While there is lots of change happening on the wholesale side of things that will affect, in good ways I think, the diversity of canvases we see and how easily we can see them. Some of these trends are coming out already in the items we see today. I’d like to point out four of them.
First is the rise of ‘occasion needlepoint.’ More than ever you’ll find canvases that are explicitly designed or that can be repurposed for a particular occasion — new baby, new house, graduation, minor holidays. Often there are places for personalization or interesting ways to finish them. If you are buying something to be a baby present it’s easier to justify the expense because it will be an appreciated gift.
Second, the greater variety of designers is making needlepoint for others an important trend. Think of all the college and sports team needlepoint out there. I can make something for a college-age child, even several things, or for my favorite sports fan. If my kids play lacrosse or soccer or play the violin, I can stitch them an ornament. I no longer buy something because I like it, but because she will like it. That in turn, fuels a wider variety of designs but it also makes the Internet more important because shops can only carry a fraction of what is available.
Both of these will make it much easier to make needlepoint for others. If you think about the people who get your needlepoint and those who don’t, it probably closely matches their tastes. I can always make a San Francisco needlepoint for one daughter, but what if I want to stitch something for my brother? The greater variety of canvases makes this easier than ever.
This variety is partially fueled by important changes in the designer world, a third trend. More companies are licensing work from artists in other media as needlepoint canvases. It used to be there wasn’t much of this, most designers created their own work for needlepoint. Now there are many companies signing up new artists with distinctive styles all the time.
Hand in hand with this is the renewed importance of distributors for needlepoint. Not only do they keep older lines alive, they also create a great career path for newer designers. It used to be that a new designer might create canvases for one or two local shops, disappear, and be gone forever. By going with a distributor who carries several lines, the work can grow and expand.
Thinking about cost and value brings us to the last trend — the increase in heirloom needlepoint. If an ornament-sized canvas now costs over $50 (and many do) then $150 for something that will be treasured forever doesn’t seem so bad. The $50 ornament may languish stitched but unfinished but that lovely heirloom canvas will be finished, displayed, and cherished.That can make things harder for shops because people will buy less often, but they will buy bigger. And while I might have enough of that thread for an ornament, I probably don’t for a larger piece, so I’ll buy thread, and embellishments and maybe stretcher bars. I’m not buying an inexpensive canvas and a skein of floss.
I see the effect of these changes in my own needlepoint buying habits, perhaps you are seeing them yourself. I’d love to hear what you think. How have you changed your needlepoint buying? What do you think the future holds?