Friday, 26 September 2014

Hazy shades of Autumn!

A Distant Shore - Tina Francis

So the Autumn shows are upon us, not sure where this year has gone but tapestry waits for no one!

I will be at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace from 8th until 12th October - that's right 5 whole days this year! As well as being on my stand I will also be running two workshops at 1pm on Wednesday and Friday so if you come by my stand and it is not me there then I will be back within the hour!  There are some fantastic exhibitors on the same aisle as me this year, I am a relative new comer to this aisle with this only being my second time many of the exhibitors have been stalwarts of this row for many a year!

My stand is TGC5 (TG stands for Textile Gallery) and to my left is the blaze of colour that is The Thread Studio, what an amazing mix of colour and texture.  All the way from Australia each year they bring so many silks and yarns that it is hard to know where to start.  My favourite are their hand dyed threads which are based around different themes currently I love "Cottage Garden".  

To my right are the fabulous Thermofax Screens, printing is a real love of mine that I continue to be part of with my printed canvas designs.  Thermofax have hundreds of designs for printing on to fabric but can also make you your own screen from your own design!! Think of the possibilities! Along with the screen the range of inks is just delicious.

So so far on our row you have drooled over the fantastic threads and silks, said hi to me and ordered your bespoke screen what you need now is some fabric to put them on!  Committed to Cloth have been running courses and educating people for a long time in the art of fabric manipulation and design.  They run some fantastic courses and alwys have interesting books to inspire and delight you.  Make sure you spend a while there.

As you turn away from the Committed to Cloth stand look behind you and see the fantastic knits of Sophies Wild Woollens a real trail blazer of the woollen world, what I particuarly like about Sophies business is that she uses local people to create and finish the clothes.  It's the finishing for me that makes these garments stand apart, just look at the buttons!

The warmth of wool turns to the warmth of the sun as next to Sophies Wild Woollens is The African Fabric Shop but it's not just fabric that makes a colourful explosion their range of baskets  is a joy to see.  There's no manufacture here, handmade and hand picked they really have a place in every home and oh yes they are fairly traded too! Really knowledgeable about their products its great to learn from this stand.

There's more knowledge to be had on the next stand belonging to Kate Haxell who has no less than 14 books under her belt! I am hoping that there will be some lavender hearts on her stand to make us all feel happy and relaxed! With a wide range of yarn ideas from Kate where better to stop next than her next door neighbour Habu Textiles who stock Japanese yarns and textiles.  At the start of the fair it is amazing to see just how many people make a bee line for this stand having waited for their chance to re-stock from this supplier who resides in New York!

So phew!  There you have it the people I will be sharing the days with at Ally Pally, I hope that you will be amongst them too!

Happy Stitching!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Weaving along the queue

Tina Francis Tapestry copyright 2014

Over the past few blogs I have been looking at the blogs and work of other makers that will be either exhibiting alongside me at The Handmade Fair or whose blogs I go to time and again for an inspirational tea break.  I will be writing a blog soon regarding all the fantastic exhibitors who will be in the Textile Gallery at the Knitting and Stitching Show Alexandra Palace rows c and d! But this time I want to tell you about a little adventure that I had at the weekend.

Saturday 30th August was Liberty Call 2014, where Libertys flings open their doors to makers and designers and gives them the opportunity to meet the head buyers for their particular products.  It is a long old day with queues of designers and makers snaking around Libertys from the early morning.  In order to take part you have to apply and register and then turn up on the day, this is meant to keep numbers to a manageable amount but I met quite a few people who had just turned up on the day.  Not really cricket because it just makes more work for everyone involved.

When you are a small business and working closely with your designs it is always good to come up for air and really review the products and designs you have been working so hard on.  I took a range of tapestry kits for printed canvases and also for counted canvases. You have 3 minutes to discuss your work and listen to the advice, so it is pretty intense!  I received some great advice and feedback about my designs and a lot of food for thought about the direction my work could take. I would really recommend it.

As you know I really want people to "Use their Stash" and my weave pattern for this is very popular with many of you having stitched unique designs with your stash of wools. The weave kits are popular at shows and can be tailored for your own homes, I love creating a bespoke weave design probably best of all!

You'll see an example at the top of the page of my Rainbow Weave kit which looks even brighter in "the flesh" and which will be coming along with me to The Handmade Fair and returning to The Knitting and Stitching Shows later in the year where it always brightens up the dark Autumn days!

I met some great people in the queue at the Liberty call and will be following them on their next ventures. It really is fantastic to see so many people following their hearts and making beautiful products, there is so much talent out there.  The whole event was filmed and so maybe you will see a clip of me on the next Libertys TV series, if I only make it to the cutting room floor then do please come and visit me in the Autumn at the retail shows.

Oh yes and if you are in Cumbria please do go and visit Farfield Mill in Sedbergh where my work is being exhibited next to some fantastic makers who all use good old wool! (More next time about this exhibition)

Happy Stitching!