Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Art ~ What A Needle And Thread Can Do

My love of doing intricate embroidery and stitchery needlework came about unexpectedly, and I owe it all to my beautiful mother. The year was 1973. I was a teenager, recovering from surgery. My dear family showered me with gifts, and I still have them all packed away somewhere, but there is one gift hanging on the wall in my dining room.

It was Mother’s “hospital” gift to me—the very first piece of stitchery that I ever attempted—and it started out as a pile of yarn in a plastic wrapper, with a few instructions for completing.

Even though the stitches were simple, it is far from perfect. I keep it visible to remind me of many things, not the least being how my love for needlework began.

What you will see below are some of my needlework pieces. These are all either embroidery pieces, or what's called "stitchery." (I've never been into cross-stitching, although I do have a few pieces that I've done. However, they are not pictured here.) My "artwork" will never be worth much money, but these pieces are priceless to me.

The earlier pieces were small.

Ah ... mushrooms.

They were a big thing in the 70's.


In 1981, I underwent major surgery and Mother “rewarded” me again with a stitchery kit called, "Oriental Winter," only this time it was not a simple piece, but extremely complex and large. I'm not sure why I kept the instructions and left-over yarn, but I assure you the diagram was referred to so often it is split in every direction.

The end result would measure a whopping 18x26, and would take me a year to complete. That is mostly due to my giving up hope of ever getting it done a number of times.

I display this piece every winter, and still marvel that I actually completed it at all. Perseverance pays off.

When you work on a piece this large and this detailed, you have days when you can hardly wait to start working on it, and days when you can't bear to pick it up again.

I especially love the detail paid to colors and clothing.

Everything you see is done with a needle and thread.

One of my favorite pieces is this one of adorable kittens playing in the window.

Love, love the window shade.

The lace curtain was a difficult stitch for me, and there was a lot of trial and error.


My mother is partial to this piece called, "Oriental Ladies."


In 2006, my twin sister gave me a kit that scared the daylights out of me. I opened it up, studied the directions, which were about a paragraph long and the diagram, which appeared to be a nightmare.

There were some complex stitches that I'd never done, and I wasn't sure I wanted to learn.

Just interpreting the keys proved challenging, which is why I decided to stash the whole thing in the closet, convinced I would never find the energy to finish it, so why start?

But a year later, itching for a project, I pulled it out of the closet and took the first step … then the second one … until I had completed it.

It features a magnificent crocheted tablecloth, and I knew I would give it to my mother, who is not only the Queen of Crochet, but who also has a crocheted scarf almost identical to the one in this piece. (The finished product was difficult to photograph because of the specialty frame; the photo doesn't come close to doing it justice.)

The most difficult stitch, for me, was the Bullion Stitch, which just happened to be needed in abundance on the tablecloth. I managed to find a good tutorial on YouTube.

I love how the tablecloth looks like it's softly folded over in places.  Amazing how you accomplish all of that with mere needle and thread. (I hate to sound like a broken record, but I apologize for the fuzziness of the photo; very hard to capture behind the glass.)

In 2008, I presented it to the Queen of Crochet for Christmas. It took her a minute to realize it wasn't a painting. Needless to say, she loved it. No matter what my hands find to do, she remains my biggest fan.
These days, I keep my needlework simple, but if I ever decide to go all out again, there are several contenders in the closet, just waiting to be chosen.

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  1. My goodness...what wonderful work! That is one thing...I do every year for grandkids...and ornament...but I do not enjoy it!! Your work looks wonderful!!!

  2. That needle work crochet table cloth is amazing! I have done some needle work but, I,m soooooo in awe of your work. I'm sure your Mom absolutely cherishes it. Beautiful!

  3. I love the one with the tablecloth.. oh my its gorgeous.Love the little kitties too.Nice little collection, their worth is priceless.Sometimes those are the most special ones to have.


  4. Dayle, that's amazing. To gift it to your mother was so sweet. I love how you showed the progression of your craft. (I have 80's cross-stitch tucked away in a box somewhere.)

  5. Your "Orientals" took my breath away!

    Are you like me: Your favorite parts of handwork are the finishing? The details? The whiskers on the kittens? The outlines? The ring on the window shade? I force myself to do every other stitch, of course, before the finishing touches. And for my larger projects, I try to take "progress" photos. I love looking back at how far I've come, with dates.

    Also, do you stitch in the motorhome? I'm soooo thankful I can stitch, read, craft, cut, draw, etc. in the van while we're on the road. Many of my friends have to look out the window or they become motion-ill.

    Beautiful work, girl. I enjoyed every photo! And the one with Mama-- priceless.

  6. Ahhh Dayle I love to embroidery too love it. Bullion stich is one of my favourites :). Your work is beautiful.

  7. Thanks, ladies. And to answer your question, Kelley, yes, I love stitching when we're on the road. I do very simple pieces like dish-drying cloths, or edging on a pillow. It helps the time pass.

  8. Wow! Your talents have no end! Amazing work.

  9. I am very impressed! You are very talented to be able to do something like that. I've never cross stitched before. I guess it looks intimidating to me. I'm sure your mother will treasure that always. Thanks for stopping by and visiting me too.

  10. These are priceless and beautiful. I appreciate all the effort and long hours that went into making each one of these. My favorite is the one in the last photo.
    Yes, we do appreciate things so much more as we get older. Thanks so much for sharing these.

  11. Your needlework is just beautiful. You have a lot of patience, I would assume. Gorgeous work and priceless treasures.

  12. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! They're all lovely, Dayle, but I actually like the simple ones, especially the little girl in the blue with the doggie. I recently hand-stitched some curtains and I found it so relaxing. This must be a great hobby.
    Your seasonal quote is actually one of my favorites. Thx for stopping by.

  13. whoah! it took my breath away! or ok " I'm bloooown away! Amazing! You have great hands! and very very long patience. thanks for stopping by Dayle. see you.

  14. Well my gosh, Dayle. YOu are a woman of many , MANY talents. That needlework you shared is just magnificent. The one with the crocheted tablecloth is a heart-stealer. The kittens are adorable, too. You did a FABULOUS job. Thanks so much for sharing. Susan

  15. Dayle, your work is really gorgeous. My grandmother was a master at needlework. I have several things that she made. I always wanted to be able to do it too, but every time I tried, I made a terrible mess.

    I thought "Oriental Christmas" was my favorite, but that last one with the table cloth draping down is really different and stunning too.

    Loved them all. You really have a gift, and you have treasures.

  16. These are beautiful! You have more patience and perseverance than I do.

  17. WOW!! and I will say it again...WOW!! What beautiful work. I have done a couple of pieces over the years and did one kind of big one which I had professionally framed and it hangs in my utility room/office. It is not even CLOSE to yours. The table cloth one is possibly one of the most beautiful stitchery's I have ever seen...Just gorgeous. thanks for sharing them...Have a wonderful day!

  18. These are just amazing. I love doing different types of needlework but I have never tried have inspired me to perhaps try a simple project.

  19. A work of love with every stitch.
    When I see finished even unfinished pieces at a Thrift Store, I "adopt" them. The time, effort, and love that goes into each stitch in precious.

    Your art work is magnificent!

  20. They are all beautiful. The one of the tablecloth does look like a painting. Love them all.

  21. The pictures turned out great! You're the best stitcher I know!

  22. I am also in awe. All your pieces are beautiful.
    The tablecloth is so so beautiful!


  23. Just gorgeous! It looks like you actually crocheted that table cloth!!!


  24. Wow, she writes AND does needlework. I love, love the last one you gave to your mom. It's beautiful.

  25. Dayle, These are fabulous! I've not done embroidery, only counted cross-stitch, but my mother embroidered. Your pieces are wonderful, such intricate work. Glad you're holding on to them. Especially the tablecloth -- that is such an unbelievable piece! Thanks so much for sharing your work. Shows great strength of character! Joyce

  26. Wow Dayle, you are incredibly talented! I just love that Asian winter scene...the colors, the intricacy. Beautiful!

  27. Wow, that's all I can say, wow! Every one of your embroideries have something wonderful about them but that last one is absolutely amazing! I like to cross stitch and have done several in my time but I've never mastered your kind of embroidery. They're are all beautiful!


Dear Readers, I adore your company and your comments. If you ask questions here, I respond to them here, so please check back when you have a chance. Kind regards, Dayle