Interview with California Needlepoint Expert Janet Perry

Meet Janet Perry of California in This Needlepoint Interview

Janet Perry. Janet M. Perry

Janet M. Perry is well known throughout the United States and abroad for her needlepoint expertise. She was the original Guide of the About.com Needlepoint site; but now runs Napa Needlepoint with a very active online and cyber learning center on all things needlepoint.

Janet has been stitching needlepoint projects for decades, and is particularly fond of designing patterns for Bargello. She enjoys sharing need-to-know tools, tips and techniques for beginners as well as experienced stitchers.

Between work, family and friends, it's sometimes hard to find the time for needlepoint; yet Janet consistently makes the effort to teach others how to be successful with this fascinating craft. In this candid interview, she shares her passion and knowledge of the art of needlepoint.

When did you begin stitching needlepoint, and what inspired you to start?

I started doing needlepoint in late 1970, a couple of weeks before my 14th birthday. I was inspired by what could be the most impractical needlepoint project ever, a kit for patch pockets for your jeans stitched in Persian Wool. I ended up making many of them in different colors, but never put them on my jeans. I suppose if I had washed the jeans THAT would have put me off needlepoint pretty fast.

What is your main source of inspiration?

I keep notebooks of clippings from all sorts of places and have a big library of books. But some things seem to be constant sources of inspiration -- quilts, houses, Arts & Crafts design, Japanese art, and alphabets.

But I think about almost everything I see in terms of needlepoint possibilities.

How many hours per day do you stitch?

If I can be left to my own devices or don't have other things pending, I like to stitch about 6 hours a day, usually with the TV on for a distraction. But I try to stitch an hour or two every day.

How many hours per day are spent designing?

That really depends on what I'm working on--most days, if I'm in design mode, it will be about 4 hours. But sometimes I wake up in the morning with what I call a "needlepoint fit" and can see something all done in my mind. Then I have to drop everything and get it down. This can be bad because my handwriting is so poor, so it all must be typed and my internal editor REALLY hates typed notes. As a result, it must be pretty and reasonably complete.

What are some of your favorite subjects?

I love Bargello, and I have from the moment I first saw some. I never get tired of looking at the patterns and colors. Also quilts. I love quilts and even tried quilting. But I wasn't good, so I have turned that love into adapting quilts as needlepoint.

Is there another needlepoint designer whose work influenced or encouraged you to start designing?

In terms of long-time encouragement, I think that Jo Ippolito Christensen has been a huge influence. I purchased The Needlepoint Book when it first came out and it opened my eyes to a whole new world of stitching. Elsa Williams' book Bargello was a big influence because it introduced me to this wonderful needle art.

I love to look at needlepoint and would say that more than people there is a look I like. Generally it is somewhat geometric or quilt-like in style with pure colors that aren't too bright. Show me a canvas like that and I'm a sucker for it. As a result, I've been trying to put those colors into my own work.

Do you belong to a needlework club or guild?

Yes, I'm a Life Patron of The American Needlepoint Guild and the Internet Chair for their online chapter, CyberPointers, and a member of the Wine Country Chapter.

Edited by Althea R. DeBrule, Needlepoint Expert