Back in the 60's and 70's needlepoint was as popular as knitting is now. It was enjoyed by housewives, celebrities, free wheeling single girls like myself - even football players! And the interest in the medium made fertile ground for talented designers who created beautiful projects for themselves and others. It was such a popular hobby that books were published and magazines had countless features on the craft.
What I like about needlepoint is it can be easy or difficult, simple or complex. You can decide how involved you want to get in fancy stitches and shading, but simple projects can be equally as compelling.
This bandana pillow is a good example of simple. The design is easy to recreate. It's from one of my favorite needlepoint books from the 70's - Better Homes and Gardens Needlepoint, 1978.
Slightly more complex are these needlepoint flowers from the same book. The petals are each done individually, then wired and taped to a stem - such a pretty detail in a room!
Of course you can get as complex as you want to. Also from BH&G This freeform design breaks all the rules and is a lovely example of needleplay.
Our last Better Homes example is the beautiful kresh done in an abstract style. The detailed shading and elegant painterly quality of the faces is just lovely - so modern and sophisticated, yet still retaining a sense of humor.
Men took to needlepoint in the 70's, like they're taking to knitting now. There was quite a faction of male needlepointers, The most famous was perhaps Rosey Grier, the LA Giants tackle.
He loved the art and published a book all about it and the men who do it.
Here's Rosey with some of his projects
Another talented male needlepointer was Louis J. Gartner, Jr. He published a book in 1970 (Needlepoint Design, A House and Garden Book) that featured some of the beautifully detailed work he did.
This is a good example of his work. Notice the sense of depth he was able to achieve in a medium not unlike digital photography. Each stitch is like a pixel. Take note of how he uses the diagonal tent stitch (the basic stitch in needlepoint) to his advantage by lining them up to create a pin that holds objects on the wall. I particularly love the shadows cast in this still life.
Needlepoint is due for a revival. It's languished in the land of teddy bears and folk art long enough. If you're interested in the more creative side of needlepoint look on eBay or Amazon for the books mentioned above. I also have a few books on the art for sale on Etsy. Have a look at those too!
We did an episode on the art of needlepoint a few years back. Here it is again if you missed it: