On Point- Kathleen Madden

I am very excited to feature Kathleen Madden as Lycette’s latest “On Point” feature! Kathleen is funny, friendly, and immensely kind- not to mention a wiz at needlepoint! I had the pleasure of meeting Kathleen this past summer on Nantucket and she was everything that I imagined and more in person. Fun fact, Kathleen was one of Lycette’s first followers and has been a huge support since our beginnings. Please read on to learn more about Kathleen and her love of needlepoint.

When did you first begin to needlepoint?

I grew up watching my mother cross-stitch.  She worked on items for us, including Baby Sleeping signs that she would put on the front door to deter the UPS guy from ringing the doorbell at nap time and even made a collar with my first name on it for one of my pre-school dresses.

The embroidery adds a certain panache my Achy-Breaky Heart mullet pageboy bob and Cabbage Patch Kid smile, no?

My mom was hot and heavy for a few years working on cross-stitch Santa pillows for close neighborhood friends and even made a pillow with “Santa Sat Here” on it that one of our babysitters thought was just the funniest.

Despite all of this, my sister and I did not grow up very crafty.  I started toying around with embroidery somewhere in high school when I tried to create my own version of a pair of Ralph Ralph Lauren jeans that were adorned with needlepoint flowers.  Let’s just say that the RRL ones I owned looked a million times better than the ones that I tried to mimic.

I didn’t really start until about three summers ago, when I decided to pull the proverbial mental band-aid off and learn to needlepoint, something that I thought was a million times more complicated than it actually is.  I have to give major snaps to the gang Rittenhouse Needlepoint for their patience and eagerness to help me (and any needlepoint newcomers) with my journey… a team who also happen to be fellow members of the Lycette fan club.

Why Needlepoint?

I love that needlepoint is the conduit that I have to give handmade gifts to friends and family to celebrate a variety of occasions.  

While far from heirloom-quality in my eyes, I do like to think that my gift of a Baby Sleeping sign will have more staying power than something that will be outgrown in a few wears.  That many people no longer make and give homemade gifts only creates a stronger resonance for the receiver of your labor of love.

As someone who is a Type-A ambivert, needlepointing is also a great excuse to hunker down for a timeout from the world and actually have something productive to show for the time on the couch that I *needed* to have so I could recharge my batteries, but not feel like I wasted the entire afternoon watching the BBC’s The Queen at 90 for the umpteenth time.

Favorite Project?

But they’re all my favorites.  I’ll pick the belt I made for my husband. 

My husband and I met through the sport of rowing; he rows and I am a coxswain.  He is incredibly humble about what he’s accomplished, so the Boathouse Row belt project is just about as good as it gets where I can combine and celebrate the passions in my life; rowing, needlepoint and of course, my husband.

Thankfully for us all, I ran across an exquisite canvas at Rittenhouse Needlepoint with all of the boathouses along Boathouse Row in Philadelphia just before our wedding this past spring; so my wedding present to Shane was the canvas and promise of a completed belt sometime this side of receiving his AARP card.  For those who aren’t indoctrinated in the cult called rowing, Boathouse Row is one of the sport’s Meccas, with a significant historical footprint both in the US and abroad.

What Do You Watch on a Netflix & Needlepoint Binge Session?

(Image via)

The Henley Royal Regatta, raced at Henley-on-Thames, England annual each July, is a pivotal and crowning glory moment in an oarsman’s life.

It’s quite hard to top Call the Midwife.  Keeping on the British theme, The Crown and Downtown Abbey  are obvious choices (Team QEII and Team Edith) and as mentioned earlier, The Queen at 90 (QEII is my vote for the ultimate beacon of girl power).  The BBC’s Escape to the Country series has gorgeous homes all over England, mostly all old and picturesque with low ceilings, an Aga and a stream or rolling hills just over the stone fence ::raises hand:: sign me up.

Dream Canvas?

As a proud daughter of the Dairy State, please consider this my official petition for Silver Needle to create a Door County canvas for their geography line.   

For those who don’t hail from God’s Country, Door County is the “thumb” of the state of Wisconsin that sticks out in to Lake Michigan… a Midwestern answer to Cape Cod.  I was lucky enough to spend time there every summer as a child, it holds many dear and happy memories.

To include on the canvas: Cherries and cherry blossoms (your Jeopardy fact of the day – this tiny peninsula produces around 10% of our nation’s cherry crop), sailboats, a skull and crossbones at the Northern-tip of the peninsula, known as Porte des Morts (Death’s Door)- a perilous stretch of water that caused many 19th and early 20th century shipwrecks for berths headed from or too Green Bay via Lake Michigan.  Additionally, seagulls, the Cana Island Lighthouse, where we were perpetually forced spent many happy family outings walking waist-deep via pebbled water with Tevas that came off halfway through the rocky walk out to the island that the lighthouse is located on, goats on the grass roof at Al Johnson’s, a caldron bubbling over with a fish boil (popular with the tourists – a pass in our family), hikers in Peninsula State Park, and of course, a stacked cone of ice cream over Ephraim where the peninsula’s premier institution of getting kids to behave through dinner via the promise of ice cream, Wilson’s, is located.

Silver Needle, you are more than welcome to send the royalties my way.

How many canvases in your stash?

Eloise HAS been my Spirit Animal since age five when my Nanny would on-demand make up endless stories about her for my sister and me.

Since I’m amongst friends, I won’t plead the fifth.  Over a dozen, including the “Eloise is my Spirit Animal” Lycette canvas that is a quarter-finished… every time I pick it up another friend is having a baby, so this one waits its turn between my rush jobs.  Is it weird that I have Baby Sleeping canvases for friends who aren’t even trying to have kids yet? Probably not as weird as the Tooth Fairy canvas with a hockey player on it that I have for my sister and former hockey semi-pro BIL (#needlepointhumor)… who  are only just expecting their firstborn. My sister discovered that Rittenhouse Needlepoint has a wishlist feature last Christmas and has created her own queue for at least a decade’s worth of Christmas ornaments that I am to make for her.

Where is your dream stitching location?

Nantucket is my dream stitching location! 

Can I say how lucky I was to have met Lycette this July when she hosted her trunk show at Skinny Dip?  A total pinch-me moment to get to meet someone who you have admired from afar for a long time, I love our little needlepoint community brought closer through Instagram.  I picked up *another* canvas for my stash and stood by as Jess answered a battery of questions from needlepointers new and old that would have tested even Google’s indexing capabilities.  From where to buy appropriate threads for a decades-old project, to four needlepoint stores in NYC, I was simply astounded by all of her knowledge, patiently and seamlessly shared in split seconds.

Last summer I started what I know is going to be a collection of Silver Needle’s Nantucket road signs; I stitched my heart out in a cottage on Hither Creek in Madaket on the Madaket canvas, while looking out at swans dart by moored boats in Hither Creek as the morning got under way.  This summer it was a Smith’s Point canvas, debuting on our Christmas tree for the first time. I keep on thinking of the SATC episode when Charlotte was back from her honeymoon with Trey when showing the gang a few pictures, “Bermuda shorts in Bermuda? You kids were crazy down there!”

You can follow Katie on Instagram @xooxKatieMadden, or use #katiecreatez to check in on her latest projects.

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