I started needlepointing in 1970, right at the beginning of the last needlepoint craze. Needless to say in the decades since I have taken advantage of that popularity in many ways. My shelves are full of vintage books, i learned to use many different threads, and ideas that popularity spawned still fuel much of my work. You can probably say the same thing.
In spite of all that I have gained from that popularity, I still long for needlepoint to become really popular. While knitting is no longer the fad it once was, it still has a vibrant on-line presence and lots of creativity.
A few years ago I was at a local knitting shop with a friend. This shop sells a small bit of needlepoint as well. We were talking about business and she said that she hoped knitting would pick up again after the “scarf craze.”
Several years ago Cheryl posted a comment about my blog and needlepoint saying, “Kudos to you for bringing awareness of needlepoint back again. I am so concerned that it is going to become a lost art as young people have little time nowdays and tend to go to the hobbies that give instant results.”
This got me thinking about what we want hobbies to be. We live busy lives, so we want a hobby which fits into our lives. It should be:
easy to do in little bits
substantial (there is something made at the end of the process
modern, not stuffy
Let’s quickly look at needlepoint in these terms.
Is it simple? Yes! You can teach someone the Bargello Stitch in two minutes, and Continental in about five. With those two stitches, you can make so many wonderful things.
Is it portable? Yes! Unlike many other crafts, you don’t need to bring a pattern with you, and you don’t need a flat surface to do your work.
Is it easy to do in little bits? Yes! A stitch here and a stitch there and pretty soon it’s all done. I’m sure many of us keep needlepoint in the car, and drive our spouses nuts by taking a project with us everywhere, “just in case.” In fact I think it’s easier to do needlepoint in little bits of time than any other craft I know.
Is it stress-relieving? Yes! Like many other crafts, it puts you into a meditative state where you relax, let go of the problems, and take a mental vacation.
Is it beautiful? Yes! Adaptation, charted canvas, original project, kit, or painted canvas, the result is something which is beautiful, a work of hands and heart.
Is it modern and unstuffy? Yes! But this is where the perception of needlepoint has problems. People think it’s for ladylike buttoned up society people (I always think of Cosmo’s wife in Topper when I think of this). Needlepointers are not like that. And one of my goals is to show that to the world.
I’d love to see people in the indie crafts movement take up needlepoint and see what they can do with it. I’d love to see people breaking the boundaries of what can be done. And that means doing something more than Tent Stitch an avant garde image or thought.
I’d love to see needlepoint as part of reuse and recycle projects. (Heck, I am so thrifty in using my thread stash that I do whole projects from what is there and did this even before it got huge.)
In this blog, I’ve pointed out many people and projects which break our perceptions of what needlepoint is. If you’ve done something fun or different with needlepoint, let me know about it and I’ll show it off. If there is something you’d like to see people do or an idea you want to bring out for getting needlepoint more noticed. Let me know as well.
All this helps but let’s think outside the box. What do we need and want to make needlepoint popular again? We are going to need to do this ourselves as stitchers. What would you like to see?
Shake up the world, do some needlepoint!