- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

BINGHAM FARMS, Mich. (AP) - Typically, one wouldn’t associate a medical convention with learning to needlepoint, but for 86-year-old Donald Ketai, a retired podiatrist, such an assembly held in Boston over 30 years ago is exactly what led to his longtime passion for doing embroidery work over canvas.

“We (he and his wife, Dorathy) were at a bed and breakfast and because I had a back problem, she helped me carry the luggage up to the room, and she ruptured her disk. She was then bed-ridden. We had to leave the bed and breakfast and go to the nearest refuge, which was our son in Scotia, New York,” said the Bingham Farms resident.

“Dorathy was in bed at that time,” he continued, “and I had nothing to do. Our daughter-in-law was doing Bargello (flat-stitch embroidery) on a canvas to make a pillow. I asked her to take me to the yarn store and get me started on one. They started me out with a canvas and instructions of what to do.” Ketai finished his project and found himself hooked on the age-old form of needleart.

After returning home, he went to Rachelle’s Needlepoint in Southfield and had his needlepoint made into a pillow, The Detroit News (https://bit.ly/1RKGvGx ) reported. He said, “She got me started on another Bargello pillow, and said, ‘You’re so good at this, why don’t you do (multiple-stitch) needlepoint?’” After being instructed on a more advanced form, using a range of stitch techniques for added texture, Ketai did a bowl of lilies that he had framed, and it’s been hanging in his living room ever since. That particular project made him realize how different stitches can add more “substance and character” to a finished piece.

Inspired by the thought of having a hobby that would help keep him “away from the refrigerator,” Ketai has done numerous needlepoint projects, many of which he gifted to family members, including the one he presented to his daughter at her engagement party. Those that aren’t made into a pillow, he usually has custom framed. He said, “The thing is, needlepoints are so labor-intensive (that) you don’t want to put them in a cheap frame.” And, expense-wise, the canvas alone, he says, is about $100, and then he has to buy yarn, mostly wool and silk, to stitch the design. So, he’s investing a considerable amount of time and money.

One of his more “interesting” works is of the sailboat he and his wife once owned. “I gave Rachel a picture of our sailboat and she (using a computer program) put it on a needlepoint canvas. I did the needlepoint and had a pillow made,” he said. “It’s very precise because you have to figure out precisely where the picture lies so that the stitches can go in the right direction.”

In recent years, Ketai hasn’t done very many needlepoint projects because “there was no one to give them to, and we didn’t want to put anymore in our home.” He said they have about seven displayed, and feels too many can “become too showy.” However, he recently began entertaining the idea of doing one for his son and daughter-in-law. “They’re in a new home in Denver, and I thought it would be a nice house gift,” he said.


Information from: The Detroit News, https://detnews.com/

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