Highlights from CHSI Stitches 2018

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! 


I mean obviously one of the highlights of the fair was our own Ragged Life Stand πŸ™‚ 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…

Ragged Life Rag Rug Products at CHSI Stitches Trade Fair 2018

Our stand was chock-full of rag rug inspiration and colour πŸ™‚

Ragged Life Rag Rug Stand at CHSI Stitches 2018

Our Ragged Life rag rug stand in all its colourful glory!

Rag Rug Kits and Hessian at CHSI Stitches in Birmingham 2018

We had plenty of goodies with us like our new rag rug bouquet of flowers and heart shopping bag.

Rag Rug Bunch of Flowers in a jug on display

Our new Rag Rug Bouquet went down so well at the fair that we actually had to launch a kit off the back of it! You can find the kit here.

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:

The Make Arcade at CHSI Stitches 2018

Ruth always makes the shelves to hang all her kits on – serious kudos for DIY skills!

The Make Arcade Modern Cross Stitch Kits at CHSI 2018

Ruth’s designs are sooo cute – I particularly liked the modern cross stitch kits.

The Make Arcade Felt Sewing Kits

Tiny felt sewing kits from The Make Arcade…

Craft Kits at CHSI Stitches 2018

And last but not least, these banner kits would make a really nice project for a lazy sunday afternoon πŸ™‚

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:

Octagon Distribution

The lovely ladies at Octagon had lots of nice products that they’d sourced from the USA.

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!

Purl & Loom Minute Weaver CHSI Stitches 2018

I really wanted to have a play on this Purl & Loom Minute Weaver.

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!

Soak Craft Washing Products at CHSI Stitches 2018

I’m a sucker for good packaging and these Soak products look colourful and pretty.

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.

Corinne Lapierre Stand CHSI Stitches 2018

Corinne has a whole selection of different kits to make cute felt creations.

Corinne Lapierre Partridge and Pear Tree Felt Kit

My mum absolutely loved the partridge and the pear tree projects – potential mother’s day gift?

Corinne lapierre Wool felt embroidery kits

Corinne’s new products were mainly wool felt embroidery kits. I really liked her needle case and pin cushion.

Corinne Lapierre Wool Felt Needle case

And here’s a close up shot of the needle case – I think I could just about manage to do that.

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.

French Hand Embroidery from CHSI Stitches in Birmingham Un chat dans l'aiguille

I would happily while away the hours making a whole series of these cute embroidered hoops.

Un chat dans l'aiguille embroidery

One of the ladies demoing the stitches. Even their tablecloth had lovely embroidery on.

Un chat dans l'aiguille Zen Embroidery at CHSI Stitches 2018

These designs were a little more hippy but I couldn’t stop staring at them – just look at the detail!

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 πŸ™‚

The Crafty Kit Company at CHSI Stitches 2018

Although I don’t do needle felting, I particularly liked the needle felted badger and Highland Cow.

The Crafty Kit Company Needle Felting Kits on Display in Birmingham show

Who could say no to that cuddly cow?

And now a bit of wool for all you knitters and crocheters out there πŸ™‚ 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.

Erika Knight Designs at CHSI Stitches in Birmingham

The Erika Knight reps were all a little busy while I was there but I took a couple of sneaky pics of the stand.

Black and white Erika Knight Jumper

I really liked the jumper in the centre of this photo – it looked quite retro, but cool.

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).

Rowen wool on display at CHSI

Doesn’t that display of wool just make you want to feel it!

Rowen jumpers made up on hangers

One of the nice things about these shows is that you can actually see all the patterns made up. It’s times like these that I wish I was better at knitting. It’s my mum, Victoria, who is the master knitter – perhaps I’ll have to commission something from her for Christmas.

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.

Rowen knitting pattern by designer

I bet that takes a fair bit of concentration…

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.

Wool and The Gang Wool on a shelf display

I was first lured into the DMC stand by the cushy looking Wool and the Gang Wool

Wool and the Gang Jumpers hanging on display

I’m a sucker for a gorgeous piece of hand knitted clothing πŸ™‚

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.

Flower Embroidery on white jeans and Lovestruck embroidery on blue jeans from DMC

I’m really enjoying pretty embroidery at the moment and these pieces caught my eye.

DMC Embroidery Kit Pack

This is what the embroidery pack looked like from DMC – it had easy transfers and everything.

This cat embroidery hoop gave me a giggle – how fun! They also had a bunny one if cats aren’t to your taste.

Wooden Cat Embroidery Hoop

I’m not normally one for cutesiness but this cat shaped embroidery hoop was pretty neat. I was advised that it was mainly for displaying pretty embroidery, not for using to do it.

Once again, at DMC I found these adorable embroidered animals. These would look so sweet in a kid’s bedroom.

Sheep and snake embroidery in wooden embroidery hoops

I particularly liked the texture of the fluffy sheep!

Yellow embroidered giraffe with balloons

And this giraffe really stood out to me with its bright colours

Or, for the more serious stitcher, there were more sophisticated designs like the one below…

DMC Red and Green Embroidery

I’m not normally a huge one for cross stitch but I think this looked really lovely on the black

Close up Cross Stitch DMC

The flowers really stood out against the black.

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?

Tilly and the buttons patterns

It’s always nice to pay a visit to the guys at Tilly and the Buttons to see which new patterns they have.

Mila pattern Tilly and the Buttons

Their latest pattern – Mila.

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.

Lewis and Irene Fabrics Union Jack Fabric Flag

Lewis and Irene are an old British supplier of fabric.

Lewis and Irene Fabric Tree at CHSI Stitches 2018

I was initially enticed to the stand by this giant fabric tree with leaves of different fabrics.

Lewis and Irene Rag Rug

This was the only place I came across another rag rug.

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.

Ziggy Stardust made of Dashwood Fabric

I first decided to visit Dashwood Studio after seeing their cute Ziggy Stardust in the new products area.

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…

Dashwood Fabrics

Even the Dashwood sign was cute! They’re not necessarily colours that I would have put together, but they work.

Dashwood New Fabrics

Here are some of their new fabrics… I like that they’re quite modern and sleek.

Dashwood Corduroy Fabrics

And here are their new corduroys, which I was strangely excited about despite the fact that I don’t make clothing!

Dashwood fabric lampshades

I thought their lamps were particularly cute and showed the fabrics off nicely.

David Bowie Ziggy Stardust Handmade Doll in Dashwood Materials

And here’s another David Bowie snuggled amongst the cute cushions πŸ™‚

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!

Kaffe Fassett books

So many gorgeous Kaffe Fassett books to gawk at!

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.

Weaving Kits from Hawthorn

I’ve been meaning to get my loom out for a while to get back into weaving but these cut kits are a good starting point.

Hawthorn Weaving Kits work in progress

And here’s what it looks like half made…

And they’d expanded their embroidery range to include these new floral patterns, which looked whimsical.

Hawthorn embroidery kits

Hawthorn also make cute embroidery kits like these ones.

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 – hello@raggedlife.com

Elspeth x

p.s. If you want to be the first to be notified about new craft blog articles, why not sign up to our Ragged Life Inspiration Newsletter here – you won’t be disappointed πŸ™‚

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[…] I encountered with the reusable face pads became apparent when I travelled up to the NEC for CHSI Stitches 2019 (for those who don’t know it’s a trade fair I do every year). I’d packed my […]

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