News flash: needlepoint is no longer a quirky craft of our grandmothers’ generation. Needlepoint is cool.
Don’t believe me? Check out Tess and Thorn, a contemporary needlepoint canvas line started by two badass female college graduates, Brooke McGowan 23, and Tess Nagle 30, with “a mission to feed an age of addiction with some fresh threads and some soul stitching.”
We all know that summer is the best time to learn something new, be it a language, how to make the perfect margarita, how to surf, even how to needlepoint.
Initially, Tess was introduced to needlepoint by her mother as a way to reduce stress. Hesitantly, she agreed to look into it. Lucky for her, Beth Nagle, Tess’s mother and a needlepoint designer and fine artist based in the quiet town of Dorest, Vermont was willing to teach her the ropes. To her own surprise, Tess fell immediately in love with the art of needlepoint – from the first few stitches, Tess says that she had “found her calling.”
Brooke, a recent graduate and artist from St. Lawrence University also living in Vermont with a need to feed her inner starving artist and explore her artistic interests further, decided to team up with Tess to help share the art of needlepoint with others.
Brooke says, “We both owe it all to our mothers. Plain and simple. The results are what inspired us to keep going. Tess started by acting as an apprentice for her mother, painting and stitching designs. My journey began with a blank canvas and some freestyling.
The one attribute that we both took away from needle pointing is that it was a platform to visually and creatively meditate. Whether you’re surfing, stitching, hiking, biking, or heck, shopping, at the root of it all, the act of doing what you love allows you to connect. To connect with your Self. To connect with others. To connect with the outside world and ultimately, shape your world view. To perpetuate an existential exploration of the Self through a meditative act.
We call this journey soul stitching and for this reason, we also call it a wave. Waves come and go, some big, some small. Some pack a punch and some are lost before they muster the energy to reach the shore. No wave is the same and no wave is alone. The repetitive motion of needlepoint can be an incredibly beneficial (and productive) aspect of your daily routine”.
For Tess, needlepoint is “a way to bring life back to the present. To awaken and focus on every moment of life and observing her experiences”. It is in this way that both Brooke and Tess hope that their own needlepoint line can help other women do the same.
Still not convinced needlepoint is for you? Check out Tess and Thorn’s badass contemporary designs below. Each canvas is hand-painted to be hand-stitched – made for you and by you. What’s not to love?
When asked what inspires their designs, Brooke took time to mention the inspirations of her family, teachers, friends and environment,
“I am very fortunate to have been raised around creative people my entire life. From art collectors, interior designers and creative DIYers with impeccable taste to fashion designers and art teachers and professors, I have been subconsciously absorbing and developing my aesthetic since I was a child. This aesthetic then translates to a creative intuition. The best way that I can think of designing is like waking up from a dream. Sometimes I’ll wake up with literally 50 designs in my head and have to desperately find my sketchbook to write them all down. By the time I get to the seventh, the others will have drifted off into the abyss, looking for the next artist to turn them into reality”.
That said, Tess and Thorn not only sell ready-made designs through their Etsy shop and website but also take custom orders – talk about a power couple. Brooke said, “I even found an email asking if we could design a custom Beyonce canvas. I was like duhhhh, it would be an honor.”
Even so, I wanted to know what inspired the two to take their love of needlepoint from a simple hobby to the next level as a business, Brooke said,
“There are eight million reasons why you should take up needlepointing. Trust me, I know that on the surface, needlepoint can come off as being kind of dorky. But in truth, it lets you do something cool. Needlepoint allows you express individuality while creating something that no one else will have. Due to connotations of our grandmothers, you could even say there’s a secret society of stitchers. In fact, it wasn’t until Tess & I launched our line that I found out one of my best friends needlepoints”.
She also noted that in making their passion into a business, they are able to share the many benefits of needlepoint with others. Benefits that include “visual meditation opportunities, relaxation, envy-worthy results. There are few other monotonous hobbies you can do that result in such beautiful works that will last for generations. I love the fact that although I only spent a few years with my grandmother, I can hold pillows that she created with her own hands. You can customize projects, give them as gifts, create your own couture and be your own interior designers”.
Even celebs like Taylor Swift have begun their journey with soul stitching and feminists around the country have taken to needlepoint as a creative outlet and as a soft-spoken way of speaking their mind.
Take artist Elena Adler for instance, with her needlepoint series “You Are My Duchess” in which she has cross-stitched the (often vulgar) words of cat- calls yelled at her while out on the town.
What better way to create physical proof of these infractions than through a medium people normally consider being a traditionally feminine art form? It is in this way not that Alder is aiming to beautify these verbal assaults but rather call attention to their inherent obscenity and force viewers to take a stand in putting catcalls to rest.
Now do you see? Needlepoint is not only a relaxing pastime, nor simply an art form, it’s an oasis, a call to action, a journey for the soul – it’s easy to understand why our grandmothers were so obsessed.