Photos by Dick Swaim/The Cincinnati Enquirer
Photo Illustration by Mary Eggerding
Reprinted and used with permission
(Interior page article heading: Turner: Cross-stitcher forges loyal following)
She could have chosen nurse or brain surgeon, actress or beauty queen, cop or firefighter.
The 12-year-old chatting with her friend in a West Chester subdivision had another plan: "When I grow up, I want to be a cross-stitch designer."
Granted, this was no ordinary suburban household. It was the home of Cecilia Turner, a household name in the world of needle artists. And the preteen was talking to Ms. Turner's daughter, Elise.
Ms. Turner, featured in three nationally distributed cross-stitch magazines this winter, is the proprietor of Heart in Hand Needleart, a 5-year-old cross-stitching design business she runs from her basement.
The publications carrying her work--Better Homes & Gardens' Cross Stitch, Just Cross Stitch, and Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments--applaud her folk-art designs, as do the cross-stitching enthusiasts who attend the classes she teaches and the trade shows she attends.
Preview banner from front page
In her designs, you'll find hearts and chickens and a variety of Santa Clauses. There are lady bugs and baby carriages and strawberries and flowers and cute quotes including "Dads are dandy."
"It's just funny," Ms. Turner says. "When I go places, people want my autograph. It's like there's this little world out there of needlework people who treat us like we're celebrities.
"It's gratifying--it really is--that people recognize your work, because it took a lot of work to get there."
At the same time, "It's a little weird."
"She's very popular with the customers," said Stasi Buhrman, manager at Twisted Threads, a Madiera shop that specializes in counted cross-stitching. "Her stuff has a fun, whimsical-type theme.
"She's one of our best sellers. We stock whatever she comes out with."
"Her charts (patterns) are always easy to read," says Pam Leonhardt of Madiera, who has been cross-stitching for about 10 years. "She thinks about the stitchers when she designs...some really cool stuff."
Ms. Leonhardt, who considers herself an intermediate stitcher, says Ms. Turner's designs are good for beginners, too.
"Every once in a while, she'll introduce a specialty stitch, but they're not so overwhelming you give up and say I can't do it. There's a real sense of accomplishment."
Ms. Turner's primary business is the production and wholesale distribution of cross-stitch patterns, which cross-stitchers buy and use to create wall hangings, pillows, and scissor weights (a pretty bean bag that lets your scissors dangle over the arm of a chair while you make more things with needle and thread.) She also produces kits, which includes threads and ornamentation.
Most of her designs, Ms. Turner says, falls into beginner to intermediate categories for cross-stitching, a needle art based on patterns of X's.
Ms. Turner has won acclaim for her development of smaller patterns--4 to 4 1/2 inches square--that are less expensive and require less time to complete. She markets them as Wee Ones.
"The big sellers right now are anything that stitches quickly," she says. "People don't have a lot of time. They like to have something to sit with in the evening...to sit and stitch and get a sense of accomplishment."
And a sense of peace.
"A lot of people use it as their quiet time," Ms. Turner says. "It's calming for them. It can be a way of dealing with a lot of what's going on in their lives."
Ms. Turner, a Kettering native whose grandmother taught her to stitch pillow cases and quilts when she was about 8, says, "Stitching became an obsession for me--my therapy," when her infant son, Matthew, died in 1985.
"God only knows how many Christmas ornaments I stitched that autumn. Stitching continues to be very soothing for me."
"Serious stitchers," she says, "need that stitching. They get grumpy if they don't have that nightly fix."
And they're not all women.
"Men do some spectacular pieces," she says. "Very complicated work. They're just very good at it."
If all this talk of needles and thread has you in a stitching mood, find some of Cecilia Turner's cross-stitch designs at www.heartinhand.com, where you can call up a list of stores that carry her work. [Area shops were included in that list.]