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TNNA Names Star Search/Design Winners

Needlework changes people's lives -- in many ways.

Edited press release (Sept. 6, 2004)

The National NeedleArts Association announced the winners of its first Star Stitchers Search and its second annual Student Design Competition at its recent trade show in Columbus, OH. The Star Stitchers Search is part of TNNAís Jubilee Campaign, a two-year program celebrating the organizationís 30th anniversary. The campaign is designed to promote needlearts and raise money for WIN Against Breast Cancer, a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to education and research.

Star Stitchers were nominated by TNNA retailers who thought they represented the best of the needlearts. This yearís winners include Jane Cavalli and Dorothy Smith-Brown (nominated by Carolyn Pugh of Skein Lane in El Cerrito, Ca); Louise Caplan (nominated by Carrell Bolton of Needlepoint of La Volla, CA); Rose Hillis (nominated by Kennita Tully of Wildflower Yarn's Knitwear, Manhattan, KA.); and Aleusha Gerlach (nominated by Barbara King of Louise's Needlework, Columbus, OH).

A disabled inspiration.

Louise Caplan, the Star Stitcher from San Diego, is an inspiration to disabled people who want to take up needlearts. About 15 years ago Louise started dropping in at Carrell Boltonís Needlepoint of La Volla store. Louise enjoyed looking at the canvases, but thought she couldn't needlepoint because an accident had left her permanently paralyzed on her right side.

Finally Carrell convinced Louise that she could teach her to do left-handed needlepoint. Today Louise threads her own needle (no easy task), knots her threads, and engages in decorative stitching. Louise is a Star because she never gives up and always wants to do more; her next feat will be to tie a French knot.

91 and still stitching.

As a teenager, retailer Carolyn Pugh was so inspired by a home ec teacher, Dorothy Smith-Brown, she decided to nominate her as a Star Stitcher. Dorothy taught home economics in Stratton, CO for more than 25 years.

Carolyn says, "Six years under her tutelage has had a lasting influence. I learned the art of stitching, sewing, cooking, home management, and personal development .... To this day, almost 40 years later, I continue to draw on the knowledge that she imparted to me. I use that knowledge to help my customers with customizing their knitted garments and to help with design selection."

Although 91, Dorothy lives life to the fullest. Until she broke her hip a couple of years ago, she played golf every day. Today, she walks, gardens, and attends a water aerobics class Ė and relaxes with a needleart project. Lately she's been creating shadow boxes for her family that includes four children, 16 grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.

Rising above life's struggles.

Barbara King of Louiseís Needleworks in Columbus, OH nominated Aleusha Gerlach because she uses her superb stitching skills to gain strength during lifeís most challenging times. As a child, Aleusha tagged along with her grandmother to quilting bees. Over the years she has done cross-stitch and knitting, but her true love is needlepoint.

Having needlepoint to rely on provided an enormous comfort years ago when her young son developed encephalitis and spent months in the hospital. Needlepoint helped relieve the stress and anxiety. Years later, needlepoint helped her during the hours she spent receiving chemotherapy.

Passing on the art.

When Rose Hillis entered Wildflower Yarn Knitwear in Manhattan, KS, Kennita Tully had no idea her Star Stitcher had just walked in the door. Rose, a house mother at Kansas Stateís Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, was interested in learning how to knit socks. She had knit many years ago, but had stopped knitting to pursue basket weaving and quilting.

Two days later, Rose returned with her completed project. Over the next several months, Rose kept buying more and more yarn and needles; turns out Rose wasnít just knitting again, she was teaching the sorority sisters how to knit. In one year, more than 50% of the sorority (40+ girls) took up the knitting. While Rose focuses on socks and shawls, her "girls" like to knit scarves. Anyone with a relative at Kappa Kappa Gamma can anticipate a scarf for Christmas.

Roseís commitment to sharing her love of needlearts makes her a Star Stitcher. As she says, "If you donít pass it on, it will become a lost art."

Stitching for others.

For Jane Cavelli, a cost engineer with Bechtel, needlearts have always been a way for her to give back to her community. "It all started with my mother," Jane says. "She always wanted to do something for other people. Iím Irish. We cook and do needlework."

Several years ago Jane started making teddy bears for poor kids for Christmas. When she wanted to learn how to make clothing for those bears, she asked Carolyn Pugh of Skein Lane in El Cerrito, CA for help. Soon she was knitting clothes for the bears and at the same time became the leader of the storeís community service knitting group which meets twice a month in the store.

Under Janeís leadership the group has knitted Christmas gifts for the homeless, squares for the New York City 911 project sponsored by XRX, and chemo caps for hospital patients receiving cancer treatment.

Student Design Competition Winners.

For Kent State University freshman Nikki Novello, TNNAís design competition was an opportunity to experiment with blending her passion for jewelrymaking with her new interest in needlearts. For graduating senior Kathy Sheets, the competition provided an opportunity to practice her fashion design skills.

Both won top honors. Nikkiís entry of a crocheted and pearled necklace took Best of Show (with special recognition for her unique use of Crochet, sponsored by the Crochet Guild of America). She won $300 for her design.

"Being a freshman last year, I was required to take [a] fashion fundamentalís class. She belongs to the crochet guild and encouraged all of us to enter the competition," explained Nikki. "Prior to the competition, I had only done a little crocheting. My aunt taught me when I was in second grade but I donít regularly knit or needlepoint."

What Nikki has done for several years is design beaded jewelry. Itís a family tradition; Nikkiís family owns Cleveland Wholesale Jewelry. She also has several pieces in galleries in Little Italy.

"I decided to create a piece of crocheted jewelry," explained Nikki. "I did lots of drawing and spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly how I would do it. As I was working on the sketches, I happened to mention to a textiles professor what I was doing and she suggested that I experiment with crocheting metal."

The result was an award-winning necklace of crocheted wire, ribbon and pearls. "Iím so excited about winning this award. I really hope this is the beginning of my success in jewelry design."

Fashion major Kathy Sheets won two Best of Show awards Ė for a denim skirt with an inter- changeable, needlepoint accent and for an original knitted sweater design she created for her momís Hug-A-Bear.

"The idea of the needlepoint skirt came to me when I was working on an independent study project," explained Kathy. "I wanted to create something that would get young girls excited about needlepoint."

After working on multiple sketches, Kathy created a denim skirt with an attached needlepoint panel. "The panel is laced in the corner of the skirt and itís small enough so girls can make several different designs and change them easily."

Kathy didnít stop with her needlepoint skirt. She then created a sweater for a teddy bear. "I was taking a class on machine knitting and came up with a hooded tasseled design."

When sheís not creating her own original designs, Kathy is a needlearts advocate, teaching many of her friends how to enjoy the art. "My dream job would be designing sweaters for the junior market," Kathy said.

The Student Design Competition was open to any student enrolled in a post-high school program or any youth over the age of 18 who was sponsored by a TNNA member.

The 2005 Star Stitcher Search and the third annual Student Design Competition will begin in January. For more information on either, or becoming a Jubilee sponsor, contact Sherry Mulne at bdirect@columbus.rr.com or call 614-237-0700. For more info about TNNA, call 740-455-6773, fax 740-452-2552, email tnna.info@offinger.com, or visit www.tnna.org.

Note: To read previous category reports, click on the titles in the right-hand column.



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