Book Review: “Celebrity Needlepoint” by Scobey & McGrath – $1 Bookstore Series

From our ongoing series on seriously remarkable finds from the 1-Dollar Bookstore, here’s—

“Celebrity Needlepoint” by Joan Scobey &
Lee Parr McGrath – 1972 – The Dial Press – New York

Just your standard book of celebrities who do needlepoint in their spare time, chatting about styles they like and showing or describing some of their work— mostly just describing, however, since the photos in the book are somewhat limited. There’s a color section of 14 pages, though I warn you: most of what I found interesting comes from the black & white section.

The first interesting thing had to be the celebrities chosen: it was published in 1972, so I really didn’t know what to expect. The authors seemed to have access to a number of wives & daughters of U.S. Presidents and politicians (Betty Ford, Julie Eisenhower, “The US Cabinet Wives” [book's description, not mine]). However, there were a few neat surprises. . .

Grace Kelly (listed as Princess Grace of Monaco, of course.)

With her 1956 marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco, Ms. Kelly famously left her glamorous Hollywood lifestyle behind for the somewhat more exclusive glamorous lifestyle of royalty. Apparently this gave her a ton of time to engage in her favorite relaxation activity, needlepoint. She made gifts for friends and family (a Winnie-the Pooh-themed rug made for her daughter is mentioned), cushions, slippers, even “luggage-rack straps from leftover yarn”. Her favorite was apparently this one for her husband, Prince Rainier:

Grace Kelly:
Favorite Needlepoint: Petit point waistcoat
Design: Mazaltov’s, Inc, NY
Canvas: No. 16 mono
Stitch: Basketweave

Janet Leigh

Another movie star, also one of Alfred Hitchcock‘s favorite leading ladies, Janet preferred copying paintings, like this Matisse-style pattern:

Janet Leigh:
Favorite needlepoint: “Leaves,” based on a Matisse design
Design: Adapted by Haystack, Ltd Beverly Hills, CA
Canvas: No. 5 penelope
Stitch: Half cross

It’s described as being colorful & pretty in the book, but in this black-and-white photo, I see a hand in the upper-left corner coming to grab me. It’s very Hitchcock:

Mary Tyler Moore

America’s favorite classy funny-lady of TV prefers something a little more linear when it comes to crafting: a cover for a footstool from her grandmother, and pillows, etc… her favorite piece was described thusly:

Of course it is.

And of course, there it was:

Mary Tyler Moore:
Favorite needlepoint: French coin purse with bee design
Design: Jebba, Inc, LA in gold yellow and black on green background
Stitch: Basketweave

There are a few copies available on Amazon ($1 – $15)Ebay ($12), and even Etsy, so it doesn’t seem to be all that rare.If you are at all interested in Pop Culture, American-style, you’ll be interested in seeing this: plus if you’re into needlework, then you’ll have it made.  ~W.

Further Reading & Links:

  1. 1976: A Good Year To Be An Egg” – The first in our series of odd craft-related bargain bookstore finds.
  2. Book Review – ‘Why Paint Cats: The Ethics of Feline Aesthetics’“- The gripping continuation of that same series.

 

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Will Maier is the Daily Post Editor at CrapAtCrafts.com, as well as an Actor / Writer / Comedian & Improviser in the Los Angeles area. You can see more of his writing at Willmaierwrites.com.


Comments

Book Review: “Celebrity Needlepoint” by Scobey & McGrath – $1 Bookstore Series — 5 Comments

  1. Thanks for this – another book for me to look for and buy, like I have so few. Seriously, your one buck bookstore sounds like a fab resource for those with an eagle eye for something special. I am very much enjoying your essays, Will. You have the eagle eye along with a sensitive heart, and, of course, superb taste in women.

    • I suspect you would explode if you saw this $1 bookstore. It is MASSIVE and has a really eclectic selection. The last time we went there I suddenly remembered all those trip to Hay on Wye.

  2. This is a time-capsule book for sure. From ’68 through ’78 or so there was a huge boom interest in needlepoint, even bigger than the recent knitting fad. It was everywhere, with hundreds of books published, daytime TV talk shows featuring segments (including one with famed football player Rosie Greer), and women’s/home magazines devoting issue after issue to rooms festooned with the stuff. Needlepoint chair seats, pillows, pictures, tennis racquet covers, vests, slippers, appliance cozies – you name it, they stitched it.

    In the pre-big-box craft store days small needlepoint shops were everywhere, offering painted canvases, threads, and finishing services (very few people finished the pieces themselves).

    Needlepoint was the last crafts hurrah of the stay-home mom era, and had largely died of over-exposure, competing time pressure by the early 1980s.

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