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Ever since Annemiek Koning became hooked on cross-stitching, she has had an intense desire to open her own needlework shop. However, life proceeded in a different direction and instead she acquired degrees in marketing and communications. Since graduating she has worked in that field. The thought of having a shop was never far away though. She states, "Now that I have been able to at least partially fulfill my dream (the shop is mostly mail order), my previous education is really helpful when it comes to marketing and advertising."

Stitched by Reina, Annemiek's Mother, and her Friend

The idea for De Handwerk Boetiek started in earnest about a year ago. For some time Annemiek had been helping out a friend and needlework shop owner, at gatherings of the Dutch Sampler Guild. She was able to sell her designs there along with helping her friend out with customers. While there she was often asked if she sold the specialty threads for her designs. Alas, the reply was that she was only a designer and not a shop, especially as there are so few stores in the Netherlands where the threads she was employing were available.

Open Heart
Designed by The Drawn Thread
 Better Not Pout
Designed by Shepherd´s Bush

Annemiek saw a need that was just begging to be filled. She envisioned her shop as one where she would be able to sell all the specialty products that are available in the US. She explains, "It took 6 months of careful planning and a lot of help from my parents, Henk and Reina, but in November 2002 we held our first 3 day Open House. For two days we worked like crazy to get everything ready. We made wall hangings for the closets so that I could pin my own needlework to it, completely rearranged the living room, set up different areas according to seasons and tried to estimate for how many guests we would need to have coffee and snacks available. It became a running joke that if hardly anybody would show up, we would at least have three days of stitching."

Designed by The Sweetheart Tree

(Left to right, Blueberry, Victorian Floral and Strawberry Patch )

Fortunately, they never did have the remotest opportunity to pick up a needle during those 3 days. The Grand Opening was a huge success as over 240 people visited her parents' home, in which the shop is situated. What Annemiek enjoyed hearing most was, "'I have never seen these kinds of patterns and materials before.' She continues, "They were amazed at what was available in the needlework industry. Compared to the US a lot of materials like overdyed cottons, metallics, beads, buttons, charms are simply not known here. It was really nice to show them the projects by designers whom I had become to known over the years: Shepherd´s Bush, Just Nan, Drawn Thread, Bent Creek, Heart in Hand, The Artist´s Collection, Ewe & Eye & Friends etc."

Workshop in Progress
at De Handwerk Boetiek

Annemiek's initial idea was for the shop to supply materials by mail order only, but so many people begged her to open at least one day each month that in January they began accommodating stitchers by opening the first Saturday of each month. Her parents gracefully offered their living room as a venue and it has been successful ever since. Having the shop in a homey environment is definitely a plus, as many customers like to drop in and sit at the table to chat and show their latest projects. "And who knows," Annemiek muses, "Maybe one day De Handwerk Boetiek will be in a permanent location." With all Annemiek's talents, ambition and resourcefulness, we have no doubt that such will be the case!

De Handwerk Boetiek carries a large selection of American designers like Just Nan, The Drawn Thread, Bent Creek, Elizabeth´s Designs, Black Swan Designs, Heart in Hand, Lizzie Kate, Prairie Schooler, M Designs, The Workbasket, Sekas & Co, Trail Creek Farm, Brightneedle, Indigo Rose, The Goode Huswife and The Cricket Collection. Annemiek is working on her European designer section. Naturally they have all of the designs of The Needle´s Content available, but also chartpacks from Patricia Ann Designs and leaflets from Keeping Traditions.

Satin Blossoms
Designed by Just Nan
May Workshop

As far as threads go, Annemiek stocks the full embroidery floss line from Venus (the European alternative to DMC). Their Caron Collection range is growing every month. They inventory Waterlilies, Wildflowers and Watercolours. Annemiek says, "People are really excited about them. They just love it that they can use one strand and still have color changes. I have two customers now who are stitching the Provence Sampler from Butternut Road and each is doing it in a different color. It will be interesting to see how they look when they are done."

Provence Sampler
Designed by Butternut Road

Fabrics range from 18-count linen to Jobelan to Country French linens to Zweigart linens. At the moment Annemiek is looking into carrying Rico fabrics as they have patterned fabrics in soft colors, which are perfect for tablecloths, napkins and pillows. They will soon carry "church linen," a 50-count linen that was originally used for church linens, but is wonderful to use for cross-stitch as well. She also plans to carry Vaupel & Heilenbeck linen banding. This linen banding is available mostly in 28 count but can be as wide as 14inches. Annemiek adds, "For quite some time stitchers would only use white, antique white and ecru fabrics, but as a result of fabrics used in designs these days, they realize that colored fabrics can really add something special to your project." For embellishing projects, the shop stocks buttons from Just Another Button, beads and treasures from Mill Hill and charms from By Jupiter should be arriving shortly. As an extra service to their customers they kit up some patterns with the fabric, specialty threads and any embellishments that are called for. It is an especially inviting way to introduce customers to the specialty threads and it gives them the opportunity to stitch a project for a reasonable price.

I love Ewe
Designed by Trail Creek Farm

On June 14th, the shop will be hosting its very first "Lock In." From 3 -9 p.m. the guests will be working on special projects, which are destined to be a surprise. Snacks and drinks will be provided as well as dinner. All participants are sure to be in for a great time. There will also be door prizes and other special offers that stitchers will not be able to resist.

In September, they will again be hosting an Open House. On the first weekend of the month, the shop will be open from Friday through Sunday. They will showcase models stitched during the last year, new workshop models will be displayed and everything that from the Charlotte market will be arranged on a special table.

Apart from their usual first Saturday of the month retail days, they will be participating in several local markets. In November they will have special Christmas Days. Stitchers are invited to drop in and pick a project that they would like to work on. Annemiek will provide any help where needed. Customers can choose from Christmas projects, specially kitted for the season or select a pattern of their choice with all the necessary materials included.

Parfait Needle Pillow
Designed by Indigo Rose
April Workshop

The shop's Dutch customers can subscribe to a free Newsletter that is sent out three times a year and keeps stitchers up to date on any events that are planned as well as all the workshops and new patterns that have come in, as other juicy tidbits. Annemiek is working on setting up a newsgroup for their international customers so that they will know what is going on as well. International customers who would like to be informed about future events should send an e-mail to Annemiek at the address below.

International customers can also order from De Handwerk Boetiek. They can choose between two methods of payment and Annemiek will ship anywhere in the world. In the future they are planning on doing some special projects for both Dutch and International customers.

Annemiek markets her own designs under the name The Needle´s Content. Customers of the shop are known to have a sneak previews of upcoming designs as she sometimes brings them to the shop while she is still working on them. And naturally they can see all the models during days De Handwerk Boetiek is open.

A Stitcher´s Heart
Designed by Sekas & Co.
March Workshop

The shop offers one workshop every month. So far they have presented, amongst others, two of the heart designs by Sekas & Co. The designs are stitched on 18-count linen and provide a great introduction to specialty stitches. It also provides Annemiek with the opportunity to let her customers work with the Watercolours threads. In April, the workshop featured The Indigo Rose Parfait Needle Pillow, which is stitched with Waterlilies and Soie Cristale. It was a huge success. Annemiek is currently working on a program for the fall. She would like to introduce her customers to other techniques besides cross-stitch, beginning with a Hardanger course in September. Also scheduled are workshops in darning and blackwork. She says, "There are so many techniques in needlework that it will be a challenge to offer as much as possible to my customers."

A Winter´s Tale
Designed by Shepherd's Bush

Apart from running the needlework shop and its mail order business, Annemiek is a professional designer herself. As if that were not enough to do, she is also employed as head of the Communications department for the Faculty of Economics in Groningen. She confesses, "It is sometimes a bit hectic, but my parents are always willing to help out. And fortunately I have model stitchers who do an incredible job, thus freeing me to come up with new ideas. And Miss Murphy oversees all activities, quite literally."

Miss Murphy

For any stitchers in the area who would like to visit the shop, they will be open on July 5th from 10am to 4pm. E mail or phone for directions. Annemiek will be absolutely delighted to meet you.

De Handwerk Boetiek (The Handwork Boutique)
Plutolaan 523
Groningen, The Netherlands
Phone: 0031 (0) 50 571 97 59
Fax: 0031 (0 50 50 161 48
E mail: info@dehandwerkboetiek.nl
Website: http://www.dehandwerkboetiek.nl

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