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New CTE Group initiatives put designers in the spotlight

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 18, 2012

At a 2011 meeting, TNNA’s Counted Thread & Embroidery (CTE) Group brainstormed on some ideas to get more participation in TNNA shows from their industry segment. They wanted to create more involvement and bring new energy and excitement to the group. Dena Lenham from Kreinik offered to coordinate their efforts for a New Designer Program.

Here’s how it worked: The New Designer Program solicited portfolios from designers who had never exhibited at a TNNA trade show before; it didn’t matter how long they had been in business, just that they had never exhibited at a physical trade show. The portfolio had to include a resume, an example of their packaging, pictures of their stitched designs, and so on.

The program panel carefully reviewed the entries and selected four to participate in the New Designers Showcase. The panel was comprised of a wholesaler, a distributor, a retailer, a designer and a publisher — all professionals who could evaluate the portfolios for their appeal to a broad audience, their professionalism, and their readiness for market.

The winners were offered shared booth space and booth furnishings at the Winter Show in Phoenix, plus a stipend to help with their expenses to come to the show.

Those selected included:

  • Deborah Booth, My Big Toe Designs
  • Erik Shipley, Ship’s Manor
  • Kurdy Biggs, Threedles
  • Meagan Jennett, NeedleWorkPress

All four made a good showing at the Winter Market, and have made further plans to show at future markets, fulfilling the goals of the CTE Group in sponsoring them for the contest.

The CTE Group plans to repeat the New Designer Program for the Columbus Summer Show 2013. If you’re a CTE member and are interested in submitting for this program, please email

Group Exhibit

CTE also wanted to re-energize its efforts on showing the industry what today’s counted thread and embroidery really looked like — and as a result, the CTE Exhibit at the June 2012 TNNA Summer Market was a huge success.

Here’s how The TNNA Counted Thread & Embroidery Group promoted its product segment to attendees and exhibitors: To encourage participation from our group members, we decided to make the exhibit a "people’s choice” contest, and offer prizes. Wholesale and retail members were encouraged to submit pieces for the exhibit, regardless of whether they were attending the 2012 Summer Market. Patty Hurwitz of Moonflower Designs/Stitcher’s Village agreed to coordinate the exhibit effort.

The contest prizes were a booth at the Long Beach Winter Show 2013 for the favorite piece submitted by a wholesale member, and four nights’ lodging at the show hotel submitted by a retail member. The pieces submitted were displayed with a number only, no identifying names, to keep it a "blind” judging.

Each attendee at the Summer Show was given a ballot to mark their favorite piece, then drop their ballot in the ballot box. Ten pieces were submitted, and included a wide range of counted thread and surface embroidery styles — silk gauze, over-one cross stitch, a sampler, counted canvas, surface embroidery, embellished bead work, white work, black work, and original design.

The winners were Debbie Rowley, DebBee’s Designs, with an adaptation of a class piece by Catherine Jordan, "Autumn Forest,” that featured withdrawn thread, stump work and surface embroidery in the wholesale category; and Judie Solomon, Thistle Needleworks, with "He Looked Like A Peddler,” an over-one cross-stitch design by Heaven and Earth Designs, in the retail category.

All 10 submissions can be seen on TNNA’s Facebook album here:

The CTE exhibit drew comments from the attendees such as "exquisite,” "that’s counted thread?”, "beautiful” and "I’ve never seen anything like this.”

At the CTE Group meeting, it was decided to repeat the exhibit at the next two convention center shows, Long Beach 2013 and Columbus 2013.

For a small exhibit at the first show, we had such a range of techniques and wonderful feedback from the attendees, and we hope to have more pieces from our members. Again, if you’re a CTE member and are interested in participating, please email us at

Tags:  Autumn Forest  Catherine Jordan  contest  cross-stitch  CTE  DebBee’s Designs  Debbie Rowley  Deborah Booth  designer  embroidery  Erik Shipley  He Looked Like a Peddler  Heaven and Earth Designs  Judie Solomon  Kurdy Biggs  Meagan Jennett  My Big Toe Designs  needle  NeedleWorkPress  program  Ship’s Manor  stitch  Thistle Needleworks  Threedles  TNNA 

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TNNA 2018 Winter Market