Dyed and Gone to Heaven – An Online Magazine and Needlework Resource  

Award Winning Designs from the 1999 ANG National Exhibit

by Rita Vainius

Let's start out by saying, "It's not your grandmother's needlepoint!" Many stitchers are familiar with the traditional needlepoint of the past - shaded roses or other flowers with the background filled in with either black, maroon, green, navy or beige. They were ubiquitous - displayed on dining room chairs, a piano bench or footstool. In many cases, the stitcher of old even bought the canvas with the flowers already worked, requiring her to just fill in the background with tapestry wool in a tent stitch. My, how things have changed, and all for the best! Contemporary needlepoint is fresh, new, inspired, invigorating, experimental and innovative. The technique now encompasses a wonderful variety of disciplines. No longer are stitchers confined to tapestry and/or Persian wool or the other old stand-bys - pearl cotton and embroidery floss. Today's market offers a huge array of glorious fibers from fine wools and cottons to silks, linens, novelty threads as well as paper, fabrics, ribbons and threads that have been overdyed. Not to mention the explosion of charms, beads and other embellishments to choose from. We aren't even confined to "needlepoint" stitches, intriguing as they are. Today's needlepoint features techniques borrowed from Hardanger, blackwork, drawn and pulled thread work and surface embroidery.

For some insight into what and where needlepoint is today, The Caron Collection is proud to display works designed and stitched by some of the ribbon winners from the 1999 National Exhibit of the American Needlepoint Guild held in Atlanta, Georgia. We extend special appreciation to Gail Sirna for her descriptions of these exceptional pieces of needlepoint.

Note: all the designs are shown above the name, designer and descriptive copy.

Among the Leaves - designed and stitched by Jean Udd
A fabulous non-traditional example of canvas work employing fabric manipulation, needlelace over a wire frame, overcast plastic rings, sheer ribbons on a gently color-washed canvas. This piece could be considered avant-garde and iconoclastic.

Butterfly Box - designed and stitched by Pat Morse
This box is constructed of a color washed Lugana lightly embellished with a gossamer butterfly, whose organza wings are stitched onto a fine wire. Flowers of ribbon embroidery, surface work, and needlelace are employed along with unusual objects such as washers, covered with fine stitching. This is a wonderful example of needlepoint taken totally away from the traditional.

Emperor's Coat- stitched by Brenda Hart
Designed by Joanne Frerking
Adapted to needlepoint canvas for Brenda by Waly Young
This exciting piece of needlepoint was adapted from a painting by Joanne Frerking with her permission. It is worked mostly in conventional canvas work stitches and relies on the dramatic effect of color for its impact. Numerous threads, lovely beads, and an unconventional use of glittering or nué are beautifully combined in this eye-catching piece

Arbor Day Inspiration stitched by Stephanie Mallozzi
Designed by Sue Newhouse
Adapted to needlework by Stephanie Mallozzi
The artist used an interesting bookmark as her design source and took it to new heights of embroidery expression. She carefully achieved perspective by the texture, sizing, and placement of her stitches but also innovatively added a layer of sheer silk to create a misty impression. This piece is stitched in silk, hemp, and pearl cotton. Though stitches are basic, they are extremely effective.

Bargello Symphony- stitched by Penny Boswinkle
Designed by Loretta Spears
This piece is stitched from a chart by Loretta Spears on fine rose Congress cloth with the most delicate and beautiful threads and beads. It is notable for the lovely use of color, the exquisitely laid stitches, and the subtle use of metallics. The charted design intrigues the stitcher with its use of stitch patterns assembled in an abstract fashion.

Poppies - stitched by Pat Dowse
Designed by Jean McIntosh
Of all the pieces in the 1999 Exhibit this comes closest to being traditional needlepoint. The design consists of intricately shaded flowers all worked in tent stitch (either Continental or Basketweave) and was taken from a chart. That is where the similarity ends. This lovely example was stitched on 40 count silk gauze in various cotton flosses and is especially notable for the stitcher's prowess in leaving no telltale lumps or bumps when changing colors - not an easy achievement.

Camelot stitched by Susanne Nash
Designed by Catherine Coleman who dedicated the design to the memory of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis - 1929 - 1994.

Victorian designs are popular with today's needlepointers because of the lavish use of ribbons, metallic threads, raised stitches, and especially the extravagant use of beads. This pillow, worked from a charted design by Catherine Coleman is especially notable because of its finished shape as a bolster pillow. This design could be considered traditional but its interpretation is definitely late 20th century.

Spirit of the Southwest by Carol Cardoso
Designed by Susan Portra

This charted design by Susan Portra was interpreted by the stitcher in the subtle colors of the Southwest. It encompasses many textured stitches and eyelets embellished with much long overstitching. Samplers from charts offer the stitcher an attractive predictable design, which challenges her knowledge and facility with stitches.

Mindy's Flower - stitched by Victoria Nessel
Designed by Mindy of Mindy's Needlepoint Factory

This painted canvas design is superbly stitched completely in tent stitch. Especially remarkable is the very fine degree of shading in the flower achieved with careful and extensive blending of threads. This piece is an excellent example of a traditional design skillfully rendered to achieve its maximum potential.

Silhouettes - stitched by Amyee Johnson
Designed by Gay Ann Rogers

The design is executed primarily in blackwork patterns that are similar, but not identical, in the two halves. Simple tent stitch and straight stitches enhance this design and some goldwork elements are included. Gold paillettes and pearl beads are also used. This very up-to-date interpretation of a classic art form is a design by Gay Ann Rogers and superbly worked by Amyee Johnson.

Visions of Sugarplums - stitched by Donna Neilson
Designed by Jean Hilton

This eye-popping and intricately detailed Christmas stocking is a Jean Hilton design using innovative stitches devised by Jean herself. It provides exciting stitch challenges with many imaginative stitches, featuring coloring that is balanced, yet commanding. In addition to the usual array of cottons, silks, rayons, and metallic threads the stitcher has embellished it with genuine Austrian crystals.

My Sister and Me - designed and stitched by Gail Sirna
Inspired by the cover of a Nieman-Marcus catalog, Gail Sirna depicted 1940's childhood as a primitive design. The children are worked in traditional needlepoint stitches, with some raised effects achieved by silk gauze appliqué (the doll), the use of ribbon, and highly textured stitches such as Chinese Knot (the curly hair). Flowers are executed mostly in embroidery stitches such as bullion, buttonhole, lazy daisy, and French knot. .

For more winners of the 1999 ANG National Exhibit and for what they and the winners above have to say about their own works, go to:

For more information about the American Needlepoint Guild, see their website at:

To see the winners of the National Exhibit which took place from September 1 to September 8, 2000 at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Crown Center, check the ANG website around January 1, 2001.

Future Seminars are planned for 2001 and 2002. The committees for these seminars are busy organizing, planning, and working. Mark these dates on your calendar now and see the Exhibit in person!

August 31 to September 9, 2001 - Washington, DC Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Virginia
September 20 to September 29, 2002 - Albuquerque Hyatt Regency Albuquerque and Doubletree Hotel Albuquerque

The Caron Collection would like to extend special thanks to ANG National President, Diane Trobaugh, and Director for Educational Services, Susan Davis, for their extensive assistance in making this exhibit possible.

© 1997 The Caron Collection Ltd./ Voice: (203) 381-9999, Fax: 203 381-9003

CARON email: mail@caron-net.com