Sunday, 13 March 2016

Taking time

Tina Francis Tapestry 2016

So I have not updated the blog for a while, I have been a little unwell and so have had to pick my battles! I had to miss my first Scottish show at SECC Glasgow and was really upset about it but at the moment I am feeling fine and looking forward to Fashion and Embroidery at NEC from 17th March.
Fashion and Embroidery is such a great show because as well as all the fantastic trade stands it gives you the opportunity to see some of the best textile artists around and speak to them about their work.  Many of the artists are tutors too and so you can learn from them at the free workshops that are available as part of your ticket price.

My number is ZJ24 and as well as exhibiting the best tapestry around (!) it will also reflect on what I have been working on over the last year and more importantly who. Last summer I attended Cannon Hill Art School, an experiment run by Trevor Pitt to see what would happen if everyone could go to art school.  During this 8 week course I was drawn back to print and multiples which has inspired my stitch work, expect to see a lot of the mandalas above, all using the same circular motif but not one of them the same. These mandalas are a great way to use up your stash of wool ends and the plastic blanks will be available to buy at the show, I will also be running a family friendly workshop using them at RBSA on Sunday 3rd April.
I have also been working with my stitch group "Springhill Stitchers" over the past year and the results of our sessions will be on display on the stand too.  I think if I look back running this group has been the thing I am most proud of in the last year, we started in June 2015 and members have learned to stitch, follow a pattern and now stitch their own designs. We were talking on Friday about what coming to the group has meant to them, the main feeling is that it has been good to have time to be free to create. This sentence has been echoed by textile artist and mentor to me Kim Thittichai.
 Kim is exhibiting her own work alongside Susan Chapman in their collaborative exhibtion "People and Places". Both of these artists are "noticers", a pattern, a shape, a form, a meeting, a change from the norm you will find it all in this exhibition.  I know that it is going to be the highlight of the show for me and I really look forward to hearing what you have to stay about it.
Kim teaches at Inkberrow Design Centre in Redditch who this year celebrate their 25th year! If you have visited the show before you will know about the fantastic fashion show they bring every year and also about their City and Guilds courses, make sure you drop by and see their full rosta of workshops and courses which range from sketch books to sewing stretch knits, print to perfect pleats and much more! I am proud to be part of the Inkberrow family and as I look back on the year since the last show I am also looking forward to being part of their 25 year celebrations running workshops, demonstrations and talks - be sure to ask them about all the exciting events they have planned.

So I look forward to seeing you all at the show and Steph Redfern I look forward to seeing your tapestry triumphs!

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Stitching the month away!

So we are well and truly into 2016, the month of January seems to have flown by and whilst I was on holiday for one week of it I really do not know where it went.
During 2016 I will be setting up shop at Inkberrow Design Centre on most Thursdays (see the calendar for details) and I will be either running 3 workshops of 3 hours or a full day workshop. I start on 11th February and there are still places left but be sure to book up so that you do not miss out this month.
The classes are titled Creative Stitching and we will be looking at stitch and design in each session, learning new skills and sharing what we know to learn from each other. So let's take a look at what is in store on 11th February!

10 - 1 Tapestry Needlepoint Brooch
In this session we will be looking at my old favourite topic of Use Your Stash! Using my stash of second hand wool we will learn how to follow a stitch chart, learn tent stitch and look at colour theory. This workshop is an extended version of the brooch stitching workshops you may have completed at Knitting and Stitching Show because we will be looking at colours and how they resonate against each other and also with us. bring a notebook because we will be noting our thoughts on different colours and looking at why we like what we like.  At the end of the session you will leave with a hand stitched piece of tapestry which can be put into a brooch frame or used as inspiration for a larger piece of work.
Photo courtesy Jackie

1 - 4 Mandala Madness!
Check out the lovely image at the top of this blog. Again using secondhand wool we will be creating some fantastic works of art on plastic canvas. There really is no end to combinations of stitching that we can do to create some really exciting pieces of art.  I have used these pieces to adorn chairs, create wall hangings and at Fashion Embroidery and Stitch at the NEC my stand will be awash with them! Simple and stylish this workshop is great if you are looking for ideas for cross generational activities or if you want to start looking at stitch in 3d.

6 - 9 Cross Stitch City (copyright)
I am so excited about this workshop which will see us create a city skyline and much more from 7 motifs. Later in the year this series and process will become a book so get ahead of the cross stitch curve and begin to build your own city. We will look at the motifs and then set about designing the city, once you are happy with your design it's time to start stitching it onto aida, binca or tapestry canvas. You will need an embroidery hoop but I will have a supply if you want to buy one on the day. You will leave with the start of your city ready to complete at home or why not come back for another session and continue building?
Cross Stitch City - copyright Tina Francis

These classes will be repeated in March and April so if you want to do all three why not book up ahead of time for the next three months.

On 18th February I will be running my first all day workshop at Inberrow which will see us Colouring the Canvas. Drawing our inspiration from flowers, concrete and any other texture I can lay my hands on we will be learning how to make the canvas and not the stitch the star of out work. Here is a little example, I will be posting more about this class in next weeks blog.

There are so many great workshops happening at Inkberrow this year what with it being their 25th Anniversary and all! I am really looking forward to working with the other tutors and learning from them too! Jenny Taylor from Great British Sewing Bee and Create and Craft TV will be showing you how to create a great sewing organiser, Julie Marshall of Fabricology will be running classes on all thing stretch fabric, Kate Andre has gelli plate and thermofax printing covered and Sheila Davies will get your mixed media appetites going. All that just in February!!!

Hope to see you at one of the workshops soon until next time happy stitching!


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Taking Stock!

Well we seem to be flying through January already! I have been spending some time getting myself sorted for the coming year and generally been doing my favourite thing the world List Making. Second of course is ticking things off!

February sees three of my pieces exhibited alongside other RBSA tutors in their Love Art, Buy Art, Make Art exhibition. Its a great way to see work and then of course decide whether you want to learn something new with one of us, there are some fantastic tutors there.

In March I will be exhibiting with ICHF in Glasgow and Birmingham at their Sewing and Stitching Shows. In Glasgow I will be demonstrating how to stitch tartan in tiny little brooch format, do come by and check me out. On display will be stitched gallery work and of course Use Your Stash! At Birmingham I will be exhibiting "Mandala Madness!" which will see lots and lots of plastic circles stitched up with second hand wool giving ideas about how to use up yours. Alongside me will be the work from my stitch group "Spring Hill Stitchers" and you will be able to see how the group has progressed from never stitching before to creating their own designs and masterpieces. Stitching really is good for the mind and soul! I will also be running a workshop every day on the Vilene education stand using our old friend bondaweb to create some fantastic Troika Pottery inspired art!

In May I will be exhibiting all on my lonesome at Coffin Works I am really excited and work is well under way. You can find out about here and I will be adding more information about workshops and demonstrations as the months go on.

On many Thursdays I will be at Ink Berrow Design Centre in Redditch teaching classes and generally having a great time! Ink Berrow have a taster day on 30th January so do please come along and see what this gem of a place celebrating its 25th year has to offer!

I am running the Open Studios here in Jewellery Quarter in the summer but that really is too far ahead to think about at the moment! 

So with all of this going on it's time for a stock take, all orders placed up until 29th January will be sent out week beginning 1st February when we will be back to normal service and there will be some new items in the shop too!

Until next time happy stitching!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Small and Micro!

So today is Small Business Saturday here in the UK.  It's a great day to promote small businesses and also for small businesses to connect with each other.  Most of the textile artists, makers and designers that I know are Small Businesses, I sometimes think I am a micro business because there is just little old me ploughing away at the wool face!

To celebrate this day I have a small offer which contains my top sellers this year!  The Brooch Bundle comes in two sizes and two colourways you will receive the following:-
3 or 7 Goldtone Brooches
Small Squares or Inca Squares Pattern books
Zweigart Canvas
John James Needle
Anchor wool in either Bright (For small squares) or Traditional (for Inca)
All boxed ready for giving (or keeping!)

The price is £25 for the 3 brooch bundle and £35 for the 7 brooch bundle.  

Both Inca and Small Squares Pattern Books have been really popular this year, they are not just patterns for brooches, stitch 4 designs in a square and you have a pin cushion, 12 or 15 squares make a great cushion front, so they are great way to use your stash too!

You can find the Brooch Bundles here and for this weekend only I am offering free postage too! 

I hope that you are able to shop local and small this Christmas season there is so much talent here in the UK, so until next time Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Letters in print!

Those of you who subscribe to Stitch Magazine will have seen yours truly on the back page talking about my favourite things, of course this is not all of them and I really wish I had included Small Businesses in the list.  The area where I live in Birmingham is called the Jewellery Quarter and it is full of small businesses many of them that have been in the same family for generations, as well as the on street retail there are many jewellery makers, setters, platers,casters, box makers and designers each of them a small business in their own right, infact I counted that on one of the main streets there were over 100 small businesses!!  It's a tough old world out there at the moment for everyone with all of us wanting to get value for money and having to watch how we spend everything we earn. The renaissance in interest in Craft and Handmade over the last few years has meant that traditional trades and craftsmanship have never been far from our television screens it really is interesting to watch a product being made and also how that product can be made differently using 3d technology (I'm waiting for the day when tapestry needlepoint is made this way!).  Craft and small business never stand still and so in the run up to Christmas why not think about buying your gifts from local makers and producers?

Small Business Saturday takes place on the first Saturday of December each year and promotes small businesses across the country. Take a look here at all of the businesses that taking part in your area, there are so many craft fairs also taking place on that day and so it will be a real celebration of the small maker and producer.  The campaign is not just about on street retail and so be sure to take a look on line at your favourite small business and see what they have to offer as an alternative to the High Street big names.  It is impossible to compete with the offers that will be available on Black Friday, an inch of stitching still costs the same to produce from one day to the next! 
Another great initiative to help the small designer maker and small business is called Just a Card, the campaign started by Sarah Hamilton after she spoke to her local gallery that was closing down the owner stated that "If everyone who'd complimented our beautiful Gallery had bought just a card we would still be open" so here is another way to support you local designers and makers, buying a card whilst not seeming very important really does go a long way to keep businesses afloat.

So whether I see you at Harrogate for the Knitting and Stitching Show over the next few days where I will be running workshops on stitch and Using your Stash or whether I see you browsing my on line shop I'd just like to say a big thank you for supporting me this year and I hope that next year will be full of new designs, products and workshops that you will all be able to enjoy!
(PS I sell cards!!!)

Until next time happy stitching and I hope you enjoy reading about my favourite things!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Patterns, patterns and heirlooms!

Tina Francis tapestry 2015, block chart available, kit on request

So winter draws on!  I never get sick of saying this and notice it is in my blog often.  At this time of the year its great to start hunkering down of an evening and working on a project, or thinking about a project to give.  We are not at the end of the year yet but it is always a time for reflection this change in season.  
This year I was given a whole collection of fine wool from a member of Birmingyham Embroiderers Guild, it had belonged to her mother and she wanted me to use it if I could.  I am working on a design to use it for display at Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch at NEC next year in March. As well as this work my stand will be awash with plastic canvas mandalas large and small, there will be a section for Ladywood Stitchers so that you can see the work that they have completed since coming to my free stitch session at Springhill Library Birmingham each week.

What all of these sections of the display have in common is that we have used second hand wool, sometimes from charity shops, sometimes from donated stashs and sometimes from our own inherited piles! As you know I am really interested in people using what they already have and a piece of stitching that contains memories is a fantastic gift to give or receive.
See what I did there!
There are lots of patterns on my website which encourage you to use your stash and also canvases where you can use your own colours.
Tina Francis Tapestry - Robot - 2015 copyright
Our Brooch findings are really popular this season with many people using what they already have to create great gifts, they are being featured in the December/January  edition of Stitch Magazine which you will be able to buy at the end of November.

I will be running 4 workshops December in Birmingham for Brooch Making, I've got lots of new patterns and it makes a great group activity before you hit the shops!  Please contact me at to find out more. But if you are going to Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate I will be running workshops there too! All this talk of Christmas is making me feel real warm inside but hey we have to get through Halloween yet!
Image Courtesy Ladywood Stitchers.

Happy Stitching!

Monday, 19 October 2015

The relaxing is over!

Tina Francis Tapestry - Available at Oh Deer

Had a little bit of a relax last week after finishing the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, by relax I mean not really updating social media I was still doing a lot of "stuff".  I had a great time at the show this year and was please to meet up with so many avid stitchers.  The brooch making workshops went really well and I so looking forward to doing them all again at Harrogate in November - here is a photo from one happy workshop attendee!
Image Courtesy of the maker

I love the colours in this brooch and am so pleased that it turned out so well!

The tartans were a real hit at the show and I will be uploaded them into the shop later in the week.  There really has been a change in how people like to stitch with more and more of you wanting a chart rather than a printed canvas, I am still producing printed kits but as ever you can always have this is chart format! Talking of tartans I have entered four designs into this years Pillow Fight at Oh Deer, each year people are encouraged to send in their designs and for a limited period they can be bought by anyone!  I have put in two tartans, the Gingerbread House and also a patchwork design that I worked on a long time ago (well 3 years ago!) - check them all out here they are real fun!

Having a corner stand at the Knitting and Stitching Show this year allowed me to actually have a seat for the very first time!  But as I was not used to having one it fast started to become redundant until I decided to have a "happening" on my stand! As you will know from my stitched Christmas Tree last year anything that can be stitched will be stitched so here is the chair in all its glory that I stitched in between speaking to and selling to the great people who came to visit!

I really enjoyed stitching the plastic mandalas and will be running workshops in this at my own studio later in the year (not much of it left I know!) and hopefully at a few more venues next year including Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia!

More news next week once I have caught up a little more!

Happy Stitching!