I am thrilled to welcome Elizabeth Donaldson as Lycette’s next “On Point” feature! I first met Elizabeth when she reached out to grab tea at The Brazilian Court. I was instantly charmed by her grace, poise, and confidence. Read on to learn more about Elizabeth and her love of needlepoint.
When did you first begin to needlepoint, and who taught you how to needlepoint?
For my mom’s 50th birthday two years ago, I wanted to give her something very memorable. She had always needlepointed gifts for my siblings and I growing up – the first project she gave me was a box to keep in my bedroom of an E for Elizabeth, surrounded by Edelweiss.
I decided that my gift to her would be to design and finish a brick personalized to her interests (a visual story of her life). The 5 bears along one side, for example, each represent a member of our family (my dad calls us the “bear cubs”). It was an ambitious first project but she loved it.
Who or what inspires you when it comes to needlepoint?
Definitely the ability to personalize. I love coming up with ideas for projects based on individual or family traditions. You can really create the best gifts on any scale with needlepoint, and they are the most memorable to receive. My mom made for my dad’s 50th birthday the most amazing slippers which celebrated all of his interests. There are pheasant, salmon, stags, heather, American and British flags, and (more) bear cubs. He wears them every New Year’s Eve and on special occasions.
You can really create the best gifts on any scale with needlepoint, and they are the most memorable to receive.
The lineage of women who needlepoint are also an inspiration to me as are the women in my family who needlepoint. Most needlepoint projects live in homes so there is something so magical about thinking of women living among their needlepoint projects that are as important and personal to them as our family’s are to us. I love seeing needlepoint in homes and asking about the stories behind each project.
Most needlepoint projects live in homes so there is something so magical about thinking of women living among their needlepoint projects that are as important and personal to them as our family’s are to us.
Lastly, art and fashion absolutely influence my needlepoint design and project ideas – I love designing canvases for new projects. I am often tearing pages out of magazines or auction catalogues, and using Pinterest and Instagram to save details to have on hand for future projects.
Where is your favorite needlepoint shop? What do you love about it?
I am in love with Lycette’s purple fabric canvas edging, and cannot wait to spend more time in the beautiful store this season. In Manhattan, Annie’s & Co for fibres, and online I love Rittenhouse Needlepoint which has an incredible selection and finishing team.
I lived in England when I was younger and remember going into WHI Tapestries on Pimlico Road in London with my mom during those years (fun fact Princess Diana also used to shop for canvases for Prince William and Harry there). The shop unfortunately closed, but the owner still develops canvases out of her home in London which is wonderful because she has the most beautiful, traditional designs.
What do you like to watch during a Netflix & Needlepoint session?
Friday Night Lights is one of my go-to favorites and The Crown. When I visit my grandmother we always choose an old movie to watch while we needlepoint – the last we watched were Casablanca and Rebecca.
When I visit my grandmother we always choose an old movie to watch while we needlepoint.
What is your personal style, and how do you needlepoint projects reflect it?
I love how Aerin Lauder summarizes her style: traditional and feminine with a modern twist – I think that is accurate for me as well. When I consider a project I like to think that it will be lived with for years to come, so I absolutely gravitate toward more traditional projects with designs I fall in love with (or create).
The same could be said of my approach to style. I only purchase pieces I feel emotionally connected to and would want to live with and wear for a long time. If I’m not obsessed with something I will not buy it. Adopting that approach has served me well as I love everything in my closet and feel that it is an extension of my personality. I think I can say the same about my project history.
I only purchase pieces I feel emotionally connected to and would want to live with and wear for a long time.
If you were to host a stitching get together, what would you serve?
If hosting over a weekend I would (and have) serve(d) Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova with rose petal or fresh mint tea. If hosting at night I would serve homemade popcorn with melted butter and Maldon sea salt, and drinks on embroidered cocktail napkins because women who needlepoint usually also appreciate beautiful tableware.
What project are you currently working on? What has been your favorite project to date?
At the moment I am in a race against time to finish a brick for my closest friend’s wedding gift, inspired by the lily of the valley flowers she is planning to carry in her bridal bouquet. I am planning for it to be quite similar to a floral daisy brick which my mom made for my grandmother years ago.
Christmas ornaments are my favorite projects – I am slowly working on the Kate Dickerson 12 Days of Christmas ornaments. Christmas is my favorite time of year and I love hanging needlepoint ornaments on the tree when decorating – there are so many beautiful canvases to choose from.
What is your dream canvas?
My dream project at the moment (which I hope I will get to in the next year or so) is to create an Olympia Le-Tan inspired needlepoint clutch. I love her clutches and have a small collection – each one I own is connected to one of my favorite interests or memories.
My idea is for my mom, sister, and I to each stitch needlepoint canvases for one another with the American and British flags tiled across them in reference to the 17 years we lived in England, so we would all have matching clutches that we made for one another.
A future dream project would be to design dining chairs for each family member with their favorite flowers on each (an extension of the E for Elizabeth box my mother made for me). Our family has very formal family dinners whenever we are together, and it would really commemorate that tradition.
A future dream project would be to design dining chairs for each family member with their favorite flowers on each.