Needle and ThREAD

Who Stitches for Literacy?

Jackson Square, ArtVentures pattern available at Accents, Inc.Jackson Square pattern by ArtVentures, available at Accents, Inc.

Gayle Horton, owner of Accents, Inc: Fine Needle Art & Framing has been participating in the Needle and Thread: Stitching for Literacy program since day one.

When I have an idea I want to kick around, a question to ask, or need the opinion of a retailer, who do I call? Gayle.

When I want to get S4L brochures to a trade show that I’m not attending, who do I call? Gayle.

When times get tough, who steps up to encourage and even sponsor another year of Stitching for Literacy? That’s right: Gayle.

I hope you’ll visit the Accents, Inc. website, and for goodness sakes, if you’re anywhere near New Orleans, I hope you’ll visit the shop in person and give Gayle a hug from me.

She took time out of her crazy schedule to answer some questions for us.

You’ve been participating in the Needle and ThREAD: Stitching for Literacy Bookmark Challenge since the git-go. What has been your favorite Stitching for Literacy experience?

I would say the expressions of delight on the faces of the ladies at the library when I delivered the stitched bookmarks in the first year.

Oh, how fun!

Do you have a favorite bookmark that you’ve stitched or a favorite way to finish bookmarks?

I stitched the Funk & Weber Read It! Read It! bookmark and finished it so that it opened like a book. Instead of attaching the “Read It! Read It!” on the back of the frog, I stitched them side by side and sewed a blank piece of fabric to the backside (which became the inside of the book). Then I attached a piece of wool felt along the center vertical seam to serve as pages of the book. One could write the title of their favorite book and author on the wool felt insert, a favorite sentence from the book and sign the back.

What a Brilliant Idea! Any chance you have a picture of it?

How long have you owned Accents, Inc.?

I opened Accents in Stitches on July 5, 1984, figuring the worst thing that could happen was that I would lose all of my start-up funds and then have to go to work to replace the monies. Little did I know that I would still be “working” over 25 years later.

What made you decide to open (or buy) a needlework shop?

I learned to cross stitch in Atlanta in 1976 and had the advantage of living along the east cost of the US where cross stitch was brought into the U.S. When we transferred home to New Orleans, the type of needlework supplies which I was used to having access to was limited. When the craft store near my home was closing I had the bright idea that I could convert it to a counted thread shop. I secured the lease for the same space and then purchased the inventory. Thus was born Accents in Stitches—which carried craft, doll house and art supplies—and three spin racks of cross stitch books. Over the first few years, we divested the craft products and moved exclusively into needlework.

I know you carry designs based on local themes, what are some of those?

Crawfish Broil design by Leslie Wrister, available at Accents, Inc.Crawfish Boil pattern by Leslie Wristers, available at Accents, Inc. I am so fortunate to live in a city whose culture is so unique and whose residents “live” that culture. If you know New Orleans, you know that it’s mostly about the food—and we carry many charts featuring that cuisine. Another big seller is architecture, and the French Quarter and Garden District have a wealth of buildings that adapt to cross stitch charts. Our best sellers are St. Louis Cathedral (which is the oldest cathedral in the U.S.) and Oak Alley Plantation. Since hurricane Katrina, fleur de lis’, which were always popular, have exploded into a symbol of recovery, and so we have increased our designs of fleurs. In 2009-10 we were blessed to have our beloved boys in black & gold, better known to football fans as the Saints, have a fantastic season that ended with a Super Bowl win! So anything black and gold was a great seller. And the list goes on. Basically, if a design relates to the culture of New Orleans or Louisiana, natives want to stitch it.

And you design, too. What made you want to start designing, and what are your favorite things to design?

Eye of the Storm pattern by Gayle, available at Accents, Inc.Eye of the Storm pattern by Gayle, available at Accents, Inc. Let me begin by saying that I have no artistic talent. I started creating local designs after hurricane Katrina because so many of our local charts were out of print and the stitchers were trying to recreate in stitching what they lost in the storm. I actually began with a hurricane eye, that evolved into the Eye of the Storm chart, featuring the outline of LA, and part of MS, AL and FL. The evolution occurred from input of my customers who stitched in the shop in the months after the storm. They provided solace and encouragement to each other during those stitching nights and kept giving me advice about what should be included with the hurricane eye. I guess you can say that, though my artistic design talents are limited, I discovered the joy of seeing stitchers find their inner serenity by what I could chart.

I have mostly created charts around the things of NOLA. This year I’m stepping out to create two new seasonal designs every month—one to fit into the Accents pre-made pillow Tuckables and one to fit onto the STS Fingertip towels. By the way, I am in love with the towels from this company. They are awesome.

Note taken!

What do you like to read?

I mostly read a lot of spiritually philosophical books and usually also purchase the ones that resonate with me as an audio book so that I can listen in my car. I also like mysteries and human interest books. The most recent book that I purchased is The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel. I haven’t started it yet because I decided to reread the series, so I am currently reading The Clan of the Cave Bear. I am embarrassed to say that I have a library card that I have never used because I purchase my books from my local bookstore because it’s important to me to keep them in business.

I think you should be proud of that, not embarrassed. We need both local bookstores and libraries.

Do you ever listen to audio books while you stitch?

I usually have the TV on when I stitch. I find that the glancing from my project to the television screen helps my eyes. The difficulty with this technique is that I never really watch what is on the TV. The benefit to this technique is that I get to watch reruns without knowing how they end.

Do you use an embroidered bookmark to mark your books?

I do not because I have a tendency to drop my books and, unless my page itself is bookmarked, I lose my place when the inserted bookmark falls out. I found the most awesome bookmark that works for me. It’s a small heart, about 1″ square, that’s open sort of like a paper clip. I am able to slide it directly onto the page of the book and it stays put, even when the book is dropped. They come five on a card and I purchased every package I could find at the book stores. I think I have enough to last me through 200 books. While that may seem like a lot, I make it a habit to give books as gifts, and I always put a bookmark into the book.

Hmm…I think I have some bookmarks to show you, Gayle.

As a kid, what did you like to read?

My favorite book as a child was Swiss Family Robinson. Today my most inspirational book is Horton Hears a Who. I think it has something to do with my last name being Horton, my spiritual belief that things that seem coincidental are not just coincidence (such as my name being Horton), and the story that “a person is a person no matter how small” which speaks to my heart’s desire that we, as people, are accepting of each other in all of our many differences. Oh, and yes, there’s also the between the lines lesson that we shouldn’t judge another just because we don’t share their experience.

This leads me to “every Stitching for Literacy effort is worthwhile, no matter how small.” Gayle’s Stitching for Literacy efforts make a difference in her community—and to me.

So do yours.

Check out Gayle’s complimentary jester cross stitch chart. You’ll find a link on the Accents, Inc. Home page, which is where that link will take you.

Categories: Needle and ThREAD