“It’s not how you do a stitch, it’s what you do with it” was Mariska Karasz’s exhortation to would-be embroiderers. Serving as guest needlework editor for House Beautiful magazine from 1951–53, the artist wrote needlework lessons with suggestions for adding unique decorative embroidery to bedding, table linens and curtains. But her instruction was never prescriptive; rather, she encouraged her readers to explore materials and manipulate stitches to their own expressive purposes. Karasz, who was friends with several of the Abstract Expressionist painters, often described her work in those terms, focusing on self-expression, present emotion, and spontaneity.

Although her tone was inclusive, Karasz was an accomplished artist who had over fifty solo exhibitions in the short decade that she was creating abstract embroideries. Born in Budapest, Karasz moved to the United States in 1914, and was a successful clothing designer before beginning to create embroidered wall hangings. This linen panel with nets and fish formed the headboard of a bed with a matching embroidered bedspread, and was featured on the cover of House Beautiful’s Creative Stitchery Series Lessons 6 and 7.

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