I just returned from a few action-packed days at the Craft and Hobby Association’s Winter 2009 Convention and Trade Show. CHA’s focus this year was introducing indie crafts to its members. On-hand to discuss this movement were the biggies: Faythe Levine of “Handmade Nation” fame, Kathy Cano-Murillo a.k.a. Crafty Chica, Leah Kramer of Craftster, and Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching. Faythe, Leah, and I gave a talk about this amazing community of crafters, and how they’re influencing the crafting world and industry. After the talk, over huge plates of pasta, we had a chance to catch up about what’s going on in these inspirational women’s lives. Each of them is devoted to crafting and making it a viable form of business as well as a rewarding lifestyle. After many long months spent traveling to film and edit the documentary, Faythe (who wrote an article about Cream City Ribbons for us in Volume 9) is on her way to Hamburg, Germany to screen the full-length final version for the first time. Congratulations, Faythe! Look for a screening at a theater near you in the coming months. Leah sold Crafster.org to NameMedia last spring and is able to get a steady paycheck and pay three staff members. Jenny, who’s going to start writing a business column for CRAFT starting with the spring issue, is forging ahead with plans for a new line of pre-stamped tea towels, that’ll make it even easier to stitch her cool designs. Kathy’s launching her second line of products with Duncan, and she and her husband Patrick, also a talented artist, have turned their living room into the office headquarters. Her booth at Duncan was packed with people waiting to get their hands sparkly with glitter projects. I caught up with Mark Montano, who showed us how to make faux stained glass in Volume 7 and customized party plates and coasters in Volume 10. Mark was there to sign his book, The Big Ass Book of Crafts. Everywhere we walked, people stopped and asked if he would take a picture with them. And of course, he obliged with pleasure, because he’s just that kinda guy. Also met up with our own Jenny Ryan, who proudly held up her beautiful new book Sew Darn Cute: 30 Sweet & Simple Projects to Sew & Embellish. You’ll find an excerpt, how to make the sweet Silly Snake in Volume 10, out on newsstands now. I got a chance to gab with Vicki Howell and Craftypod’s Diane Gilleland, both of who will contribute to our next issue, and we hatched some inventive new ideas for both CRAFT magazine and craftzine.com. I also got a chance to see Christine Haynes‘ brand new hot-off-the-presses book Chic and Simple Sewing. Even though Paris Hilton was floating around to shill her new line of scrapbooking paraphernalia, I know who the real stars were at this event, and I’m inspired by all of them. Write in and let us know if you were there and what you saw.