Needlework designs are typically one Santa or smiling farm animal away from being old-fashioned at best, tacky at worst. Should we thus scoff at this art form that has evolved since ancient civilization? Nay, just take a tip from artists making the craft cool again.

Needlework designs are typically one Santa or smiling farm animal away from being old-fashioned at best, tacky at worst. Should we thus scoff at this art form that has evolved since ancient civilization? Nay, just take a tip from artists making the craft cool again.

Skip the hoop

Embroidery and pixilated-looking cross-stitch work is created by using a hoop as a fabric holder. Many crafters use the hoop as a frame for the finished product.

Not Martha Wozniak, a Columbus Museum of Art employee who recently moved to Hilliard. Wozniak sticks her stitches to things like bobby pins, necklaces, cuff links, rings and Moleskine notebooks.

Her line, called B. Radley, is named after her beloved old cat, which was named after the misunderstood Boo Radley from "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Key To My Heart necklace, $12

B. Radley, bradleybb.etsy.com

Bike sketchbook, $14

B. Radley, bradleybb.etsy.com

Ohio sketchbook, $14

B. Radley, bradleybb.etsy.com

Keep it small

Boston-based Danielle Spurge's pieces come in four-inch wooden embroidery hoops. Their small stature only adds to the cute factor of the art, often done in romantic pastels. The wishbone pattern (shown) is the signature of her line, The Merriweather Council. Many of her items are customizable, so buyers can select what colors they'd like used in what design.

Big Spoon, Little Spoon in Love, starting at $30

The Merriweather Council, merriweathercouncilblog.com

Wishbone, starting at $30

The Merriweather Council, merriweathercouncilblog.com

Add sass and snark

Get hip to crass cross-stitch. These designs would make your grandma blush and mostly involve words that we can't publish. The lasciviousness is cleverly worked into traditional, grandma-friendly needlepoint patterns.

Kits abound at alternative craft fairs and on Etsy, but also locally at Wholly Craft. The Clintonville shop sells Subversive Cross Stitch (subversivecrossstitch.com) and office favorite Sublime Stitching (sublimestitching.com), whose embroidery patterns include pin-up girls, beefcake beach boys and guitars. We also love the cheeky cross-stitch at Alana's restaurant in North Campus that says, "Home is Where the Vodka Is."

Here, three more examples of needle and thread funnies. You get the @!#%ing idea.

Beardin' Ain't Easy, $30

Needles and Pins, katiekutthroat.etsy.com

Tatted knuckles pattern, $5

Needles and Pins, katiekutthroat.etsy.com

Epic Fail, $12.50

Snarky Stitches, etsy.com/shop/snarkystitches