January 2017

Needlepoint Junction: One Stitch at a Time

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Fiber arts are all about texture and feel, hue and tone, art and creativity, and Village at Wexford’s Needlepoint Junction is the lovely, tactile atelier at the heart of the Lowcountry’s needlecraft community. Brimming with yarns and threads, needles and hooks, canvases and inspiration, the Hilton Head Island shop is filled with all the touchable ingredients needed to inspire. Owner Michele Kay-Greene has staffed her shop with a troupe of passionate needle crafters who heartily share their experience, skill, and advice, assisting customers with project and materials selection, teaching classes, and mentoring stitchers of all ages, from beginners to experts.

Opened 27 years ago, in a cozy niche right next door to its current locale in Village at Wexford, it wasn’t until 2014 that Kay-Greene purchased Needlepoint Junction, equipped only with a heart for color and design and a vision for building a new life with husband Paul Greene on Hilton Head Island, where she had vacationed for 20-plus years and where her parents had moved in 2007. “I painted, I drew, I did photography,” she said. “My grandmother hooked rugs, and I would sit with her for hours and hook, but I’d never done anything like needlepoint, crewel, embroidery—never picked up a set of knitting needles.”

Needlepoint Junction regulars greeted Kay-Greene with open arms, willing to give her a chance, and willing to pitch in, helping to make it happen. “My first day I said, ‘Oh gosh, I need a bigger space.’ Those were my first words,” Kay- Greene said of the shop’s intimate, over-stuffed original venue. “Space became available right next door. We never closed. In fact, my customers were there hanging threads on the wall; so many people volunteered to help with the move. It was just amazing, and just kind of took my breath away.”

Understanding the business, but not necessary the art, Kay-Greene relied on some advice she had been given by her father: “Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you (otherwise known as the experts), and use them to their best capabilities and abilities. Doing that, you’re empowering them, number one, and number two, you’re creating a team that knows everything and can handle everything.” The Needlepoint Junction team members know their stuff. “What they do just blows my mind. I have great knitters; I have great crocheters; I have great needlepointers who work for me. Everybody is willing to share something with you,” Kay-Greene said.

Paul and Michelle Kay-Greene with their lovable pooch Southie
A variety of classes are held in a room adjoining the shop at the Village at Wexford
The different color options are endless at Needlepoint Junction

Celebrating the grand opening of their larger space in February of 2016, Needlepoint Junction has become the perfect creative outlet for local and visiting fiber lovers. The sample work displayed throughout the shop provides inspiration for selecting the perfect project, and stitchers are enticed to enroll in the growing number of learning opportunities offered in the splendid classroom. Surrounded by samples infused with imagination and talent, the classroom is getting busy, and the team looks forward to adding more teaching events to their schedule in the coming months.

“One of our goals is to get younger people involved,” Kay-Greene said. “From kids on up, because they can do it. For most people, it’s therapeutic, it’s calming.” Classes for adults are usually limited to eight participants, while children’s classes are limited to six students. “We have learned that with these numbers, the students get what they need. For children, we like to give them a project that provides almost instant gratification—something for their iPhone, or if they’re younger, then a scarf or a dish cloth—something that when they walk out the door they feel like they can finish. That’s true with adults too,” she said. “Our classes are designed to introduce needlecrafts to those who have never experienced them, all the way up to the super-advanced.”

Adult classes encompass as many stitching disciplines and projects as can be conjured in the imaginations of her team members or from the suggestions of their customers, and Kay-Greene is open to new ideas. “We do trunk shows and would like to do seminars,” she said. “We’re interested in building an outreach program—going into homes and communities with classes and information.” Needlepoint Junction is also scheduling classes with Theresa Thomas, a master knitter, who designs, produces, and teaches the most inspired projects.

Watching a team member assist a customer with project and material selection is part of the fun for Kay-Greene. “With needlepoint, your canvas has lots of colors on it, and it’s a design, but it’s how you bring those colors to life; even though the canvas is painted, it is still blank.” On any given week, customers will find guidance from and camaraderie shared by Marnie, Theresa, Gail, Darla, Ali, Jill, Sharon, Geri, Jacque, and June—each with different palette sensibilities and styles. Kay-Greene says that even when she hasn’t been in the shop, she can suss out who has been working by seeing what threads and yarns and canvases have been sold. Team members bring particularly unique sets of creative fingerprints to their work at Needlepoint Junction.

Kay-Greene sources project materials with a keen eye. “All of our canvases are hand-painted. We do not carry anything that is stamped or computer-generated, except for maybe some children’s kits. All of our canvases are done individually,” she said. “And we’re known for our thread, because we carry several different lines, which we’re expanding on.”

An advocate of giving back and remaining local, Kay-Greene is a member of the local chapter of 100+ Women Who Care, a nonprofit that selects a Hilton Head Island area of need on a quarterly basis and makes monetary contributions. Also a supporter of children’s charities, she said, “Working with the Boys and Girls Club for Christmas is really important, because I believe that every child deserves to have something under the tree.”

Following Hurricane Matthew, Needlepoint Junction sold custom-painted, locally-inspired needlepoint canvases, with the proceeds going to The Deep Well Project. “Giving is the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. I get just as much out of it as they get out of it, if not more. It’s the satisfaction of seeing somebody else light up.”

Needlepoint Junction’s Michele Kay-Greene has made herself at home and built a charming nest in the heart of Hilton Head Island, and with her troupe of passionate needle crafters is excited to see just where this hub of inspiration will grow. 

Needlepoint Junction is in Village at Wexford at 1000 William Hilton Parkway, Suite J7E, Hilton Head Island. For more information, please call (843) 842-8488 or visit needlepointjunctionhhi.com.

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