Clyde is the greeter, welcoming visitors to the Elegant Needle and escorting them to Never Never Land, where needles and threads stop time.
“Clyde is our shop dog,” said Katherine Pretsch. “He’s the same breed of Newfoundland dog that was in the ‘Peter Pan’ nursery. ”
He is also perfect for customers who step into The Elegant Needle looking for different threads, patterns and even instructions in the world of needlepoint. A restful world.
The only thing that matters is the stitch, but even so, in Elegant Needle’s Never Never Land, the stitch doesn’t mark the time.
“Once you start working with the tip of a needle, you really forget all the time,” says Pletsch. “And it’s something you always want to carry around. I can’t sit in front of the TV to do anything.”
Pletsch is the second generation owner. Original owner Marian Pyle opened her first shop on Florida Boulevard in 1994.
It’s one of the shop’s trademarks. It’s staffed by volunteers, whom Pletsch calls angels, and is on a mission to spread the joy of needlepoint.
Pretsch was a faithful angel. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree from her LSU, but the shop was her passion. Pretsch bought it when Pyle decided to retire.
That was eight years ago. The popularity of the shop grew along with the inventory, and Pretsch elegantly moved her needles to the bungalow house at 6641 Government Street in Baton’s Rouge.
The shop sells patterns and painted canvases, a variety of threads, needles and scissors by room.
Here she is surrounded by her own angels, including Joe Boniol. Angels can receive rewards in some way and exchange their time for goods.
Boniol is the angel who greets visitors on this day, letting them know that two-year-old Clyde stands behind him.
Despite Clyde’s youth, it’s no surprise that some shoppers are surprised by his bear-like presence. It looks like a bear.
But his big smile puts everyone at ease as he ushers you through the stucco-covered corridors of Elegant Needles’ needlepoints to the main gallery of threads.
“He loves everyone,” Pretsch said. “He even tried to go home with Joe a few times.”
Bonior laughs involuntarily. He is elegantly the only male angel among his Needle volunteers, an organically evolved position.
“I ran a flower shop called All About Flowers on the corner of Siegen and Perkins, and I read a lot and watched a lot of movies after I retired,” he said. “I love reading, but after years of working with flowers, I needed to get creative with my hands.”
So he stepped into The Elegant Needle and started several Needlepoint projects and started volunteering. Surrounded by Pendergast, and Pretsch’s mother, Francis Nell Pretsch.
All displays are presented alongside recently completed and work-in-progress work on a large table within the Thread Display. Most of the pieces are complex and require months of work.
Most projects are created from an artist’s design printed on canvas. His one of the galleries in the shop specializes in Louisiana patterns and includes Natchtosh folk his artist, Clementine his hunter paintings, Mardi Gras images, lots of fleur de his squirrel designs, and a local high school. Includes needlepoint reproductions such as the logo of
Still, The Elegant Needle is more than just a shop. Guests of all ages come from across the state.
“We have customers driving from Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi,” says Boniol.
It’s not that there aren’t shops in the middle of nowhere. They’re just looking for something different.
“Those places also have stores, but each store has its own personality,” says Pletsch. “I think it’s fun as a stitcher to go see what other shops have because they’re a reflection of their area. It reflects what we like, but when you go to a shop in Houston, it reflects Houston.. There are five shops in Houston, and each one is very different.”
The Needlepoint Shop also offers valuable face-to-face instruction and advice.
“You can watch videos, but you can’t actually teach them what they need to know,” Pretsch says. “Here’s how to do the French knot. The videos are a great refresher, but they also tell you what you’re doing wrong when you’re stuck.”
Instruction is usually one-on-one, much like Pretsch’s grandmother taught her.
“We use the basics here to start a new stitcher,” she said. is.”
As the work progresses, stitchers learn more about the needlepoint repertoire of over 200 stitches, but Pretsch and her angels carefully warn against rushing.
“It takes an hour to make a square inch,” Pretsch said. “This is not an instant gratification project. Now I get satisfaction from completing certain parts. , you get satisfaction, and you can see the seams.”
Stitcher explains that it typically takes an average of three and a half months to complete an intricate heirloom-style Christmas stocking.
The stocking shares space with Pendergast’s finished NOLA ‘float’ and is filled with needlepoint Mardi Gras symbols.
Every angel carries a small project with them on their travels, in the doctor’s waiting room, and even on planes. The TSA is saddening no one for bringing a needle or a small pair of scissors onto the plane.
“As long as the scissors are under 3 inches, it’s fine,” says Francis Nell Pletcher. “Ours is plastic and has a little metal clipper on the end.”
Pletcher pulls out a small pair of scissors from a clear travel bag.
“I carry it everywhere and the TSA has never given me a problem,” she said.
Pletsch emphasizes the importance of having a physical store. This is where the sewing community comes together, something that cannot be replicated online.
During COVID, the angels have come one at a time, and stores have developed a system where purchases are placed on the porch for customers to pick up.
“It’s about sharing ideas and figuring out new ways to do things that weren’t thought of before,” says Zielinski. “It’s good to have a supportive community whenever you have common interests. Even constructive criticism helps.”
Then there’s one thing you won’t find anywhere else. It’s a greeter named Clyde.