The word cross-stitch may conjure up images of blue-haired elderly ladies making hokey little “Bless This Mess” wall hangings, but The Hoop and Needle on Hamilton Avenue is a far-cry from traditional. Proprietor Sarah Fisher creates snarky, irreverent cross-stitch patterns that juxtapose cute little hearts, flowers, and flourishes with phrases such as “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” and, one of her bestsellers, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”
Sarah first started in the world of subversive crafting back in 2009 with her original cross-stitch design company, Purple Hippo Stitches. Though she picked up cross-stitching as a child, she found the conventional cross- patterns featuring teddy bears and angels less than inspiring. When she picked cross-stitch back up as a graduate student at Indiana University, she found that cross-stitch and embroidery had come a long way from the samplers of the past. Quirky new designs had begun gaining popularity among a younger crop of stitchers. As she began to create modern cross- stitch patterns in her free time and travel with her designs to DIY and craft shows (including Cincinnati’s own Crafty Supermarket), Purple Hippo Stitches grew into a full-time pursuit.
In June of 2014, the success of Purple Hippo Stitches led Sarah to open a brick-and-mortar storefront in Over-the-Rhine called The Hoop and Needle.
The shop focuses on providing ironic and whimsical, but still beginner- friendly, embroidery and cross-stitch supplies, classes, and resources. A quick primer for the uninitiated: Embroidery is a free-form technique for hand-sewing designs onto fabric which uses hundreds of different possible stitches. Cross-stitching is a specific type of embroidery stitch which involves mapping a design onto gridded fabric and filling in the design with a series of Xs. The Hoop and Needle offers supplies for both techniques, as well as much more for the needlecraft-enthusiast.
Though the OTR shop was a great first start, the space was on the small side and the creative community is so strong in Northside that it seemed a natural fit for The Hoop and Needle to ultimately make the move to the neighborhood. Sarah, her husband, and three cats have a home in Northside, and “half of the people I know that are involved in the DIY craft scene live in Northside,” Sarah says.
The Hoop and Needle joined the Hamilton Ave. business district in June of 2015, and the new space is much larger, allowing the shop to begin offering an increased selection of DIY kits beyond just the cross-stitch and embroidery patterns, flosses, and needles that had previously been carried.
The shop also holds classes for beginning and experienced stitchers, including monthly BYOB Sip and Stitch nights. Curious stitchers are encouraged to come see what it’s all about at the next one, scheduled for Thursday, August 27 from 6-9 pm. Upcoming classes include an embroidery-stitch basics class and a plush toy-making session. To see a full list of events and to stay up to date with everything Hoop and Needle, check out The Hoop and Needle on Facebook or at thehoopandneedle.com.