) is an expensive hobby and I didn't pick up a new canvas until I was back in Lexington in February. Any chance I can, I go back to my college store and see what "speaks to me" to start stitching. I love seeing things in person when I can (why I love following stores on IG so much) and getting inspiration for my next project! 

I decided on two ornaments (one of Lexington, the other of Nantucket). About a month later, I found myself at a store in Palm Beach, Lycette, and impulsively picked up two more canvases: one that I'll turn into a bookmark and the other is a brick cover. I thought it would be a great housewarming gift to ourselves for when we bought a house (which has now been moved back to 2021 lol).

Little did I know this would be the MOST ideal time to needlepoint! I've been able to spend my weekends needlepointing and watching all the romcoms on Netflix. I've gotten through an ornament and a bookmark and I've started on the brick cover.

I also have had my eye on a ginger jar scissor holder and finally was able to track it down from Chapel Hill Needlepoint. I'll be working on that when I want a break from the (very big) brick cover. 
I'm not sure what is next after those! I think a fun project to take on is painting my own canvases (or trying to at least). I'm waiting for my supplies to come in. I have a few ideas for canvases that I'd love to do and maybe sell in the future but that will all be TBD!

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