Needle Exchange: Summertime Blues

You know how it’s soooooo hooooot right now, and how if you had to thread a needle or handle silk or wool you’d just start screaming at the top of your lungs? No? Just me? ANYWAY. When it’s like that, any kind of motivation, or thinly veiled needlework related stuff makes me feel like I’m being a little productive (research!) and also makes me actually want to work on stuff.

So lately I’ve been watching/listening to all things Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed.

If you’ve never heard of her, she is considered the most prolific lady serial killer ever. Accounts vary as to how many people she killed, ranging from 100 to 600+, and the story goes that she did it to bathe in virgins’ blood as an anti-aging treatment. However, there is strong evidence that she was a vicim of a political smear campaign in order to strip her of her considerable power and wealth and render debts owed to her by the crown invalid. Although she was never convicted, her servants were convicted for  assisting  her in 80 murders, and she lived the rest of her days walled up in one of the rooms of her castle.

What does this have to do with needlework? I’m not gonna lie. Practically nothing. BUT. It is showcased in the movie “The Countess” and a running theme in the book “The Countess” by Rebecca Johns.

I’m gonna be honest. I listen to and watch a lot of high grade crap when I’m working. I want to be entertained when I do pay attention, but I don’t want to be so enthralled that I can’t work, right? So basically, if I’m not watching an awesome Lifetime movie, (which I love, hard) i’m looking for the equivalent of a Lifetime movie, but with interesting needlework in the costume design. You know, to keep me motivated. It works in my head.

The Countess (2009, available on Netflix view it now!!!!) is written and directed by Julie Delphy. I’d say it’s better than a Lifetime movie, but worse, because it’s not a Lifetime movie so there’s no room for excuses. However, the costumes are to DIE for. Wha-HA-HA-ha.

Check out that blackwork. Doesn’t it give you a boner in your floss stash? Beautiful. Now we’ve talked about blackwork before, so I’m not going to go into it here, but someone really did their homework with these costumes.

See? Everything is just fine. Just. Fine.”


Okay, guys. Joke’s over. Not cool. Not cool at all.”

Also, Erzésbet shows off her lady needlework skillz in this movie.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Barf. I’m not going to tell you what she’s stitched in there. Spoiler!

So usually, I watch a movie like this and decide whatever I’m working on is Bor-RING, and then start digging around for something different to play with. I bought this book when I kidnapped Beefranck to my house, and then kidnapped her again to the Japanese market. Pro-tip- Don’t let the fact that you can’t read a word of something prevent you from buying it. These are cross stitch patterns, but I’ve been using them for needlepoint. I’m a rebel that way.

Click to enlarge, drag to your desktop, and rotate. Don’t sue me.  

I’ve been playing with these, and listening to “The Countess” on audiobook. In Johns’ book, Elizabeth is a murdering murderer, but not so much because of vanity, but rather an over wrought sense of entitlement and blind rages. She doesn’t start out planning to kill her servants, they just happen to not survive their beatings because they’re weak. All she wanted to do was teach them needlework and to not fornicate with the stable boys. Is that to much to ask? At just under 10 hours, this book is pretty entertaining. Formated as letters sent to her son while imprisoned, she often laments that they wouldn’t even give her a bit of embroidery to pass the time. Poor, poor murderess.

Yeah, I know. I told you this barely had anything to do with needlework.

Here’s another pattern.

Click to enlarge, drag to your desktop, and rotate. Don’t sue me.  

That’s all I got. It’s hot, I don’t have AC, and I can’t work on anything without getting my sweaty paws all over it and ruining it. I’m in a bad mood about it. What do you want from me?!?


Penny Nickels is a printmaker that started playing with needles with tremendous effect. She and her husband, Johnny Murder, have been described as the “Bonnie and Clyde of Contemporary Embroidery “ and you can discover the power of her creativity at  her blog.


Screen caps from netflix. Don’t tell on me. Scans from Japanese blackwork book that I can’t read the title of.