Our Tete-a-tete this month is with Helen Shultz, better known as @wip.itgood. Helen is from Houston, married for 8 years to Brent and has 2 beautiful daughters, Jillian and Ava and a mini Schnauzer named Zeppelin. Besides being a stay-at-home Mom, Helen is extremely active in her community. I first came across Helen, @wip.itgood the beginning of this year and was immediately impressed with her extraordinary array of canvases and her diverse use of decorative stitches. Helen is a meticulous stitcher and you can see that she puts a lot of love into her work. I highly recommend that you follow her if only to see her beautiful handiwork.
1. For some of our readers who don’t follow you, can you tell us a bit about your needlepoint background, how and when did you learn to needlepoint?
I am relatively new to the needlepoint world, though I have jumped in with both feet! I grew up with an appreciation for textile arts because of my mom, who hand-smocked many of my and my siblings’ clothes, made our hairbows, embroidered (and still does), and now quilts and felts as well. So, it seems only natural that I would eventually gravitate towards something like needlepoint one day.
I began my needlepoint journey in February of 2019. Prior to stitching, I had another creative outlet: deco mesh wreath making. Expensive, colorful and easy to go overboard, I made wreaths for every season and occasion. Are we seeing a pattern here?
When we moved in the summer of 2018, my husband was quick to point out that we had no more garage space for my wreaths. He gently suggested that I find a new hobby (and I’m sure he was hoping a less expensive one at that, ha!).
My friend, Diana, a wonderful stitcher and my mom encouraged me to give needlepoint a try. Smaller, easier to display and store, variety of beautiful canvases, productive thing to do with my time; it checked off all of the boxes.
In February 2019, I began taking classes at The Needle House in Houston with Nancy Laux and received excellent instruction, tips, and encouragement in my stitching. Those classes and the ladies of The Needle House helped give me a solid foundation in good needlework habits and the confidence to spread my wings and come up with my own stitches and try things on my own (instead of relying just on classes). The first canvas I ever stitched was this beautiful blue and white bunny from JP Needlepoint. I made it for my daughter, Jillian, and it is proudly displayed year-round.
I have also received an excellent education through classes and tutelage from Frances Jue of Stitches in Time. Frances’ creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, eye for luxurious finishing, and passion for the craft inspire me daily. She gets me out of my comfort zone, introduces me to new (to me) fibers and techniques, and always has an element of surprise and delight in her work.
A year and a half later, and I’ve fully embraced this wonderful hobby and the people I have met along the way. I still have lots of room for more finished pieces and our garage is no longer brimming with yards of mesh! Win-win!
2. What are you working on at the moment? Do you tend to stitch several canvases at once or are you a one canvas at a time girl?
I usually have 2-3 WIPs going at one time. I like having a big canvas (like a stocking or a larger standup) that I work on at night after the kids are in bed when I can really concentrate. I usually have 1-2 ornament-size canvases in progress for daytime stitching when I have a few minutes to myself.
Having a few WIPs at a time ensures that I don’t get bored with any one project. It’s also nice because I can stitch different things based on my mood. Sometimes I only have the energy and focus for basketweave and other times I’m ready to tackle a new or a more elaborate stitch.
I am currently stitching for the season and have three WIPs. Overall, I try to stitch my gifts for others or ones that are time sensitive at the beginning of the year. When my gifts are finished, I’ll focus more on projects for my family or me. Stitching this way helps me ensure I meet the finishing deadlines for Christmas and birthdays!
3. Can you please share with us some of the goodies you have in your stash? Is there a central theme to your canvases?
Yes, absolutely! I would say the most central theme to my stash is that my daughter, Jillian, likes it. She loves picking out what I stitch and is one of my biggest cheerleaders, along with my husband. It makes me so happy that she’s taken such an interest in needlepoint.
Up until now, I have mostly stitched for Christmas or year-round needlepoint. I just recently started a few Halloween and Easter pieces and am excited to stitch more for those holidays!
Here are a few of my current stash favorites:
- Champagne Chinoiserie, Cate La Vie
- Checked Bunny, Raymond Crawford
- Be Mine, A Poore Girl Paints
- Nativity, Kirk & Bradley
- Goodnight Moon inspired mini sock, Silver Needle
- DePauw Sweater, Hook & Harbor
- Snowman, The Meredith Collection
- Rockefeller Center Tree, DJ Designs
- Magic Angel, Debbie Woodard for Painted Pony Designs
- Fox in a basket, Ciao Bella
4. I’ve noticed that you use quite an array of fibers and different stitches, can you walk us through your thought process when you buy a canvas? Do you think of stitches or fibers when choosing a piece, or do you sometimes buy fibers knowing you will use them sometime in the future?
I usually buy canvases based on the following criteria:
- Purpose and a Place -Needlepoint is an expensive hobby! I have to have a purpose and place for the finished piece in my mind before I buy it. I also take into account the potential finishing costs after having a few expensive surprises here and there!
- Fun factor- I like to stitch things that make me smile!
- Mesh count/canvas size- I used to be strictly an 18-count girl, but I have seen the light and have come to appreciate a good 13 mesh canvas, especially when it comes to stockings. I tend to choose smaller projects in general because I find I have more places to display those projects. If you see me stitching a large piece, then you will know I must REALLY love it.
- Stitches and fibers- I do LOVE to use a variety of fibers and stitches in my work. Sometimes I eyeball a canvas before purchase and mentally go through what I’d like to stitch on it. I have a pretty good fiber stash going, so I always like to start there. If I find I’m missing some fibers for a project, I’ll usually gravitate to a fiber that I think best suits the area or most closely matches in color as well as durability needed (e.g. a purse needs different fibers than a seasonal standup). My favorite fiber to stitch with is Pepper Pot silk.
I try to have some self-control, but I have been known to buy some fibers with no canvas in mind just because I think I’ll need them in the future. I find that this thread hoarding comes in handy every once in a while, especially with wooly fibers like Alpaca from Rainbow Gallery.
5. Is there anything special on your wish list that you would like to stitch at one day?
My wish list grows by the day, but the canvases I hope are under the tree this year are:
- Patty Paints Halloween witches
- Silver Stitch Needlepoint Gingham Peeps Bunnies
- Kathy Schenkel Snowman Snow cones
Thank you Helen for such a fun and informative Tête-à-Tête.