Thursday, November 04, 2010

Is Needlecraft a dying art?

Is Needlecraft a dying art? Or is it being slowly strangled to death by the very people who are responsible for protecting and promoting it?

Good question.

It’s a fact that all needlecraft popularity runs in cycles. Knitting, crochet, needlepoint, cross stitch – they all take their turn at being the ‘in’ craft.

Scrapbooking, Stamping, Quilting – each one has it’s moment in the sun.

Everything comes back around. That’s the circle of life.

Needlecraft has survived and thrived over the ages because of imagination and innovation. Simple designs gave way to intricate designs. Simple XXXs became a myriad of complex stitches – requiring more than a little talent and skill.

Wool gave way to cotton, cotton to silk. But in the end, it all comes back around.
Most early designs had no colour key at all. Stitchers chose colours to match their mood and their décor. Personal choice ruled the day.

Now, however, we seemingly have a group of Designers and Shop Owners who are gathering together to thwart the innovations and imaginations of the stitchers who buy their designs. They are trying to push out the Independent Designer and fabric / floss dyer.

This is a mistake; a mistake that may spell the end of needlecraft as we know it.

Let your shops and favourite designers know that you won't tolerate this inexcusable behaviour of exclusion.

I know of someone who is being black-listed because she dares to run her business the way SHE wants. Designers and shop owners don’t like it. So, they talk down to her and about her. They have shills that visit needlework message boards to falsely ‘complain’ about her product.

How is this helpful? How does it promote our art and our craft? It doesn’t. In fact, it does much more harm than good in every respect.

Circling the wagons implies an incoming attack – a lack of planning – a lack of foresight and a lack of insight.
Who's on the attack?
The designers and shops themselves -- they don't want their colour keys converted to other than the suggested fibers or fabrics, they don't want us to personalize our pieces, they don't want us to buy from other than their chosen shops, designers, or floss providers.

There would be no battle if designers and shop owners ‘listened’ to their customers wants and needs, paid attention to current trends and new ideas.
In the end, the designers and shop owners aren’t really fighting anyone save their own narrow minds.
For any craft to survive and prosper, it must be fed daily by new ideas.

In the world of needlecraft, we must welcome new designers, new dyers of fabric and fiber, and new stitchers. For without them, we lose everything.
Most needleworkers have enough charts to work that they will never stitch them all. We’re stash-hoarders – it’s our nature.

What DO we always want or need? Fabric and fibers. How many of us still work solely on aida? How many have moved on to evenweave and linen? Countless thousands… if not millions.

How many of us have moved beyond DMC to over-dyed cotton? How many to silk?
How many of us are no longer satisfied to stitch solely on white or cream? I’ve stitched on so many different coloured fabrics – I can’t name them all.

How many stitchers would we lose if those options were no longer available to us?
I would stop stitching if I no longer had these options. I would put down my needle and I would step away.
Would you?

Keep in mind, the Colour / Fiber / Fabric key is a SUGGESTION – it is not written in stone. I don't want MY finished piece to look just like everyone else's finished piece. The real key is individual taste.

Many designers have put a disclaimer on their designs asking the stitchers to please use the recommended fabric and fibers. Isn’t that MY choice? Shouldn’t I decide what fabric? What count? What colour?

Shouldn’t I be the one to decide if I want to use cotton, wool, or silk? Shouldn’t I be the one to decide if I want to stitch on a 32 ct. Belfast linen dyed a brilliant Kelly green as opposed to a 40 ct. linen in cream?

Don’t try to stifle my creativity – don’t try to choose for me. Don’t tell me what to do.

Needlework Designers and Shop owners must realize – we are not your clients. You work for us.

This is OUR craft. This is our art... our needles. If we don't take a stand – the needlecraft industry will fail. Always remember, stitchers have the power over the designers and the shops: online and brick-and-mortar. THEY work for US. This may be a hard lesson for the designers and shop owners to learn, but learn it they will.

Don’t be afraid to support the independent designer – the designer who sells directly to his / her customer. If they stop designing – we all lose.

Don’t be afraid to support the independent dyer of fabric and floss. Don’t be afraid to buy directly from them. You do not have to justify your choices to anyone.

Don’t be afraid to change the fabric, the colour, the count, the floss, even the design itself. Make it uniquely your own.

This is your craft – your art.

I’ve been told this article might not be a good idea for me. So be it. It’s my opinion and this is my stand.

I don’t want to see another designer / dyer leave the industry because of jealousy and fear.

I want needlecraft to thrive and survive for future generations.

Please support your Independent Needlework Designers, Floss, and Fabric Dyers.
They are the foundation of our craft.

For Needlework to survive and thrive for the next generation of Stitchers, we MUST allow for creative growth.

When the Independents are pushed out of business -- we all lose: Our choices dwindle and our craft suffers.

My Opinion.



blueladie said...

Gives one pause, doesn't it. Love your ideas Terri. Thanks for voicing them. :) Cathryn

KB said...

Well said Terri!! and I couldn't agree with you more.

Kim said...

No-one will tell me what thread and fabric I can use on a project, even if they designed the chart. If they got that pedantic, I think I'd look elsewhere for a chart to stitch.

Anonymous said...

150% agree with what you said ! :-)

Now... If we were to be black-listed... How stupid of them...

I wonder how many people will understand that this is the exact same "fight" as in other domains... like "free softwares" and the FSF's everlasting battle against the "big" ones?
Not many, I gather... ^o^

riona said...

While I certainly agree with all you say, I am puzzled as to why you said it. I am unaware of any pressure to fall into lock-step with established designers, shops or manufacturers - but then I may be off in my own little corner of the world, oblivious to what;s right under my nose ... it has happened before. If you'd care to e-mail me with details, I'd love to be enlightened, reg mar acc at optonline dot net ... remove the spaces, etc.

Vicky said...

Great post, even though I do use DMC alot due to $$ issues :)

Rachel said...

I agree with you.

More designers are coming out with kits, complete with fabric and fiber and thats the only way you can get the chart (at least until someone places chart only on ebay)

What if I dont want to stitch the piece with what they chose? And its the designer getting together with the fabric designer and fiber designer.

I dont mind if the designer has a box or project in mind and has that combined with a chart, its for that specific item.

Karen said...

Well said. But you have no idea how hard it is to get all the wonderful linens and threads you have access to in Australia. Our shops just wont stock them and the only way I have to find out what can be available is by visiting blogs.But sometimes American shops wont post to Australia. So for now all I have is DMC and the smallest count linen I can get is 28 count.

Cindi J said...

Here Here!! I change fibers/fabrcs up a lot and my LNS is always helpful. I guess they are in the minority!

Nadia said...

Too true, and if they will not conform they will end up the losers in this. It only takes an open mind to see things outside the box!!

riona said...

I found the thread on 123stitch after I posted here and found it very interesting. I went to look at it again last night and couldn't find it ... I took a little more time searching this morning, but still no luck... am I just blind? ... please tell me it wasn't withdrawn ... how could something so stitching related and so legitimate a topic of discussion get pulled?

Shelleen said...

I agree 100%! I didn't know anything was going though.

Vicki @ India Grace Designs said...

I am an Independant Designer and I find your post really interesting. To my knowledge I haven't come across this but then I'm only small and don't try to work with the big guys. I'd be interested to see more about it.
I work mainly in the hardanger/speciality stitch market where colours/fabrics aren't so set in stone and, whilst I do tell people what colours I use on the model I also invite people to send me photos of their work done in their choices. That aside I have spent a long time recently trying to find a sky blue evenweave to put in kits to accompany a magazine piece that comes out in a couple of weeks. When I found some I got chatting to the gentleman who manufactures it. He said that their colour range keeps shrinking as people just aren't buying the colours. This is devastating for me as a designer because I love to play with colour.

Nancy*Glory Bee said...

Terri~That was very well written. I suggest you send it by email to every shop you can think of. Contact me if you need help.....Nancy*GloryBee
(Who never asks stitchers to use HER suggestions of floss or fiber)