Meet Nora Detlor and her Cross-Stitch!

By: Susan W. Smith

Volume 19, Issue 1, January 2024

Over the past few years, I have marvelled at the cross-stitch work of an island friend. I say friend, as I have had the pleasure of sitting with her at a breakfast table at the Robson’s General Store, in Gananoque. It was before COVID, and a group of island ladies would meet for a session, appropriately called “Stitch and Bitch.” Of course, our "Stitch & B'ing" stopped in person when COVID arrived.

However, Facebook allowed me to continue to marvel at the work of Nora Detlor, who summers on Ash Island and now lives in Mallorytown, ON, in the off-season. Now, I want to introduce my friend to the whole River community.

Nora kindly answered my many questions – not only with words but by sharing some of her beautiful work – which, truthfully, says it all – creativity, talent, and most of all, patience.

Completed, framed, and then given to family and friends. 

Q: When did you start doing your needlework? Did someone teach you?

A: I started working with threads at age 15. I thought first I'd try my hand at tapestry. I bought a pattern at the White Rose store in Galt, ON, in 1973 – but decided after attempting tapestry that I'd switch to cross-stitch.

I still have my first tapestry. I'm self-taught and quickly got addicted. I started buying patterns, threads, containers, and magazines.

Nora Detlor's first piece of needlework, and what soon became her passion: Cross-stitch!

Nora says she now has enough threads and colours to fill an entire room.

[Yes, Nora, anyone who has a passion for needlework, or in my case, collecting buttons, will know you never have enough – so buying patterns, threads, containers, and reading materials are a given.]

When she worked full-time and raised her two boys, she admitted she was lucky if she completed a few patterns in a whole year, but she joined a Stitch & B. group every Wednesday, and suddenly, the projects were finished.

Nora retired in 2010; since then, she has had plenty of time to stitch. She says you can find her around the pool, at the cottage on Ash Island, and, of course, home all winter long – stitching.

Today Nora joins Stitch-a-longs with several of her favourite designers, who start a project every January. Some of these sessions are weekly and some are monthly – the designers tell you how much material and the theme you need – and then you choose the colours.

I started using the colours of the birthstone for each month. Then I added initials of the people of my family and friends to the month of their birthdays: top left corner is January in the colour Garnet; then February below in mauve colour for amethyst and so on.

Each week or at the beginning of each month, they will give their audience, literally from around the world, a piece of the design to cross-stitch each month until the end of the year. As Nora enthusiastically says, so many of these are free and "so much fun . . . to do your own and then see everyone's progress as well."

She says she gets much of her inspiration from many designers today, so she also buys many of their patterns. Some of her favourite designers from around the world include:

(Nora please check that these are the right links)
Modern Folk Embroidery
Peppermint Purple
Long Dog Samplers
Fox and Rabbit…sampler SAL
Plum Street stitchers
The Scarlett House Stitchers
Black Bird Designs (Nora is this a place, seems to be a few places sell their designs.  Need a website or link.)
Prairie Schooler Designs
1897 Schoolhouse samplers by Lianne Van Leyen

Yes, Nora Detlor admits to being addicted to cross-stitching.

"I can't go a day without my needle and thread. I have done over 300 pieces. I also taught cross-stitching to groups through the United Church, Galt Community Center, children's classes, and schools. I grew up going to community centres and learning how to do crafts . . . that's probably why I loved to sew, macramé, embroider, make jewelry, and cross-stitch. There are always too many projects on the go. Never enough hours in the day."

Nora, I agree, and I bet our readers will, too. When I asked Nora to choose a few examples for this article, I could see it was difficult, but I certainly enjoyed seeing these lovely pieces. How about starting a Stitch & B group of your own? If you do, let us know and send us some photos of your handiwork.

By Susan W. Smith, contact:

Posted in: Volume 19, Issue 1, January 2024, Artists

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