When I first started following Janet, I was immediately impressed with her meticulous stitching, her use of colors and her constant use of Bella Lusso wool and the elegance of her canvases. Throughout the years she has come to design a collection of wedding cakes and customized buoys which both became instant hits. This month, Janet will be introducing her wedding cakes and buoys wholesale that will be distributed by @plumdesign_. There is talk of other New England inspired canvases coming soon. I am absolutely thrilled to have Janet as our January Tête-à-tête.
1. For some of our readers who don’t follow you, could you please tell us a bit about your needlepoint background, how and when did you learn to needlepoint?
I began stitching when I was a little girl. My great grandmother, grandmother, and great aunt were always stitching something, and I think I just learned by being around them. There were always baskets of projects lying around their houses. My great grandmother stitched into her 90s, and my grandmother into her 80s. I still have some of their pieces. My grandmother and her sisters always were stitching things for each other, and to be honest, I don’t always know who stitched what!
2. You have designed one of the cutest wedding cake ornaments I’ve seen and also a series of buoys. Could you please give us a bit of the background of both of those?
Thank you! The wedding cakes came about after my cousin was engaged. I offered to stitch her something as a gift, and she wanted a wedding cake ornament personalized with initials and dates. I couldn’t find any canvases out there that fit the bill, so I designed one inspired by a piece that Alexandra Martin (@millenial_needlepointer) had created to commemorate her own wedding.
The buoys were originally designed as Christmas gifts for the ladies of Stitch Club Maine. Living on the coast of Maine, I love seeing masses of buoys hanging on a bait shack, and it struck me that they would make for a fun little canvas. The concept is so simple, and the more the merrier—all different colors and combinations of stripes. I think it would be great fun to finish a whole bunch of them as a garland. Plus, the motif can be used in so many different ways. I have done scissors cases, key fobs, sunglasses straps. Earlier this year I did a collaboration with Sarah Trucksess (@sct_designs), using the buoys on one of her amazing clutch designs. That canvas will be available for sale this spring through Sara’s distributor, KCN Designs.
3. You recently announced that you will be designing a line of needlepoint canvases under the umbrella of @plumdesigns_. Tell us a bit about that decision.
After I posted a photo of the wedding cake I designed to Instagram, friends asked if I would paint one for them. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had more orders than I could handle. That was the early days of the pandemic, and I was working remotely, homeschooling, and painting orders at night. I was overwhelmed, and I turned to my friend Joanna Somers at Plum Stitchery (@plumdesign_) for advice. She helped me to figure out how to shift to wholesale—turning the canvas painting over to a studio, and distributing through her company. The buoys will be available through her too!
4. What are you stitching at the moment? Do you tend to stitch multiple canvases at the same time or are you a one canvas at a time girl?
Oh goodness, I have a whole basket of works-in-progress! There are always about 5 or 10 projects going at any one time. There’s always an easy to-go project that I can throw in my purse. Then two or three large projects (like pillows or stockings), and a couple bedside projects. I just finished stitching Morgan Julia’s little ensign flag, and am about done with a sweet little canvas of a lemon wreath by Patty Paints. I am also working on a large canvas of lilies of the valley that has been in the WIP pile for more than a year.
5. I am always so impressed by your finished canvases, your stitching is so exquisite along with your color and fiber choices.
Again, thank you! I am not at all a fancy stitcher. I adore the simple look of basketweave in soft, luxurious wool. Its classic and timeless. But, color choice is key. I tend to stick to one type of wool thread, so I have developed quite a stash of it. In fact, I probably have the full line of colors at this point! As I am working on canvas, I am able to pull things from my stash if I find that something is not quite right. I also enjoy mixing in silk and metallic treads to create an effect, rather than using a fancy stitch.
6. Can you please share with us some of the goodies you have in your stash?
As luck would have it, I have just finished organizing my stitch stash for the year, so I can share that. It is helpful to me to have a game plan for the year (even if I don’t stick to it!). I have a pile of ornaments to stitch, along with a few big items. This year, I am in the mood for birds and animals! There is also a little series of things to stitch for my son.
7. Is there anything special on your wish list that you would like to stitch one day?
There are so many things! Most of all, I dream about getting through my stash! We are just finishing up a project to renovate our attic into a work and play space. It’s a beautiful, blank space, and I have been buying canvases with the space in mind. I am looking forward to finally diving into those pieces. Lots of blue and white, and nautical themed pieces (the space was once used as a sail-making loft). There is something so satisfying about working on a big long-term project.
And one day, I would love to do one of those large wreath canvases. There is a Barbara Russell one with woodland animals that is just divine. But, first I need to get my Christmas stocking done, and whittle down the current stash!
Thank you Janet for such a fun and informative tête-à-tête. We wish you much success with your new venture and can't wait to see your canvases in the shops very soon.