Most of the time we think of needlepoint as timeless. So often it takes so long to complete a project that if our stitching was trendy, it would look out-dated. That’s at least one reason why great design of the past, from William Morris to Laurel Burch, remain popular. It’s also why, as stitchers, we might find ourselves cringing at particularly bright and crude printed canvases from the 70’s. We just can’t see ourselves taking all that time to stitch these projects when we could do something else.
That’s all well and good but our needlepoint does not live in a vacuum, it lives in our houses, it’s our holiday decorations, and it’s the gifts we make for friends and family.
Other needlecrafts, namely knitting, crochet, and quilting, follow fashion and design trends far more closely than needlepoint. By watching and noting these trends we can see what might be on the horizon for needlepoint and get ideas for our projects.
In a recent quilting newsletter I found an article about trends seen at a recent quilt market. Lets consider them and how we might use them in our needlepoint.
It might be because a light red-violet, Radiant Orchid, was declared the color of the year by Pantone last year or it might be a trend that is cresting after building for several years, but purple fabrics popped up all over the place at this market.
The purples weren’t just confined to light red-violets but were in all values and covered the entire range of this color. Purple is one of those colors people love or hate but have you ever challenged yourself to make a small needlepoint using a multi-colored thread with purple in it? I did and was surprised at how many threads I had that coordinated with it, above.
You might consider making a Bargello using a family of purple threads. You might consider using it as a background for a piece you are making. Or why not look in your stash and pull out a canvas that has lots of this color in it. I found two partially stitched ornament canvases where purple plays a large part. I’m moving them to the top of the queue.
As you know I’m crazy about cats, so I’m delighted by this trend. In quilts cats of all kinds are showing up in patterns and in fabrics. But they aren’t the only animals gaining popularity, hedgehogs and foxes are popular as well.
Here’s an aera where almost anyone can find great ideas for needlepoint. Many designers make cat canvases, but companies such as Birds of a Feather have charming canvases with hedgehogs, foxes, and other beasts.
If you want to create your own project, you could look to applique projects (in quilting) for these animals, much as I was inspired by a patchwork owl to do the Learn-a-Stitch Owl series. You could search for simple coloring book outlines and fill them with stitching for a quick project. If you like to adapt quilt blocks to needlepoint, why not render a great cat quilt, above, into a needlepoint design?
Tribal, folk art, or primitive, whatever you call it, has been an important trend in fashion over the last several years. These designs are often rough-hewn so they look hand-made. They are also often based on the traditional designs of non-European cultures.
You might find yourself looking at a dress from a fabric based on traditional African designs and colors. Your necklace might be made from larger, less than uniform beads, The print you buy might be a woodcut where you can see how roughly the wood was cut.
Although there aren’t many painted canvases available in these styles, there is lots that you can adapt. Dover has many excellent books of this kind of art, why not enlarge a design you like and turn it into a needlepoint?
There is also lots of charted traditional artwork, almost always using whole stitches. These can easily be turned into needlepoint motifs. I have a huge book of tribal rugs with dozens of the motifs found in them charted. They could easily be stitched individually to make unique ornaments.
When you adapt these kinds of designs, plan on keeping your stitching simple and your threads more matte. The beauty of these designs is in their simplicity. Add too much stuff and they will lose that virtue.
Ideas for great needlepoint can come from anywhere around us, and many trends in other areas can easily become a part of our projects. All you need to do to start is look.