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Reports on shows, trends, and more

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Trends at the TNNA Winter Market

So many positive signs.

by Janet Perry, Napa Needlepoint (January 21, 2008)

(Note: Janet Perry is a needlepoint author, designer, and consultant. She specializes in writing stitch guides and providing consulting services to needlework shops and websites. Her most recent book is Needlepoint Trade Secrets.)

The biggest trend I see in needlepoint these days is that it is experiencing a resurgence in interest, fueled by younger shopowners. As a result, the designs are getting more interesting, and I'm seeing lots of designers with their own individual style.

There is very little needlepoint out there which is staid and uninteresting. This trend has been developing for awhile, but it has really come to the fore in this market. Almost every booth I visited had exciting new pieces and interesting ways to use needlepoint.

While I saw several great new threads, and additional colors were added to many lines, the explosion in threads seems to be over. Today there is a great variety of threads which will allow a stitcher, to create great new effects. Thread manufacturers are showing wonderful new ways to use their threads. Rainbow Gallery had a great new thread, Silk Lame, which is a combination of silk and metallics in 17 colors. The company has also introduced seven variegated shades of Mandarin Floss. Conjoined Creations has its lovely, grayed Shades & Tone Collection, which will be great for softer-looking pieces. Kreinik has responded to the increased interest in 13-mesh canvas with more colors in Canvas (#24) braid. TreadworX, a maker of over-dyed floss pearl and specialty threads, debuted at this show.

Another trend from many companies is the movement in needlepoint for smaller designers which are fast and easy to stitch. AMH Designs expanded its notebook line with notebooks with small, perforated paper areas built into the cover. One had a small area just perfect for an initial. The covers around the needlework have such pretty patterns on them that I had to look closely to see what was stitched and what was printed. At The Point of It All, I saw two fantastic series I could hardly resist. One was a set of small houses done on ecru canvas. A second was a group of little words and small ornaments. The Halloween ones were on a black tree and so cute.

Unique NZ Designs also has a real winner in their series of six brooches. This tiny canvases are on 18 mesh, painted, and wouldn't take long to stitch, You return them to your shop for finishing with the included setting.

There is also a growing interest in bargello. Not only does June McKnight have a great new book out about Bargello, Rainbow Gallery's series of free designs for 2008 is all bargello.

A trend from knitting and quilting I'm happy to see adopted to stitchery is cause-related stitching. Funk & Weber Designs has its "Stitch for Literacy" project which makes bookmarks for literacy programs at libraries. Ruth Schmuff has two adorable breast cancer awareness canvases: Purr for the Cure (with a cat) and Sit. Stay, Heal (with a dog). I'm hoping this method of support is something we'll see more at future shows.

More and more designers are now licensing art to adapt to needlepoint. I'm guessing about a third to a half of all the designers at the show have licensed art for some part of their line. While some designers, such as Maggie Co, have done this for a long time, for most this is a fairly new venture. For the needlepointer, this means some of their favorite designs from other media might now be available as needlepoint. For the needlepoint shopowner, this means that through the licensed designs you can appeal to newer stitchers. For shopowners in other areas, these licensed designs can be an easy extension to add needlepoint to your product line.

The transition to a new generation of wholesalers is a trend in needlepoint which is accelerating. As the "first generation" of painted canvas designers dies or retires, their lines are being picked up by new owners.

These new owners mostly fall into two camps needlepoint shopowners who expand into wholesale by buying lines which would otherwise disappear. Many of these companies have done a great job of of expanding their lines by adding new designers and designing their own canvases. The second camp is wholesale canvas companies who have become distributors (or new owners) for long-established companies in the field. Julia's Needleworks, which already has an extensive line, has purchased JB Designs, which was floundering; the company is also distributing Decorations, which has been absent from this market for a couple of years. All About Stitching now distributes dede Ogden's lovely work, along with its own designs. In fact, dede premiered several new designs through Stitching at the show. Dream House Ventures took over several lines which had been distributed by LC Kramer and has added licensing or distribution of several others including Mindy, Bongo, and Cross-eyed Cricket.

I think this is tremendous news for the needlepoint industry. First it shows that the market is healthy. Companies have enough sales currently to support expansion of their businesses. While the established markets for the older designers mean there will be sales to support the purchase, the new owner must have enough capital and existing sales to buy.

Second, it brings new viewpoints and ideas into needlepoint. If needlepoint is going to succeed in becoming more popular, it will need to appeal to a younger audience. A new company can use the "bully pulpit" of a newly purchased but established designer to support the development of their own designs.

(Note: Janet can be reached at napaneedlepoint@gmail.com. Her website is www.napaneedlepoint.com and her blog is www.nuts-about-needlepoint.com.)

xxx

 

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