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Original Issue

A new look at the needlepoint game, viewed through Rosey-colored glasses

Rosey Grier has had the nerve to put it right there on the cover of his new book that this is a book for men, but gutsy ladies should walk right up to counters everywhere to demand a copy. Men may be bigger and stronger, but in this liberated day and age surely a girl who wants to do needlepoint should be allowed to try.

And Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men (Walker and Company, $10) is a fine beginner's book. By now probably everybody knows that the former New York Giant and L.A. Ram tackle is hooked on this handwork, but here Rosey lays it all out, from threading the needle ("It was more than a year till I learned how to do it easily. I'd sit there licking the end of the thread and trying to shove a little old piece of yarn into the needle. About all that I'd ever end up with was a mouthful of fuzz!") to advice about finishing your work ("Make sure that you don't get too carried away and stitch the Velcro—that's got to be left alone"). He explains canvas and yarn, patterns and stitches: "Hanging around big California needlepoint stores ... I began to see that while I was using only one stitch to do all my stuff, lots of the other folks were using what seemed to be dozens of different ones... . Well, I found out there are actually over 200 different stitches that you can use in needlepoint. There's no way that I'll ever use or learn all of them—for me it's nice enough to know that they're there." Rosey offers 10, which seems like plenty to get going with, and some truly handsome patterns into which they can be worked. He also offers a brief history:

"...Most of the needlepoint as we know it in America is derived from work that was being done in Europe from the 14th to the 16th centuries. It was all pretty to look at in the pictures and all, but the most interesting thing to me was that men have almost always been involved in the history of the world's greatest needlepoint. The Bayeux, Gobelin and Aubusson tapestries were all designed and stitched by male craftsmen. And a special form of needlepoint called Opus Anglicanum was developed in medieval England by men."

Rosey is not only continuing this great tradition; he is turning other men on to it. My own favorite is Margaret Whiting's musical director Herb Mesick. "Herb was in the hospital recovering from some major surgery and what do you think he found himself reading but a magazine article telling all about Rosey Grier's needlepointing.... I was so tickled—just to think that old Rosey inspired someone that way."

Old Rosey inspired him, all right. Mesick is currently engaged in needlepointing a reproduction of Picasso's Guernica.