Canvas Conversation: Brooke McGowan of Thörn Alexander

Owner and Founder of needlepoint shop Thörn Alexander, Brooke Thorn McGowan is an art activist, wildlife conservationist and lover of all artistic outlets. Her love for rendering wildlife began at a young age, when she was caught painting bees on her bedroom walls as a toddler. Brooke taught herself how to needlepoint in 2014 while living at The October Gallery in London as a synesthete for The Institute of Ecotechnics. Needlepoint not only allowed her to create on the go, but to visually meditate whenever and wherever she wanted to. From bus rides to Hampstead Heath to unwinding at the end of an eventful day, she loved how stitching allowed her to create something that would eternalize that summer forever. Her first project was of a bumble bee that she found at her local shop in Dorset, VT, In Stitches. 

She currently lives on Vancouver Island with her partner, affectionately known on social media as Mr. Oceans and puppy, Goose.

You can follow Brooke's Canadian adventures on Instagram here.

We sat down with Brooke and asked her 20 questions:

Favorite needlepoint project. My favorite projects are truly most often the ones I make for others, but I’m currently working on my brand new to you red floral stocking and a maaaaassive blue and green floral piece on 10 mesh that I intend to finish as an ottoman.
On your needlepoint Wishlist. I juuuuust received the Thistle Backgammon Board while I was home in Vermont, which I am so very excited to begin. It has been so fun to see how your Greystone community has been loving on this design and it’s next on my list to start stitching!
I’d also love to do one of Little Stitches Needleworks’ signature belts or clutches!
Dream stitching spot. Having the time to stitch is a dream in and of itself. If I had to choose: in the mountains, on the beach or cuddled up in front of a fire. Some of my favorite stitching moments have been to National Parks trips with my girlfriends (or on the lake in Jackson, WY with my buddy, Allie). We would spend our days exploring mother nature and our evenings cooking family-style dinners followed by stitching while unwinding from the day. We live all over the US (and now Canada), so I try to remember to bring each of us little, matching kits to reflect and transform treasured memories into lasting heirlooms of our travels together.
13 or 18 Mesh Canvas. 13 mesh and 10 mesh forever! I’m a tad impatient with my stitching and love to “scoop”, so I tend to reach or design around larger gauges. It’s more about the meditative process for me.
Last books you read and liked. All You Can Save by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, I am Invincible by Norma Kamali, The Guncle by Stephen Rowley, Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Favorite flower. Oh gosh, how could I ever choose? I have a strong affinity for wildflowers and probably drive my friends nuts when we stumble across them on the trail, especially if I’ve never seen them before. It’s the little things, right?  I truly love lupine, forget-me-nots, icelandic poppies, cosmos, anemone, peony, thistle, harebell, wisteria, california lilac, the list goes on… last night, while coming back from paddling down The Snake in Jackson, I was sooo sad I didn’t bring my camera as there was the most magical field of sagebrush and lupine. The smokey sunset over the barely visible Tetons served a hauntingly majestic scene.
Guilty pleasures. Life is short- indulge, indulge, indulge!! Travel, historical fiction period pieces, cheese boards, strawberry milkshakes, french fries, bagels with lox, a little mary jane… 
On your nightstand. I’m lucky enough to be writing to you from my dear friend’s home in Wyoming before heading back to Vancouver Island tomorrow morning. Beside my side of the bed is a silk sleep mask, a hydro flask filled with water, a Kindle and my glasses.
Currently listening to. Some funky beats while Allie and I both WFH. 
Currently watching. My fiancé, Ethan, and I are big bingers at home as we had been in lockdown on and off for 18 months on the island. I also love to have something playing while I work/paint from home. Just finished Ted Lasso, White Lotus, Lupin, Little America and rewatching Reign. Counting down the days for the next seasons of Yellowstone and Outlander! 
If there were more hours in the day I would. Do so many things!! Spend more time in the forest with Ethan and our puppy, Goose, tackle my growing stack of BILFs (books I’d like to finish), and spend a bit more time catching up with friends
Favorite places to shop. Beauty: @briogeo @eminenceorganics @detoxmarket @credobeauty @merit  Jewelry: @clausjewelry @kinnstudio @vraiofficial @mejuri @janepopejewelry Nightgowns: @hillhousehome Linen linens: @Magiclinen Favorite basics: My favorite treasure hunting is second-hand or while traveling.
Favorite Instagram follows. Too many to note! @alysonsimplygrows @mossonyi @blairimani @intersectionalenvironmentalist @greengirlleah @hithapalepu @iamronnicole @hiltoncarter @nikitagilll @texturedwaves @cutterbrooksshop @overthemoon @willowcrossleycreates @tessa_perlow @alexandratolstoy @jabellafleur
Can’t leave the house without. Beyond the normal keys, mask and sanitizer these days, I love my well-loved lilac Mulberry card case-( it carries everything I need and is easy to find), a Salt & Stone chapstick or a Le Lip Tint in Violette by French Girl for when I need a little color and sometimes my Fujifilm x100f. When I go out and about with Ethan, I’m known to leave my phone behind.
Coffee or tea. Black coffee in the morning, Earl Gray or lemon ginger for afternoon tea, chamomile lavender tea in the evening. 
Favorite holiday to celebrate. While I deeply love gathering with friends and family over music, food and bev, to be honest, I’m not a big traditional holiday gal. However, my partner and I love to spontaneously create our own traditions and celebrate our own little milestones. I’m always down for a Summer Solstice party, a last-minute outdoor celebration or gathering around an honored loved one!
Wardrobe staples.  When I’m not a total gear head or out on the trail: Well-loved cashmere sweaters (hole-y sweaters become “nightown sweaters” as my mother calls them), block print dresses, dainty gold jewelry, a celestial denim jacket, classic Levi’s 501s, chic pjs or nightgowns, a collection of Celine handbags, a black pair of Blundstones-- Having moved over twenty times and spending much of my living out of a suitcase, I often strive to shop within a particular color story with a capsule collection goal. 
Creative inspiration. Mother nature, medieval tapestries, Portuguese tiles, Byzantine mosaics, wandering walkabouts-- always look up!
Best piece of advice. Have gratitude for your former self and take care of your future self
Life mantra. Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? — Mary Oliver

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