The stitching hobby of needlepoint creates entire canvases filled all kinds of vivid patterns by pulling a needle threaded with yarn through said canvas mesh. Needlepoint is older than one would think and has been around for over 1,000 years, as even Ancient Egyptian tents were sewn using needlepoint techniques in 1500 B.C. It’s practiced by three Shaker teachers; Carol Kovach, Sarah Manary, and Robin Taylor.
Carol Kovach, an English teacher, is passionate about needlepointing. “I began needlepointing when I was 10 years old. My older sister Cathy taught all the girls in my family how to do it.” After becoming once again interested in needlepoint after a brief stint in high school thanks to her sister-in-law, Kovach began to needlepoint once again. And others took notice as well.
English teachers Sarah Manary and Robin Taylor took interest in needlepoint from Kovach, and picked up the hobby themselves. “I observed Miss Kovach needlepointing many times before she actually got me to come to the store with her and buy canvas and floss. Since then, I’ve been needlepointing up a storm.” Taylor stated. Manary was no different, and fell in love with needlepoint after being convinced to take a trip to the local needlepoint store.
“When I became friends with Ms. Kovach and Ms. Taylor, they insisted that I would love needlepointing, I had my doubts, but one trip to the store and an adorable canvas later and I was hooked.” Said Manary, “…there’s something more to it when choosing a canvas. Looking at all of the options, considering what to make, who to make if for…all things that I tend to spend a lot of time considering.”
The trio occasionally gets together and needlepoint and Manary even recruited her younger sister to needlepointing. The hobby is a stress reliever according to all three women, and they enjoy making a variety of things. “In the past I have made belts for me and my family and friends. I have four purses, one pair of sandals, pillows, bags, holiday decorations, framed pieces . . . The biggest project I’m constantly working on is covers for dining room chair seats.”
Needlepointing also makes for cherished, hand-made gifts says all three women. Things such as belts, card boxes, and even Christmas ornaments, they’re all “a labor of love” and each finished project is a product of enormous effort and thought.
The possibilities are endless and Kovach can confirm, “Thread can be anything from cotton to wool to stain and today there’s every color imaginable!” A soothing hobby you can do anywhere if you have the time, needlepoint can be done almost anywhere from road trips to long lines. “Sometimes I stitch when my students are testing because I don’t have to look at the canvas the entire time.” Said Kovach. All kinds of patterns can be stitched into any manner of objects with needlepoint, and these teachers aren’t stopping anytime soon.
A version of this article appeared in print on 31 October 2012, on page 8 of The Shakerite.