Why I Needlepoint

Yesterday, as I compiled questions for another “Women on Point,” I realized I have never told y’all why I needlepoint. Sure, there are hints that can be inferred from my Instagram– I grew up with it, I love beautiful things, I am mentally an 86 year old in a 26 year old body. But none of this answers WHY I needlepoint, and how my love of needlepoint led me to create Lycette.

My passion for needlepoint stems from the needlepoint community, and how in every needlepoint stitch there is a story. Through my time managing The Point of It All in DC I interacted with the most incredible aspects of the needlepoint industry- the community of customers, shop owners, designers, and finishers. As any needlepoint shop owner or employee can attest, when you work at a needlepoint shop you wear multiple hats and simultaneously act as a friend, needlepoint enabler, and counselor. Needlepointers don’t stitch simply to push thread through canvas; each tug of the needle imprints a story and an emotion.  You share joy with a customer as they purchase a stocking for a recently born grandchild, you cry with a customer’s child when they bring in a heaping needlepoint stash from their recently deceased parent, and you are ecstatic when a twenty-three-year-old walks in wanting to learn how to needlepoint. I cherish the relationships I formed with these women and men during my time at The Point of It All, and the stories they shared. So over a year ago when I started Lycette it was important that I create a platform to share their stories. This was how “Women on Point” was born.

            Through Lycette’s “Women on Point,” I have been able to highlight some of the incredible women who needlepoint. The series has engaged the needlepoint community on Instagram, and hopefully inspired new stitchers. But, most importantly, through “Women on Point,” I have formed new relationships and highlighted those that already exist within the needlepoint community.

            At its core, needlepoint revolves around relationships. It is a meditative craft through which one can express love in the form of a handmade keepsake. Every needlepoint project contains a story about a relationship- a belt made for an ex-boyfriend, a needlepoint stool stitched by a great-grandmother for her grandchild, a project needlepointed as a reward to oneself.  I needlepoint because I enjoy expressing my affection for others though homemade goods, but also because needlepoint helps me practice self-care.

            Although it is not apparent through my social media feeds that highlight brightly colored needlepoint, Herend figurines, bangles and puppies, I battle depression. It is something I have struggled with since high school. I have been on and off depression medication and visited many therapists; however, my greatest weapon against depression is needlepoint. This may sound exaggerated, but it is true. According to studies, crafting -especially crafts involving repetitive motions like knitting and needlepoint- can help lower depression, anxiety, and blood pressure. It is for this reason that if you go to an AA meeting, or visit a rehabilitation center, you will find these brave warriors hunched over canvases, their hands busily working away.

            Needlepoint has kept me centered throughout my parents’ divorce, the deaths of friends and family, and other family members’ struggles with depression and addiction. Of course, I needlepoint because I like surrounding myself with chic handmade keepsakes, but more importantly I needlepoint because it keeps me centered and calm. It provides an outlet for my neuroses and frustrations, offers a sense of accomplishment with each finished piece, and allows me to create and share beauty with those I love.

         I did not stumble upon the needlepoint industry.  I was introduced to the craft by my mother at a young age and, though she never pushed me to pursue needlepoint, from the moment I picked up my first canvas at twelve years old, I knew I had found my niche.  Lycette is the product of my lifelong love of needlepoint and my desire to share the joy and pleasure it can bring.

            After managing The Point of It All, I ached to escape the cold weather of the northeast. I moved back home to Florida, and seriously pursued opening a shop. My previous boss, Susan Battle, inspired me to create a community as engaging and beloved as her shop, The Point of It All. I was so dedicated to the idea that I even looked at multiple spaces, and had lease agreements in front of me; however, the idea of being tied to a shop at 24 was overwhelming, so I chose to engage the needlepoint community as a designer. I moved to my mother’s house in Vermont for 8 months and constructed the bones of Lycette. I was fortunate to have the guidance of the generous Tracy from Planet Earth Fibers. She steered me through the details of needlepoint industry, while I developed the Lycette brand and designed my first collection. It is because of men and women like Tracy that I adore the needlepoint community: it is filled with stitchers who encourage each other, and support each other’s ambitions.

            Starting Lycette has been immensely rewarding. I have met incredible women who have become mentors and friends. I am grateful to my graceful friend Andrea at The Glam Pad for always supporting Lycette, and highlighting my needlepoint company in posts on her blog. I cannot express enough how joyful it is to connect with and showcase Lycette’s “Women on Point.” It is the relationships and the community within the needlepoint industry that motivate me.

            However, I would be lying if all I painted was a rosy picture. Building Lycette from the ground up, as a one-woman company, has been immensely challenging. I do not have family working within the needlepoint industry, nor did I start out with close connections to bloggers and designers. As Lycette has grown, I have been faced with companies copying my blog posts, designs, and marketing techniques, even down to details of phrasing and picture compositions. However, facing these challenges has made me stronger and more dedicated to Lycette and its mission. I have learned when to hold my tongue, and when to engage. I have become a better communicator. I have grown my self-confidence. It is not easy being a one-woman bandwagon, but at the end of the day I can be proud of what I have accomplished thus far.

 Lycette has lead to opportunities I would have never imagined, like a collaboration with Dana Mahnke, a beloved and established designer I had been following on Instagram years before I founded Lycette. It is an honor to be able to adapt the artwork of talents like Dana and Caitlin Peters, Lycette’s newest collaboration, to needlepoint. I am amazed at where Lycette has taken me, and excited for where it will lead in the future.

Needlepoint is not only my business, it is my hobby, my passion and my life-long love. I am grateful for the friendships, support, and inspiration I have gained through my social media followers, shop owners, and friends. Your enthusiasm for needlepoint constantly inspires me. It is the needlepoint community that motivates me, the comments on Instagram, the encouragement from a shop owner to keep designing, and the e-mails from customers sharing their progress. I adore the needlepoint community, and am thankful for each of you.

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12 comments

  1. Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. Best wishes for a continued successful career and great happiness in your life!

  2. I loved reading this. As a former needle pointer, I relate to all that you have shared. I knit & have done so since I was 8 years old. My mother taught me. I find it relaxing, and also very therapeutic.
    Yes….Happy Stitching!

  3. Jessica, thank you for sharing your story. Needlepoint has been an important part of my life since I was a young child as well. My mother taught me to stitch. She was an accomplished embroider and quilter. She started me out on counted cross stitch and basic needlepoint, then taught me different embroidery stitches. I’m about to celebrate my 69th birthday, so I’ve been stitching a long time. Like you, it is my meditation, my means of relaxation, and my love of gifting something made with heart and hand. I’ve kept little for myself considering the years I’ve stitched, and like all stitchers my stash is far more than I’ll ever stitch in my lifetime. In fact, I recently gave a bag of canvases to a friend to share with her stitching group. What they didn’t want, went to the annual sale for the guild.
    I retired from teaching elementary school in 1998, but during my career as well as in retirement, I’ve taught young children to stitch. It’s refreshing and inspiring to see someone your age compassionate about stitching. Bravo!
    I admire your business sense, your designs and your story. I’m a follower and admirer of Lycette.

  4. Beautiful story, thanks for sharing your endeavors with us! All the best

  5. Thank you for your article. Our daughter died from depression this past October, she was 21. One Sunday I visited another church and they were lighting the 3rd advent candle of Joy. Verse Concepts
    “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. So Joy kept popping up here and there. So in Savannah’s honor I am going to stitch ornaments for her with Joy on them. There are a lot out there. Every time I work on it I think of our beautiful girl.

  6. Hi,

    I too know and understand how you feel. I have had 11 surgeries , have constant pain, am a single Mom, of two teenagers and have a elderly Mom I look after. I have stitched since I am 10, and am now 55, and am dealing with severe low back pain, which is hindering my stitching.
    Having stitching withdrawls, but back pain is so severe!

    It is such a feeling to complete a needlepoint and say “wow look what I made”.

    You should be “SO PROUD OF YOURSELF AND YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS”!!!!

    Reading your story made me SMILE!!

  7. I applaud you for taking the risk to start your own business and following your heart to needlepoint . I always wanted to have my own shop but ended up working in one which was the most fun job I’ve ever had . Good luck and have fun.

  8. I so enjoyed your story. My sister has needlepointed for years, she does beautiful work. She retired from her job and now works part time in a needlepoint store. I am so envious. Haha Only because she has a store that close. I live in Savannah, Ga. the closest store is Hilton Head. It would be great to have one close by.
    My DIL is moving to Ruwanada. She has just started to needlepoint. I suggested to her it would be a wonderful way to meet other.
    Your story makes me think no one will remember me for having a clean kitchen, but my grandchildren may remember the ornaments I have made them! Adler the now 6 year old asked for a Jet last year and a minion this year. He is such a sweet boy.
    I want to wish you the very best in your endeavors.

  9. I love that you have shared your story. It was great to meet you at the Dallas market with my daughter in law Rachel Donley. Good luck to you.

  10. What a beautiful tribute to the passion and practice of needlepoint! I found myself thinking yes, yes, yes as I read your post. One thing I’ve found is I sleep much better on nights when I’ve gotten to needlepoint.. even for just a few minutes. Needlepoint is such a wonderful pursuit because it is so easily enjoyed both alone and in the company of others. Makes a mindless car ride a productive endeavor.. provides comfort and protection when you’re at the bedside of a sick loved one. You captured the very essence of why people are lifelong stitchers. I am so excited to start the two canvases I just bought of yours. They will have a special meaning now. As someone who owns a business that also ‘inspires’ others to copy words, photos, etc, I’d like to encourage you that there is no substitute for talent and original thinking. Cheaters never win. Keep up your beautiful journey. There is a ton of support for your special gifts.

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