Steve Schlumpf contacted me after seeing my congratulatory posting on the WOW site in which I bragged about my wife Gail receiving her third Master Craftsman certification from the Embroiderers’ Guild of America.  He asked if I would be interested in writing an article for the Woodturners Unlimited site.  That was an easy question to answer as I enjoy bragging on my wife as I admire both her skill and her dedication to her art.  Her faithful support of my efforts in woodturning has always been beneficial to me.

One is not supposed to give out a lady’s age and I will just say Gail was born sometime in the past (Isn’t that enough information about a lady’s age?) in Petersburg, Virginia. She lived there until she went away to college and married me.  In college Gail majored in mathematics and is currently the Mathematics and Sciences Division Chair of a small liberal arts college in our home town.  She was first introduced to the needle arts by her mother and has always had an interest in art.

Gail’s art is needlepoint.  What is needlepoint?  Needlepoint is a form of counted thread embroidery in which thread is stitched through a stiff open weave canvas. Most needlepoint designs completely cover the canvas. Although needlepoint may be worked in a variety of stitches, many needlepoint designs use only a simple tent stitch and rely upon color changes in the thread to construct the pattern.  Because it is stitched on a fabric that is an open grid, needlepoint is not embellishing a fabric, as is the case with most other types of embroidery, but literally the making of a new fabric. It is for this reason that many needlepoint stitches must be of sturdier construction than other embroidery stitches.

The roots of needlepoint go back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians, who used small slanted stitches to sew up their canvas tents. Howard Carter, of Tutankhamen fame, found some needlepoint in the cave of a Pharaoh who had lived 1500 years before Christ. Modern needlepoint descends from the canvas work in Tent Stitch, done on an evenly woven open ground fabric, which was a popular domestic craft in the 16th century.

The development of needlepoint was influenced in the 17th century by Bargello, and by shaded Berlin wool work in brightly colored wool yarn in the 19th century. Upholstered furniture became fashionable in the 17th century, and this prompted the development of a more durable material to serve as a foundation for the embroidered works of art.

After we married we lived in Raleigh, N.C. while finishing school and it was there I first became enamored with her interest in needlepoint.  We both fell in love with a crewel embroidery kit featuring a field of wild flowers that was two feet tall and three feet long.  Gail was a lifeguard during the summer at a swimming club and each evening she would stitch on this giant piece of linen.  Until you have observed the process of covering a piece of canvas or fabric in stitching, you cannot have an appreciation for the time involved.  Our neighbor from across the hall in the apartment building would come over and measure the daily progress.  It took Gail the entire summer to complete that piece.  It was just a foreshadowing of the dedication she would show as she pursued excellence in her craft.

After that crewel piece Gail, like many needle artists, continued developing her skills with counted cross stitch. Over the years she explored many of the needle arts such as canvas embroidery, surface embroidery, hardanger, bead work, pulled thread, black work, stump work, and crazy quilting. 

Gail has concentrated her efforts over the years in creating framed wall hangings, many of which will be illustrated later in the article but she has used her skills to decorate many other objects.


A needle and scissors case with a canvas embroidery cover and surface embroidery rose motif.


A needle case and scissors fob with counted work and Hardanger.


Surface embroidery illustrating realistic shading on a small pillow.


A needle book, scissors case and pin cushion in crewel work.


A business card case in counted cross stitch stitched on linen.

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Friday the 15th. Thanks for visiting Woodturners Unlimited.