Behind the Canvas: AC Designs

Very excited about today's blog post (a long time coming!) featuring our Collective Designers, AC Designs. Fun fact, Amanda and I actually first met in college at the University of Kentucky *way back* in 2010! We bonded over the usual things: Lilly Pulitzer, Basketball, and needlepointing.
Always staying in touch through various moves and different states, we really picked back up where we left off in 2020 after the launch of Penny Linn Designs. At the time, I found I really needed an extra hand and I couldn't think of anyone better than Amanda.
She was also in the midst of starting her own needlepoint line with her boyfriend Jon and so we decided to create The Collective and have her brand be represented by PLD. 
So not only is she an amazing designer, but she's also my right hand woman helping keep Penny Linn organized while also running our wholesale line. We talk on the daily, constantly share new ideas (we have a lot), and brainstorm exciting future events.
Amanda and Jon truly have an eye for needlepoint design and create some fabulous, colorful, and fun canvases that we are excited to bring to the world. Hope you enjoy getting to know our designers more below!
AC Designs: Penny Linn Collective
Your name/where you're from:
AC +  JC:  Hey Y’all! We are Amanda & Jonathan (also known as “the mysterious JDubs), coming to you live from Chicago where we call home. 

Where can people find your designs?

AC + JC: You can find us exclusively on or at your favorite Local Needlepoint shop!

Where can people follow you on social?

ACJC: Come say hi to us over at @acneedlepointdesigns


How did you learn to needlepoint? What was your first needlepoint project?

AC: I learned to stitch at my hometown LNS my freshman year of college! I of course chose the most colorful belt that has all of America's horse racing tracks on them for my dad. He was actually wearing it when I was home in May (aka still wearing it 15+ years later!)

JC: During the pandemic, Amanda would be stitching away while we were stuck inside, watching a show or movie, so obviously I asked her to show me what to do. I found the needlepoint process very relaxing and next thing you know, I am spending hundreds of dollars on canvases and threads for my first project: a colorful train ! I finished the project and had it made into a pillow for my niece.

What is your favorite stitch? What stitch are you hoping to learn/do next?

AC: Call me boring but there is nothing better than going to town on a canvas with a trusty mix of basketweave/continental!

JC: During the pandemic, Amanda would be stitching away while we were stuck inside, watching a show or movie, so obviously I asked her to show me what to do. I found the needlepoint process very relaxing and next thing you know, I am spending hundreds of dollars on canvases and threads for my first project: a colorful train ! I finished the project and had it made into a pillow for my niece.

What are your favorite threads to use? 

AC: For small pieces I love using vineyard silk mixed with fancy fibers like very velvet. For large canvases I prefer silks like Planet Earth or Silk & Ivory.

JC: I generally follow in Amanda’s footsteps when picking threads, so please see above!


What made you want to paint your own pieces?

AC: I have always kept a sticky note full of design ideas. I thought maybe one day I would try to create something that I couldn’t find in the market for personal use. Once the pandemic hit and I found myself unfortunately unemployed, I was inspired by Krista to put paint to canvas.

JC: I am relatively new to this world, but I think there was a point where I was looking at the overall canvas market and said “those aren’t really what I am looking for” and decided to give it a try myself. It took some trial and error, but I quickly realized that I had some decent ideas in my head and a bit of a creative streak that pushed me to paint my own. It has been a humbling experience, but a wonderful experience nonetheless.

Describe your canvases in three words:

AC: Colorful, Fun & Nostalgic

JC: Patterns, Animals, Colorful  

What inspires you most when creating new designs?

AC: We are lucky to be surrounded by never ending diversity in Chicago. Every block in our city has a mural or architectural eye candy. We are also really inspired by nature, especially flowers and my love of television & pop culture.

JC: Amanda hit it on the head pretty well there, as we are so lucky to be in such a diverse city like Chicago, and as such, I’d say that we take our inspiration from everyday life. We are constantly finding ourselves stopping to capture an inspiring pattern, color, idea, style, etc., which we will then pull up back home and turn it into something of our own. I think there is an amazing artistic culture out there where artists share ideas and styles, and help each other to grow and add their ‘personal touch’ which makes for some really great inspiration. 

What has been your favorite canvas to paint?

AC: My favorite canvas I’ve ever painted is one that is a top secret project that I actually painted during the winter of 2020.  We aren't quite sure if it will ever be revealed to the public!

JC: Either the above mentioned unreleased canvas, or the New England canvas.

What has been your favorite canvas to stitch?

AC:  Any canvas that I’ve stitched for a special occasion, including custom belts for friends & family. Especially the massive canvas I stitched for my cousins Med School graduation! 

JC: Similar to Amanda, any of my stitching for my nieces or other family, are my favorite. They hold the most meaning to me and I love giving them to people.

What is one piece of advice for painting your own canvas?

AC: Give yourself grace, practice truly does take perfect. Design for yourself and what you’d love, you’d be surprised how many others have your same interests.

JC: It is your piece of art. Do what makes you happy. If that means that the colors are different, or the shapes are a bit strange or that ‘life like’ image is no longer resembling reality, so be it.


Where is your favorite place to stitch?

AC: Anywhere by the water, preferably poolside looking at the ocean.

JC: On the couch, in front of a fire (in the winter), surrounded by people/animals I enjoy hanging out with.

If you're not needlepointing you're...

AC: Volunteering with the Junior League of Chicago or hosting people for some sort of event!

JC: Working a ‘normal’ job, unfortunately. I would much rather be needlepointing!

What three items do you always have in your project bag?

AC: Scissors, my magnetic needle case, and usually a sharpie pen (don’t ask me why, I just always have one)

JC: I am a very simple man. I like to keep my canvas, my threads and a fancy pair of needlepoint scissors in my project bag.

What shows are you currently watching?

AC: Currently in deep on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7 baby!! If you’re a fan, you’ll love our Pride canvases coming out this summer :)

JC: I don’t watch too many shows, mostly just keep them on in the background for noise (mainly Great British Bakeoff), but lately I have been watching Big Mouth on Netflix.

What is your favorite podcast?

AC: It’s very close between Call Her Daddy (I’m a big Barstool Sports fan) and Smartless! Smartless is the best listen if you’re a fan of celebs like I am.

JC: Dud #1 on this question; I don’t currently listen to any podcasts.

Who is your favorite needlepoint or non-needlepoint follow on Instagram right now?

AC:  I’m obvi bias to @Kristarobertso. But I love following @GraceAtwood, my Chicago gal @JessicaRoseSturdy, local artist @CathyLancasterGallery and @Lemonstripes home insta @Lemon_Interiors

JC: Dud #2 on this question as well; I don’t use social media.

If time and money were no issue, what type of needlepoint project would you want to do?

AC: I’d love to stitch a table runner, half Christmas tree skirt, and a holiday advent

JC: A Christmas themed pirate ship stocking that I plan to design/paint for myself.



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