Inspired: Nashville Needlework Market 2024 - How team CGT's resilience triumphed

What happens when three generations of CGT leaves our little town still wracked by cyclone storm damage and gets on a long-haul flight to America bound for the major event in the stitching calendar?

They come home with smiles so big it’s like they hadn't yet come down from the clouds.

Nashville Needlework Market is the biggest wholesale needlework event of the year and, when CGT received an invitation to attend as an exhibitor, we were beside ourselves with excitement. It was in our plans to exhibit in 2026, with an investigative trip in 2025 but we decided to jump in feet first and make 2024 the year. The year of bringing CGT to the global stage, the year of getting to meet our U.S stitchy designer and shop owner friends in person and the year of meeting so many more!

This was a huge undertaking for us as a small “hand-made” Australian business and preparations began in late 2023 with the brainstorming of new products that we could release. Keep reading to see the exciting new products and how you can get your hands on them.

For those of you who may not have heard of the Nashville Needlework Market, there is simply nothing in Australia to compare with the vastness of a needlework and embroidery trade-show in America. And the Nashville event is lauded as the biggest and best.

"The sheer scale of the stitchy community was evident from the moment we stepped inside the hotel, and we felt like very small fish in a very large pond", laughs Pam, "it was hard to believe that just days before I had been boiling pots of water on a barbeque and working by torchlight so we could dye threads for orders."

“After the month we’d had and potentially having to pull the pin on the whole trip, just getting on the plane felt like a huge accomplishment, then travelling so far with suitcases stuffed overflowing with threads…walking into the Hilton Hotel in Nashville and see the huge light filled atrium with 5 floors of exhibitors was a ‘pinch yourself’ moment”, says Katie, "and it's all thanks to our incredible team for refusing to be beaten by a natural disaster".

Nashville Needlework market 2024

The day after the cyclone had torn through our town and Katie was dealing with not only the temporary shut down of Cottage Garden Threads workshop but significant damage to her family home, she was in shock and said "I don't think we can go to Nashville", but before she could even finish her sentence the team said "there's no way you're not going, we've all worked so hard for this!" And they got to work doing what Cottage Garden Threads does best - facing adversity with courage, determination and true team work. 

"From the moment our plane from Dallas lined up to land in Nashville, the warmth and friendliness of people blew us away. Before we even touched down, we met our 'travel angel' in a fellow Australian" says Katie, " she was sitting near us, and tuned into our Australian accents. We introduced ourselves and got chatting." Tamara Stewart is an Australian country music singer/songwriter living in Nashville and she offered her invaluable help in getting the first time U.S travellers oriented so that they made it to the hotel with all luggage intact. "Although we didn’t get a second to go out and experience the City of Music in full flight, we’d like to send a heartfelt thank you to our ‘travel angel’ for easing a great start to our trip." 

And when they piled out of an Uber outside the Hilton Hotel, it seemed like everyone at Needlework Market knew who they were and were excited that Cottage Garden Threads had made it. It just brought home the sense that we are a part of an amazing community.

Once they'd found the suite that was to be transformed into a little slice of home for 3 days, the big task was to empty suitcases, pack what pre-orders they were able to bring with them and build a shopfront in the hotel living room. They set to, pulling apart the sofa and borrowing tables to create a colourful display. It took a bit of good old Aussie ingenuity, but they did it! There were a few “lost in translation” moments – like finding that the light switches in the hotel worked backwards – On was Off and off was On. And ceiling downlights were in short supply, in fact, non-existent.

So, there was an excuse to visit the most quintessential American stores – Walmart and Hobby Lobby. They ad-libbed extra lighting to add sparkle to the display and hilariously, even picked up a few fake Australian native flowers – not something you'd necessarily expect to find on Nashville shelves at all!

And before they could take a breath, it was 4:00pm on 1 st March and all systems GO. Jetlagged or not, Cottage Garden Threads was open for business and immediately welcoming people inside with a warm G'day. Lines and lines of people began appearing outside stores who had limited stock to sell – hundreds of shop buyers queuing for sought after product for their retail stores all over America and some fellow Aussies too! 

Over the weekend shop owners and designers came and lingered over our folder of threads (protected with platic sleeves just in case of drooling). CGT’s Pam – who isn’t one for social media and wasn’t aware of the buzz around her work – found herself pleasantly overwhelmed by the genuine love and appreciation for our products. 

Pam, Katie and Mia found that everyone, without fail, loved thier Australian accents, all the while they were feeling like a 'bunch of bogans'. There were a few differnces in language and turn of phrase that needed a second or two to decipher but on a whole, they had the common language of thread to bring them together.

"We met so many designers - some we already knew through email and zoom and felt like we were meeting old friends. It was so lovely to give them a hug as a real life human being (or cat in Jan Hick's cat Nina's case)" says Katie. Of course, they didn't take nearly enough photo's because they were so busy taking orders, chatting about upcoming designs and stitchy things in general.

It was such a highlight to finally get to meet the wonderful Jan Hicks in person – and to be introduced to her much photographed travelling cat Nina.

Jan has been a champion of CGT thread for some years and we were delighted to be able to feature her 'Palace of the Winds' cross stitch design as part of our display. 

You can read all about Jan on our blog post here

Jan Hicks
Jan Hicks

Other highlights were catching up with Holly from StitchyProse, Cecilia Turner from Heart in Hand, Abby from Topknot Stitcher shop, Colleen Matthews from Rebel Stitcher, Lindy Stitches and Michelle Bendy from Bendy Stitchy, Tracy Horner from Ink Circles and many more. Katie even managed to literally run headlong into Jeanette of Jeanette Douglas Designs as she rushed out of the hotel restaurant as Katie was rushing in. Jeanette was one of the very first American designers to start using CGT threads – and it was so special to see her.

We are super excited about designers we met who will be using Cottage Garden Threads in their designs for the first time. Keep your eyes peeled, the seeds have been sewn and CGT will be popping up everywhere. 

Meeting shop owners that CGT have been working with for years was also a treat – as well as meeting new shops. We hope that having Cottage Garden Threads on thier shelves is made all the more special for having met some of the hands that make them.  

On 3 rd March at 4:00pm after an incredibly frenetic few days, it was all over. After a day and a half of rest, the suitcases, considerably lighter now, were packed and room 305 reverted to the state it had been in when they arrived. Cottage Garden Threads little shopfront at Nashville Needlework Market 2024 was closed and three very tired but very happy thread makers got onto a plane and headed for home. With so many amazing memories – such an intense experience. Nashville is a testament to the remarkable power of stitching and the resilience and creativity of so many small businesses – both designers and retailers - that operate within this community. CGT will be back for more in 2025.

Nashville releases

We were delighted to feature the designs of fellow Aussies Brenda Ryan and Jo Maxwell of Hares Nest [Brenda's blog], Veronique [Veronique's Blog] and Joanna Kabanoff of Mojo Stitches [Joanna's Blog] Our newest product collaboration – with Mojo Stitches – a series of Stitchers Palette thread packs and accommpanying seasonal cross stitch designs. 

The 6 new Stitchers palette's are a play on a an artist's paint palette and feature 3 single colour tonal threads that combine to make one multicoloured 'Hero' variegated. The stitchers palette 4 thread packs were a market exclusive release with attending stores having first dibs to order. To get your hands on any of the Stitcher's Palettes, check out your local needlework store. If your store didn't attend market, they are now able to pre-order. They will be available for pre-order from Cottage Garden Threads webstore from the 3rd of April for end April shipping. We'd love to know your favourite. 

The idea behind the Stitcher's Palettes is that they are a plug and play thread / floss pack. You know the colours will work beautifully with each other because they use the same formulas. The very clever Joanna of Mojo Stitches will be demonstrating the functionality of Stitcher's Palette packs with a blog or flosstube video series. In a nutshell - how you can take any Stitchers Palette and apply it to a cross stitch design. She'll be using 'Katie's cushion panel' - one of her latest releases as an example. 


The colours in the first of the Stitcher's Palette range are drawn from The Bookshelf Edit range. 8 brand new colours featured in the palettes will be added to the Bookshelf range at a later date. 

Collaborating with Joanna is always a pleasure and this was particularly fun. We created the 6 packs to represent the seasons. Joanna has designed 4 seasonal charts using the Summer, Autumn (Fall), Winter and Spring inspired palettes of Mercator, Fireplace, Shadows and Alice respecively. 

We will go into more detail on the palettes and Joanna's designs in a later 'Product Feature' Blog post. For now, check out the beautiful designs which are coming to your LNS, Joanna's Etsy store and the CGT webstore.

Mojo Stitches Summer Chart
Mojo Stitches Autumn Chart
Mojo Stitches Winter Chart
Mojo Stitches Spring Chart

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