On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about folk embroidery with my guest Krista West.

Krista delights in bringing ancient beauty to the modern world with embroidery designs inspired by traditional Mediterranean folk textiles. Introduced to traditional folk embroidery in Greece, she fell in love with the vibrant colors and historic motifs and began stitching textiles for her own home. She quickly realized there was still much interest in this historic craft and opened Avlea Folk Embroidery to share the beauty of folk embroidery with others. She happily spends her days in the workshop of her 1923 home in Salem, Oregon, designing patterns and making kits for customers and shops around the world.

Avlea patterns can be used to adorn day-to-day objects like this cloth for a bread basket.

We begin this conversation with Krista talking about growing up in Oregon. Her family had a cabin in the woods and she spent a lot of time making her own fun, including doing all sorts of crafts. Krista married her high school sweetheart and went to work in his family’s pharmacy after high school for a few years. She talks about finding the Greek Orthodox Church and being attracted by the multi-modal forms of worship, including and especially the textiles.

Krista trained to become an ecclesiastical tailor and for 20 years she made priestly vestments, traveling to Greece on sourcing trips. Krista explains what drew her to this work and what this business entailed. She also talks about having a website in the early days of the web.

It was on one of those sourcing trips that Krista was introduced to the folk embroidery of Greece. She brought a design home and, when friends saw it and wanted the pattern, she realized she had another business on her hands. That was the beginning of Avlea Folk Embroidery.

Krista talks about the meaning of the work “avlea” and why she chose it for her business name. She tells the story of one of her first trade shows, The Nashville Needlework Market, where she got some valuable feedback from retailers and from Susan Fitzgerald of Stitched Modern.

Krista’s forthcoming book, Everyday Folk.

Krista’s new book, Everyday Folk, will be released at the end of August 2024. Pre-orders are open now. We talk about how she chose to work with David & Charles as a publisher and what the process of pitching and writing a book was like.

In a relatively short time, Krista has built an impressive Instagram following. She shares her strategy and approach to sharing content on Instagram.

And, of course, I ask Krista to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Krista recommends:

Keep up with Krista on her website and on Instagram.