It’s a Brand-New Stitches United and Benjamin Levisay is here to share with us on the Yarn Thing podcast with Marly Bird.
We really didn’t talk much about his background, perhaps because he may believe his story is so well-known. Here is the bio he sent: Benjamin Levisay, CEO of XRX, Inc., publishers of Knitter’s Magazine and XRX Books as well as promoters of STITCHES Expos, is a second-generation partner in this 30-year-old company originally started by his uncle, Alexis Xenakis, his father, David Xenakis, and their partner Elaine Rowley. Benjamin has been a part of the fiber industry since his family opened a yarn shop in Sioux Falls, SD when he was a small boy, an enterprise that later evolved into XRX. After a career in the software industry, Benjamin rejoined the company ten years ago as CEO and Director of Marketing & Sales. He is more commonly known as one of the hosts of STITCHES and board member of Halos of Hope. It is his intention to carry on the legacy of passion and commitment that characterized his family’s contributions to the fiber world.
Benjamin is just home from TNNA. TNNA is the The National Needlearts Association and their event is a gathering for Yarn Shop owners to visit and see what’s new that crafters will love and benefit from finding in their LYS. It’s a bit lighter responsibility for him there, as it’s not HIS event, so he gets to walk around and visit with folks in the industry, yarn companies, those that create the tools books and other products we appreciate as well as designers, teachers, indie yarn dyers. As CEO of XRX, which is a very small group of folks that are publishing Knitters (also known as Knitting Universe) Magazine (website: www.KnittingUniverse.com), also books like the recent Knit My Skirt by Candace Eisner Strick (Click HERE to listen to Candace’s recent visit on Yarn Thing) and the Stitches Events, Benjamin has been a VERY BUSY guy. His enthusiasm for all the wonderful and amazing parts of the Yarn or CRAFT community really has been highly contagious and we appreciate when we can hear him share what’s happening in South Dakota at the offices of XRX.
XRX is announcing a BRAND-NEW event, which a little bit different from recent but not far off the path for XRX historically. Beginning as a little yarn shop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, called The Golden Fleece, that offered knitting, weaving, bobbin lace, spinning, offering a publication called Prairie Wool Companion. Benjamin himself as a child helped teach weaving! Elaine Rowley (Benjamin introduces her as the “R” in XRX) and Rick Mondragon (Editor of Knitters Magazine) are avid quilters these days, so it’s natural that the discussion around the offices would turn to creating an event that offers MANY different types of fiber/textile type handcrafts. At Stitches South during the Student Banquet and Fashion show, Benjamin announced their plan for STITCHES United happening April 2017 to include Knitting, Crocheting, Dyeing, Felting, Quilting, Weaving, Sewing and CRAFT! Their hope is to give more of us an opportunity to try our hands at some of these as many of us do have have more than one craft we’re interested in! The excitement about going back to Hartford, Connecticut, where STITCHES East used to happen, is also exciting because vendors, teachers and students miss the venue and seeing each other, many who couldn’t travel to the other locations. They will be adding shorter classes, 90 minutes as well as the three-hour classes, which will give us more learning opportunities and still allow for time in the marketplace.
IN THE MEANTIME, What’s happening with events between now and then?
- STITCHES Midwest, happening August 4 thru 8, will get to have their Erin.Lane COMMEMORATIVE bags for the first time this year. (We cannot recommend enough that if you need this treat, PLEASE use the pre-order. As folks at STITCHES South will tell you, it was so disappointing to get to the desk and find they were SOLD OUT.) There will also be a celebration with Halos of Hope with Steven Be, featuring a lot of color and sparkle. Much of what we would like to know we will have to wait to hear, because Halos founder, Pam Haschke (wh0 was on recently as well) is away from the phone with a GOOD family emergency, so will hear more of this at a later date.
- STITCHES Texas, happening September 22 thru 25, Recognizing the 25th Anniversary of the STITCHES events, our focus, too, will be on Knitted Knockers. Barbara was on the program in January, and at Stitches West there was a great deal of fun collecting, stuffing, showcasing and just getting the word out about this wonderful organization. Benjamin says they are working on a ‘Branding’ event (that sounds like a TEXAN thing, doesn’t it?) and continuing to get the word out even more.
A couple of years ago, Benjamin stepped out of the social media spotlight, so showing where you can follow him as we usually do at this point. We miss him, but this has been to our benefit, because we can see that he is really making wheels spin, setting things in motion for us to enjoy. We can give you additional links to the ones we shared earlier in this post. XRX has a lot of news that will be coming out soon about Halos of Hope & STITCHES Midwest, Knitted Knockers & STITCHES Texas and STITCHES United. PLEASE sign up for their newsletter too so you don’t miss the news: KnittingUniverse.com/Newsletter
If you missed getting to hear this live, you may listen to it as an archived episode where it aired originally: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/yarnthing/2016/06/16/its-a-brand-new-stitches-united or in your favorite podcast catcher like iTunes or Stitcher Radio. There is also behind-the-scenes video of Marly available at her Facebook page, just for fun!