Sunday, April 3, 2016

Travel Maps to the Rescue

Craft Fair Season is upon us. Well it is the right season for SOME crafters. For knitting - I have found that the spring is never my friend. It is warming up, the sun is shining and most ladies are excited about pulling out their skirts and flip-flops. They are NOT excited about picking up a shawl or scarf for next fall.

I already expect lower sales in the Spring and I still enjoy a chance to display my items and hear, "Oh you make such lovely things." Even if those kudos don't translate into dollars. It is my time to exhibit my designs and work.

Last year the items most requested were: boot cuffs and cowls. At my last craft fair (in the fall) I quickly sold-out of my entrelac cowls and had requests for boot cuffs so I got to work and made more but (of course) the spring craft fairs are just not as conducive to wooly knits.

Thankfully - my visitors seemed to like my cross stitch travel maps. I have long wanted some kind of record of my travels. Being a military family we have covered most of the US and now that we are stationed in Germany we are quickly covering most of Europe too. I thought it would be great to have a map that we could fill-in over time and show off our travels. I have seen large travel maps with pins to track your locations but 1) they are very expensive and 2) they aren't as customizable. 

I searched and searched online for a pattern to use but couldn't find one. So I made one. And I figured if I want one then maybe others would want one too. I made my pattern, tested it for myself and invited a group of ladies over from my husband's unit to test it for me too. They loved it but a few of them didn't finish. They got hung-up with the initial black outline of all the countries. 

I had to make it easier. If the initial outlines were giving them problems - could we just skip that step? I printed the pattern straight on the fabric and VOILA! problem solved. Now they can just fill it in using whatever color scheme they want. 

But what if they don't know how to get colored thread or don't want to pay $2/color to fill-in their map? Why should they have to pay $3 for 10 needles when they will only use one? So I purchased a variety of colors and made a sample pack of colors with enough to cover 1-2 countries/states per color. I included a needle and figured I had better include some basic directions in each pattern. 

I thought about offering a little class for anyone that wanted it and then I had one of those brilliant shower ideas: wait a minute - I have an iPhone - why not just make a little video tutorial? So now each pattern has a link to a video tutorial to get them started and talk them through some of the snags they might hit. 

While showing-off my new design to family and friends, my cousin demanded a North America Version. Why should us overseas military spouses have all the fun? So I kindly obliged and developed a North America Version with my home province of Manitoba featured prominently. Rugby North Dakota might be the geographical center of North America but Elkhorn Manitoba is the center of my map!

I'm so excited to see their finished products. I colored in my examples using a variety of colors but I'd really like to see someone do a monochromatic color scheme. Dark red is where we lived, medium red is where we have visited and light red is where we just drove through or stopped at an airport?? Blue is where he has been, Red is where she has been and purple is where they have been together? The possibilities are exciting. I included my contact information with each pattern because I want to see and share all the finished results. 

I still have the original cross stitch patterns with Aida cloth and those are available as a kit as well and surprisingly they are doing just as well as the pre-printed fabric option. 

Hopefully these maps will help alleviate my boredom at Spring craft sales as well as offer my military friends around the world (and my bossy cousin) a chance to track their travels. 


  1. I would love this pattern with Europe. You may already know this, but if you sell your patterns on something like etsy you can send them as a PDF pattern over Mail :) A travel map seems like a fun idea to do, I hope you make the entire world.

  2. They will be available soon. As a military spouse stationed overseas there are quite a few rules to follow. I expect I will have approval to start selling them soon. I'll be sure to let you know when that happens.

  3. Thank you:)in the previous post I meant you could send the PDF AS an email, not Mail:p i look forward to it and hope it won't be too tricky for you.
    PS, i found you from Ravelry.