Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Meet Ruth Dilts

When Sara Leigh first opened Scarlet Thread in Vienna, VA, one of the first people who stopped by was Ruth Dilts, a local needlework teacher and designer. We thought you might like to get to know her and see some of her lovely work. And if you see something you just can't live without, check out the Catalog at scarletthread.com for all of these, and more!

When did you first start stitching, and what got you hooked?

I first started stitching when I was a Girl Scout. My fascination with the needle arts continued through college, when I took up knitting. It was in 1980, however, that I began needlepoint, and I haven’t stopped yet. My first project was a Bermuda bag, which I did in a half cross stitch. When I learned that I had to finish it myself, I was aghast. A neighbor told me about a needlepoint teacher at the local community center and about the EGA. I was completely hooked.

When did you first start designing, and what was that first design?

My first commercial design was called “Facets.” It is still sold by Rainbow Gallery! Before that design, I had dabbled in clothing embellishments and still have two of the prize-winning pieces. Someday I might return to this aspect of design.

Where do you find the inspirations for your designs?

I find inspiration in everything. It can be a place, a particular color, a beautiful fabric, church windows, or interesting architecture. All of these and more inform my designs.

You focus on charted needlepoint designs. What do you like most about charted canvas?

For me, charting a design was a natural extension of learning to stitch from a chart. I could use graph paper, whereas unlike my talented son, I cannot paint. I am told, however, that I draw lovely stick figures.

Do you have any new charted needlepoint designs planned?

I am introducing my first new design since “Mystic” this month! “Fall Foliage” is another in the small-boxes series that includes “Carnivale” and “Spring Fling.” It would be an excellent choice for the beginning/intermediate stitcher.

What is your favorite design?

Like many stitchers, I choose what I stitch or design based on my mood, the time of year, etc. For that reason, I don’t really have a favorite design.

Have you noticed an increase in folks stitching charted designs?

Yes, I have. At one time, only the Guilds seemed to stitch charted designs. Now more designers are creating charted designs; therefore stitchers have more access to this type of work. Charted designs also appeal to individuals who cross stitch. Cross stitchers are used to counting, so counted needlepoint seems quite logical. Last but not least, charted canvas is much more affordable than hand-painted canvas.

What challenges do stitchers face today in stitching these complex designs?

I think one of most challenging things facing stitchers today is the growing lack of local needlework shops throughout the U.S. as well as in England and on the Continent. For anyone travelling, usually the first thing you do is plan your visit to the local needlework shop. Sadly, this is becoming more difficult.

Yet at the same time, there is a growing supply of gorgeous threads and colored canvases that simply beg to be stitched. Thankfully, the Internet makes access to these new products easier than ever and does help, in small part, in easing the feeling of loss when a favorite shop closes. However, the local shops are where you can still touch, feel, and see the true colors of the threads, which is what turns me on.

In addition to designing, how else are you involved in the world of needlepoint?

You should ask how aren’t I involved in needlepoint. I work part-time in a local needlework shop. I design stitch guides for painted canvases. I continue to teach classes in needlepoint. I also serve as a sales representative for Rainbow Gallery. And if that weren’t enough, I still make time to stitch at least four hours a day!

Thank you, Ruth Dilts! Scarlet Thread will be adding more of Ruth's designs to our Catalog in the next few days, so be sure to check back to see what's new.

And for readers of our blog, we have a special offer. Ruth is making a piece she taught in 2004, “Sunrise,” available to us. We’ve kitted this colorful 4.25" x 4.25" design up for you at a cost of $10.50 -- a great value. If you prefer another colorway, select one of the Caron Collection Watercolours and we’ll kit it up for you based on that color for a total cost of $25.20. This reflects the inclusion of full skeins of threads vs. the partial skeins supplied with the original colorway. As always, this kit price reflects our 10% discount on kitted items. To order the customized kit, e-mail us with your color selection at customerservice@scarletthread.com.

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