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If you're itchin' to do some stitchin' this fall, I've found the perfect place for you to visit. Right in the heart of downtown Berlin are the Country Craft Cupboard and The Stitching House. These two Amish Country shops are loaded with opportunities for you to do some beautiful handiwork ... for yourself or as a gift for someone (hint, hint -- Christmas is just around the corner, you know!).
Karen Lamp, a Berlin area native, is the proprietress of both establishments. As a decorative painter years ago, she had a difficult time finding quality painting supplies nearby, so she rented space for a small shop in an old downtown Berlin building. There she carried the various painting supplies she, and others, sought for their craft. In 1987, she expanded her business and moved into the present location (the old Berlin grocery store). After a year of renting, she purchased the building in 1988. The Country Craft Cupboard remained there, and The Stitching House -- the needlework portion of Karen's business -- moved to a house which is attached to the craft store but has a separate entrance. Each of these changes yielded bigger and better selections of crafting supplies for both area crafters and those visiting Amish Country.
The largest portion of the Country Craft Cupboard's business is their fabric (including the Moda brand).
"We offer a wide selection of hand-woven, homespun fabrics with the primitive look," Karen said. "These are mainly used for crafts, as we tend to stay away from the typical quilt fabrics."
They also supply multitudes of craft patterns for primitives: wearables, home decor items, dolls, stuffed bears, purses, etc. Karen even has her own line of patterns she has designed, called Backyard Friends, for wearables (including embellished sweatshirts) and home decor items such as penny rugs, table runners and raggy blankets. Her employees also have designed patterns (including an original boy and girl Amish doll pattern designed by an Amish employee). You can purchase "kits" which contain a pattern and its pre-washed wool embellishments; all you have to do is buy the kit, your article of clothing, and you're all set to stitch away! They have a very nice selection of clothing there, just ready to be used (plain denim jumpers, vests and jackets, plus a nice line of sweatshirts in wonderful primitive colors).
One-hundred-percent wool fabrics are available off the bolt, in fat quarters or in "little bits" (in case you need just a tiny piece of a certain color, you can just buy a "little bit" instead of a whole yard). There are also hand-dyed wools which are pre-shrunk and ready to use. Also available are rug-hooking supplies and wonderful specialty yarns in a myriad of colors. The lower level displays scrapbooking as well as extensive rubber stamping and painting supplies.
Country Craft Cupboard offers classes for those wishing to learn new craft techniques. These classes are usually listed on their Web site and are for from three to 10 people. You may request a specific new class if you wish. Although usually held in the afternoon, evening classes are occasionally held, too.
You may sign up to receive a monthly e-mail newsletter or a quarterly one sent by regular mail. These newsletters announce upcoming classes, discounts and promotions.
Remember to mark you calendars for a couple special events: November 2nd will be the shop's annual Christmas open house, and their 11th-annual Pajama Party will be January 27, 2007. For this after-Christmas event, you must wear your nightgown, robe or PJs to be admitted and receive wonderful discounts on year-end clearance items. Be advised: regardless of the weather, shoppers begin lining up very early in order to get in when the doors open at 6 a.m.
Well, what about The Stitching House? What does it offer?
"The Stitching House basically carries supplies for those who do embroidery, counted cross-stitch and punch needle (a very popular new technique that resembles a very, very tiny hooked rug)," said Karen.
On a personal note, nine years ago, I was looking for a special fabric for the ring-bearer's pillow I wanted to cross-stitch for my son's wedding. The only local carrier of this linen fabric with a cross-stitch center was The Stitching House. Many little stitches later, it became a keepsake pillow, thanks to them.
The shop carries a wonderful array of threads in colors that could make a rainbow jealous. Also available are designs for counted cross-stitch projects by former local artist Diane Graebner and P. Buckley Moss. While visiting The Stitching House, you'll no doubt see employees working on a project or two. Feel free to ask them questions about their projects ... or yours!
Anything made by hand is special. So whether you're planning on giving a hand-made item as a Christmas present or keeping it yourself, be sure to go to downtown Berlin to get all your craft supplies.
Country Craft Cupboard -- 4813 E. Main St., Berlin, OH, (330) 893-3163, http://www.countrycraftcupboard.com; hours: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Stitching House -- This business has closed