Wooly Dreams Design

Creative designs

How I Became a "Needlework" Designer

When I was a child, I had no idea people had careers as artists. I was only familiar with starving artists in the attic stories. My parents were not keen on me drawing and discouraged my art efforts expecting me to excel in academics as they felt being an artist meant I'd end up being one of those poor artists in an attic barely making ends meet! Then as a rebellious teen ager, instead of going to college for only academics as I was supposed to, I applied to art college on my own.

Fortunately, everything worked out despite having to work three different jobs concurrently (on different days) to pay for my education along with some help from small scholarships, grants and student loans. I graduated from The Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY) where I majored in Textile Design, my specialty being Surface Design and from the University of Michigan, graduating from the School of Architecture and Design, majoring in Fine Arts.

Being a practical person I spent time taking many academic courses along with art classes as it makes for a well rounded designer and having an education is always useful. I realized it was not going to be easy being an artist without skills to fall back on, especially in the beginning when one is just starting out.

Two jobs I had in the textile design field was being hired as a colorist for a textile design company and working for an independent textile lab testing and evaluating textiles for major corporations and the US Government. I preferred testing textiles which paid very well, a prime consideration for a working student and the lab atmosphere appealed to me because my original plan had been to be a Biologist and have drawing as a sideline.

I worked as a graphic designer and illustrator through my travels across the US, which gave me great experience as part of my business depends on graphic design and publishing skills. With the advent of computer technology, especially the Mac computer and desktop publishing, I went to graduate school to study computer graphics and educate myself on the changes in the publishing and graphic design world.

Views of the studio

 My interest in stitching started when I visited a needlework shop out of curiosity and instantly fell in love with the colorful yarns displayed. I bought a kit as my first try into needlework which was a counted museum reproduction sampler on fine linen with hand dyed flosses, nothing like starting at the top! I loved it, and experimented with many other forms of stitching and then discovered blank needlepoint canvas. Now I had a medium where I was able to to create my own textiles and needlework paintings by drawing a simple outline on canvas and "paint" in the design with interesting threads and yarns for effects.

Since I loved working with thread and yarns so much, I got a Sunday afternoon job working for Pinquoin yarns. I was a knitting fanatic in the 80's, knitting loads of sweaters, some in intarsia designs, bright color patterns and fancy Arans, inspiring plans to be a knitwear designer, known as Wooly Dreams Design.

My interest in yarns and needlework lead me to a job as a manager for a needlework shop after the knitting shop stint which proved to be a great education before I started my own business, except I didn't know it then. By working in the retail business, I attended trade shows, read trade publications and talked to many people in the needlework industry where I learned a great deal from both perspectives both as retailer and supplier.

Moving into designing needlework was a natural step as it combined my two major interests - art and needlework. I jumped into my first major trade show in 1985 with 150 canvas designs and sold 4 designs to one shop! Was I discouraged? Not really, I was there to learn at that first show more than to make money. This was a practical hands-on learning experience. In between trade shows, I rented space in a large mall and sold painted canvases, yarns, threads, and other needlework items by day, and came home at night to paint new stock! This was a 7 days a week job to earn the money needed to invest in my wholesale business. I didn't know it then, but that was training for my current work weeks, good thing I've never needed much sleep.

In 1989, I joined The National Needlework Association and started to show at their trade markets where I was most fortunate to be taken under the wing of Bettieray (Designs) a well known needlepoint designer at my second TNNA show in San Diego, CA. It was Bettieray who pointed me in the right directions and who still gives me good advice to this day.


Wooly Dreams Design Needlepoint
White House Needlepoint
Needlepoint Retreat Mexico
Silk Gauze & WIP
Wooly Dreams Design Cross Stitch
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Copyright ©1999 Lula Chang ----- E-mail contact: mail@woolydream.com ----- All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be used or reproduced in any form whatsoever without written permission.