• Meet Carolyn Hedge Baird!

    If you have never heard of Carolyn Hedge Baird, you are in for a treat! 
    Carolyn is a national teacher and a fabulous needlepointer. She is known in needlepoint shops across the country for her highly decorative stitching style. She is famous for her use of Composite Stitches. A Composite Stitch is any stitch that combines more than one simpler element into a more complex stitch- often using multiple threads in one stitch too. Her work has a very distinct look. 
    Carolyn's newest book is inspired by her travels. Whether out and about in her hometown in Texas, or jet-setting cross country to another store to teach, Carolyn always carries a needlepoint notebook in her purse. Over the years, she has jotted down ideas and stitches inspired by her travels inside. Patterns and textures are all around us, and Carolyn is constantly finding them a source of inspiration. 
    At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Carolyn began transcribing the ideas from the tattered spiral bound notebook that once lived in her purse, into her 7th book! We are thrilled to now be able to share it with you. It is truly unique!
    Read on to learn more about Carolyn Hedge Baird, her teaching and her true love of needlepoint. 

    Shop her new book online here!
    Tell us about yourself Carolyn! Where is home for you?
    I was born in Houston, TX but grew up in Tyler, Texas. Tyler is in East Texas, 100 miles east of Dallas.
    What was your first experience with needlepoint? Who taught you to stitch?  
    My mom’s friend, Cherry Swann, opened a needlepoint store in Tyler when I was 11.  My mother took me to the store and bought me a small butterfly canvas and Mrs. Swann showed me the Continental Stitch.  Wool was the only thread available then. I still have my little butterfly with the stitches every which way!  I loved needlepointing from that time on and have been stitching since then.  
    My mother brought me a little book by Nancy Kurten. I stitched a little sampler with those stitches and loved that, too.  My favorite was the Wheat Stitch!
    What inspired you to start teaching and sharing your talent for needlepoint with others?  
    I fell into teaching while working at a store. After I had stitched a project, customers asked if I would teach the project as a class.  Most of the students thought the class wasn’t long enough so I then started teaching “Catch Up” classes with other projects I had taught! 
    After five years there, I came to Chaparral and started teaching six times a week.  I have worked at Chaparral now for twenty years!  Then after my children grew up, I started traveling to different stores to teach.  
    What inspired me is the love of needlepoint. I still love it. In high school, I was a member of the drill team. When our football games were out of town, we would travel on a school bus, and perform at the football games. I would always needlepoint to and from while on the bus. I needlepointed all through college and was fortunate to take classes from a teacher who had a show on PBS and a wonderful store in Virginia near where I went to school. 
    Both of my grandmothers were very artistic, so they inspired me, too!
     What is your process like when you approach a new canvas?
    For stitch guides for customer canvases, I like to know the person stitching the canvas and be familiar with their abilities, but that does not always happen!  I only use my books for stitch guides I write. 
    I usually decide on the background first for a large canvas, then move on to the other large areas, doing the tiny things last.  Frequently these tiny parts are very time intensive when writing a stitch guide with lots of thought going into them and lots of threads.  I try to use a variety of stitches and textures with all sorts of threads to go on the canvas. 
    I take note of the theme of the canvas, if there is one, and try to do the big parts according to the theme. When grandmothers do stockings for their granddaughters, I love for them to use a heart stitch for the background of the cuff! 
    For all canvases I am doing a guide for, I like using several stitches with multi step parts that use all kinds of threads in the same color.  My students like that, too. Using composite stitches (stitches with at least two kinds of threads with multiple components) is a big part of my stitching style.
    I also want my students to feel successful so I give them fast stitches for large areas so they can get projects finished in a reasonable amount of time.
     We are all so excited about your new book! What was the process of writing it like?
    For all seven of my books, it has been a different process.  This new book was inspired by my travel graph notebook I always keep in my purse.  I have been keeping a little graph notebook in my purse for about 30 years.  This last one I have had so long; it is falling apart. 
    When I travel to other stores, I draw stitches I see on canvases, stitches I think of, and stitches for patterns of floors, rugs, wallpaper, textures on sweaters, purses, baskets etc.  When one looks around, so many patterns are all around us.  I also recorded restaurants where we dined, good food, cheeses we had, as well as movies, Netflix programs, tv shows, and books that my students talk about in class. 
    The Needlepoint Notebook:  Stitches Inspired by Carolyn’s Travels was written during the Covid-19 Pandemic.  I started doing graphs from my notebook in March and finished in August.
     Do you have a stitching tip or trick that you can share with us?

    The most important thing is to stitch canvases you love, stitch for yourself and not others. Stitch the way you want, and not the way some “experts” think you should!
    Although there are some teachers and people who think they are the needlepoint police, don't let them intimidate you with their strict rules.  No one has been put in jail for not using the right size needle! If you don't want to use stretcher bars- don't.  If you don't want to use a laying tool- don't. 
    For me needlepoint is relaxing and fun and it may not be perfect, but it is perfect for me!  Enjoy the process and creativity you find in your needlepoint!  Having fun and feeling good is most important while needlepointing!  Needlepoint the way you want to!
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