XRX, Inc., producer of the Stitches shows, has claimed to file for bankruptcy. An announcement was made on the company’s website yesterday.

XRX was a second-generation family business run by Benjamin Levisay and Elaine Rowley. The company was founded over 40 years ago in the basement of Rowley’s yarn shop, The Golden Fleece, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with Levisay’s father, David Xenakis, and, Alexis Xenakis. The XRX stood for Xenakis Rowley Xenakis.

Company history

David Xenakis is a weaver who became world-renowned for his work on the rigid heddle loom, including his development of the Xenakis technique. The Golden Fleece became a nationwide hub for weaving instruction and innovation, bringing in teachers from all over the world and hosting a variety of demonstrations and events. When an article David wrote for Hand Woven Magazine was accidentally misprinted, the trio was inspired to begin publishing their own fiber-focused magazine, Prairie Wool Companion. They eventually closed the retail space to focus on publishing fiber magazines and books.

Expanding into events

In 1991, XRX officially expanded from publishing into events, hosting the first Stitches show in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Consumer knitting shows were fairly novel at the time and, Levisay told me in a 2017 interview, not everyone welcomed the idea. “According to my dad it looked like a scene from an old Frankenstein movie, with villagers coming after us with pitchforks,” he said, referring to local yarn stores in the area that were upset by the competition and the suppliers that were protective of their retailers. Eventually, the industry adapted. Stitches expanded, hosting consumer shows in various parts of the US for the next 30 years.

In 2017, XRX ceased publication of its last periodical, Knitters Magazine, which at that point was no longer profitable. The company was winding down the print book business as well, but investing in and expanding the Stitches shows to include a new concept, Stitches United, that brought in quilting, sewing, embroidery and cross stitch along with fiber arts.

“What I want is the local yarn, quilting, and sewing stores to feel welcome here and have me help them be successful here,” Levisay said in the 2017 interview referring to Hartford, Connecticut where Stitches United was taking place. “I want to throw a big party and introduce you to some new things and then leave. This should be a marketing opportunity [for the stores].”

At that time the Sioux Falls-based company had 14 employees, four of whom were related (Levisay’s wife worked in the accounting department).

The pandemic’s impact

The pandemic hit events-focused companies like XRX hit particularly hard. Stitches United 2020 and Stitches West 2021 were canceled along with a new trade show the company had planned for May 2020, Stitches Pro. XRX pivoted to offer virtual workshop events called Stitches at Home, each of which spanned the course two weekends. When in-person events started up again, XRX continued to run the virtual events along with the shows.

XRX seemed to be intending to continue as a going concern until very recently. In April Levisay posted plans to revive the company’s podcast, Fiber Hooligans. Stitches was continuing to sell booths for an upcoming show in Southern California as well as others that were planned for later in 2023.

The social media accounts for the company were taken down yesterday. In the website announcement, the company stated, “We are saddened that what we’ve built can no longer survive the present economic climate. As of today, XRX, Inc. no longer exists…We’re sorry we couldn’t make it work. Please believe us when we tell you we tried.” Although the company claimed to file for bankruptcy, no filing seems to have been made to date.

For many in the fiber community, the news was difficult to accept. “I was incredibly saddened to hear this,” says Laura Zander, co-founder of Jimmy Beans Wool. “It’s a major hit to the fiber industry and truly an end of an era.”

Editor’s Note June 1, 2023: We’ve updated the original headline and some of the original text of this article to reflect that Stitches has not yet actually filed for bankruptcy despite the company’s social media claim.

Abby Glassenberg

Abby Glassenberg


Abby co-founded Craft Industry Alliance and now serves as its president. She’s a sewing pattern designer, teacher, and journalist. She’s dedicated to creating an outstanding trade association for the crafts industry. Abby lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

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