Stitches review and yarny goodness

Back in February I attended the Craft Hobby & Stitch International trade show at the NEC in Birmingham. And as promised in my previous post I wanted to share some more details with you.

Stitches (as it is most commonly known) is a trade show for the art, craft, fabric, needlecraft and hobby industries. Now in it’s 39th year I have attended the show for the past 16, mainly as an exhibitor during the 10 years I worked at DMC Creative World. As well as being a demonstrator (the showcasing new products and techniques kind, not the placard waving kind!) I would look around the show to check out new trends, products and what our competitors were up to.

The DMC stand back in the day.

The DMC stand back in the day.

The giant photo of a sampler you can see here is one I designed!

The giant photo of a sampler you can see here is one I designed!

Since being freelance I have continued to visit, where possible, as an opportunity to catch up with past colleagues, fellow designers, and meet the magazine editors and companies I do work for.

Over the years it has been interesting to see which particular craft, hobby or product was the most popular at the show – there was the scrapbooking/papercraft/cardmaking phase, the cross-stitch and needlework phase and the fabric phase – but I am always hopeful that it will be a knitting, crochet and yarn filled show! So when I saw this display just outside the exhibition hall, my hopes were raised even further.

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Luckily I was not disappointed. There were over 20 yarn companies exhibiting, the most I’ve seen in a long while. Most of the main players from the UK were there including; James C Brett, Designer Yarns, King Cole, Rooster Yarns, Sirdar, Stylecraft, UK Alpaca, Wendy and Twilleys of Stamford. Alongside international brands including; Adriafil, Artesano, Artyarn, Bergere de France, Lion Brand and MillaMia.

Unfortunately I was unable to take photos of all the wonderful knitted garments and gorgeous yarns on these stands (exhibitors don’t take too kindly to it!). Suffice to say it was all very inspiring.

One stand where I could take photos though was DMC’s. Having long produced cotton threads for crochet they have now added a collection of knitting yarns with contemporary and stylish pattern support.

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Late last year I was commissioned to design and knit the following pattern leaflets for DMC and I was interested to see how they had been received.

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And to have a squish of the yarns!

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(Apologies for the quality of some of these photos!)

It struck me whilst gazing at these wonderful colour palettes of yarny goodness how important it is for me to touch and stroke the yarn. It’s all about the texture, colour and smell (!) all of which are very hard to glean from a printed shade card or website. For all these reasons, and more, the Love Your Yarn Shop campaign, culminating in Yarn Shop Day on 3rd May 2014, is bang on! I’ll write more about this and my involvement in a future post.

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Very positive meetings were had at Stitches, ensuring plenty of work for the next few months, and I left feeling happy and bouyant with renewed excitement for my craft. ♥

Thanks for stopping by, I really do appreciate it and I’ll see you again soon.

Zoë x

P.S. I realise that since starting this blog I haven’t exactly been prolific and those I have posted recently have all been  about February! I have a couple more things to catch up on and then I promise I’ll be back in the here and now!

That was the month that was…….February 2014

Hello again.

I realise we are now nearly half way through March but I wanted to do a round up of what went on in February; a little retrospective of last month before I forget!

In February I have been…………

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© King Cole Ltd

© King Cole Ltd

Knitting Pandas for a King Cole pattern leaflet.

Knitting how tos and step by steps for a book proposal.

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Visiting the Craft, Hobby and Stitch International (Stitches) show at the NEC in Birmingham. (More about this in a future post.)

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Enjoying seeing my Gillian the Tortoise toy in Let’s Knit magazine.

© Let's Knit

© Let’s Knit

Spotting knitty references at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

imageA giant knitted hat in the Olympic Park!

imageAntti Koskinen, the Finnish Coach, knitting at the top of the ski slope. He is working on a communal scarf project that the Finnish Olympic crew will all be adding to as a gift for Finland’s summer Olympic team competing in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. I’m not sure why they will need a scarf in Brazil in summer but it created a lot of interest in Sochi!

Liking the patchwork references on everything.

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Find the ideas and inspiration behind it here

Enjoying the first signs of spring in my garden.

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Enjoying time out with family visiting a local country park.

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Taking time out to enjoy simple pleasures: Earl Grey tea, hot buttered toast, my toadstool patterned Cath Kidston mug and plate and a little bit of granny square crochet!

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Wearing my crochet cowl, a LOT.

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The pattern will be on here soon!

Reading The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones – odd. And Ten Years On by Alice Peterson – lovely.

Watching Call the Midwife, One Born Every Minute (there’s a theme here!) and The Great British Sewing Bee on TV. The Lego Movie (‘everything is awesome’!) at the cinema and Priscilla Queen of the Desert musical (amazing!) at the theatre.

That was the month that was February 2014.

Thanks for stopping by, I really appreciate it and I hope to see you again soon.

Zoë x

Rabbits! Or should that be Pigs?

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Rabbits!

This is what would be yelled, usually by my mum, in our house in the morning of the first day of the month. White rabbits if there wasn’t an ‘r’ in the month. It is supposed to ensure good luck for the duration of that month.

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These images are from one of my favourite childhood books and it was lovely to have the excuse to read the story and enjoy the pictures again on this sunny first morning in March.

And so rabbits to you and yours or should that be pigs?

Apparently March 1st is National Pig Day in the United States. A day to celebrate all things piggy!

It seems apt, therefore, that I should write my first post today as I have a certain pig much to be thankful for.

Poppy2Poppy Pig is a sweet knitted pig that appeared in and on the cover of my first book Knitted &Felted Toys published in 2007.

Knitted in garter stitch in soft and lofty Rowan Calmer (sadly no longer available but updated for this book) she quickly became the perfect cover star with her heart-shaped trotters and cute beret and scarf.

It was a happy accident that I ever came to write this book (more about that another time) and even more of a surprise was how popular it became and the kickstart it gave my freelance career.

I therefore owe a lot to this little pig and her recognisable face which is why I use her image as my avatar on all my social media profiles and my business card.

Thank you Poppy Pig!

I realise I’ve come a little late to the blogging party – no news there, I’m usually late to most things! – but I have been a long time fan, and reader, of many other blogs and have had ‘setting up my own blog/website’ on my ‘to do’ list for a long time.

I was also a little worried (another thing I’m very good at – worrying) that there wasn’t room for yet another knitting, crocheting and making blog – there are a lot of blogs out there written by people I think I was separated at birth from! But, as I work on my own at home every day, I wanted another way of connecting with fellow craftspeople, designers and makers of my patterns as well as better recording what I design, make and do and honing my photography skills (these need work!).

I can’t promise that I’ll write at length or very often, however, I can promise posts about my design work, knitting, crocheting, making and sharing patterns. There will also be posts about my love of interiors, rooting around vintage and charity shops, collecting vintage and retro homewares, fair weather gardening, my haberdashery and fabric addiction and my inspirations. There may even be snippets about family life, day trips and holidays and my naughty cat!

You will also find I am prone to overusing exclamation marks!!

I’ll leave you with some more rabbit and pig pics. Thank you for stopping by, I really appreciate it and I’ll see you again soon.

Zoë xx

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