The Afflicted: Leigh Lambert, 37, a Takoma Park needlepoint artist and Washington Post Food section staffer.
Diagnosis: Fear of needles. Lambert’s used her chosen form to depict animals, Genghis Khan, even a corpse, and she’s exhibited her work in local galleries. But some don’t get the point. “My work can be really hard for people to grasp, because it tends to fall in the crack between craft and art,” says Lambert. “Knitting and quilting have gained a more mainstream following, but with needlepoint, there’s a vacuum of public knowledge of what goes into it and what its possibilities are.”
Symptoms: Premature aging. “When you tell someone you do needlepoint, they’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, my grandmother does needlepoint,’” says Lambert. “They immediately think of somebody in a rocker as the extent of the medium…they assume it’s only meant for home décor, ‘Loving hands at home’ kind of stuff.”
Treatment: First, accept the fact that your weaving fits to a slightly different pattern. “At this point, I’m really pleased that my work doesn’t really fit anywhere,” says Lambert. “If it doesn’t quite have a place to rest, then I must be doing something interesting.” Then, target the blue-hairs. “I do [needlepoint] design commercially, so many of my pieces are available at local hobby shops,” says Lambert. “Your grandmother can come in and buy my patterns to stitch herself.” But don’t go looking for Lambert’s corpse at your local Michaels. Says Lambert, “I don’t think there would be much of a demand for that.”