Mild Monday saw me catching the 7.19am train from Wakefield to the NEC, Birmingham. Stuffed full with important looking business people all tap, tap, tapping away on their lap tops, I sat amongst them with my crochet.
I arrived nice and early and had a quick look around this largest of craft trade fairs, until the allotted time of 10.45am when us craft bloggers were to congregate for our ‘blogger’s breakfast’.
And what a breakfast. We heard that breakfast for 60 had been delivered in lieu of the ordered breakfast for 30!
I sat next to Julie of sumoftheirstories. Previously unacquainted, we had been following each other on instagram. It’s always lovely to add a voice to the blog.
We were welcomed warmly, received some DMC goodies and then had a little chat from some of the representatives from DMC. Did you know that 1million dmc skeins are sold every day!!!! Apparently this incredibly old (270 year) french company has just been bought by the company that owns Mamas and Papas and more recently Jack Wills. It seems a strange combination, I agree, but changes are afoot and these well established companies are receiving a bit of a shake, safeguarding their positioning in their own fields whilst ensuring they continue to develop and attract a wider customer base, taking advantage of the current crafting upsurge.
It was already evident in the DMC display boards. Gone are the traditional dowdy looking tapestries (although I am sure you can still get them!) in uninspiring packaging and in their place really attractive vibrant pieces that really got you inspired to make and gift.
These tapestry floor cushions were lovely but I can’t imagine how long one would take you!
And this modern cross stitch, with the background taking the main stage while the tree remain unstitched.
Amongst the stalls there were some definite differences between the exhibits of this year and the last. I don’t have much of an opinion of the paper craft section as I must admit I didn’t really venture much down those aisles.
Last year was full of independent pattern sellers. Those whose patterns you see on sewers’ blogs. Tilly was there but much fewer others. I hope this is not a sign of things to come!
There were fewer exhibitors of dress making fabrics too although loads for home furnishings and quilting. This Dashwood display was my favourite for its simplicity and calmness.
There were SOOOOO many exhibitors selling kits!!! I suppose you can sell a craft kit in a craft shop, a gift shop, and even a farm shop or garden centre. Lampshade kits, rug kits, cushion kits, bag kits, knicker kits, patchwork kits, you get the picture. Felt and crochet kits featured highly. If I were buying there were many a kit selling exhibitor I would have walked straight by. Some were really quite amateur looking. Poorly executed sewing, pattern and fabric are not going to shift in my opinion but maybe they were very cheap!
Others in contrast were well displayed, were sewn up beautifully, were not soiled through being displayed and handled many, many times and were in beautiful packaging.
This felt kit display from Corinne Lapierre was wonderful! The lady is a presenter on the Create and Craft channel. She was telling me that the felt they used was a wool mix as opposed to 100% acrylic. You could really tell the difference.
There was a wonderful stall showing that old traditional craft of rag rugs. It was a unique well thought out display from Ragged Life and I loved the idea of new ways of using the rag rug technique and generating new interest. Lets face it, any rag rug kits you do see for sale are pretty uninspiring. Ragged Life kits provide all the basic tools and hessian you need for each project whilst you are left to source you own ‘rags’.
Whilst I think this is a wonderful idea in essence, if I wasn’t a crafter I wouldn’t have lots of off-cuts of fabric lying around, piles of old shirts to make this wonderful cushion
or bits of stretchy netting to copy this sunflower
And as I am a crafter with a massive stash, I probably wouldn’t buy a kit, I would just buy the rag rug hook and dig out my hessian. So I thought they were rather missing a trick here.
I did like their mugs though
I saw this theme on a quite few stalls, beautiful porcelain mugs with the fabric printed on.
So in all a hugely visually rewarding but exhausting day!
I arrived back in Wakefield at 5pm, in time for my daughter’s Guides award/Thinking Day Ceremony which started at 6pm in the adjacent church. To top off the day she won ‘Guide of the Year’!
Love, Lucie xx