The  25 Million Stitches project was conceived to put a light on the plight of refugees worldwide- with the goal of having 1 stitch for every refugee… all 25 million. The entire project has over 2000 completed panels with over 2100 stitchers contributing. One of my mentors, Penny Peters created a stunning piece.  Penny’s piece inspired me to contact the project and contribute to it as well.

Christina’s two finished panels for the 25 Million Stitches Project



My first panel was started by looking a images of refugees in life boats and planning out the design. The linen for the panels was sent to me from the project, so all the panels could be the same size. I knew I wanted to address the issues of the danger faced by refugees fleeing over water, partially due to my dentist having had this experience as a child leaving Vietnam. Since I wanted to have the panel speak to a global experience, I made the scene generic, as though it could be anywhere. I also specifically left out the figures, other than the life vests, to represent both those escaping and those who were lost in the attempt to flee for a better life.

I transferred the design on with pencil and started out with stitching the hills in the distance with a running stitch.
Next, I started filling in the life jackets & innertubes with satin and straight stitch, the boats with running stitch and the water with back stitch and running stitch.
Full Panel for 25 Million Stitches Project by Christina Fairley Erickson
The second panel was designed to have the feel of water and to stagger the words between the waves

I chose a font I liked for the panel and designed this second piece around the wording “Rivers of Tears; Oceans of Misery; Seas of Sorrow”. I used a simple running stitch for the wave pattern, then did a satin stitch over the backstitched outline of the letters . I then added detached chain stitches to look like tears. The project asked for participants to mark their name and home city/state or country as the final part for each panel, which I chose to do in stitching.

Second panel for 25 Million Stitches Project by Christina Fairley Erickson

If you’re interested in seeing more about the project, you can watch a wonderful presentation put on by the Surface Design Association with the SDA President Astrid Bennett and 25 Million Stitches project founder, Jennifer Kim Sohn discussing the project on YouTube. Both Penny’s panel and my lifeboat panel are shown within the video!

You can also see an artist’s rendition of what the exhibition was expected to look like when it opened at the Verge Center for the Arts in Sacramento here.

The show ran at the Verge Center from June 12 – August 22, 2021 and hopes to travel to other venues in the future.  Here is a video of the exhibit:

I just accompanied my honey to his 55th high school reunion back in his home state of Minnesota.  Visiting his cousins, going out with old friends and the culminating event of the reunion… I figured I was earning a few points and could throw in a little stop for myself, so I looked for a place that would peak my textile interest!  I found the perfect place at Stitchville U.S.A.


Stitchville U.S.A. in Minnetonka MN

Christina in front of Stitchville U.S.A. in Minnetonka MN

As some of you may know, I admit to one addiction… thread.  I’ve never seen such an amazing array of hand stitching threads!  The floor space of this shop is considerable… and filled not only with luscious stitch materials, but also needlepoint and cross stitch kits.  Here’s some of what you’ll find:

View of about 1/3 of the floor space!

View of about 1/3 of the floor space!

Look at all the delicious colors of silk and cotton fibers for stitch

Look at all the delicious colors of silk and cotton fibers for stitch

Rainbow Gallery's silk lame, neon rays & more

Rainbow Gallery’s silk lame, neon rays & more

Dyed wool squares for applique

Dyed wool squares for applique

Wool applique glasses cases kits

Wool applique glasses cases kits

Contents of the wool applique glasses cases kit

Contents of the wool applique glasses cases kit- so beautifully put together!

Gentle Art cotton sampler threads

Gentle Art cotton sampler threads

Not only do they have all sorts of kits and pre-printed canvas, they even have their own framing department!

My new purchases!

It’s always tough to pick out which threads to buy, but this time I have a piece in process that I was able to buy for.  I’m currently stitching an African Wild Dog, so all the lovely neutral colors will set it off beautifully.

If you want to visit Stitchville USA on your next trip to Minnesota, it’s located at:

Ridge Square South, 12945 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55305

Or check out their website at

Unfortunately with Covid, they aren’t holding their classes right now, but I’ll definitely check in the future when we head back to MN.  My husband has mentioned how he’d love to move back to Minnesota one day… I’ve never been tempted before, but with finding Stitchville, I may need to reconsider!

We continued our shopping trip in the Grand Bazaar with an eye on textiles.  Oya is a traditional Turkish craft of making lace, generally for edges of scarves but also for home decor or clothing.  The lace is made in several different ways, but most frequently as either needle lace or with a small crochet hook.  I’ve been fascinated with Oya since I first encountered it… one day I hope to find a craftswoman who makes it and get a lesson!  So in my research for places to visit, I found a shop that specializes in this art form called “IstanbulOya”.

IstanbulOya filled with needlelace and crocheted delights!

The proprietor at IstanbulOya was very friendly and had a fabulous selection of different Oya products.  Many of the Oya that are made are 3-D flowers, some quite delicate and others larger-scale art wear.  They do ship worldwide, so check out their website at  But if you make it to Istanbul, I highly recommend a stop at their shop if you’re visiting the Bazaar!  Their website has directions on how to find them from 3 of the main gates.

Another view of the IstanbulOya shop.

Since my next destination after Istanbul is to go to our grand-nephew’s wedding, I thought I’d pick up some silk scarves for the bridesmaids.  Prices are incredibly reasonable compared to comparable products in the US.  I was able to pick up a nice selection for both the wedding party and also the women family members I’ll be seeing from “Istanbul Pashmina”.

Selection of beautiful Turkish silk scarves

Son Ryan helped carry my purchases from the scarf store and more!

The guys will be getting Turkish delight and other Turkish delicacies.  I also found some shops that sold some embroidered scarves, which are quite gorgeous.  I picked up a few of these, too.


Embroidered scarf

Embroidery detail

Embroidered scarf

Embroidered scarf

The Bazaar is a feast for your senses… sights, smells, tastes sounds, the textures of the fabrics….  I could go on and on.  But I’ll leave you with a few more textile photos that will whet your appetite to get yourself to Turkey one day!

Beautiful Palestinian embroidered thobe.


Embroidered shoes

Fabric store

Another fabric store

Lace store

Lace store

Turkish gowns and vests with goldwork embroidery

More embroidered thobes

Bags, pillow shams and other embroidered housewares

One of the places most tourists put on their itinerary when they visit Istanbul is their famous Grand Bazaar.  There were a few things I was specifically looking for this trip, so we planned ahead.  Much of the bazaar is like other areas of the city- shops grouped together by similar products.  You have the spice bazaar, the book bazaar, fabric stores, etc.  There are 9 separate gates to to get into the Grand Bazaar, which is also called just the “covered market” in Turkish.  Entering one gate, we went through a metal detector and had a metal detection wand go over our bags and persons.  At another gate, they were checking temperatures for Covid.  The market wasn’t the usual heavily populated hustle & bustle, particularly as it was a Saturday, so I assume that Covid continues to concern both tourists and Turkish citizens alike.

Part of the Book Bazaar outside the halls of the Grand Bazaar.

The first place we stopped was the book bazaar. I was looking to see it they had any books on Turkish embroidery that I might not find in the states. As an aside… cats are everywhere in Istanbul.   People feed them regularly.  You see kittens frequently- something I find delightful and so uncommon in our society unless you go to a shelter or breeder.  Their policy on stray dogs is also very humane.  They spay or neuter them, tag them, and let them go free and the community feeds them.

Kittens playing amidst the books


I was ecstatic when I found “Cankiri’da Bulunan Sakli Hazineler” – OK, I didn’t know what the title said, but the photos are stupendous!  With beautiful pictures of museum pieces, I’m thrilled to add it to my library and happy to have it as another source for my studies of Turkish and Ottoman embroidery.

"Cankiri'da Bulunan Sakli Hazineler" cover of Catalogue of textiles and garments from the Cankiri Museum.

“Cankiri’da Bulunan Sakli Hazineler – A catalogue of textiles and garments from the Cankiri Museum.

Detail of Turkish embroidery

Detail of a bohça – an embroidered cloth used to wrap a parcel or bundle.

Detail of the embroidery from the bohça

I’ve been studying Turkish embroidery for my “Experimental Research for Advanced Design” graduate course at the Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts.  This includes getting to know the different types of items that have been embroidered as well as their stitches.  One of the common items is a yağlık.  Originally, this term referred to a rectangular piece of cotton or linen fabric, embroidered at both ends and used as a napkin at dinner. Yağlik was not necessarily an individual napkin, but used to catch the bread crumbs and food particles in front of diners seated around large food trays. Such elaborately decorated textiles could be used in the Ottoman palace or at the homes of the rich, but it was not practical for the ordinary to use them at meal times. Eventually, yağlik became an embroidered textile to be used on special occasions to decorate homes and gained use as a gift item. It was also a treasured part of the trousseaus of young women. Normally, it is 45-50 cm wide and about 130-140 cm long. The height of the embroidered area at both ends is about 15-20 cm. In this study, yaglik is defined as a decorated towel (not terry cloth, but plain, woven textile).

Detail of Turkish embroidery

Detail image from a yağlık (long napkin/towel) of Turkish embroidery from the Cankiri Museum.

Page showing a yağlık both full and detail images

Detail of the embroidery


They also had a pattern book that was quite nice, showing a color picture of a piece of contemporary Turkish embroidery (mostly from 2000-2015) and the pattern so you could make the piece yourself.  While I didn’t purchase that one, it was fun and interesting to see the contemporary designs.

Next… on to the textiles at the Bazaar!



My kids planned a little getaway from the big city, to help me get over my jet lag (there’s a 10 hour time difference between Turkey and my home in Seattle.) Most people in Istanbul don’t own cars, so we did as what Turkish families do and hired a car service to take us to Sapanca (pronounced Suh-pawn-cha), about a 2 hour drive from Istanbul. A lake region which isn’t well-known to non-Turkish tourists, it was a perfect place for a little R&R.

Here’s the interior of the van that picked us up… seating for 7 in back!

Riding in style- thankfully air conditioned, since temps were in the high 90’s!

While there we went to a Circassian breakfast which was served in an outdoor garden with a bubbling well. A Turkish breakfast is known for setting out lots and lots of little dishes, usually with a cheese platter, tomatoes, cucumbers, hot dishes, cold cuts and more. The Circassians are an ethnic group who were mostly exiled to Turkey and the Middle East in the aftermath of the Russian-Circassian war, which ran for 101 years from 1763-1864. As I read about the Circassian people, I was frankly horrified at my ignorance. But, that’s not really a topic for me to go into here… the breakfast spread was different and delicious, as you can see:

Daughter-in-law Zeyneb and I with our Circassian breakfast spread!

Beautiful setting of the Circassian restaurant

The Nazar is the blue circular or teardrop design with a blue glass field with concentric circles including a blue or black dot superimposed on a white or yellow center. It is used in Turkish culture to ward away the “evil eye”.


At times, you come across a “nazar tree” such as this one in the Circassian restaurant’s garden:

On the final day of our Sapanca stay, we went to the lake for a paddle boat ride.  They had all sorts of shops on the shoreline, including one that had sets of embroidered household sets, like table runners and doilies.  These are commonly used in Turkish households, under coffee and tea service, etc.  I picked out one set with silver metalwork.

Five pieces in my set, laid out on my son’s carpet

Detail of silver machine-worked embroidery designs

The silver thread is machine stitched on netting

The netting and silver embroidery is zig-zagged onto the velvet fabric

I also picked up this small carpet, machine made, but I enjoyed the color and design:

Next up: Back to Istanbul!

One of the nice things about a culture or city that the people walk everywhere is that stores for specific items are commonly grouped in the same area or district. So, while we were looking for a specific store recommended to us, we were able to wander in several in the same area which also catered to embroidery, knitting/crocheting, crafts and fabric.

We came across this shop, Madamella Home, wandering in after being attracted by their displays with clean, streamlined design.  The shop is multileveled, with different craft supplies each 1/2 story.  Here are some photos of their supplies:

The floor plan has half-stories, so here you can look down at beads and yarns and still see a bit of the upper floor.

Looking at notions and embroidery hoops lining the stairway walls with daughter Zeyneb patiently waiting for me!

My fav- embroidery threads!

A popular brand here in Turkey- Leylak- which has Suni Ipek and Polyester embroidery thread

I knew that Ipek means Silk, but found out that Suni Ipek is actually Artificial (Fake) Silk!  This heavier thread, similar to a #8 pearl cotton, is used to make Turkish Oya, either as needle lace or crocheted.

Son Ryan in the painting department is always happy to carry my purchases!

The friendly young man who helped me with my purchases!

I purchased some of these interesting offset oblong sequins, thinking them interesting and I hadn’t bought them in the other store.

This is a detail from an incredible embroidered robe of one of the Ottoman sultans at the Topaki Palace- I’m studying the embroidery and found the same shape as the sequins repeated on it. I’m hoping to find out the symbolism of this shape!

Perhaps a little flushed from the 100 degree F heat, ready to head back home.

Another shop in the district with gorgeous beads, many from semi-precious stones- I loved this display with the incredible amethyst crystal!

We’re heading next to Sapanca (pronounced Suh-pawn-cha) for a little R&R.  It’s about 2 hours drive East of Istanbul and not known as a tourist spot, but rather a place that locals go for a holiday.


Christina on her way to Istanbul with Kathryn Gauci’s novel “The Embroiderer”Picking a Real book out for travel is always important to me… I don’t want to rely on my iPad’s ebooks, as you never know whether you’ll be able to charge your device or have other technical difficulties.  So I’m starting my current adventure to Turkey with this one: “The Embroiderer” by Kathryn  Gauci.  It follows a family of Embroiderers from the early 19th century to the late 20th century during the downfall of the Ottoman Empire.
Some of you may recall that my daughter-in-law, Zeyneb, is Turkish-Canadian.  She and my son Ryan moved to Istanbul in March of this year, where Ryan is attending school for 2 years.  After having them live with us during the Co-vid lockdown so they could save money up for their living abroad, it was horribly difficult to see them go.  So, I got myself a ticket and here I am braving the sizzling August heat of Istanbul.
Before I go on a trip, I try to do some research into textile experiences, museums, shops, and people to possibly meet.  Since I visited Turkey twice before (most recently in March 2019, with my kids), I have already done a lot of research on their embroidery and textiles.  So this time I thought it could be fun to visit some shops frequented by modern Turkish Embroiderers.
I got in touch with an Instagram buddy who is a self-taught embroiderer here in Istanbul -@needleandbroomstick@needleandbroomstick She kindly gave me information on a few embroidery supply stores.  We decided to tackle going to one my first day here.  Now, in my defense, I didn’t really know exactly how large Istanbul is.  Compared to my native Seattle region of about 4 million (and only 775,000 in actual Seattle), Istanbul has a whooping 15.46 million people!  It was quite the adventure to traverse the city with walking, taxi, ferry and bus all playing their part.  Not only was the distance considerable, we actually crossed continents- that’s right, one part of Istanbul in in Europe, the other in Asia.
Christina Fairley Erickson and son on the Bosphorus, Istanbul
The ferry boat ride on the Bospherus was beautiful.  With the temperature in the high 90’s to low 100’s, and being unused to wearing a hijab, the cooling breeze was quite welcome and helped re-energize us.  The ferry took us to Kadıköy, only a short walk away from the district where there were several shops with embroidery, craft, yarn and fabrics.
Our first shop was one recommended: “Bursa İpek Masrafçı, Tuhafiye,”  They specialize in hand embroidery, but have lots of fun & fascinating supplies such as these:
Embroidery Store Front in Istanbul

Embroidery Store Front in Istanbul

Fabulous range of embroidery thread

And more…

Machine threads and ribbons

Yarns and more

Wonderful hand-dyed and variagated rayon embroidery thread (as a thread-aholic, I couldn’t pass up getting some of these delicious colors!)

Nazar - to ward of the “evil eye” beads

Nazar – to ward of the “evil eye” beads In lots of sizes

Cool offset punched sequins

Lots of notions

Son Ryan and Daughter Zeyneb goofing around! So thankful they would take me all the way to find this shop and Zeyneb helping as my interpreter.

Lovely lady who helped us!

Christina Fairley Erickson in front of Istanbul embroidery store

Happy with my purchases!

I found some exquisite finely woven white cotton that I purchased for dyeing and stitching with my students at such a price… only about $2/ meter!  And I couldn’t pass up getting some of the rayon embroidery thread, both in solid and subtle variegation.
We went on to another shop, but that will have to come in Part 2… jet lag has a way of sneaking up on you!




Part of the Gallery with the Natural Geometries Contemporary QuiltArt Show at the WA State Convention Center