If you haven’t been to Stitches by the Sea in downtown Delray you are missing out on a colorful garden of artistic expression.
The expression is one of stitching and stretching your mind in sync with artistic canvases and colorful threads. Called needlepoint, this artistic endeavor is made by hand and embellished by heart.
Stitches by the Sea is the center of gravity for this age-old tradition of needlepoint. But its heritage – like many hobbies and endeavors – has evolved with younger stitchers and new culturally expressive canvases.
What makes Stitches by the Sea so unique is its lineage. Founder Judi Alweil’s first needlepoint business was started in her mother-in-law’s house in Long Island in 1968.
It was the perfect business for this creative maven of color and style. Judi’s artistic bent and teaching degree laid the groundwork for a thriving business. Her ability to hand-paint needle-point canvasses so beautifully made them sought after from all over the country.
“My father Mac was our first salesperson for our wholesale business (Gemini) that I started with my partner, Rochelle Weissberg in 1974. Our first big order was for Jordan Marsh and we didn’t have a system in place to fill the order. Our husbands helped us pack up and ship our first large order,” said Judi, whose husband Dick has been part of the Delray Beach store since its inception.
The business (both wholesale and retail) grew and prospered in Long Island with Judi designing brilliant canvases and selling yarns in all fibers and colors. Judi also authored two books (one on ribbon knitting) and created beautiful needlepoint handbags, pillows, wall art, totes, belts, and other items of earthly existence.
When the Alweil’s moved to South Florida Judi decided to take up her retail business venture once again. “Karen was doing our wholesale business in New York, but she moved to Florida to help us. Business has been so good that Karen has become a vital part of Stitches by the Sea.”
Women flock to the Delray store from all over the country looking for beautiful needlepoint accessories and inspiration. Stitches by the Sea also sells designer canvases that can be made into anything imaginable.
“Every time I come to Delray I come to Stitches by the Sea,” said Joanie Risavy. “Their choice of threads and canvases make it a candy store for me. I make Christmas ornaments, pillows and other items. I also get personal attention and learn a lot from Karen.”
Karen is the co-anchor of Stitches by the Sea now. She has the pedigree combined with the knowledge and love of Social Media and needlepoint. She was the safe port in the storm for creative types during Covid and found herself shipping canvass-es and threads all over the country for everyone in quarantine.
“The repetitive motion of needlepoint calms the mind. That’s why we call Needlepoint…Yoga for the Mind®. Those are words we live by at Stitches by the Sea. People order our canvasses from all over the country. We have modern, contemporary, colorful and whimsical designs that make people happy.”
You bet they do. They sell elaborate landscapes of exotic is-lands, colorful famous artist portraits (like Frida Kahlo), bursts of floral grandiosity, geometrics and whimsical sayings. They have elegant handbags with handles in bamboo, Lucite and metal, beach totes, pillows, designer evening bags and more.
On Monday mornings they give live classes on Instagram® for needlepoint projects. They’re also on Facebook® and have an online store.
For Judi, needlepoint has been a long and winding road of excitement and artistic reverie. “I have been fortunate to be able to take my love of stitching and turn it into a profitable business. Needlepoint is relaxing and creative. You can take a hand-paint-ed needlepoint canvas and stitch it in cotton yarn or embellish it with various stitches and threads in silk ribbon, beads and silk raffia.”
Needlepoint and Stitches by the Sea is literally a safe port in any storm. Just ask Arlene Weitzman. “I was in our boat headed to Baltimore when something broke. We turned around and come back to Florida. I love Stitches by the Sea because they have the best canvasses and threads, and they do my finishing. Judi is creative, kind and a fabulous businesswoman. And, with Karen nothing is impossible. This is my happy place.”
It’s everyone’s happy place.
STITCHES BY THE SEA
710 E. Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach
Check out their Instagram pages @ stitches by the sea Online store: stitchesbythesea.us