24th November 2023

After sharing some of Andrea’s thoughts from the September-October issue of Needlepoint Now magazine in last week’s All Stitched Up!, we continued reading and came across an article entitled ‘The History of an Heirloom Rug’.

‘A woman’s love of needlepoint produces an heirloom rug and two avid stitchers.’

Having just written about how needlework journeys begin and continue, we read on with much interest as Carlotta Beck unpacked not just the story of a UFO that was decades in the making, but also the details of how one lady’s passion for all things needle and thread was passed from one generation to the next.    

The article centred around Lenora Smith who took her daughter, Sydney, as well as her best friend, Carlotta, to a needlepoint shop in the mid-70s.  Upon their first visit, both Sydney and Carlotta purchased a blank canvas and charted design, and it was these simple purchases that began a lifelong love of stitching for both girls.

Upon a subsequent visit to the same needlepoint shop, whilst Sydney and Carlotta had moved from purchasing blank to painted canvases, Lenora purchased a 40” x 60” (100cm x 150cm) oriental painted rug canvas as well as all the threads to complete the project.

In the coming years, not only did Lenora needlepoint the rug at home, but she folded the canvas neatly and bagged her threads, placing both in a canvas tote so she was always able to carry the rug with her. The rug went on many a journey with Lenora as she laid stitch upon stitch as the years went by.

Unfortunately, Lenora developed age-related dementia that saw her lay the canvas aside once she was no longer able to stitch to the high standard she’d set for herself. ‘The tote bag along with her prized needlepoint rug sat undisturbed for several years’.

That was until Sydney came across the unfinished rug and threads while settling Lenora’s estate after she died at the age of 94. Two years after taking the rug home, Sydney laid it on her dining room table, and whilst she felt determined to see the rug complete, quickly came to realise what a daunting task that would be. Having not stitched regularly for years, the only solution Sydney could think of was to pay someone to complete the project her mother had started all those years ago.

In what they now see as a serendipitous twist of fate, the shop Sydney and Carlotta approached to finish the rug was no longer accepting such commissions, and so they decided to set up a stitching schedule between them to see Lenora’s needlepoint through to completion.

The rug travelled between Sydney and Carlotta’s homes, spending two weeks at each house until Sydney laid the final stitch, completing the rug some 50 years after her mother placed the initial stitch. The rug now ‘drapes the wall in Sydney’s home and will be passed down to Lenora’s other daughter, and then down the line of future family members.’

Carlotta credits her own journey with needle and thread to that initial shop visit with Lenora.

‘My heart is overwhelmed with pride and honour to have been included in the project. I’m so very proud of this beautiful rug that reminds us all of Lenora and her love of needlepoint’.

While Sydney and Carlotta regret not being able to complete the project before Lenora’s passing, the rug has become ‘not only an heirloom but also a representation of Lenora’s love of needlepoint.’

More so than that, the rug now represents how one simple act in our own pursuit of needle and thread can encourage others to do the same, ensuring the passion we hold so close is passed from generation to generation.

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