Handmade: Couple’s ‘love’ for needlepoint pays off

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

It’s often said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Well, if there’s any truth to the age-old saying, Rachel Einstandig and Steve Sprouse haven’t worked the past 34 years. The Southfield couple are co-owners of Rachel’s Needlepoint, 29260 Franklin (#103) in Southfield. They “love” playing with needlepoint supplies and have managed to make a living at it.

“I’m good at this, and it’s fun,” says Einstandig about her needlepoint skills. “We just wanted to do something that we really liked doing. We were both painting (needlepoint) canvases (but) this was more fun. It’s our legacy. We don’t have kids, so what we leave will be these things that people have made.”

Einstandig and Sprouse, who met a couple of years before opening the shop in 1981, work in the store together. Einstandig writes instructions for all the canvases, and, if customers want, she pulls the yarn and gets everything ready. She also draws the stitch graph, and says, “I have three file drawers full of stitches, and I also pick out the stitches that are going in different areas. If it’s new stitches they haven’t done yet, they can buy the graph. Each graph has several versions of the stitch.”

Sprouse, who’s also good at assisting customers with picking yarn, is mainly responsible for framing and finishing. But if you’re interested in learning needlepoint, then Einstandig is your go-to-person, any day after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. You can go every day if you like, and the lessons are free! (How inviting!)

Einstandig says she learned to needlepoint years ago from someone she met at a bridal shower. “I thought she was just amazing,” she recalls. “She had a needlepoint store, and she taught me how to paint canvases. I worked in her store. She closed her store, and when she closed, I started painting canvases for other stores. Then, in the interim, I met Steve and we opened (our) store.”

“It’s been great” being in the business,” enthuses Sprouse. “We get to go to the needlework show (the National NeedleArts Association) each year, see a lot of needle work designs, and look at all the different yarns for knitting and needlepoint.”

Supplies available at Rachel’s Needlepoint include a lot of wool and cotton yarns. “Pearl cotton is the most common, and we use thicker versions of embroidery floss and a lot of metallics,” says Einstandig. “We find these really odd yarns. We don’t just buy from manufacturers. We have really unusual products here, and we do a lot of beading on canvas.”

Einstandig adds, “We do book covers for the Hebrew Day Schools in this area, Florida, New York and several in Canada. Some of the dads come in and do them, and we’ve got young people coming in doing needlepoint. They like making something for their family, and they’re surprised how good they are at it.” Popular among designs are “a lot of Jewish themed stuff for the tallit bags, (but) for pillows, it’s more whimsical – like hearts, flowers and geometrics.” Other projects include baby items and chuppahs.

Needlepoint artist Donald Ketai of Bingham Farms is impressed with Einstandig’s ability to create precise designs on canvas. He says, “I gave Rachel a picture of our sailboat and she (using a computer program) put it on a needlepoint canvas.”

Einstandig believes needlepoint has become increasingly popular among men and young people. “I think people thought of it as something their grandmothers did. (Now) there are more contemporary things to make, like gifts for people, and there’s a lot more contemporary material to use – a lot more variety in the yarns and other materials, and they didn’t put beads on or sew little found objects on, but we do today,” she explains.

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, or

Contact Rachel’s Needlepoint (29260 Franklin in Southfield) at (248) 352-5622, or on Facebook.