I was up in Birmingham last week to attend CHSI Stitches – one of the largest craft trade fairs in Europe. Although I was there with my Ragged Life wares to sell my kits and tools into craft shops, department stores and garden centres all across the country (yes, I’m trying to start a rag rug revolution), I did take a little time out of my busy days to look around the show and see what cool new things are coming up in the world of craft – don’t say I don’t treat you!
If you happened to have read my run through of CHSI 2017 last year, you’ll remember that I was a little bit disappointed that there weren’t more innovative products for contemporary crafters (a lot of the stuff seemed quite dated and behind-the-times if I’m honest) but this year was soooo much better.
Below are some of my highlights from CHSI Stitches 2018 – I hope you find them as interesting and inspiring as I did.
p.s. Full disclosure, I’m a sucker for modern makes and I love a good kit!
HIGHLIGHTS FROM CHSI STITCHES 2018:
I mean obviously one of the highlights of the fair was our own Ragged Life Stand 🙂 I’m totally biased but we put a lot of effort into making our space feel fun, inviting and cosy and I like to think that we hit the nail on the head…
Our stand was located in the “Rising Stars” or “Bright Sparks” part of the fair, which was reserved for new businesses that are making a splash in the craft industry (ooh la la!) We were, therefore, in excellent company and our neighbours made the fair so much more enjoyable. Like last year, I had the wonderfully talented Ruth from The Make Arcade nearby:
Immediately next to us, we had the lovely ladies from Octagon Distribution. They take amazing products from the US market and bring them to us Brits. Below are a few of their cool products which my mum and I were lusting after:
The first product that I was super excited about was their Minute Weaver from Purl and Loop. It was a tiny little weaving loom designed to self teach the very basics of weaving in 30 minutes or less. I think I may well invest in one of these to make some woven rag rug swatches – so cute!
Another great product from our next-door neighbours was their “Soak” range from Canada. Soak is modern laundry care from all the delicates you care about most (like handknitted items, quilts and felt products), but I was particularly impressed by their Flatter spray, which completely flattened cottons so they didn’t need to be ironed pre-sewing. Carmen showed me how to finger press a piece of cotton perfectly. I like that handy cheat!
Another familiar face from last year was Corinne Lapierre who makes the most adorable felt kits. She had a few new products this year including some wool felt embroidery kits, which you can see some photos of below. Corinne was really sweet and let me borrow her steps to put my rag rug bunting up.
Also in the Bright Sparks area was Un chat dans l’aiguille from France. There were quite a few embroidery kits at the show but these French designs really stood out to me as being original and fun. Comment below to let me know which one’s your favourite.
One of the other stands that caught my eye was The Crafty Kit Company. They sell a whole assortment of cute kits for needle felting, crochet and other crafts. It’s so nice being able to see the actual finished products at these shows and the needle felted animal heads looked so cute. My favourite was Angus the Highland cow 🙂
And now a bit of wool for all you knitters and crocheters out there 🙂 My first pit stop was to the Erika Knight stand. I was wearing my Erika Knight puff stitch snood so I wanted to go over there and show it off (I don’t often crochet so it’s something I’m quite proud of). Unfortunately everyone at the stand was a little busy so I couldn’t get the inside track on what new patterns she’s launching this year but I did manage to get a couple of shots of some of her wool and knitwear. I love love love the complicated black and white jumper in the photos below.
I have a real soft spot for Rowen wool as I’ve grown up with my mum’s back-catalogues of Rowen knitting patterns (she has so many that she could start a knitting pattern library). I always make it a point to visit their stand and gawk at their wool (yes, I should really get a life).
One of their latest designs was this gorgeous Eshana shawl by Lisa Richardson. You can find the pattern in Rowen Knitting and Crochet Magazine 63.
One of my highlights from the show was the DMC stand. I was initially enticed by the colourful Wool and the Gang wool, which looked so soft and cosy, but it was actually some of their other products that truly impressed me.
Anyone who has been on Instagram lately will have noticed a huge trend in embroidery – in particular, detailing of clothing. Well DMC have invented easy-to-use Magic Paper Kits so you can upgrade a pair of old jeans into something more unique. I loved the flower embroidery on the white jeans on the left and the kit looked so easy to use. It had transfer paper, all the thread and everything. This could be a great bank holiday weekend project.
This cat embroidery hoop gave me a giggle – how fun! They also had a bunny one if cats aren’t to your taste.
Once again, at DMC I found these adorable embroidered animals. These would look so sweet in a kid’s bedroom.
Or, for the more serious stitcher, there were more sophisticated designs like the one below…
When I have the time, I always make a point to pop round to Tilly and the Buttons to see what’s new in the world of dressmaking. The ladies at the stand were so lovely and helpful. They talked me through their latest pattern “Mila”, which is to make a pair of snazzy dungarees. I don’t really have the body shape to pull off dungarees but maybe some of you are more daring than I am?
My next stop was Lewis & Irene – a British, family run business designing and making fabulous cotton quilting fabrics for shops across the UK. I was stopped in my tracks by the Lewis and Irene stand which had an actual car on it! They also had the lovely handmade fabric tree and rag rug below.
CHSI Stitches always has a new product showcase at the entrance. After I spotted this hilarious handmade Ziggy Stardust doll, I just had to go visit Dashwood Studios on stand B08.
If I’m completely honest, I thought the man on the Dashwood Studio stand was pretty rude when I first started speaking to him, but after I’d shaken him off and actually got to look at their new fabrics, the quality of their range really shone through despite the odd reception. Below are some of my favourite bits…
I love exploring what new craft books are out at these fairs, but sometimes I’m just overwhelmed by the choice. I had a bit of chat with the men on the GMC Distribution stand about Kaffe Fassett‘s books. I didn’t know quite how many he’d actually done but the “Bold Blooms” cover drew me in. Not many people know that Kaffe actually used to make rag rugs – they’re pretty complicated though!
And last, but not least, I popped over to the Hawthorn Handmade stand to check out what new kits they have. They had a whole new weaving range, which looked like a lot of fun.
And they’d expanded their embroidery range to include these new floral patterns, which looked whimsical.
So, that is my whistle-stop tour of some of the cool new craft products from CHSI Stitches 2018. I didn’t get a chance to look everywhere (so I’m sure there are some amazing finds that I completely missed out on), but don’t be surprised if you see me giving some of these kits a go over the next few months (as if I don’t have enough to do!)
I hope you found it interesting and let me know if you try out any of the products I’ve highlighted above – I’d love to hear what you think – firstname.lastname@example.org
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