Wednesday, March 09, 2016

A Super Long-Winded Post about My Trip to Nashville

It all feels like a dream now; one of those really great dreams that you never want to wake from, and when you do wake, you try desperately hard to fall back into. There was so much hard work in the months beforehand, and I sometimes wondered if it would all be worth it. Let me tell you as adamantly as I can. IT WAS.

Last year was my first trip to Market, and although it was an amazing time, I felt like I barely got my toes wet... this year I may have made it up to my ankles.

I took two new chart designs and decided to try taking a kit as well (SO much work goes into making those kits! I had an idea, but experiencing it for myself makes me have major respect for those designers that kit their charts regularly). And then, as if I didn't already have my hands full enough, I decided three weeks before the show that I needed a completely new look for my charts. I have Crazy Creative Brain Syndrome in combination with another rare disease called Unrealistic Overachieving Optimist.

I pulled it all together in the nick of time. But only with the help of some of my favorite people (thank you again Mama, Angela and Jen!).
I sent ahead nine flat rate boxes stuffed with charts and kits and three very large UPS boxes full of models and other assorted items for my exhibit room, plus one barely-within-the-limits-to-carry-on suitcase and a gigantic carpet bag in place of a purse. Not to mention the items left from last year that the lovely Donna Gabbard stored for me in her attic for the past year.
It really was a lot to calculate and schedule and put into action.

After working feverishly for so long (preceded by the birthday/Christmas/birthday season, don't forget!), I found myself on Monday afternoon before the show with everything done and shipped and just time to wait until my early flight on Thursday. So what did I do? Cleaned and did laundry and shopped so Farmboy wouldn't have to do it while I was gone... then I designed two brand new samplers. Nothing like nervous energy with nowhere to go to fuel the fires of creativity, I guess.

At last, the day was about to dawn, with a 3 am alarm set, and bags packed, I tried desperately to sleep. But of course I was wide awake at 1:30 in the morning. It's so hard to wait sometimes for that silly clock to make its rotations, then other times its all I can do to not cry in despair as it turns way too quickly.

At last, my flight left just as the sun rose, and with a full day of travelling behind me, I touched down in Nashville forty minutes early (when does THAT ever happen?).
My health has been really great for the past year, but I haven't forgotten just how horrible I felt for the long three years preceding. I feel like I've been re-born in so many ways, and I don't want to waste a single day that I've been given. So... instead of going early to bed, I checked into my hotel, then headed back to Nashville to have dinner with a childhood friend that I haven't seen since at least 1989. The original plan was to see a live show as well, but the exhaustion from the long day hit me about the time the music was supposed to start, so I called it a night.

When I texted my Farmboy to let him know that I skipped the show, he couldn't believe his ears. He knows me well, and knew that I would be disappointed with myself. And he's usually right about these kind of things. So when my friend from the night before texted an invitation to go to a writer's round at a cigar bar on Friday night, I decided I had better go for it. This would mean missing out on Early Bird shopping time, but I hadn't planned to have my exhibit room open anyway.

I spent the day Friday trying to figure out how on earth I was going to turn the really badly decorated hotel room into something inviting.
The indispensable Donna Gabbard came to my rescue and helped immensely, especially since my brain only seemed to be operating on half-power.
We shopped for food to eat and lamps to help with the dim lighting and totally forgot to get the hair styling products that I chose to not carry on with me (a curly haired girl's nightmare; I had to improvise with face lotion, which left my hair a bit limp the rest of the weekend). We strategized a timeline and somehow made the room look at least somewhat inviting.
Then, with Paulette Stewart's daughter Sabrina in tow, I headed to Nashville again for a night that was smoky (Uptown's Smoke Shop) but somehow perfect. I absolutely adore live music, and there is something so much more enjoyable and authentic when the music being performed is by those that wrote it. And did I mention that my friend was one of the songwriters in the round? Oh yeah, there is that little detail...
 From the left: Brian White, Chris Roberts, Pete Stewart, and Pete Sallis.

These four have written songs for some pretty big names, so it was surprising that we got a front row table and were treated to what felt like our own personal concert. You really should check each of these men's work out. I know I did, and now that I've seen the evidence of their accomplishments, I am extremely humbled that I got to sit in on their collaborative effort.

At one point, having briefly met the other three writers just before the show, Sabrina and I were treated to a little impromptu ode to cross stitch. Good thing I had my phone set to record, because the moment was priceless for those of us in the Cross Stitch Nation:

And should you doubt my claim that one of these talented performers is an old friend of mine, I have solid proof, right here:
The Stewarts and the Whittakers were two town families uprooted and living in a tiny hippy/logger town in the far Pacific Northwest. Look how far we've both come. :)

Back at the Embassy Suites the next morning, the real work began. Two solid days of selling, networking, collaborating, being inspired, laughing until I cried, and eating bacon for breakfast every single morning. It was a dream. A dream that I can't wait to repeat.

Having five floors totally full of designers and suppliers, all related to cross stitch is truly an amazing experience. I still get stars in my eyes as I get to spend time with my own cross stitch heroes. I'm a pretty small fish in a very big pond, and I know it full well. I look forward to the years to come when I might start to feel like a legitimate part of this creative industry.
 One of the highlights was getting to meet Karen Veers, who stitched Victoria's Garden for me.
Sunday is always slower as far as selling goes, so that's when the hallway meetings happen between designers and suppliers, and also when those of us with blogs try to take as many pictures as we can. Last year I totally failed in that regard, so I tried to make up for it this year. I still only captured a tiny fragment of all of the talent on display, but here are some of my favorites:

Just Another Button Company:
 The Scarlett House:
 Black Branch Needlework:
Brenda Gervais' Country Stitches:
Blackbird Designs:
I had a camera show-down with Paulette Stewart. I'm not sure yet who won, but based on the size of lens being used, I don't think it was me.
Plum Street Samplers:
 Chessie and Me:
Lone Elm Lane:
Needlework Press:
Homespun Elegance:
The Gentle Art:
Picture This Plus:
R&R Reproductions (featuring a candle by my very own Sister-in-Law Jen Hamilton!)
I could go on and on and on, but I won't. Be sure you get out there and support all of the needlework shop owners that attended Market. They really work HARD to get all of that shopping done for you, and I for one, greatly appreciate the energy and drive that they bring to the world of cross stitch. I can sit here in my house and crank out designs all day long, but the brick and mortar shop owners are a tenacious and brave lot, daring to make it work in an increasingly difficult economy. If you need help finding a shop near you, my best friend Google will be glad to help, or you can send me an email and I'll try to do the legwork for you. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate those of you that have faithfully purchased directly from me for all of these years; I wouldn't have had a start without you, but especially at this time of year, I would almost prefer that you go support the shop owners as a way of thanking them for all that they do.

The turnout of new designs this year was stellar, and I only showed you a tiny peek. You must be absolutely overwhelmed trying to decide what to buy! But do take the plunge... you won't regret it. This industry is full of some of the most kind and creative people I've ever met, and I'm proud to be counted as part of the Cross Stitch Nation (no one better use that term, I'm already plotting a way to fit it into a design).

Monday morning rolled around, with all my boxes packed and on their way, and a flight that didn't leave until 1:00. I was stuck sitting in the hotel lobby drinking bad coffee and watching election coverage (seriously... ugh!), and I decided that I had to seize the day. So I spent some time searching the internet for things to do on Monday mornings in Nashville.
Lo, and behold, the Johnny Cash museum was open, and by golly, I do love that man's music, so I loaded up the rental car and saw a bit of downtown Nashville before catching my flight home.
Tennessee is nice in its own way, but nothing can ever comfort my heart like my home state, Oregon. And being greeted at sunset by the lovely Mt. Hood shrouded in pink clouds couldn't have been a better way to arrive.
Home Sweet Home!
Nashville 2017 countdown starts... NOW!


Shelly said...

Great pictures! I'm just salivating over all the samplers and you made them come to life. It's almost like looking at them with my own eyes. The song was great and it's nice to see the relationship you designers have with each other. I'm putting a dent in my wallet tomorrow with Market goodies. Hoping to see some of your designs framed and up on the walls of the Attic!

marly said...

Thanks for giving us a glimpse into the hustle bustle and fun. Enjoyed the post!!

Vickie said...

This post was awesome! Thanks for sharing.

Rugs and Pugs said...

Thanks for taking us along.
Hugs :)

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing your adventure! I can't wait to get your new bird patterns! I've been looking for something to fill a void on my living room wall, and this bird series is the perfect thing! Love all your designs and can't wait to see the next in the series!


Cathy Lloyd said...

Enjoyed your market adventure! Thanks for all the pictures which made me drool from the first one to the last!

pj said...

Great to see you at Market! I loved your room set up! Wish I knew you had free time on Monday as my flight didn't leave till 6:30 pm! Hope to see you again next year. Scarlett House will be in the same room I think! It was fun to see the process for the first time! 😀

Your pics are great! Glad you had fun and some new experiences.


Robin in Virginia said...

Beth, thank you for sharing your Nashville adventure with us. I enjoyed the photo journey you shared. Thank you for the chuckle about drinking bad coffee. Off to check out some of the designs you photographed. Have a good week!

Laura said...

What an amazing and wonderful post!!!!! Thank you so much for capturing all of the beauty and the excitement!!!!! I love your designs!

Chocolates4Breakfast (Terri Malinovich) said...

What a great post! Love your new sampler and the story behind it. The foreground of flowers is gorgeous!

Lizzy Pizzy said...

Brilliant post. Thank you Beth for taking the time to put it all together. I loved reading all your insights about the before, during and after of the market. I love all your pics, but my favourite is your clip from the cigar bar with your friend's band playing. The other great pleasure in my life (apart from cross-stitch) is music. What an absolute treat to have seen 'Cross Stitch Nation' come to life before your eyes - and to have a recording of it ♥♥♥ Special ♥♥♥
Liz x

Maggee said...

Thanks for sharing your Market trip with us! Your designs are wonderful! Hugs!