Sunday, 27 March 2011

International Craft and Hobby Fair (UK)

Several weeks ago, I was asked by my good friend Rainy Day Crafter if I fancied accompanying her to the ICHF at the NEC in Birmingham. As I had never previously attended anything like that, but have always wanted to, I jumped at the chance.

The plan for the big day (last Thursday) was that I would catch the train at 08:45, and Rainy Day Crafter would board the train a few stops further down the line. Unfortunately, I overslept, so it was a matter of me having to meet Rainy Day Crafter at the NEC itself, by which time her feet and legs were aching, and in dire need of a rest.

The ICHF was vast, with plenty to see. The tickets allowed entry into three separate events, all under the same roof (Hobbycrafts, Sewing for Pleasure, and Fashion Embroidery and Stitch). Because my incredibly late arrival had given Rainy Day Crafter plenty of time to look around, she was able to point me in the direction of a couple of stalls that she thought I might like.

The first stall I visited had a selection of gorgeous blackwork kits on display. There were so many that I liked the look of, and I felt frustrated that my funds were limited. After much thought, I treated myself to BW194 Dancing in the Dark by designer Jill Cater-Nixon (Classic Embroidery), and BW210 Lady and Dog (Holbein Embroideries).

BW194 Dancing in the Dark
BW210 Lady and Dog

I then had a look at the Michael Powell stall, and was thrilled to see the man himself. I had to refrain from shreiking, "It's you! My mother loves your work! Please can I have your autograph?" Lol.

Later, after spotting the Itch to Stitch workshop by the Cross Stitch Guild, Rainy Day Crafter was shown the basics of blackwork on Evenweave fabric, and I was shown how to improve my French Knots. Afterwards, we were both given a sample of Evenweave fabric, a selection of different-coloured threads, and a basic blackwork pattern. From a distance, we also got to see the stitching goddess, otherwise known as Jane Greenoff.

The ICHF was absolutely crammed full of people, but I did manage to take some photographs of items made by members of the Quilters Guild.


Aside from the fact that I arrived late at the NEC, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and would very much like to attend another ICHF event. Ideally, after I've had time to save up a considerable amount of money!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Irish Hang-Up & St. Patrick's Day Greeting Card

At the beginning of last month, I had a brainwave of sorts (yes, I do get them occasionally). I have a friend living in Ireland, and I thought it might be a lovely surprise to stitch a St. Patrick’s Day card for her, especially as I had never previously stitched anything for her. I looked on the internet to see if I could find a kit, or a pattern, but was unable to find anything that took my fancy. However, I persevered, and eventually found a pattern on the Arts and Designs website for an Irish Hang-up. The design was bright, bold, and cheerful-looking, and just the sort of thing I had been looking for. In addition, it looked incredibly simple to stitch (no fractional stitches), so I went ahead and ordered it.

I was approximately half-way through stitching the design when I realised with horror that I had overlooked some important information in the instructions. When I had cut my piece of Aida, I had allowed for excess, but not as much as I should have done. I put what I had stitched to one side, and started afresh with a larger piece of Aida.

Below is the picture of the Irish Hang-up, which is on the cover of the pattern leaflet. As you can see, ribbon has been secured to the felt, which has been tied in a bow.
Irish Hang-Up designed by Diane Arthurs

I decided against using ribbon, and instead opted to use a hanger, even though I had never previously stitched anything that had required me to use a hanger. Anyway, as luck would have it, I happened to have one stored away, which had been a freebie with one of my stitching magazines, and seemed perfect.

Before I could progress to using the hanger, I had to secure wadding to a piece of card, place the design over the wadding, and then secure the excess Aida to the back of the card. I found this to be quite tricky, and in hindsight think that I should have used thicker card.

The next step was to cut a piece of felt, remembering to allow enough excess to secure it to the hanger. I then had to secure my stitched piece to the felt, and trim the felt with pinking shears, which I also found quite challenging.

As you will see from the pictures below, the hang-up I made looks far from perfect, but not too bad for a first attempt.

Front of the Irish Hang-Up

Back of the Irish Hang-Up

You may be wondering what I did with the stitched piece I had put aside. Well, after completing the design (minus the wording), I made it into a St. Patrick’s Day card, but this also proved challenging. I had wanted to use a double-fold card with a rectangular aperture, but had been unsuccessful in finding anything suitable. Therefore, it was a matter of having to use my initiative and make one.

I opted to use A4-sized glossy photo card, folded in half. I used an image I had found on the internet, and printed it on what was to be the front of the greeting card, before cutting the aperture. Having positioned and secured the Aida, I then secured white card to the inside of the greeting card, to conceal the back of the Aida. 
St. Patrick's Day Greeting Card
Believe it or not, I've had this blog entry saved as a draft for just over a week. Because I didn't want to risk spoiling the surprise for my friend, I wasn't prepared to publish the blog post until I was sure that she had received it. I'm pleased to report that it arrived today, in time for St. Patrick's Day.
My mother and Rainy Day Crafter were both in on the surprise, and although they had seen photographs of the hang-up, I don't think they had seen one of the card.

By the way, if you click on any of the images above, a new window will open displaying a larger image.

80th Birthday Dilemma & WIP

I am currently experiencing something of a dilemma. My dad has a cousin who will be celebrating her 80th birthday during the Easter weekend. We don’t have a close relationship, and I seldom see her. However, I’ve been invited to a birthday ‘do’, and because it’s such a milestone birthday, I have been thinking that perhaps it would be a nice gesture to make a stitched greeting card.

During recent days, I have been looking on the internet for a suitable pattern or card kit, but just cannot seem to find anything that leaps off the page at me, and makes me think, “Wow!” As I have a vast collection of Cross Stitch Card Shop and Cross Stitch Crazy magazines, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find something that takes my fancy.

Putting the above aside, my latest WIP is Dimensions Gold Collection Petites – Golden Puppy.

Dimensions Gold Collection Petites - Golden Puppy
It is being stitched on 18-count ivory cotton Aida, and consists of full cross stitches, half cross stitches, and a couple of French knots, in addition to back stitches. For reasons that I cannot fathom, the masking tape I’m using (to attach the Aida to my No-Sew Roller Frame) doesn’t seem to want to adhere to the Aida. I’ve not experienced this problem previously, so I’m completely stumped. I even tried using double-side adhesive tape (in addition to the masking tape), which proved to be a waste of time. As a result of the problems I’m experiencing, I fear it could be a while before my WIP is completed.

All being well, I will be posting another blog before the end of this week, about a couple of items that I recently completed.  As the saying goes, watch this space!