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A new era for needlepoint

It wasn't long ago that the word "needlepoint" conjured up thoughts of dusty cushions with fusty florals. But in recent years, thanks to a handful of retailers, designers and enthusiasts, the craft has become cool again.

"There's been a new look for needlepoint in the last five years," says Susan Battle, owner of the Point of It All shop.

"There are more graphics, brighter colors, cleaner designs. ... It's not an old, stuffy hobby anymore," she says.

Needlepoint is a form of embroidery done by stitching fibers through an open-mesh canvas. It can be bought as a finished product (such as a pillow), or as a do-it-yourself project with a hand-painted canvas or a computer-generated kit.

The resurgence of needlepoint is due in part to big names in the design world embracing it. Designer and potter Jonathan Adler and clothing and textile designer Trina Turk both sell premade needlepoint items in their shops, helping to introduce the craft to new demographics.

At her full-service store, Battle, 32, sells hand-painted canvases that she can finish into just about anything after the stitching is done, including doorstops, pillows, purses, rugs, belts, Christmas ornaments and custom-made house portraits.

Needlepoint can be a pricey hobby (Battle's canvases run from $30 to $800), but the handmade results are often future heirlooms.

Essentially, says Battle of her artistically rendered offerings, "You're buying a work of art, and you're adding to it."

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