With a giant Valentine displayed in the window, your heart can't help but go pitter patter over this new shop on James North. Needlework is the venture of Kate Hunter and Liz Simpson. These lovely ladies first met at The Brain's knit night, but their friendship grew after joining the Beehive Craft Collective. "As we got talking, we both quickly realized we had similar dreams of bringing a shop like Needlework to downtown Hamilton," says Liz, "And here we are!" Kate began her studies in studio art and biology at the University of Guelph, before going on to study furniture and textile design at Sheridan. Liz on the other hand embarked on an exchange program with Canada World Youth and volunteered at community organizations in China and Alberta. "While volunteering at a seniors lodge I met the loveliest of ladies, Velma Clearwater, " explains Liz, "She taught me how to knit and sparked my love for craft as a young adult."
"Since moving to Hamilton I've wished that there was a crafty place where I could find neat sewing books and patterns, interesting fabric, and good notions," says Kate. While Ottawa Street definitely has some nice fabric shops, she points out there was nothing available in the heart of downtown. Plus there were no shops carrying modern designer quilting cottons and young fun books and patterns that they were looking for. "After many months of writing a business plan, sourcing fabric, and going through the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to secure funding, we signed a lease and started ordering inventory!" explains Kate, "It's sort of crazy. Neither of us have a formal background in business, so it has definitely been (and will continue to be) an interesting adventure."
The girls have sourced some really gorgeous fabric. Our friend Danielle sent us texts after the opening raving about the quality and designs. Our favourite of the selection was from Cloud 9, a company that makes organic cotton fabrics using low-impact dyes. Love. You'll also find designer fabrics by Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner and Heather Moore. "Our vision for the shop is to become a home base for Hamilton's craft community," says Liz, "Eventually we would like to expand our inventory to include fibre, yarns, knitting and crocheting supplies but for the time being we decided that it's best to focus on fabric and get a feel for what the craft community wants." The girls have definitely created a space where craft loving individuals will come together and do their crafty thing in an environment that supports shared learning, resource, and skills. How can you not feel inspired to make something when surrounded by such beautiful fabrics?
Kate and Liz are also planning to offer a range of classes at Needlework. "We'll offer beginner sewing classes for people who've never used a sewing machine before," Kate tells us, "Project based classes where we teach you how to follow a pattern to create a garment or bag, zippered pouches, quilting, felting, knitting, crochet, machine and hand embroidery, and many more." Being part of the Beehive Craft Collective and attending Sheridan College's Textile Design program has introduced the girls to a wealth of talented individuals with a great range of skills. Their friends and acquaintances of will be teaching many of the classes, as will Liz and Kate.
Above, Flora by Julia Rothman for Cloud 9
Having been painting, cleaning and hunting for furnishing for a number of weeks, Kate and Liz are settling nicely into their new space. Their grand opening kicked off on Art Crawl. "Our first art crawl was amazing!" Kate enthuses. We can attest that when we dropped by it was super busy in the shop. "We had such a wonderful response from everyone who came through. We heard from so many people that they had been waiting with anticipation for us to open, so that was really great," says Kate. To that Liz adds, "We received a wealth of well wishes and flowers, so many encouraging and supportive comments -- and even some bubbly!"
Stay tuned to their website as the girls are currently putting together their first calendar of classes. Or just drop in and say hello!
174 James St. North