After some time and several canvases, many people move onto experimenting with different stitches and embellishments to create texture and dimension. Creative liberties can be taken, and some needlepointers find as much joy in painting canvases as stitching. It’s fascinating to talk with long-time needlepointers about their own evolution in the craft, what they stitch, and the many paths up the needlepointing mountain.
Clementine Hunter designs at the Quarter Stitch.
Step into a shop to get swept up in the matter. Each store has its own stitching style, theories, opinions, and advice; available canvas designs reflect varying demographics, but there are always staples, especially Louisiana’s iconic images: food, music, Mardi Gras, architecture, and symbols (think fleur de lis) by local artists like Jude Designs (who has the exclusive on Tabasco designs), Annie and Co., and Shelia Dial. Typically, walls are plastered top to bottom with stunning, hand-painted canvases, and there are racks filled with skeins of colorful fibers, scissors and other bits and bobs. It’s a bit like being in an art museum with exhibits of past and present to wander through—gawking, laughing, and gasping at all the interesting needlepoint canvases to be stitched and finished. There is old and new. There are people with whom to engage. It’s fun.
And because it is the climate of the time, there is the internet, another rich source for images, social media groups, stitch guides, tutorials, fibers, and of course, a zillion canvases. There’s a lot of information out there, along with a growing group of young designers and stitchers taking a stab at needlepoint, entrepreneurship, and finding tangible entertainment in a digital world. These modern makers are diving into canvases with contemporary style, quips, colors, and creativity, grabbing moments of zen sewing a Warhol-esque image of Tupac or a Bowie-inspired belt, reviving a threatened art through a new lens and adding some humor, leaving everyone in stitches.
The Elegant Needle
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In July, Heilman and the DCI researchers disclosed an alleged vulnerability in Curl that, they said, would effectively let anyone forge IOTA transactions. The IOTA developers wrote back that the researchers had
, saying, for example, that the possibility of finding cryptographic collisions—the point at which a cryptographic function is
generally considered broken
—was intentional. According to IOTA cofounder Sergey Ivancheglo, the “practical attack” demonstrated by the DCI researchers
only works in a limited number of improbable situations
that would affect a negligible number of IOTA users, mostly thanks to a closed-source and centralized solution called the “
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” that helps secure the network. Because the Coordinator is closed-source, Heilman and the MIT researchers couldn’t account for its effect on their attacks. The IOTA team also complained that the flaws identified in Curl by the DCI team were actually “anti-scam copycat mechanisms” in case someone tried to steal IOTA’s code, somehow.
The emails reveal that the teams failed to arrive at a consensus regarding the nature or reality of the vulnerabilities in Curl. Eventually, the conversation degenerated to insults. IOTA co-founder David Sønstebø accused Heilman of “pushing this for his own gain,” asked Narula if she was sober, and wondered “what kind of academic rushes to the press before peer review?” Narula wrote on August 5, “If anyone personally insults a member of my team, we will have to cease communication.”
On August 7, IOTA changed its hash function from Curl to Keccak citing the upcoming DCI publication, and a month later Heilman and the DCI researchers published their work.
“We made it very clear at the beginning of the email chain that if they stopped being professional and civil we would cease communication,” the DCI team wrote Motherboard in an email. “They stopped being professional and civil.”
Now that the conversations that led to the algorithm change have been made public, high-profile cryptographers have urged people to avoid IOTA based on how the team responded to Heilman and the DCI researchers’ attempt at disclosure. One popular cryptocurrency investing Twitter account, “360Trader” tweeted that it would never buy IOTA, adding, “When the cryptographers are telling everybody to leave... well…” On the other hand, cryptocurrency fans have come to IOTA’s defense because the current Keccak algorithm is thought to be safe.
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