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Report: TNNA San Diego, 2006

Beauty – and good causes.

by CLN Subscribers & TNNA (February 6, 2006)

TNNA Miscellaneous.

Through the first two days of the show, attendance was up 8.9% to 1,471. Booths were up 17.4% to 828. Exhibitors were up 9.9% to 333, but companies attending was up only 0.6%. (Comment: The number of buyers rose very slightly, but the show was larger, spreading out those buyers. So attendance may have seemed down.)

One exhibitor, who had 70 orders the first two days a year ago and only 17 this year, said the knitting-only shops complained about declining sales while the stores that have expanded their s inventory and classes to include crochet, beading, and ribbon were growing. (Comment: In the counted cross-stitch heyday, industry pros begged cross-stitch-only retailers to expand their inventory. Most did not, and are now out of business.)

In the past 18 months the Helping Hands Foundation, which pairs teachers with needlework novices has grown from 13 groups in 7 states to 95 groups in 22 states.

A group questioned the usefulness of the Phoenix "cash-and-carry" event. It will be held this year, but it's a question as to how long the show will survive.

The Needlepoint Group ran a successful auction of handbags and raised $900 for the Helping Hands Foundation and Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

A new book by Debbie Stoller, The Happy Hooker, will be released Feb. 15, accompanied by Stoller's national media tour. That should provide a boost to crochet. Stoller is the author of the Stitch 'n Bitch best-sellers.

Overall Trends.

(Note: The following is an edited reprint of the Nuts About Needlepoint newsletter published by Janet Perry of Napa Needlepoint.)

Although knitting seemed to overwhelm the show floor, I think this show marks the beginning of a resurgence of the needlepoint market.

Why did knitting seem to take up so much space? First, and most importantly, the booths were big. While knitting booths seemed bigger than last year, needlepoint booths were smaller. However, they were busy. Most exhibitors I spoke with were having great shows.

The overall look of needlepoint canvases is moving towards young, hip designs with fresh colors and lots of style. This is happening while still retaining the timeless quality which is such a large part of needlepoint's appeal. There are plenty of designs out there for young people as well as designs which will appeal to older and more traditional stitchers.

The big trend in needlepoint is on needlepoint for personal adornment. Personalization in clothes is a major trend, in fashion, in crafts, and in needlework. It's part of what fuels the popularity of hand-knitted garments. It also fuels things like tattoos, piercings, and monograms. In needlepoint this trend is showing up not only in the popularity of belts, bags, and shoes, but in needlepoint bracelets and even in needlepoint denim jackets (see below).

For beginning stitchers and for people with older eyes, more and more needlepoint is available on larger mesh sizes, particularly on 13- and 14-mesh. Many designers offer their canvases on more than one mesh size. A few years ago, this was rare; today it is getting more common.


As always some of my favorite things at the show were new threads. Kreinik, Caron, Needle Necessities, and Rainbow Gallery have new colors coming out in their thread lines. Caron has 14 new colors of Watercolours (mid-Feb) and Wildflowers (early March). Needle Necessities has ten new floss colors, including several which are closely related shades. Kreinik has six new metallic colors, available in all sizes which will be in shops in February. Rainbow Gallery has new shades of several threads, including 34 colors of Mandarin Floss, 11 colors of Fluffy Fleece (a couched thread), and lots more.

Thread Gatherer has introduced three new threads. Sea Grass is 100% cotton and has a stiff raffia-like quality. There are solids and solids with a black core. If you are looking for a thread for brooms, this is it, the pale gold is perfect. It's less than 1/16" wide, so it will work well on 18-mesh. Black Sheep is a 100% wool fiber designed to be needle-felted directly onto canvas. I saw the results and they are unusual and lovely. Savoir Faire is a silk grosgrain ribbon, giving a different effect from flat silk ribbons. Gumnut Yarns has added a new family of blues across their line of threads.

Soy Lustre is a new thread from Elements. It is made from 1005 soy, a fiber which knitters have been using for awhile. It is soft but has luster like silk. The colors are hand-dyed and come in two kinds, solids and shadows. The shadows combine three shades of the same color in a skein. The runs of color are longer than most hand-dyes and they are designed to go with the sold colors. I saw a large piece stitched with this thread and it's a real winner. It comes in 82 colors.

Aubusson Wool is a French crewel weight wool imported by Tapestry Guild. If you mourn the loss of "old" Medici, this thread is a worthy substitute. It is tightly twisted and very smooth. It comes in solids as well as some tone on tone colors.

Vineyard Silk is a new company with three different styles of silk. This thread works in a single strand for 18 mesh or colored 14-mesh canvas. There are 115 solids, 38 shimmers (which combine silk with metallic, and 18 tone on tones which are shaded colors.

Wear-and-Carry Needlepoint.

The product which probably generated more interest than any other at the show was Birds of a Feather's needlepoint denim jacket. In these designs, the yoke of the jacket is replaced with needlepoint. The company sells the needlepoint, you buy the jacket (so you can pick your style and size) and you send both back to them to be completed. It is completely cool. You can also purchase a jacket and have it made with a blank canvas insert to stitch later. I loved it and am going to check out my jeans jacket to see if it will work.

Several companies had needlepoint bracelets of different kinds. Melissa Shirley has a stitch guide book coming out with instructions for five bracelets. Bongo had several bracelet designs which are self-finished with a jewelry slider. Voila also has bracelets which are finished with velcro and L'Esprit de France had needlepoint bangles.

Both Uniquely New Zealand and L'Esprit de France had watch kits. The bands come in many different styles and there are also several different watch faces to accompany them.

Lots of companies make needlepoint bags. Danji has several fabric bags. One of them can use a needlepoint belt around the top. Because it comes with a grosgrain ribbon, you won't have to wait until the needlepoint is finished to use it. Lee's Needle Arts has several new bags. The City Bag has a more formal and structured look than any of the other bags, while the Shopper Tote is so cool, in canvas and leather, I wanted to take the model home. It has five pockets and an attached cosmetic bag.

Finishing and Pre-finished Items.

Uniquely New Zealand has a great new bracelet. The kit has a bracelet with spaces for individual pieces of needlepoint. Choose from their canvas, stitch, and secure the edges with glue. Two-sided adhesive is used to attach the needlepoint to the bracelet. The finished product is delightful.

Tapistree has a fantastic new idea in Christmas stockings – a sophisticated idea which can be done at almost the last minute. The stockings are available in several colors in either a boot or stocking shape. All have openings for lovely and sophisticated painted canvases. Available designs include Wise Men, an Angel, a lovely Christmas Tree, the Holy Family, and a couple of shepherd designs. Stitch the canvas and insert into the stocking. In addition they have tassels and name tags which also have canvas inserted. These stockings are not only lovely, they will be fast to stitch and finish.

If you are looking for a charming project, look at Whiskey Creek's new calendar. This is another fast self-finishing project. The calendar is on a easel which has sliding holders at tops and bottom. They have 3" square canvases to go next to the calendar on the easel. Stitch and block the needlepoint, finish the sides (not the top and bottom), remove the sliders, put the needlepoint on the board and replace the sliders. The calendars can be replaced each year and the designs are great. This is a fun project and would make a fantastic gift, either finished or as a project for a new stitcher.

AMH is a new company which has linen-covered notebooks and photo albums. Both have circular openings for their geometric needlepoint designs. They come as complete kits. Chameleon Design has added three new colors and a new size to their popular canvas tote bags. They are also available with a zipper top.

Romancing the Past is now making their Treasure Boxes with a 5" square opening. Sudberry has wonderful Lucite Boxes in black and clear. The shape of these small boxes is unusual – a traditional shape in a modern material. Sudberry also has a great red lacquer tray as well as some lacquer boxes.

Painted Canvas.

Angel Thread has put several of their popular angels onto painted canvas. In addition, they have several new scissors cases. Canvasworks Traditions has some great figure sets, Nativity, Thanksgiving, and Noah's Ark. The canvases are small and make great take-along projects. Our Faithful Friends has added several cat canvases to their line and has both cat and dog ornaments, all with crowns. There are several other small designs in the works. Ruth Schnuff had a series of city map canvas, with the name of the city (London, Paris, Tokyo) superimposed on a street map of the city.

Princess & Me has added last year's ornament of the month club (minis) into their regular line. There are 34 canvases in the set, as well as additional mini-mittens and little hats. This year's ornament of the months is Halloween. Rebecca Wood also has a great series of Halloween figures, including a wonderful haunted house. Speaking of Halloween, Julia's Needleworks had a clever set of broomstick ornaments.

A Collection of Designs had a clever ornament idea – needlepoint shopping bags. The front and back were painted and the bottom was plain. Finished as bags, they can be small gift holders as well as ornaments. Maggie Co has added a new artist, Tingle Heart, and has expanded her lines of canvases from other artists. I'm addicted to her geometric canvases and if you like them, but wanted something smaller, look again; she has many smaller designs based on these great folk art patterns.

DeElda has a monthly series of heart designs, Terry Christopher of 2 the Point will be doing stitch guides. Barbara Fox had a lovely series of Far North ornaments, done in a traditional style with cobalt blue skies. She also has fun small canvases for Romancing the Past Treasure Boxes and Eyeglass cases. Patti Mann had great biscuit tins with needlepoint sides and pewter tops.

In Good Company has a clever new idea – Candle Cozies. These are rectangular canvases finished with ribbon ties. You tie them around jar candles. Because of the ribbons they can fit many sizes. They also have a wonderful new series of mini socks featuring regions like "Down South," or "Out West." They have a great vintage style which reminds me of souvenir postcards.

Julie Pishke has added several new designs to her series of minis. These are such fun to make and work as ornaments, coaster or box inserts. Among the new designs are a set of three Key Cottages. You can change the colors and the plants to make them look like Victorian cottages in your town.

Sharon G has added several new canvases to her landscape series, including a companion to Lavender Fields. She also has a Four Seasons series of a creek landscape, expanding that series. Melissa Shirley has several canvases of Chinese cloisonne bottles in two sizes. Ann Wheat Pace has added to her line of large and small crosses with some lovely and delicate floral designs. There were several stitched models in her booth and I wanted to stitch them all. Dede's Needleworks had a set of great new tropical leaves canvases, very bold designs as well as three new flowers: Passion Flower, Honeysuckle, and Clementis.

Red Thread has greatly expanded their line of Tool Totes to include some great geometrics, a polar bear, coral, and two great realistic poodles. If you finish off the rounded corners, these canvases will also fit in a Lee's Needle Arts' bag.

Happy Heart is a new designer with a bright style. She has a great series of door-knob hangers for holidays. Another wonderful new designer is Kelly Clark Needlepoint. Many of her canvases are available in 13- or 18-mesh. Her Santas have a wonderful timeless look about them and I just love her Twelve Days of Christmas series.

GailVail was featuring "needlepoint for guys," needlepointed 3-D baseballs, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls and hockey pucks. They can also personalize them with team names. She also has clever "stick figure" ornaments which show a stick figure doing things like skiing. They are just too witty and would make a clever addition to a Christmas tree.

Kathy Schenkel had so many great things. Her new series includes painted wood desk accessories in five themes. There are canvases and five wood items in each. She also has a new series of eggs and a great painted wood egg stand. She has expanded her drink series of canvases to include things like cherry sodas and root beer floats.


There is a new revision of The Thread Thesaurus now available. It covers 100 new threads and has added a section on ribbons. Subversive Stitching is definitely NOT stuffy needlepoint and they have just come out with a book of charts. There cheeky designs that combine simple borders with in-your-face sayings. They have a book out and although it is for cross stitch, the designs can be adapted to needlepoint.

Linda Corirossi has written a second Canvas Embellishment book, with lots of new stitches and ideas for stitching your canvas.

Icelandic Designs in Needlepoint explores the traditional designs with lots of large projects and small motifs you can use to design your own canvases. Exotic Fruit & Flowers in Needlepoint is by Stella Knight and will be available in March. Judging from the cover it looks to have some great designs in timeless but still contemporary style.


In the why-didn't-someone-make-this-before category is K's Creations new Thread Clam. A translucent plastic box, it can hold four small size Kreinik spools. There are four holes in the

top. On the sides are velcro dots to keep the thread ends secure. Put your thread in the box and thread the end through the hole. Easy to use for stitching and if it falls the thread will all be there.

From A New Exhibitor (Needlepoint, Counted Thread, Etc.)

Attendance was low for exhibitors. Buyers were very serious about their purchases. But they were not willing to take chances on the fluff purchase. There were too many vendors for the amount of money that was there for purchases.

I also heard a lot of buyers commenting that the designers did not have a lot of new items to purchase. I talked with a couple of the more established designers who said they were not willing to invest in new designs and the inventory to support the new designs in this slow market.

I think some things are picking up, but shops are cautious.

I don't think my take on TNNA would be that accurate, since it was my first one. It seemed a little slow. And a few exhibitors said the same. But the TNNA numbers indicated that there was some growth.

The most striking thing was seeing the completely empty needlepoint and cross stitch booths. Very sad. But the designs were so dated, I thought. Seems they haven't quite figured out how to straddle that two-headed beast, the traditional/new stitcher. – Name Withheld

From a Needlepoint Vendor.

I think some vendors are seeing an upswing in needlepoint, but I think it is regional. Coming from the Southeast, I think we are still recovering from Katrina. I have a very Americana-funky, East-Coast style and the winter show is always a loss leader for me. I heard mixed reviews from other needlepoint designers. But I am not sure the ones that say they had a super show were telling the whole truth. I think we need to be honest with each other so we can make better business decisions.

I just talked with a small yarn vendor on the plane and she said she had a bad show and lost big time. She feels the same as me that the show is too big for the buyers. TNNA is going to have to work on making the show smaller if this keeps up. – Name Withheld

TNNA's Post-Show Press Release

The National NeedleArts Association Winter Trade Show – Sun, Sales and Inspiration in San Diego

Success crowned the return of the The National NeedleArts Association’s Winter Trade Show in sunny San Diego. Space in the convention hall was totally maximized (with a waiting list) to accommodate the wide range of needlearts exhibitors and the broad depth of their offerings. From January 21st through the 23rd, 334 vendors occupying 828 booths (an increase of over 17% from 2005) filled the show floor as brightly as the San Diego sun filled the sky. The New Product Display overflowed with fresh, innovative merchandise. The entire show was aglow with everything and anything a needlearts retailer might need to be successful in this growing industry.

Over 920 retail buying companies were represented. The show floor was upbeat and business was good as retailers placed orders and discussed business with exhibitors. "I wasn’t going to bring extra help," commented Sharon Woodcock of Lantern Moon," but now I’m glad I did. This show went beyond my expectations."

Attendees took back for their customers a stimulating array of new ideas and new products. Show activities focused on education, information and inspiration. Ninety-three professional classes addressed professional business issues and needlearts techniques.

Sue Kirby, author of Creative Displays Can Draw Customers and Men’s Secret Camp, brought everyone to their feet in applause at the Retailers’ Luncheon on Friday afternoon. Sue entertained and informed through hilarious memories of her family, life and business. Simple, direct, and humorous, her message inspired the attendees to create success by celebrating their lives, as well as their products.

Over seven-hundred-fifty people attended the Galleria and Fashion Show later that evening. An array of over one hundred garments inspired the audience by offering a glimpse of the hottest spring fashions from the most noted designers in the industry.

One hundred and twenty-six TNNA members pre-registered for the first annual Walk to WIN Against Breast Cancer in support of TNNA’s nonprofit partner, Living Beyond Breast Cancer. On Sunday, participants enjoyed the crisp one-mile walk in the early morning sun along the Embarcardero South. They walked in honor of breast cancer survivors and/or in memory of loved ones lost. Plan now to join in this Walk to WIN event next January.

The Hot Little Handbags project, another first, was a major success. Thirty-six purses designed by TNNA volunteers raised more than $900 in a silent auction, with proceeds to be divided between Living Beyond Breast Cancer and the Needle Arts Mentoring Program.

At the Annual Member Meeting, TNNA’s Board of Directors announced the publication of TNNA’s Industry Survey conducted last year. A summary of the survey was distributed to members at the meeting. This information is an invaluable planning tool for retailers and wholesalers and will be available to members on TNNA’s website.

Judy Herman, representing Living Beyond Breast Cancer, offered insight into LBBC’s mission, support for TNNA’s Stitch to WIN Against Breast Cancer campaign, and their commitment to this important and far-reaching partnership.

The Board also presented highlights of TNNA’s recently developed strategic plan, outlining important goals and initiatives in the organization’s future. TNNA also announced the launch of PiPN (Pathways into Professional Needlearts), a new student internship program to begin in summer 2006.

The January 13, 2006 premier of "Twist & Shout: A New Needle Arts" was also noted. A major initiative sponsored by TNNA, the display of contemporary needlearts opened to an enthusiastic audience at the Florida Craftsmen Museum in St. Petersburg Florida. The highly acclaimed exhibit will be traveling to other cities throughout the next two years.

TNNA is a non-profit trade organization established in 1974 and is dedicated to the advancement and promotion of needle arts, through trade shows, educational seminars, special events, public relations and professional programs that continue to meet the needs of the industry. For more information, contact TNNA at 1100-H Brandywine Blvd., Zanesville OH 43701-7303. Call 740-455-6773; fax 740-452-2552; email tnna.info@offinger.com; visit www.tnna.org.

(Note: To read previous Scene & Heard reports, click on the titles in the right-hand column. To comment on the TNNA show – or any show or industry issue – email mike@clnonline.com.)



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