The history of needlepoint

Diana Oleson

The roots of needlepoint go back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians, who used small slanted stitches to sew up their canvas tents. Some needlepoint was found in the cave of a pharaoh who had lived around 1500 BCE.

Modern needlepoint descends from the canvas work in tent stitches done on an evenly woven open ground fabric that was a popular domestic craft in the 16th century. Further development of needlepoint was influenced in the 17th century by Bargello and in the 19th century by shaded Berlin wool work in brightly colored wool yarn. 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.

The first recorded use of the term needlepoint is in 1869, as a synonym for point-lace.

Common uses include eyeglass cases, holiday ornaments, pillows, purses, upholstery and wall hangings.

Royal needlepointers include Mary Queen of Scot, Marie Antoinette, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Grace and Martha Washington.

Modern celebrities include Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier, Mary Martin, Sylvia Sidney, Taylor Swift and Loretta Swit.

Note: American football player Rosey Grier wrote a book titled Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint for Men in 1973.

Needlepoint has been used to lower blood pressure, it is very relaxing and rewarding. Come join us on Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the Creative Arts Center. Bring your needle work or come and learn something new and make new friends.