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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
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
To get directly to T-3's designs on the Sundance website
6546 E. Tanque Verde #150
Tucson, AZ 85715
SHEAR Creations stitch guides are available to the trade
from the Caron Collection