• All about Mary’s Whimsical Stitches

    If you’re unfamiliar with Mary Legallet, her blog, and Instagram page Whimsical Stitch, we have a treat to share with you today. 
    Mary Legallet author of Mary's Whimsical Stitches
    Mary Legallet is a national needlepoint teacher, blogger and author of a brand-new book Mary’s Whimsical Stitches, which is now in stock at Needlepoint.Com
    Just as the name of her blog suggests, Mary’s stitching style is inspired by whimsical color combinations, canvases and stitch choices. She is a wealth of information and unbelievably creative.
    Every stitcher looking for fun, innovative stitch suggestions needs Mary’s new book.  Mary’s Whimsical Stitches features more than 250 large, numbered stitch diagrams organized by stitch type. In addition, Mary included a fantastic index suggesting where each stitch could be used. The book is truly designed for stitchers from beginner to advanced, and also includes an informative chapter on the basics of needlepoint- a handy reference for all skill levels.  

    Mary's Whimsical Stitches book Volume 1
    One of the features that makes Mary’s book so unique is her use of Instagram URLs. At the bottom of many of the pages, there is a web URL that, when typed into an internet browser, will show a picture of what the stitch looks like stitched on a painted canvas. Not every stitch has a URL link, as many of them are previously unpublished, but most of the stitches from her blog posts have photos. (Not all early blog posts had stitched samples.)
    We were lucky enough to speak with Mary about her new book, so please read on to learn more about her and her lifelong love of needlepoint. You can shop her book online here.
    Tell us about yourself, Mary. Where is home for you?
    I’m a true California girl and was born and raised in Burlingame, a suburb of San Francisco. In the mid 80s I came to LA for college, fell in love with it and have been here ever since. I have a large extended family still living in Northern California. Northern and Southern California are two very different places, but I feel I have the best of both worlds because I can get home to visit them easily and often. 
    What was your first experience with needlepoint? Who taught you how to stitch?
                It’s funny you ask this because I can’t remember the physical act of learning to needlepoint.
                My mother was an excellent needlepointer- she did beautiful Basketweave with the most even tension in the world. My great aunt was an avid embroiderer. She actually took some of my childhood artwork and turned it into embroidery. 
                In the mid 90s, my mom took me to Needlepoint Inc. in San Francisco. I remember this vividly because it was the first-time I had ever seen decorative stitches and specialty threads. I was absolutely captivated. 
                When I got home, I immediately pulled out my yellow pages to find a nearby store. I took lessons at Aristeia for years and became good friends with Melissa Shirley through their relationship with her. I became known as the “fruit girl” because I absolutely loved Melissa’s fruit canvases and stitched so many of them. They are still some of my favorite projects to date. 
    We all love your blog, Whimsical Stitch. What inspired you to start teaching and sharing your talent for needlepoint with others?
                I had a 25-year corporate career in marketing with a large auto-manufacturer. I left shortly after they announced a consolidation of US operations in Texas. 
                When I left the corporate environment, Melissa Shirley approached me about writing stitch guides. Although I was certain at the time that I wanted to find another job in marketing, I decided to try out teaching and writing, since I had such wonderful support backing me up. 
                I was initially resistant to the idea of starting a blog but saw a gap in the market as few people posted regularly and few were sharing stitch ideas on that platform. As more and more people began following along, I got on Instagram and Whimsical Stitch grew from there. 
    What is your process like when you approach a new canvas?
    It really depends. Sometimes I see a canvas and an idea for one element of the piece really jumps out at me. I know exactly what I want to do, and everything else falls into place after that. I get a seed of an idea and the rest of the piece grows out of it. 
    Other times I stare at a canvas until something comes to me. I pick it up, look at it and then leave it alone for a while until an exciting new idea is born. Sometimes it’s not the main portion of the design that speaks to me first, it’s a smaller more unusual element that sparks the idea for a fun texture or stitch. 
    The way I work is very linear. I pick out stitches, then pick out complimentary threads, then stitch and write. To me you can’t pick the threads until you know what stitch you are going to use in a particular area.  
    We are so excited about your new book. Tell us about what the process of writing was like?
    I’m not going to lie. There were a couple of false starts. The idea has been about three years in the making but just kept getting interrupted by life. An embellishment event would come along and everything else would be put to the side.
    In late 2018, I knew I had a ton of content and was ready to go, so I started reconstructing diagrams and working on the book layout. I also started assembling diagrams that hadn’t previously shared on the blog. I approached Leigh Walker at the Needle Bug and asked her if I could debut the book at CANVAS (a large stitching event in Alabama) in January 2020. This put me on a (self-imposed) deadline to really get things finished up. 
    I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the response that the book has gotten from the needlepoint community- even that is an understatement. It has far exceeded my expectations. I’m grateful and thrilled beyond belief. 
    Do you have a favorite stitch or tip or trick you can share with us?
                When I was a “retail stitcher,” in the days before I started teaching, I remember telling one of my first teachers “no naked canvas!” I didn’t like open stitches in my work and wanted the whole canvas covered up…completely covered up.  As you know, I now have no problem with open stitches and, truth be told, they are getting more open with time. The point is to not be afraid to try new things. Allow your style to evolve. The worst that can happen is it’s not you. Take it out and try again.  
    Working with a student on a brand-new project (for me and the student) is like a test drive for both of us. It’s even more fun when the student asks, “what if?” And then we both build on what is in the guide and create something even better. That is a lot of fun for me…and I hope for the student as well.
                Make sure you don’t miss out on this fantastic new resource. Shop Mary Legallet’s new book Mary’s Whimsical Stitches online today.