My own private Idaho

Green Pillow -front

Stitched by Betty

Well, it’s already more than a week into 2014.  Time for a post!

When I was young, Betty, my mother, taught me how to needlepoint.

Sometimes, she’d skip work to attend needlepoint classes in Bronxville, where I grew up.  Betty always made copies of the instructional material:  one page for her, the other for me.  And she’d buy two kits, one for her, and one for me.  I would have gone with her, but the classes were always in the morning, and I had to be at school!

Here’s an example of a booklet my mother assembled from one such class in 1973.  This particular one was given by Mrs. Montgomery, who lived nearby.  I guess she had a little company called Design Patch, long defunct.

Anyway, the cover page looks like this.  (You can click on most of the images to make them much bigger!)


Cover with Protector

Cover with Protector

Below is my copy of the cover page, with my name written in the top by Betty.  (She assembled the booklets in a polypropylene sheet protector, with the pages kept in place with that plastic spine thingie people used  instead of stapling — see the pic to the right.)


Here are the rest of the pages.




Betty wrote down on the back of this page the name of the book they were using.


It’s currently available at Abe Books  (see image below).  I still have my personal copy of the book in my needlepoint library. It has a piece of 10 mesh mono practice canvas stuck in the back!


Betty was such a meticulous student!






Pillow Design Trace

The green pillow you see up top was stitched by my mother. Green was her favorite color.  We used Medici wool for these pillows and I thought it had a nice texture, and was a departure from the usual Paternayan. Betty’s pillow has held up a lot better than mine!

The stitch that I had the most difficulty with, back then, was that basketweave background.

At the time, basketweave was done by “scooping” or “sewing”  rather than the stab and jab method used today. I found it a hard stitch to learn.  Funny thing is I never knew I scooped until the subject came up years later at a needlepoint store where I worked  in CT.

I named this post after the Gus Van Sant movie, which is about a young person’s search for his mother.   I’ve never actually seen this movie, but I hear it’s good.

Unfortunately,  I didn’t get to go to Italy to find Betty.  So I guess this post is just a sentimental way of expressing my appreciation for her teaching me needlepoint.

Happy New Year, Betty!

Needlepoint Pillow

Stitched by Erin

Erin McGrath and, 2012 – 2016


About Erin

Owner of Needlepoint Land, LLC. Professional in the field for more than 15 years, during which I have managed and/or worked with various high-end needlepoint shops. I enjoy teaching both beginners and advanced stitchers, and have created numerous stitch guides, with speciality thread selections, for in-store customers and private clients. I maintain contact with an extensive network of needlepoint vendors, custom artists, and, most importantly, reliable, high-quality finishers. I look forward to hearing your comments on my blog!

2 responses »

  1. Betty was a lot of fun; she was kind of like Lucille Ball, but when it came to needlepoint she was like Dinah Shore–she took this hobby very seriously. I had not looked at these notes in years, btw. She was impressive!

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