Last month, after 27 years in Union Square, Diane Nerheim decided to close her three-level needlepoint shop and make a move to Jackson Square. Despite the big change, Needlepoint, Inc., now housed at 326 Jackson St., has held on to its clientele: it's a full house on Saturday afternoon, with world-famous beader and Academy of Art teacher Robert Haven works away at a large, intricate piece at the front table.
While the space is a lot smaller than her former location, with just one floor, Nerheim has embraced the change. She's glad to be free of the ongoing construction in Union Square, which she felt made the shop less accessible to her customers.
“I’m sure [the new shop] will be busier than before, because it’s so easy to get to," she says. "Union Square is no longer an easy location, and we’ve enjoyed the Jackson Square area; it has a cozy, wonderful feeling. It’s fun, more intimate. We like it, and our customers seem to like it too. Now people can come here by ferry or BART.”
Needlepoint, Inc. in the only full-service needlepoint shop in the United States, equipped with seamstresses and artists that hand-paint canvases and convert them into everything from Christmas stockings to dream catchers.
“Everyone does needlepoint,” says Nerheim. “10-year-olds and 95-year-olds. It’s a craft and hobby that people get addicted to. People get this in their blood and they come from all over." She says customers come from all over; when we visited, one of them, Margaret Kirckpatrick, had come all the way from Wichita, Kansas to shop at the store.
In addition to running the shop, Nerheim has created her own line of silk thread, which she sells to other stores. “It’s eight-ply Chinese silk in 476 colors, and it doesn’t bleed. It’s so easy on your hands, and the look is so beautiful.”
“I knew about you because I like to use your needlepoint silks," Kirckpatrick, the Wichita visitor, tells Nerheim as she browses the shop. "I like to use the silk rather than [large producer] DMC’s, especially with my samplers and old traditionals. It looks richer than the other stuff.”
Like many skilled crafters, Nerheim built what was initially a hobby into a business. “I always did a lot of things with my hands like sewing and curling,” she says, explaining how she began needlepointing back in 1977. Self-taught (she learned the craft from a book), she was lured in by the community, and opened her first store in 1988.
In addition to the expansive shop, Needlepoint, Inc. provides one-on-one classes to anyone, anytime. “Pick out a canvas, pick some threads, and we’ll get you started," says Nerheim. "A lot of people want to learn how to stitch. For people that already know how, they want to learn new stitches or how to do background or decorative stitches." With the new location, Nerheim hopes to grow the shop's teaching capabilities; Needlepoint has also done birthday parties in the past, and she'd like to host more.
“It’s a fun business," Nerheim says of owning a needlepoint shop. "You want to get up in the morning and do it; it’s not tedious or tiresome, it’s fun."
Needlepoint, Inc. is located at 326 Jackson St. at Battery. Hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, and Saturday, 10am-4pm.