I’ve gone to TNNA’s winter show most years since 1998 and I’ve watched knitting and needlepoint rise and fall. At the height of the knitting fad, it seemed as if needlepoint was almost an afterthought. Right now, I would say they are about even in number of vendors.
This is especially true when you consider the yarn manufacturers who also make needlepoint yarns (these are growing — more tomorrow on this) and other companies selling into both markets who were on the knitting side of the show.
Looking at knitting vs. needlepoint I saw some interesting contrasts that are good for us as stitchers. Needlepoint shops came to buy as well as to look. Although there is always lots of interest in the newest canvases and threads, often you’d see shopowners going through a both and ordering many canvases from the existing line. For us, this means that we aren’t constantly looking for what’s new, but for what’s right. That continues to support our designers to try new things and to keep designing. If anything older than a year is “vintage” and therefore not wanted, there is just too much pressure on the designers and some will stop designing because their stuff is too “old-fashioned.”
When you bring out a new product there is always a risk: Will people like it? Both the designer and the shopowner take this risk because as stitchers we might not like it and won’t buy it. But if both these people have reliable designs people like and continue to buy, the shopowners buy them and the designers have sales without risk and can continue to work.
This is a sign of a healthy industry.
In terms of the designs I saw there are three trends that you’ll see in your shops. All are great because they show that the market for needlepoint is widening. We’ll all get to the point where we can’t have any more pillows (or ornaments or stockings or whatever), but by innovating the use and subject matter for needlepoint, designers increase the things we’ll buy and try.
Professional and collegiate sports was the big new trend. There were belts, key fobs, ornaments, mini socks, brick covers and lots more in a bewildering array of designs from actual logos to clever pieces featuring folks playing the game. Not every team for every sport is there, but you can probably find something for just about any sports fan. This signals a nice change in the market towards pieces that have more masculine appeal.
While Halloween and Christmas remain huge for needlepoint, I saw lots more Thanksgiving and harvest-themed designs. Melissa Shirley has led the way on this. These designs are fun because with them less holiday-specific, they can be used throughout the fall.
The needlepoint handbag trend continues to be huge and at the show I saw, along with lots of extensions to purse lines that have been around for awhile, new shapes and new combinations of leather or straw purses with needlepoint.
Tomorrow I’ll look at new threads (there’s plenty), Friday and Saturday at new canvases and kits, and Sunday at changes in distributors. On Monday I’ll talk about knitting items for needlepoint as well as tools, finishing, and books.