Dec 08 2021

Needlepoint, A Resurging Holiday Handicraft

By Sharon Antonacio for The Island Connection

I was 37 years old when I first started to needlepoint. A friend that was a mentor and golf friend taught me while we were traveling south together for a girls getaway. Little did I know then how much this craft would enrich my life. From that moment I started with a needle and thread, I was hooked, and the idea of making things for my family consumed me. What would I make next? 

My first project was a Christmas stocking for my husband and from there the possibilities were endless. I made small initial clutches for dear friends for special birthdays, personalized belts with golf clubs and college mascots for my son and husband, and Christmas tree ornaments with the year for our holiday tree. With every stitch, there was love, along with satisfaction and purpose. Needlepoint became another method of creating with purpose but also a hobby that filled my free time with joy. Recently my passion led to work at the local needlepoint shop, Cabbage Row Shoppe, located in downtown Charleston. Needlepoint is a handicraft that recently experienced a resurgence during the last two years. Although it has always been popular, there has been a boom in the number of younger women and men that have gotten hooked. Madonna Lewis, owner of Cabbage Row Shoppe Needlepoint, located in downtown Charleston says, “ We have seen such an increase in the projects that clients have dropped off since March of 2019. We have also seen a number of new clients that are young mothers that have learned how to stitch and that has been wonderful. There is a whole new generation of stitchers out there and we are thrilled.” Along the way, the shop has helped countless clients create special family heirlooms and the stories have been heartwarming. The stories that get told while creating a project can be sentimental and quite interesting. Recently we had a woman who had lost her mother at a young age and wanted to create an angel tree topper for her family. 

She found the perfect canvas and threads and in designing it, needlepoint guru, Madonna Lewis,had said, “why not embellish the Angel’s dress with some French Knots?” It was here that an idea was born. The customer had a pearl necklace that was her mother’s and had been given to her long ago. She thought, why not stitch them one by one as part of the angel’s gown? 

This is just one of the countless examples of how personal service and creativity lead to beautiful family heirlooms created by loving hands. “We do needlepoint because it’s relaxing and relieves stress, says Lewis. “Everyone loves a homemade gift, it just means more. As we say in the shop, “only special people get needlepoint gifts.” Cabbage Row also gives back to the Charleston community through it’s Hearts for Hospice program. “We give a heart canvas to anyone that is interested and they stitch it, using their own design, and it’s placed on a patient’s door and given to the family for a goodbye keepsake,” says Lewis. It’s just another way needlepoint impacts our lives with love and another reason why it will be with us for years to come. 

Lewis is available for private stitching lessons for beginners by appointment only and holds classes for experienced stitchers on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the shop. For more information please visit

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