From May 12 to 14, hundreds of RiverCenter guests will be in stitches. Or rather, will be performing stitches, as the traveling Stitching Festival, sponsored by the Consumer Arts & Teaching Show (CATS), reaches the Quad Cities.

This celebrated festival has moved around the country since 1999, and boasts a premier gathering of world-renowned designers and teachers, all of whom will provide classes, lectures, and demonstrations featuring the newest products and latest trends in stitching and needlepoint. The festival's Midwest show has routinely taken place in Des Moines, yet due to consumers' requests for a change of locale, and the fact that the festival had finally outgrown its previous venue, Davenport's RiverCenter will house this year's event, which will include everything from a shopping mart - where leading designers will unveil their latest creations - to courses for stitchers of every skill level.

For anyone assuming that a stitching festival might be of greater appeal to their grandmothers than themselves, festival manager Liz Diehl says that nothing could be further from the truth. As Diehl states, "We tend to see many women in our classes who are in the health-services field, education fields, and accounting."

And even girls not yet in the workplace are discovering the joys of this pastime: "Knitting is crossing all barriers today with young girls starting their first projects at slumber parties," Diehl says. She adds that stitching has moved far beyond its traditional, old-fashioned connotations, and that, for many, it's become far more than a diverting way to pass the time. "Stitching today," she says, "is both a home-décor and fashion statement, and Prevention magazine recently stated the therapeutic benefits of stitching to relieve stress."

A complete list of events will be posted daily at the RiverCenter's Class Information Desk, and more information on the festival itself can be attained by calling (616)447-0049, or by visiting the festival Web site at (

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