Spellbound Stitchery at the 2024 Spring Needlepoint Market

Spellbound Stitchery at the 2024 Spring Needlepoint Market

Recently I attended one of our industry’s biggest annual events, the Spring Needlepoint Market! It was my first time participating, so I thought I would share my experience and delve into what the spring market is all about for those who might be curious about what goes on  behind the scenes in the needlepoint world. 

The Spring Needlepoint Market is held over three days, Friday-Sunday (this year it was March 22nd-24th), in a central location on the east coast. This year it was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Spring Needlepoint Market is an opportunity for buyers and exhibitors, many of whom rarely get the chance to interact in person, to converge in one space to network, catch up, and most importantly, shop! Over 100 buyers representing needlepoint shops across the United States were in attendance, with over 100 exhibitors set up to showcase and sell their designs and products. Most of the exhibitors were canvas designers, but fiber manufacturers, finishers, and accessory vendors were also in attendance, including some of the most recognizable names in thread: Brown Paper Packages, Wiltex Threads, and Kreinek. Attendance is exclusive to qualified buyers and exhibitors; everyone must register in advance and receive approval before participating. Shopping hours, during which buyers could visit exhibitors’ spaces and make purchases, were held from 9:30 am - 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, with some vendors choosing to open up their spaces for shopping on Friday evening if they were prepared to do so during the optional 5-7pm window. Receptions were held each night from 5:30-7:30 as an opportunity for networking, mingling, catching up with old friends and making new ones! I loved seeing my friend Anna of Evergreen Needlepoint, who flew in all the way from Germany(!!!) to attend the event!


I checked in on Friday, but some chose to arrive earlier, especially if they had traveled long distances (some attendees came from as far as California and Washington State) or had brought a volume of inventory that necessitated extended setup time. The layout of the hotel’s rooms created a unique merchandising and shopping experience; most vendors set up their on-site showrooms in the front living areas of their suites. Each of these living rooms featured a large picture window with a view into the hallway, which lent itself to staging and decorating, almost as if we were part of a small village of little needlepoint shops all lined up together!

Once my popup Spellbound shop was completely set up (thank you to my partner and my cousins, who were wonderfully supportive and helpful all weekend!), with all of my canvases on display, I found that I was struck by how much I have created so far! I had never had the occasion to arrange all of the canvases I designed in one place, and seeing it all, and thinking about what I have coming next, was tremendously exciting and gratifying. One of the greatest benefits of attending the Spring Needlepoint Market is the opportunity that participation presents for increasing your exposure as an artist and designer. I was delighted to finally meet in person many of the buyers whose stores and websites already include Spellbound Stitchery canvases, and many buyers who encountered and purchased my designs for the first time! I brought almost everything that I had in my inventory, and was humbled by how quickly many of my canvases went from cash and carry to pre order. It was a great opportunity for me as a designer to gauge which designs appealed to particular audiences, as my sales via the Spellbound Stitchery website don’t necessarily reflect how specific collections I have created will sell at individual needlepoint stores. My approach when designing a canvas is not to create something that I think everyone will like, but it is my  hope everyone will find something they like within my line, and it was helpful for me to gauge the appeal of particular canvas themes based on how buyers responded to my inventory. 

If you followed along with any of the attendees of Spring Market on social media, you probably noticed that many buyers were also gauging their customers’ interest in the offerings on display by posting stories, going live, and encouraging followers to claim canvases and accessories via DM. Not only were many of the exhibitors only taking pre-orders with 8-12 week turn around times by the time the market was closed, but many needlepoint shops were sold out of the physical canvases they had purchased in person before even leaving the hotel! 

Part of the intense interest and buzz created by Spring Market can be found in the anticipation of those new launches that almost all needlepoint designers will bring with them to debut in person, a practice which has become the industry standard. Often previews and sneak peeks will be offered via designers’ social media accounts, so that buyers can prepare their approach and prioritize their shopping plans based on the engagement and interest they receive from their social following. 

This year, I brought with me six new designs for Spellbound Stitchery…

  •  Forest Dance, a canvas designed in celebration of the arrival of spring, featuring two female dryads enveloped in the lush blues and greens of a stream flowing through a wooded glen. 

  • Two Celtic Knot canvases which can be finished into either belts or bag straps, one with a tighter knot design, and another with a more elongated series of loops. 

…and three 8x8 canvases featuring spring blooms as elegant and delicate as they are potentially deadly, in

All three of these canvases are intended to be stitched with a deep, black background, but have intentionally been painted against a dark gray, to ensure optimal visibility and better facilitate the stitching process. While all of my canvases are designed to be beginner-friendly, stitch painted designs, these florals are even more accessible in that they are offered on 13 mesh. 

Two of the aspects of Spring Market that returning attendees speak about so fondly are the peer support and sense of community that have been established as the standard, which more experienced vendors and exhibitors perpetuate through continuing to welcome new participants like myself. Though I definitely had butterflies while I was setting up, aware that I was unable to anticipate every unknown element that might play out in my first experience, I am extremely grateful for the encouragement and preparation I received, both in advance of and during the event. As exhibitors, we were provided with lists of what we should bring to ensure a successful showroom setup, examples of scenarios we should be prepared for, a list of helpful bookkeeping and office related supplies that we might find useful, recommendations on point of sale, and what to do in the event of glitches or unexpected challenges. We were also given the opportunity to attend a Zoom call during which we heard from experienced attendees who shared what they thought every first time participant should know. Event organizers and more experienced needlepoint designers took the lead in making sure that designers new to Market had what they needed to be successful, and the all encompassing sense that I was part of a collective of women helping women was both fulfilling and inspiring for me. I am very much looking forward to attending the next market event! 

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