you look around our wonderful sanctuary carefully, after spying the four mice
running up furniture carved by Robert Thompson, the Mouseman of Kilburn, you
will see glorious needlepoint everywhere. These labors of love are the work of
our Needlepoint Guild, a group formed in 1976 and chaired for years by the
late, great Jo Miesch. Jo designed the canvases which were then stitched by 19
members and later joined by another 21. Their accomplishment was mighty: 51 pieces! Using Jo’s designs which she then painted on the canvases plus English
woolen yarns and untold hours of stitching, these ladies left heartfelt
contributions to the beauty of our sanctuary.
In the last 2 years, the
Needlepoint Guild is enjoying a renaissance due to a true tragedy. The canvas of the altar kneelers
disintegrated, leaving hundreds of thousands of careful stitches held together
by literally nothing. One athletic knee at the communion rail could easily have
gone right through Pris Lewis’s majestic center kneeler or any of the others.
That precious work is now resting on miniature benches, built expressly by
master craftsman Quint Creighton and made possible by the generous G R
Fasken. The current and exciting
needlepoint work is led by Virginia Pitts and Judy Cobb, both contributors to
the original effort. Judy’s baptismal shell hangs under the Transfiguration
window on the east wall of the church. Virginia stitched a few of the nave kneelers and, for those lucky to
sing soprano in the choir, created a kneeler with the musical staff and notes
of the Kyrie.
In 2020, Lorrie Norton Rhodes shared the name
of Sheila Oscherf, a Fort Worth-based needlepoint designer who works for
churches and cathedrals across the United States. Virginia and Judy worked with Sheila on the
design of the new kneelers with the center kneeler’s medallion being the
Jerusalem cross that is carved into the front our altar, IC XC NI KA, Greek
meaning ‘Jesus Christ Conquers.’ They explain that the canvas comes painted
with Sheila’s designs and from that “they paint with yarn.” The colors are from
the stained glass triptych above the altar. Currently hard at work are Virginia
Pitts, Judy Cobb, Judy Gibbons, Beryl Bryant (a lady not a parishioner but a
terrific stitcher), Callie Kent, and Jack Thomson.
Sadly, our dear recently-departed Kay
Burkhart leaves her unfinished kneeler, one of her many contributions to our church. If you would like to
learn the art of needlepoint, this is your chance both to learn and leave your
legacy in the pews of Holy Cross. If you
would like to donate monies for this project—the design, the yarns, the
blocking and finishing of the kneelers—please don’t hesitate. There is a fun group of stitchers eager to
welcome you into their circle. There is
a Needlepoint Fund to contribute to—just send a check in honor of a grandbaby,
a mother, a dad, or a friend to the church office.