Needles and Canvas

Art and the Importance of Trying

Wanting a lap project to work on while watching TV, I pulled a needlepoint canvas out of my closet and studied it. Not knowing anything about needlepoint, I watched a few how-to YouTube videos, found an embroidery needle, calculated that the six-strand embroidery floss already in my studio would work with the gauge of the canvas, and started needlepointing! 

Needlepointing seemed so mysterious; I thought I’d need an expert to tell me what thread to use, what size and how much, etc. But the need to create won out over more careful planning and without even sewing frames to the canvas to keep it square, I started running that needle in and out on the diagonal, fascinated with the smooth yet textured result.

I bought the canvas several years ago from artist Linda Holman Carter ( at the Litchfield Arts Festival. I love her colorful style of painting women and farm animals. The hand-painted canvas, at $50, seemed reasonably priced, even if I didn’t know how to needlepoint. It felt like a “retirement” project, one I’d be able to dive into and learn about when I had time. 

I also bought a 12 x 5.5 inch signed and numbered print of Holman Carter’s “Corn Maiden” painting. It’s framed and hanging in my art studio. Linda always sketches a little chicken next to her signature.

Linda Carter Holman’s print “The Corn Maiden” hangs in my studio.

I’ve searched Holman Carter’s website and am unable to find the name of the painting-turned-needlepoint-canvas shown at the top of this blog. The illustration of a woman at a garden table is 12 x 12 inches. You can see areas of open mesh that still need to be filled in, like the fish bowl, white lines on the tablecloth and the book she’s reading. I’ve made plenty of mistakes (using wrong colors, not keeping it 100% square, handling and mushing some of the completed areas) but that’s how we learn new things, right? 

While searching for another Carter Holman needlepoint canvas to work on, I came across some YouTube videos of artists who design needlepoints for Ehrman Tapestries.

What a glorious few hours have been spent viewing videos of these artists and dreaming over their offerings on Ehrman Tapestries website.

My favorite video is about artist Janet Haigh and her glorious Cre8-space, a fun workshop in Somerset, England! I watch Janet’s video over and over to hear about her creative process and see all the goodies she has created in many mediums, not just needlepoint designs. The video’s production quality is superb.

Janet Haigh Studio

Janet’s blog is also a treasure. She’s fascinated with textiles and started Heart Spaces Studio, “a place for all things textile,” where workshops are held and artists lease Cre8-space. On her blog, Janet shares works by other artists as well as photos showing her own pieces in progress.

Wanting to see artists in their personal Cre8-space, I quickly viewed the other perfectly-produced videos of Ehrman designers, like Margaret Murton, who is quite proper, Candace Bahouth, who is a little boho, Kaffe Fassett, who is a color-inspirationist, and Raymond Honeyman, who you just want to move in with and feel the calming and perfect blend of his masculine/feminine home decor. 

Here are samples of each artists’ work featured on Ehrman Tapestries website. Janet’s pieces are on sale now! I have a wish list going.

Janet’s Cre8-space video of her lovingly-crafted art remains my favorite. If you only have time to watch one, make it hers, and I hope you forget the rest of the world as you view it! (If you find a little more time, watch Raymond and then next Kaffe!)

Needlepoint isn’t hard and I encourage anyone with a passion for textile and needlework to give it a try. Kits can be expensive, though, so shop around… and wait for sales. I have so much more to learn about Needlepoint, Learn from my mistakes with these tips:

  1. Stretch your canvas before beginning. You can easily see how my Carter Holman canvas is skewed because I didn’t have the patience to stretch it before I started working on it.
  2. Cover your canvas when you’re not working on it to keep dust and other things (pet hair) from settling on the fibers.
  3. Wash your hands frequently when working and avoid touching stitches already in place, to eliminate soiled or worn-looking threads.
  4. Unless you have a stash of threads, I recommend buying kits that come with yarns, then you know the colors are exactly what the designer had in mind.

Below is my most recent project, purchased from Got Needlepoint?. I follow them on Pinterest and receive Brenda Stimpson’s e-newsletter via email, but you can do either/or because the same information is shared in both places (though it’s fun to see Brenda’s latest travel adventures and her needlepoint finds).

My current incomplete project: a 10 x 8-inch printed design.

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Cindi Brown


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