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Think three's a crowd? You won't anymore after making the acquaintance of T3. Now that's about as pithy a name as one can imagine, but the venture it refers to sure packs a wallop of talent. When Ann Caswell, Beth Robertson and Suzanne Howren decided to team-up to produce designs, they wanted to incorporate their combined expertise in stitches, threads and techniques. The result was T3, an acronym for the name of their business: the Thread Technique Team, initiated in August '97. Individually each is skilled and talented in her own right. As a triumvirate, they truly make up a design force to be reckoned with!

Ann Caswell's expertise is an extensive knowledge of threads, working with over 150 different types. Her goal as a teacher is to provide a wealth of information on the variety of threads available, recognizing their properties and demonstrating how they work in combination with each other. She has taught for needlework shops, companies and guilds across North America and England. From 1986 to 1991 Ann functioned as Shop Manager for the ANG after which she served as its national president from 1994 to 1996. Ann's focus for the ANG Shop was to develop it as an educational, as well as a fund raising resource for the guild. She has also been on ANG's Correspondence Course Faculty for 8 years. Ann produces all her own teaching materials and project instructions, as well as instructional material for other teachers. Her work with shops includes customizing thread classes and merchandising material to a shop's specific thread inventory and future goals and providing projects and teaching aids which can be used by the shop in display and for classes. Ann's hallmark is her relaxed but enthusiastic approach that enables her to disseminate a vast body of knowledge while simultaneously encouraging students to apply what they learn according to their individual avenues of endeavor.

Another of Ann's keen interests is developing needlework graphics on the computer. She appeared as a guest on The Embroidery Studio to demonstrate the use of today's technology in needle arts. She is currently working as design coordinator on a book for Interweave Press scheduled for release January 2001. She was also the design coordinator for Metallic Thread Embroidery: A practical guide to stitching creatively with metallic threads by Jacqueline Friedman Kreinik, due out this fall. Her own designs have appeared in numerous magazines and books and she is among the designers featured in Shay Pendray's Needlecraft Projects. Her background before needlework was in office management and research psychology and she has worked additionally as a crisis counselor and a licensed private investigator.

Beth Robertson was born and raised on the North Shore of Long Island, NY, also known as the Gold Coast. Both of Beth's parents influenced her creative side. Beth spent considerable time with her father who enjoyed woodworking and she learned to swing a hammer before learning to thread a needle. Beth's mother taught her knitting, sewing, needlepoint and embroidery. Later she did machine sewing and crewelwork. Growing up Beth immersed herself in numerous sports. In high school Beth's interests broadened to include photography, serving as a photographer for the school yearbook. Other artistic interests Beth has pursued include quilting, watercolors and rug hooking. Many of these pursuits fell by the wayside during college and for several years thereafter

Beth attended The American University in Washington, DC, her initial career goal being to land a job as photographer for National Geographic, but after a year her focus had changed to broadcast journalism. Her first job out of college was with the Sheridan Broadcasting Network. In less than a year, she was selected as the producer for Black College Football. After this, Beth moved to the Mutual Broadcasting System. Upon moving back to New York, she took a job with the RKO Radio Network. She loved the job, but hated NYC, so back she went to DC and began working in Telecommunications for MCI, first in the Engineering Division and later managing the technical support department.

In the 80's Beth rediscovered cross-stitch and needlepoint. By 1990 she had joined the ANG and took up counted needlework on canvas, building up her repertoire of needlepoint stitches. She immersed herself in workshops and seminars. Beth remarks, "I guess this is where my intensive hands-on work began." While working for MCI Beth was engineer by day, needlework designer by night. When in 1995 an opportunity to pursue a needlework career full time presented itself, she grabbed it.

Suzanne Howren was born and raised in Norfolk, VA, the oldest child of 4 and the only girl. Suzanne's mother taught her to knit and needlepoint. She attended Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk but graduated from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC with a degree in Communications. She also received a nursing diploma from the Helene Fuld School of Nursing and worked as a nurse at George Washington University Hospital in the postpartum and neonatal intensive care units. Thereafter she worked for Hospital Temporaries in different locales and followed this with selling pharmaceuticals for the next eight years before becoming a "stay-at-home mom." It was while working part-time at the Needlewoman East in VA that Suzanne made the acquaintance of both Beth and Ann.

Suzanne and Beth became friends through their mutual involvement with the ANG, both serving on the board of their local chapter. Beth and Suzanne began their professional collaboration when they teamed up to form SHEAR Creations LLC. The impetus was a client referral they received from Ann. Their first customers were Sharon Garmize and Ricki Henry at Renaissance Designs and soon they were adding other canvas artists. Under the banner of SHEAR Creations Suzanne and Beth have produced stitch and thread guides for painted canvas designers. In 1996 they began writing and publishing a book series: Stitches For Effect, More Stitches For Effect and the latest, Even More Stitches For Effect. They have also developed and taught several pieces for TNNA, local shops, ANG National Seminars and Callaway Gardens. The subject of these classes deal primarily with selecting threads and stitches to create realistic effects on painted canvas - also the premise of their books. Although both Suzanne and Beth had dabbled in designing previously, it was after they joined forces with Ann to form the Thread Technique Team, that they began designing in earnest.


Colors, threads, buttons, beads, landscapes, photos and shapes provide the inspiration for Beth's design ideas. When asked to describe her personal artistic style, Beth is at somewhat of a loss admitting, "I'm not sure how to answer that; I think it's still under development. Nothing I've designed resembles anything else." She readily concedes that her style is constantly evolving, "My tastes seem to change from week to week."

Ann is influenced in designing by her dual passions-pattern and interpreting realistic (or landscape) scenes with threads and stitches. She explains, "I have long had a fascination with pattern in almost all forms-mosaics, iron work, wood work, tiles, etc. My interest in landscapes started about 5 years ago. I've been teaching classes which encourage stitchers to look at the world around them and really 'see' what surrounds us."

Threads, stitches, textures and colors mainly inspire Suzanne. She enjoy combining all three to create a new design. She is also inspired by holidays, found objects (beads, embellishments), photographs, museum and gallery shows and traveling. She proceeds by developing a design planned around a selection of primary threads, using additional threads to complement the main design elements. Suzanne describes her artistic style with complete candor, "Probably as realistic as possible without being able to draw. I like to interpret ideas with color and stitches."

With respect to the nature of their collaboration, Suzanne explains. "All 3 of us were interested in doing charted needlepoint designs." Beth adds, "As our expertise is in the use of threads and stitches, when we decided to collaborate, we wanted to develop designs that incorporated these techniques." Hence the name Thread Technique Team. Beth continues, "The T3 refers to both the 3 of us and the 3 "Ts" in the name." Ann continues, "T3 is a union of 3 individuals with different strengths and visions, who are trying to find an efficient way to integrate those visions. We all share in our love of threads and stitches and we enjoy working together. We bring individual ideas to the table for group discussion, then develop any ideas accepted by the group. That development is usually done by the individual with whom the idea originated."


The specifics of how they interact depends on the project. When developing a stitch guide for painted canvas, they work as a group all providing suggestions for stitches, threads etc. The first original designs that they created as T3 were the 3 Kimonos: Woven Peacock, Summer Solstice, and Indigo. The kimono shape is the same for all, but each design incorporates different patterns. Beth explains, "As we developed these designs we discovered a lot about our individual design methods. We meet once a week... it is difficult to develop a design as a team within this limited time frame. So all three of us design, chart, choose threads, stitches and colors." When they meet in person each brings her individual design prepared to brainstorm. This enables them to resolve trouble spots and provides fresh insights into ways the designs can be enhanced. Beth elaborates, "We like to experiment with new and different methods. Yet we are all different when it comes to our favorite threads, stitches and color pallets. We play off these differences and use them to our advantage to create a diverse line of unique designs." The kimono series is a good example of how ideas evolves into designs. Suzanne clarifies, "We started out with a basic kimono shape. We decided that we wanted to have shapes inside the kimono design. Beth created about 20 different 'insert shapes' on the computer. We reviewed them as a group and we each chose a design that spoke to us. We each took our outline and went to work developing the design. When we met each week we would review what the other had done and offered suggestions."

Designing their cuff line evolved similarly. Some basic shapes for stocking cuffs were developed. From these shapes the designs were created. The Vintage Victorian Stocking Cuff, a Bargello pattern using Watercolours, laid the groundwork for the development of the Bargello Reflections and Autumn Spice Bargello pillows series and the Bargello Ornament. All three women are involved in some way in each design, be it stitching, charting, photography or packaging.

T3 also focuses on developing teaching pieces. One such project, "One Stitch Wonders," was conceived and published in Needlepoint Now in two installments. These are designs that use only one stitch. The T3 team are brimming with ideas for other projects, which are still very much in the development stage. It's a safe bet that these will evolve with some unexpected results given the unique nature of their three-way collaboration. Be sure to stay tuned for new developments!

Sudance Designs is our distributor. Their website is

Sundance Designs is now T-3's Distributor. Their website is

To get directly to T-3's designs on the Sundance website go to:

Sundance Designs
6546 E. Tanque Verde #150
Tucson, AZ 85715
phone: 520-886-8880
email: SundanceNW@aol.com

SHEAR Creations stitch guides are available to the trade from the Caron Collection

© 1999 The Caron Collection / Voice: (203) 381-9999, Fax: 203 381-9003

CARON email: mail@caron-net.com