Diana Vreeland would love Stitch, Marcy Harris’ spectacular Middleburg needlepoint shop. Not only because Vreeland loved needlepoint pillows, but because, since Marcy took over and re-invigorated the shop, designs for needlepoint pillows are only a fraction of the fabulous pieces Marcy finds to fascinate her clients.
Vreeland, the intrepid fashion magazine editor who revolutionized style in America, loved needlepoint and spent happy hours stitching with her mother in their Park Avenue apartment and in their country houses. When friends and colleagues realized how much she loved it, gifts of needlepoint pillows began to arrive in a great profusion that continued until Vreeland’s death.
Marcy Harris, like Vreeland, also learned to love needlepoint by stitching with her mother and grandmother as a young girl.
“Samplers, knitting, sewing and needlepoint were all important pastimes in our home,” she remembered. “And, when I went to work after I graduated from UVA, I always took a needlepoint canvas with me on business trips because it helped me think and relax on the plane.”
An English major who took advantage of UVA’s 10-hour computer minor, Marcy was an ideal candidate for the Arthur Andersen recruiters when they arrived on campus. She joined the firm immediately after graduation to become a project manager and retired as a partner after eleven years to raise her children.
“I learned a lot at Arthur Andersen about organization, time management and business — those skills have served me all my life. I loved working but when our third child was born, I felt it was time to focus on family.”
In 1999, Marcy and her husband, Jimmy, bought a home in Middelburg and moved out of the city, to raise their three children in a simpler place. Recently, Jimmy retired after a 35-year career at Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting).
Today, daughter Charlotte who is a barn manager in Upperville, spends her Mondays off as the stock clerk at Stitch; daughter Meredith, a KPMG accountant, is a contract stitcher for Marcy and son Alex, who is an actor in LA, has not yet landed a role at the pretty shop.
But more and more customers are finding their way to Stitch.
“When Stitch opened, under the management of its first owner, I visited the shop often. On every trip I’d ever taken, I’d find time to search for a needlepoint shop, and I was excited to have one in The Village. When I learned the shop was for sale, I couldn’t help myself… I had so many ideas about adding to and enhancing our local needlepoint shop and experience….and, of course, once we purchased the shop, I began to plan.”
Recently freshened up, the welcoming shop closely resembles an art gallery with its flat black walls and colorful offerings.
“I want to carry a wide variety of pieces,” Marcy says as she points out the stunning small handbags designed with Napoleon Bees by Whimsy & Grace, a Southern Oregon needlepoint design firm.
Stitchery is considered one of the earliest human accomplishments, in fact, in China, where silk production was considered a gift from the Gods, methods of stitching were therefore sacred secrets.
People, mainly women, have been cross-stitching since the 5th Century BC. Once a sign of obedience and docility, needlepoint and all kinds of stitching have more recently evolved to become a popular modern pastime.
Marcy is well aware of the industry worry and wonder about how such a niche business, serving an ancient craft, can survive in this age of internet and digital entertainment. But so far, her experience running the shop has certainly proven otherwise. People are looking for a creative outlet that is portable, “multi-taskable”, relaxing and produces lovely works and gifts.
“I was just at the 2016 meeting of he National Needle Arts Association in San Diego and the range of what is trending for us is very exciting,” she explained. “The designs, the way they are interpreted on canvas, the multitude of beautiful, tactile fibers now available…my customers will love all of them.”
But what Marcy really hopes to create is a real community of stitchers, who love to work on their projects together.
“Stitching in groups,” she says smiling, “is a wonderful way to stay in touch with one’s neighbors and to learn from each other. The first workshop Stitch offered with a professional teacher is over-subscribed and our drop-in group on Wednesday evenings is attracting a dozen or more stitchers, men and women, already. We even have the twenty-somethings enjoying a little stitching camaraderie.”
As Middleburg grows as a destination for sophisticated travelers, there is little question that Stitch will enjoy a growing and enthusiastic customer base. In the three months since Marcy has owned the shop, she has served customers from as far away as Washington State and Sydney, Australia. They have enjoyed a spectacular selection of canvases and fibers, and what she doesn’t stock she knows where to find. If your idea is not readily available, as was the case of one customer who wanted a momento of her trip to Patagonia, Marcy is delighted to help design custom orders, contract your work with talented painters and stitchers, and complete the pieces for those who do not have time to do the stitching themselves.
Recently, one of Marcy’s customers arrived on the very busy ‘Christmas in Middleburg” Saturday with her sister-in-law and a friend and two beautifully wrapped presents. Even though the shop was intensely busy, and Marcy had no advance warning, she realized immediately that her customer wished to give an extraordinary gift and needed her help to make the presentation complete.
After opening the presents to reveal two stunning needlepoint canvases, it became clear that a major part of the present was to be the fiber to stitch the canvases and the handwork required to complete them. The recipient chose colors, Marcy contracted with a local stitcher, and the project was underway.
“It’s a wonderful project, “ Marcy explained. “When complete, these pieces will be incredible works of art. I’m honored to be involved in creating these beautiful gifts, and I know that my customer and her sister-in-law will enjoy these presents for their lifetimes. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed helping make all this happen.”
Next up for Stitch – a February Happy Hearts Workshop and a trip to the Woodlawn Needle Arts Show in March.
Morning stitch group begins on February 2nd, meeting every Tuesday 10-12. (Marcy welcomes stitchers at her table any time she’s open.)
The Whimsy & Grace trunk show continues through February 19th. Spring trunk shows will include Winnetka Stitchery in March, featuring their Christmas star designs, and The Meredith Collection (formerly Elizabeth Turner Collection) in April.
To keep up with all that’s happening at Stitch, follow us on Facebook – Stitch Middleburg, our website, www.stitchmiddleburg.com, or call us at (540) 687-5990.