I just returned home from a two week trip, spending the first week as an exhibitor at the HH Americas trade show in Chicago. This was my second year showing Avlea Folk Embroidery cross stitch and embroidery kits to yarn, fabric, quilt shops around the US and I was delighted to see the growing number of exhibitors and attendees, a more than 30% increase from last year.
The energy on the floor of the largest trade show for the soft crafts industry in North America is contagious--you can't help but get excited by the jewel-toned yarns, the cheerful quilts, and the lure of intriguing new tools. But I came away most inspired by the sheer number of people I spoke with whose primary focus is creating community through crafting. Literally every hour of every day of the show I spoke with someone who brought up this theme. This commitment to fostering community really sets apart the crafting industry and deeply affects how we do business--shop owners want their shops to be places where crafters can come together to learn, create, and share. They want to engage those new to craft and support those already on their crafting journey. They are a generous bunch, constantly thinking about how crafting can make all of us better in body, mind, and soul. This outlook is such a refreshing departure from a "big business" corporate culture that's only focused on the bottom line, and I came away feeling deep gratitude and joy that I get to be a part of this industry.
This was brought home to me in so many ways, but especially on the first day of the show when the rep for Herrschners (they picked up several Avlea designs last year) came up to my booth and hugged me! In what industry are you going to HUG the people you do business with?! But we were connected by embroidery and the community it creates and we were honestly excited to see each other again!
The show also reminded me of the sheer power for good and wellness that crafting can provide--many designers and shop owners found healing and wellness through crafting and started their businesses to share that good energy with others (that's my story, too). We can stitch for our own wellness, share our skills with others, and build community both virtually and in person, and no matter how private or public our creating, we truly have the power to change the world in our own two hands!
(and, I fell in love with this crochet Wonder Woman costume!)
After HH, I went onto spend a week with my daughter and her new baby. It was a delightful week filled with baby snuggles and early mornings with my toddler granddaughter while we let Mama sleep in. We made rainbow rice (colored rice we played with for hours), used a spray bottle of water to stick foam shapes on the window (seriously, easiest way ever to amuse a toddler!), and read lots of books. In the months before baby Clara made her appearance, I stitched the first embroidery for her "prika" (a collection of embroideries that's given to a child when they become an adult, last photo). Some of you might recognize this as the old Cycladean floral design, which I redesigned with a cheerful, summery palette of fresh green, soft yellow, light alizarin, coral, turquoise and have renamed it Clara's Garden. I'll work on editing the photos this week and should have it available very soon.
This coming week will be a busy one as I work on the how-to photos for my upcoming book (watch along on Instagram). I've just added Rivne Rosettes and Talsi Trellis to the Avlea line-up and am excited to have these gorgeous old Latvian-inspired designs available now. I'm almost done stitching a new table runner design on the "raw" Mikini 30ct and I really love this fabric--it's kind of a hybrid between Traditional Groundcloth and Mikini with a unique 30ct in one direction/32ct in the other direction texture that mimics the variations found in hand-weaving (this is due to the "raw" fabric not having been mercerized or processed). After that, I've got a new design I've been playing around with that's inspired by Prairie-style architecture leaded glass windows that should be a fun and relaxing stitch for the rest of the summer.
I'm looking forward this week to some sunshiny patio stitching (my fav!) and hope everyone is getting good summer vibes as well!