When people first hear the name of Jesse Cottrell’s embroidery business, Knotty Hoops, they usually chuckle. After she spells it out, they get it. Jesse’s business was born out of her imagination earlier this year after she spent years selling quilts. After realizing the market for high-end quilts was shrinking, she came across embroidery patterns on Instagram that inspired her. By watching YouTube videos, she taught herself how to embroider and found it a natural fit that unleashed her creativity and suited her lifestyle as a new mom.
Knotty Hoops offers a variety of items including earrings, broaches, and framed decorative pieces. Jewelry ranges in price from $25 earrings to $70 custom necklaces. Jesse creates designs, but most of her business comes from custom orders. All of her work is done by hand. Pet portraits are popular custom pieces. When people give her photos of their cats or dogs, she embroiders and frames on twill fabric. Jesse turns other images into decorative items as well. For example, one customer recently gave her a picture of her home and asked her to embroider and frame it.
The process starts with securing fabric such as canvas or twill in a hoop. The Knotty Hoop’s owner first chooses a color scheme and then etches an image with a needle through various embroidery stitches or traces a design with a pencil onto fabric and embroiders by thread painting. Thread painting, also known as needle painting, is a free motion technique using needle and thread with short and long stitches to create a shading effect. Once the design is complete, it can be framed or cut to size and transferred to a piece of jewelry.
Knotty Hoop’s most popular piece and Jesse’s favorite to make is wedding bouquet necklaces. After seeing a Canadian designer’s larger bouquet creations on the internet, she came up with a different twist: turning wedding bouquets into necklaces. When brides give her a picture of their bouquet, she matches the colors and flower types and stitches it into a necklace or a framed piece. A variety of stitches goes into the intricate, flower-clad pieces. The wedding bouquet necklaces make a unique wedding keepsake. “I’ve had brides tell me the way I stitched their necklace was more beautiful than the actual bouquet. I share several close-up macro shots of my work, and people tend to be blown away by the detail that goes into each necklace,” Jesse said.
Knotty Hoop’s products can be found on Etsy, their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Locally, Jesse consigns her jewelry at Wit & Whimzy on Front Street in Marietta. She was their featured artist last month and had the opportunity to talk to customers about her pieces. A highlight for the designer was meeting a woman who came to the artist event just to purchase a specific necklace of hers.
Additionally, Cottrell showcases her work at various state fairs and festivals. In May, she was a vendor at the Almost Heaven Etsy WV Market and will exhibit again at their fall event on November 25th at South Charleston’s Holiday Inn. There will be over 70 vendors. The Etsy WV event is a mix of jewelry, wreaths, wooden signs, felt flowers, succulents in terrariums, clothes, and everything in between. “When I was there in May, I don’t think I saw one customer leave empty-handed,” Jesse said. In Parkersburg, she’ll be selling her pieces at the Harvest Moon Festival at the City Park during the weekend of Sept. 16-17th.
Jesse designs are also on parade in her home. Images of cacti and flowers that adorn her walls from their hallowed fabric hoops reflect her enthusiasm for the world of hand embroidery. “I love the nature of embroidery because I get to be free with it, and it allows my imagination to play,” Cottrell said. Her artistic creations have not only found a place in her home but in her hand as well, creating a business she not only enjoys but that also brings happiness to others through its custom offerings.