Recently Jenny Henry had a blog post questioning the presence of needlepoint kits at Target. Others have chimed in disapprovingly.
I disagree. I think it’s a very good thing.
It flies in the face of the elitist needlepoint mentality. Too many people think that needlepoint is only for rich ladies, or only for their grandmothers, or not creative, or only good if it’s heirloom quality. Each one of these attitudes keeps people from trying needlepoint.
Even though these stereotypes aren’t true, people believe them (even many stitchers who should know better do). But if the thousands of people who shop in Target see something affordable, fun, fresh, and that they can do — how many might try it? And how many of those might get hooked.
If you don’t think that can happen, think about what the eyelash scarf did for knitting. Many people took up knitting because of those scarves and a fair number of those kept on knitting.
They could do so because the materials to make them were everywhere, even in Target. As a result the folks who wouldn’t go into a crafts store or a knitting shop, bought the yarn and needles and made the scarf. Wouldn’t it be great if the same thing happened to needlepoint?
Inexpensive is not equal to bad. Yes it isn’t as lovely to stitch with cheap cotton floss instead of imported silk, but it works. The reality is that we need to work with what we can afford and we need to help people get good results from these less-than perfect materials instead of putting the idea down as not worthy.
So many of us struggle in our financial lives, so needlepoint is a luxury. If all I can afford is that $10 pendant from Target, shouldn’t we applaud that it is being made and help that person get the best result?
Unlike so many in the needlepoint business, I think you can get lovely results from any kind of needlepoint. I have made beautiful stuff from mass market kits and had bad results from expensive painted canvases. If you are honest with yourself, you could say that too. So why put the Target kit down?
Target has its finger on the trends. Mass marketers didn’t get to be big because they ignored what people wanted. Yes Missoni or Liberty from Target may not be as lovely as the “real thing” but the important thing is that they bring high fashion and high style to everyone.
That’s what Mass Marketers do.
From this and from other signs we can learn a valuable lesson hand crafted is hot. You see the signs all around you: craft kits in Target, DIY weddings in bride’s magazines, custom-sewn dresses at budget prices (eShakti), a handmade section in Amazon. All these things tell us that people want to have the touch of an real person’s hand and the creativity and individuality this brings in their lives.
Target is asking us to be part of this revolution. The question before us is whether we are going to make those stereotypes about us true or if we will be part of the revolution before us.