The winds have been whirling in all directions at Thrums Books the last couple of weeks. We’re still celebrating the publication of Susan Schaefer Davis’s Women Artisans of Morocco, but we’re also finalizing the last details for two fall books we just sent to press, and now manuscripts are coming in for books we’ll bring out next spring (that’s 2019!). It’s like living in three different time zones. And also, there are book awards and author events and an unexpected prize.
Last weekend, the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) held its 30th annual Benjamin Franklin Awards ceremony in Austin, Texas. This esteemed indie book award program recognizes excellence in editorial content, photography, and design in over 50 categories. From about 1,500 entries, IBPA judges determine gold and silver winners in each category. It’s one of the highest national honors for independent publishers. And guess who won?
Three Thrums books received awards. Silk Weavers of Hill Tribe Laos: Textile, Tradition, and Well-Being by Joshua Hirschstein and Maren Beck was honored with the Gold Award in the Travel category; Embroidering within Boundaries: Afghan Women Creating a Future by Rangina Hamidi and Mary Littrell received a Silver Award in the Multicultural category, and Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands by Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez received a Silver Award in the Craft/Hobby category.
This is the fourth year that Thrums Books has earned both Gold or Gold and Silver Awards through the Benjamin Franklin program. Congratulations to our authors; you deserve this recognition. Congratulations also to Silk Weavers of Hill Tribe Laos designer Michael Signorella, Embroidering within Boundaries designer Susan Wasinger, and Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands designer Anne Clark. Congratulations and gratitude to Diana Hendrickson, the late Paula Lerner, and, of course, our dear Joe Coca for their photography, that gift of color and light.
A Different Kind of Prize
Thursday night, Embroidering within Boundaries coauthor Mary Littrell gave a lecture at the Avenir Museum on the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins. A crowd of 120 listened as she told stories of traveling in Afghanistan with coauthor Rangina Hamidi and publisher Linda Ligon while working on the book. She described Kandahar Treasure, the social enterprise Rangina founded to help generate income for women through the ancient embroidery technique of khamak. Mary spoke of the lives of the women in Kandahar, their tragedies and sorrows, their hopes and their triumphs.
After the lecture, attendees held samples of khamak embroidery in their hands, admiring the exquisite work, the tiny stitches, the sheen of ancient designs. They held autographed copies of Embroidering within Boundaries in their hand, gripped by portraits of the women and their children, engaged by profiles of women and girls embroidering to survive and sometimes thriving. Watching everyone, I felt as though we had been given a different kind of prize. Through stitch and thread and story, I saw how profoundly our books connect people to cultures and customs they would ordinarily never know. In the pages of our books, we win an awareness of the lives of women whose story is so different from ours, yet whose needle and thread is exactly the same.
Silk Weavers of Hill Tribe Laos, Embroidering within Boundaries, and Secrets of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting in the Peruvian Highlands are available at ClothRoads, Amazon, and at your favorite indie bookstore.
Khamak embroidered scarves and shawls stitched by the women of Kandahar Treasure are available at ClothRoads along with our Collector’s Edition of Embroidering within Boundaries.