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  • Kim Piekos

Needlepointer Stitches New Life Into Business

By Kim Piekos

Most mornings, Cindy Annibali makes her coffee, sits on her sofa with her beloved dogs nearby and needlepoints while listening to the news. “It’s my favorite way to start the day,” says the longtime Lake Forest resident.

Cindy Annibali and her daughter, Ellie, have brought exciting changes to The Forest Needle.

So when the former owner of The Forest Needle, Candice Engelhard, announced her retirement this past June, buying the business was a no-brainer for Annibali. “My husband, parents and daughter thought it was a great idea,” she says. “I kept waiting for someone to tell me I couldn’t do it, but that didn’t happen. So, here we are!”

The Forest Needle, a staple for needlepointers located at 1341 N. Western Ave. for nearly a decade, reopened in early November, with a grand opening event planned around the holidays.

Though Annibali has given the store a facelift with white walls accented with bright blue and white chinoiserie wallpaper and newly painted and reupholstered furniture, the store will continue to offer canvases and fibers just like before. Shoppers will have access to the 161 new canvases Annibali recently bought, in addition to the 200 canvases she purchased from Engelhard.

Most needlepoint canvases are painted works of art.

“Canvases are designed and hand-painted by incredible artists,” she says. “As the stitcher and artist, you choose the shade of color and type of fiber you want to use to bring the canvas design to life. There is a lot of freedom and creativity involved.”

Annibali will sell both painted and printed canvases at The Forest Needle, as well as myriad types of fibers.

“The sky is the limit with fibers – silk, combinations of silk and wool, cotton, satin, sparkled, fur, multicolored, among others,” she says. “Each type of fiber creates its own effect.”

Annibali began to needlepoint as a young child because she saw the joy her mother had needlepointing beautiful pieces, including large rugs.

“I find the older I get, the more I needlepoint,” she says. “For many people, it’s a generational thing.”

Her daughter, Ellie, a partner in the business, is carrying on that tradition.

“Needlepointing is ingrained in my life after watching my mother and grandmother needlepoint,” Ellie explains. “It’s not just the project I’m working on but the experience of being with my family, watching a good movie while we needlepoint, that makes me love it.”

Ellie is noticing there is a future for needlepoint with her generation.

“There seems to be a grand-millennial rebirth of interest in things our grandmothers did or loved – needlepoint, traditional décor, preppy fashion -- among my peers. They love to buy needlepoint pillows, belts, shoes and key rings. We need to help them realize they can actually make these things themselves.”

Ellie plans to help her mother create needlepoint social events at the store for new and experienced needlepointers.

“Sip and Stitches, with wine, relaxation, needlepoint and the opportunity to hang out, are very popular now,” she says.

Reflecting on the impact this craft has had on her life, Annibali credits it with bringing her happiness and a sense of accomplishment.

“You get into it and it’s like, why pay the bills when you can needlepoint!” she says. “No matter when you begin, once you start needlepointing, you get hooked and will love it for life,”

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