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!

Monday, 5 October 2015


So I am ready and raring to go to the first large fair of the Autumn, Knitting and Stitching Show Alexandra Palace opens on 7th October and runs for 5 days.  It's a great show and those of you who read this blog reguarly will know that I really enjoy doing it.
This year as well as the larger kits and patterns I am going all out into the tiny world of 15 stitch squares!  These patterns fit perfectly into our brooch findings but why stop there?  4 squares stitched into a larger square gives you a pin cushion sized front, increase the design to 12 by 12 squares and you have got the makings of a lovely cushion front!  Real stash busters!

Whilst developing the small square patterns I have been trying them out using cross stitch on Aida and Binca - yep I'm bringing Binca back, whilst I am pretty new to the cross stitch world I know that there are many talented stitchers out there that will love the brooch findings to add their own designs to or to use with our patterns.  A good pattern translates and fits its space and so take a look at the examples below of how I have used one of the Inca Patterns on different canvas counts and wood!

You can buy the wooden blank from The Bellwether and I just love them, expect to see me sporting this one at the show on stand TGC9!

My experimenting with the brooch finding ends there, as you know I am a lover of the grid and so the brooch kits and findings I sell are always square - but hey there are different shapes in the world and also different techniques.  I am really looking forward to seeing how Golden Hinde will be using these findings in the round and the square.  A regular at all the large shows, educators, demonstrators and innovators in the world of gold work their stand is always shiney and welcoming. They have so many findings, kits, threads and wires that it really would be hard to know where to start if it wasn't for their fantastic demonstrations and really cheerful knowledge.  They have chivvied me along at many a show and I am always happy knowing they are around. Be sure to visit them on stand O5 in the main hall (I know most of you do already!) and bask in the golden glow. I'll put an image up of their brooches during the show.

So whether you like squares or circles, surface embroidery, goldwork or tapestry (go on!) there will be something for all of you at the show please say hi when you pass by!

Happy Stitching

Monday, 28 September 2015

Tapestry sneaking up on the inside!

Well it's been a long time coming but if are coming to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace you will notice a little revolution taking place, oh yes this year the Tapestry category (search on it - go on!) is into DOUBLE figures!!!! This is a pretty immense thing!!

I'm going to look at 3 of them today plus me of course you're not getting away with it that easily!  I will be on stand TGC09 this year same aisle as usual but with a little bit extra room which means that alongside tapestry kits I will also be bringing you NEW tartan patterns, NEW Trays (made in the UK), NEW Notebooks in A5 size as well as A6, blank Tapestry Canvas (yes I listened), NEW Small Square Pattern Books that will see you using up all your stash and finally I will be able to sit down, I've got room for a stool!!!!  I am really excited about how my range of UK manufactured products has been extended this year, the trays have been super popular as have the notebooks so if you find it hard to buy presents for the Crafters in your life pop on over and take a look! 

I have been concentrating hard on the block chart side of things as I know that many of you love the challenge of counting rather than stitching on to a printed canvas.  There's room for everyone in this Craft!  I will still be selling printed kits and also new (I am loving this word!) to the stand will be the ability to order wool packs for certain designs - I'll have a few with me but it really works best when I can deliver them to you so the wool is fresh off the press! 
So enough about me (!) I ploughed a pretty lonely furrow last year at Ally Pally so I am pleased to share who else will be in the Textile Gallery with brand new designs and kits.  Firstly everybodys favourite Emily Peacock returns to the show and will be on stand TGG7, she has got some new designs which are a mix of Vegas Glamour and Seafood and another that references fairground lighting - yep she is nothing if not inspirational! 
First time at Ally Pally but no where near her first show is Hannah Bass, her kits will be of interest to all you world travellers as you will be able to trace your footsteps on her unique take on maps of cities near and far.  I have heard that she is going underground this year so be sure to drop by and make sure of your route home! See Hannah on Stand TGE5.
After visiting us three I expect you will need a sugar fix, get a calorie free one from Jaqui Pearce on TGR19, her kits include all your favourite chocolate bars ready to stitch in chunky cross stitch! Check out the modern samplers whilst you are there. Finally in the Textile Gallery is a good friend of mine Jenny Henry we met at another fair last year and I am so pleased to be welcoming her back to the UK - yes that's right she is coming all the way from America to visit us!  You will have seen fantastic brooch kits on my stand(!) but how about increasing your needlepoint jewellery collection and visiting Jenny to see cuffs and necklace kits all using our favorite stitch? Her stand TGB3 holds some surprises I'll just say ceramic!
So, much as we hate to see you leave Textile Gallery there really is a lot more to see!  Over in the Resource Centre you will find Pom Pom Designs, I love going into this space of the show because you really do get to see new and exciting products alongside a wealth of education from Guilds and Stand holders alike. Take a look at Pom Pom on stand RCJ3 we both love modern clean designs so be sure to say hello. 
In the grand hall you will find my dear friends and mentors (even though they don't know it!) Historical Samplers, not only cross stitch but an ever growing line of tapestry kits - I love their toned down pallette and fun designs.See them on stand C27.
So there you go but hey you're coming back to say goodbye right? When you do take a look at Sue Hawkins on Stand TGQ15 and marvel in the skill and craft that has seen her stand and reputation grow and grow over the years, great designs on great products.

Wow!!! What a lot of us this time!  So looking forward to seeing friends old and new and getting a smile each morning from the ever effervescent Kim Thittichai and Laura Strutt over on the Freudenberg Vilene Stand number TGR3 what they don't know about Craft, mixed media and cake could be written twice on a "Hotspot" check out great ideas including Hot Spots with them.

Until I see you at the show, happy Stitching!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Workshops ahoy!!

Stitching at the WI Fair 2015

I had a great time running a workshop at the WI Fair in Harrogate over the weekend.  The workshop was only for an hour but in this time all 15 participants learned how to stitch and came some way along to finishing their very own brooch.

This time we all started with the same colour (insipid yellow!) to create the grid pattern.  It's a bit of a leap of faith when starting out with a colour that no one really likes but the results were all so very different. By looking at colour is a small space you really get to understand how it resonates with some of the examples looking almost like watercolour painting whilst others popped out in 3 dimensions!
Stitched brooch size eamaples - WI Fair

It is great to see peoples colour choices coming through and also how neat everyone seemed to be in this session!
Stitched brooch examples WI Fair
It was a really busy fair and so as soon as the time was up people had to leave pretty quickly to continue on with their visit to other parts of the show.  A short while later however when I was on my way back from Harrogate I received an email that included a picture of a finished brooch, which had been completed on the journey home!
Thanks Stephanie this really made my day!
Image courtesy Stephanie Wilkinson

The Fair was really interesting for me because I have only ever really taken part in shows that centre on making but at this Fair there were many facets.  I enjoyed my time in the Lifestyle area and spent a happy time speaking to the Discover Dudley team, crazy to make local connections so far from home! Gardening, travel, cooking, paper craft, sewing were all there as well some fantastic Craft stands with makers from near and far. Much of the work that the WI do was on display from campaigns, their history, The Huxley Cup, bookshop and finally craft. Whilst all WI craft on display was fantastic I have to give a special mention to NFWI - Wales for their Centenary Panels, such a great idea with so much skill, humour and thought having gone into each panel.  A real feast!

Onward now to Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace where I will be exhibiting and selling my wares along with many other skilled makers and designers in the Textile Gallery.  Hope to see you there but until them I'll leave it to Wales to sign off as this is exactly how I felt when I left the WI Centenary Fair!
Centenary panel!

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Centenary spying!

Tina Francis Tapestry - copyright

Well the year is flying by I've had a great year so far organising open studios in Birmingham and setting up stitch groups at Spring Hill Library alongside mentoring others.  It seems that my own work has taken a back seat but with the Autumn fast approaching it's time for me to start thinking about the upcoming shows.

I love a celebration and so I am really pleased to have been invited to speak at the WI Fair in Harrogate and also to a run a workshop there.  I am there on Sunday 6th September but before then I will be sure to visit many of the stands that will be setting up at this fair to celebrate 100 years of the WI.  It is a wide ranging show and reflects the fact that members have many interests, I think everyone will be catered for!  AS well as seeing what the fair has to offer I will be visiting some old friends who will be there on stands. 
First off I will be feasting my eyes on the ceramics of Margaret Glackin on stand B111, all her glazes have a story to tell as well as the pieces themselves.  Her ever popular yarn bowls will be making an appearance and I am looking forward to seeing some examples of her new body of work which investigates the politics of womens aging. 
After a catch up I will be heading to see some fantastic faux taxidermy by Louise Walker of Sincerely Louise stand number A139.  I first met Louise at The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, alongside her knitting patterns for dinosaurs (!) I will be spying her new range of animal scarf patterns they sound like fun! Over on stand A191 I will be catching up with the African Fabric Shop. Much more than fabric this stand is wealth of information about traditional African crafts and I expect to see many a person swinging along with one of their baskets before the day is out!
Still with textiles from around the globe I will be visiting Ananuca on Stand B83 to bring back fond memories of holidays a few years ago in Chile.  Like African Fabric Shop they work directly with the artisans who create their fabrics and spin their yearns.I cherish my Chilean weave fabric and so hope to see a lot more of it on this stand.
Whilst still in the throes of wanderlust I will take myself to the Bradt Travel Guides stand (C41) to look at their fantastic guide books.  The UK's only independently owned guide book publishers I love their well written style and fantastic images.  I am approaching the busiest time for year for me and so a coupke of their guide books will have to quench my travel bug for the next few months as Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace is calling I will be launching my Tartan patterns (after many, many requests!).

I am really looking forward to being part of this show and hope to see some of you there on the Brooch making Workshop or in the audience for my talk on how I got into this business in the first place and how we can use stitch to create heirlooms.
Thinking of how I got here and the help I have had along the way I would like to dedicate this blog to Gilda Baron who died recently. She was an inspiration, a fantastic embroiderer, a supplier of biscuits and a beautiful person on the inside and out - I will miss you Gilda.

image courtesy

Happy Stitching!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Learning together!

Over the past few months I have been running a stitching group in Spring Hill Library in Birmingham.  It is my local library and a real centre of community and learning.  Many of the people who have learned to stitch have found it to have been quite therapeutic but at the same time challenging.  Trying something new has really been great for us all and I am looking forward to what we do next. Here is some of the work that has been completed so far using secondhand wool and my Use Your Stash patterns.

So far it has been an adult only group but on 6th August as part of this summers "Summer Reading Challenge" activities I ran a workshop at the library where we all learnt how to thread a needle and stitch to our hearts content.  There were 12 kids of various ages from 4 up to 12 and the results as you will have seen at the top of this blog were great! Here are some more. 

I think you will agree they are fantastic.  Hopefully I will be doing more stitching for younger people in the future at the library so I will keep you up to date.

Thinking about learning has reminded me as usual about my good friend and tutor Kim Thittichai who as you will know got me into this world in the first place.  She is currently at the NEC here in Birmingham for Festival of Quilts, this is a great show and is well worth a visit even if quilts are not your thing!  There is always so much inspiration to be found at a show like this from the colours to the textures.  So many quilts are on display it really does take your breath away. 

Having been an art school student with Cannon Hill Art School it feels like this summer has been all about learning for me too!  My work is on display at The Mac in Birmingham along with 68 other students it was a great project to be involved with and I will be stitching at the MAC all day 20th August so if you want come along and learn just drop in!

My next large show is the WI Fair in Harrogate in September which celebrates 100 years of the WI in which time a whole lot of learning and passing on of skills will have happened.  I will be running a brooch making workshop and also talking about my work and how to use your stash. More about this next time.

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Its in the paper it must be true!

Where has the year gone?  Since my last post I have been in London for London Craft Week, run an Open Studios event at The Custard Factory in Birmingham, helped run a workshop for the Glass Biennale and oh yes am now part of a pop up Art School.  Life has been busy and I am a little tired out so have had to rest (Dr's orders).
So where to start the month of May has been designated Craft and Design Month for a few years now with many makers opening their studios and inviting people in to see the process and also the resulting products.  This year saw the first London Craft Week and it was a great success, all across London there were talks, demonstrations and a huge celebration of Craft.  Now don't get me wrong we are not experiencing a renaissance in making, that has still being happening I think it is more that we are experiencing and renaissance in interest. I was exhibiting and demonstrating at Craft Central, it is always a great place to catch up with old friends and also to check out what is new.  Cockpit Arts were also open and I cannot wait to get in touch with Beat Woven and see whether there is room for patterns made from music to cross over into stitch. Looking forward to next year when I hope to be taking part again.
Custard Factory in Birmingham is a hive of activity, full of makers, artists, illustrators, digital businesses not to mention the fantastic ground floor retailers.  Having run Open Studio events before I decided to rally the troops this year and run an event on a Saturday (we have previously opened on Friday nights).  A fantastic set of Artists opened their doors, the Custard Factory is large and a bit maze like so we had to run guided tours which whilst not ideal gave people a taster of all that we do.  In the winter we will be running another event and hoping that people can come and go as they please - our thinking caps are on!  Take a look at the great artists and makers that were part of the event here Custard Factory.
Phew!  On to Cannon Hill Art School, which is just one of the best projects I have been involved in for a very long time.  I am a student going to Art School, I've got a lanyard and everything. Taking it's lead from Black Mountain College, Trevor Pitt from A3 Projects has somehow created an Art School run out of the MAC in Birmingham that has embraced all comers and will ultimately lead to an exhibi.tion in the MAC.  Our tutors are all practicing artists at the top of their game mine is Philip Duckworth of Juneau Projects check them out - brilliant. We have had lectures from Cornelia Parker, Gavin Wade and Peter Jenkinson.  We have seen behind the world of a contemporary art exhibtion by hearing from Kathrin Bohm and we will get to be involved in our own show at the Mac in July. I have met some great people and am really looking forward to staying in touch with them and putting on shows real soon.
One of the people I have met at Art School is Robyn Smith her work in glass is astounding and as part of the Glass Biennale she was exhibiting her work in St Johns Church in Stourbridge. Robyn was running upcyling workshops as part of the exhibition, I rolled my sleeves up and got stuck in! 
So busy, busy, busy!  The Christmas designs are coming on but before that I will be inviting you to come to the first every Jewellery Quarter Festival here in Birmingham! There will be Open Studios aplenty (including me!) where you will be able to see sandblasting, corset making, stone cutting, glass fusing, 3d printing and so much more!
Hope to see you soon but in the meantime check out the lovely article that Sew magazine published in their July issue!
Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Stitching the night away!

Tina Francis - Hexagon - Photo courtesy Martin Christie

So March flew past in a haze of shows and stitching! I have been exhibiting for the last two weekends at Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch at the NEC and EXCEL.  Both shows were fantastic and as I was on an education stand I got to talk about stitch from morn til night!

At the NEC I was opposite Stephanie Redfern who had a really large space this year exhibiting work specifically made for the show.  Stephs work is really colourful and the composition is something that can only be learned after years working at your practice.  It was good to be opposite her because she exhibits reguarly at RBSA and I had admired her exhibition called Found last year, I had sent her an email but it was great to tell her face to face how much I enjoyed it.  Do take some time to read her delightful blog, so interesting and a great way to spend some time with a cuppa and a cake.
Next door to me at NEC was Sally Holman who specialises in quilting and is the author of many books, her landscapes are very popular and her step by step instructions make her a must see at any show. Birmingham Silk Painters did a roaring trade in silk scenes showing people how to paint onto silk, they had some fantastic work on display.  It's amazing how quiet people become when they are painting on to silk, it really is a joy to watch.
Every day I ran a mono printing workshop on the Vilene education stand, we made some great samples using the smallest amount of water based acrylic, by combining bondaweb and pelmet vilene we started to form the beginnings of some really textured designs.  My workshop was straight after Fran Holmes an artist whose work is beautiful and ethereal, her stand was black and white which really highlighted the work on show it's amazing how an all white exhibit can make you think of colour and movement but that is exactly what she achieved.
Onto Excel the following week it seemed a bit groundhog day-ish but there were many different exhibitors as well as the those from NEC. The Excel show is relatively new and so it's great to see so many people coming along wanting to learn about stitch and textiles.  The fantastic Brenda Kiligrew had made the journey south from Redditch and the fashion show was a great hit with everyone, it is fantastic to see designers of the future! My stand was next to the ever chipper Val Hughes a trailblazer of felt construction her teaching manner was something I could not get enough of and hope to put a little bit of the knowledge I gained into my workshops.  She has a book out very soon and it is fantastic, step by step instructions written in her approachable style, fantastic images and a great story running through it. 
As ever my dear friend and mentor Kim Thittichai was on hand at both shows to chivvy me along, it's great to be invited to run workshops under her guidance but even better just to have a good old laugh together!  Kim gave lectures each day (along with a workshop - no stopping her!) about KK Glue and Hot Spots, KK Glue is a very exciting product as it is a washable powder glue.  A little goes a long way and I love the muted blended edges it gives to a design.
So a good time was had by all, I'd like to thank my helpers who came and looked after the stand whilst I was running the workshops I really appreciated it!
So what next!!!??? Well from Friday 3rd until Monday 6th I am in an exhibition at Custard Factory which is being run by The Cobalt Blue, it's called Rational Grid and features geometric artists in a wide range of mediums.  It's going to be a great exhibition and on Friday evening will be part of the regular Digbeth First Friday happening, so why not come along and see the exhibition as well as what else happens in Digbeth every first Friday.  One of my favourite parts of First Friday is Digbeth Dining club which takes place every Friday and sometimes Saturday in Spotlight. A whole range of street food waiting for you to try, I am also looking forward to visiting Centrala for their "I Bring you Flowers" exhibit. After the weekend I will be working on some new designs, sending out orders and generally stitching until May, Craft and Design Month but more of that next time!

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The year is flying by!

So the year is cracking on!  I don't seem to have stopped except for last week when I went on a 5 day holiday (phew the luxury!). I went to Toulouse and enjoyed a little syringe of sunshine! But now back to it with two of the best shows of the season.

I am at Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch at the NEC from 19th March until 22nd March.  This is a great show as it is really 3 shows in one!  Sewing for Pleasure is where you will find everything you need for sewing, pacthworking and quilting.  There are some great free workshops which I would love to do if only I didn't have to be on my stand!!  Try and get to take part in a Vilene Sewing Club Workshop run by the multi talented author and craft inspirer extraordinaire Laura Strutt of Made Peachy, some great ideas my favourite (as you know I like to Use Stash!) is Fabric Key Fob where you will make the most of your scraps to create a fantastic key fob.  Also in the Sewing for Pleasure area there are on stand workshops, I like West End Embroidery who will be demonstrating new stitches for canvas work.
The next area in the show is dedicated to HobbyCrafts from cake decorating to fine art to papercraft to felting it's all here.  I particuarly like wandering down the art aisles and watch people paint and draw quite relaxing in such a busy show. House of Zandra is a great stand if you love papercraft and I see that they are demonstrating felt kits too for all you owl lovers! 
Finally Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch is where you come to learn and take part in everything in textile design and beyond.  A highlight for me is always the Fashion Show run by Brenda Killigrew and students of the IDC Academy of Fashion and Textiles it's an opportunity to spot designers of the future and marvel in the creativity.  This area also has many exhibition stands dedicated to textile artists I am looking forward to "Dressed to Quilt" by Ineke Berlyn which will show quilts designed on a shift dress pattern, I will be interested to see how a shape can determine the design. There are so many great textile artists in one area that you could spend the whole day here, taking in (of course) workshops on the Vilene Education Stand where you can book onto a workshop run by Kim Thittichai entitled Sparkle and Twinkle, if you know Kims work you will no doubt be familiar with her use of Bondaweb but if you can get onto her workshop you will find out that there is so much knowledge behind the processes and designs, I've heard that Geckos are going to be available and also Hot Spots!!! After a workshop stay a while in this area and feast on textile art from around the world.  After being inspired by all you have seen why not take the plunge and start a new Craft?  Top of my list as usual (apart from Tapestry Needlepoint of course!) is weaving, take a look at the small kits and inspiration by my good friends Juko Designs it really is amazing what can be achieved with very little wool and texture.
So I hope to see you at the three shows in one show, what was that oh yes my stand is K20 do pop on by and see some secondhand wool stitch work!

If you can't get to Birmingham it all happens again but this time with cake(!) at Excel the following weekend.

What a lot of links! Happy Stitching!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Weaving on!

Pink Weave by Janet Elstob, Copyright Janet Elstob 2015

It's great when you receive a note from a satisfied customer and this week seems to have been my week!  My Weave design kits are counted kits and come in many different colourways, they can seem a challenge to get started but once you are into the swing they are really enjoyable to get on with.  Each kit comes with a separate chart for each colour and you follow them in order to get a fantastic weave result. It's amazing how so few colours can make such a pleasing result.  The above image came in from Janet who when we met at Knitting and Stitching Show described how she wanted a special cushion for a rattan chair in a light place.  Well here is the result using my Pink Weave Kit.  The stitching on this is just perfect and I love how the basket weave of the chair is echoed in the finished piece.
This kit uses Appletons Wools and can be provided as a bespoke item in your own favourite colourways (prices from £70 to £90), you receive a bespoke set of colourblock charts and before I make up the kit you get to see a mock up of the finished colourway, I can even send you some wool colours.  As you know I am always encouraging people to Use Your Stash and so this design is available as a colour chart only which enables you to use the wool you have got rather than me providing it in the kit.
Continuing with all this weave and Stash I spent a really great day with Solihull Embroiderers Guild on Tuesday talking about my favourite subject, me! Ha ha not completely I talked about how I got into this tapestry needlepoint world and also showed examples of my work where I had used other peoples stash to create unique weave pieces.
Photo courtesy Martin Christie

What I find amazing about talking to Guild members is not just how interested they are in quality work but also how a simple idea like my weave design can spark a whole list of possibilities and discussion.  We roamed from stitch control, to emotional control, to maths, to physics, to memories of their moms pattern boxes.  It was a fantastic day and I have definitely come away with more ideas than I went in with!
The trade and stitch shows are nearly with us, I am exhibiting at Craft, Hobby and Stitch International next weekend and then on to Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch in March where I will be exhibiting a lot of my weave pieces and also demonstrating the processes.
I'm off now to look create another bespoke weave chart ready to send out after the weekend!
Until next time, happy stitching!

Monday, 5 January 2015

What's cooking?

Tina Francis Tapestry copyright - Pavilion Tops

At this time of year we all look back and then forward so I thought I'd head the blog with an image of my first ever kit Pavilion Tops, still popular in the UK and worldwide it makes me smile when I see it thinking of all the places this design has taken me.
But hey lets not dwell on the past one design does not make a Spring (!) it's time to concentrate on the first few months of the year and look at what i will be doing when and where (yes it's all about me this time!!).
As you will know I moved back to Birmingham in 2014 and met with some great new people, a special mention to Birmingham Embroiderers Guild who have been a great inspiration and have accepted me into the fold!  We had a great time in November making stitched brooches and I am happy to see some members using the pattern for their own work.  Keeping it Guild (!) my first talk of the year will be at Solihull Embroiderers Guild on 3rd February, I will be talking about how I got into the tapestry needlepoint world and also encouraging people to "Use their Stash" as it's great to have a project that does not cost too much at the start of the year. 
"Use Your Stash" is gaining momentum and I am always following others that like to use what they already have.  "My Make do and Mend Year" was an experiment and has now become a lifestyle choice for Jen, take a look at the blog I am really interested in this years challenge to make a piece of clothing per month, lot's of ideas and inspiration on this blog.
Talking about using what we have already got my new design for Spring is based on an old wall where the wallpaper has been stripped, I found it in Vittoria Works in The Jewellery Quarter a building which is being brought back to life by The Ruskin Mill Trust and will be a great place for young people to learn skills and become part of the community in the later half of this year.
Tina Francis Tapestry Copyright - What lies beneath

It's no good having new designs if you are not going to be showing them, I am exhibiting again at Craft, Hobby and Stitch International this is trade fair only so not open to the general public but will feature new designs from me and also the first trade outing for my trays.  It's a great show to gauge interest in all crafts and I am really looking forward to meeting up with Juko Designs who will be at the NEC for the first time and also saying a big hello to Hawthorn Handmade who I met last time and who have followed me and boosted me up throughout the year.
My next show is at Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch to say that I am over excited about being given the opportunity to exhibit here would be the understatement of the year (yes I know it's only a few days old), I will have a stand displaying gallery work from my woven series and will also be exhibiting two small pieces which are the start of a new exhibition for 2016 called "Interrupted" and of course "Use Your Stash" will be making an appearance! I will be running a daily one hour workshop called "On your Mono Marks" which will use Freudenburg Vilene products and mono printing techniques, I really enjoyed running last years workshop "The Start of Something (thanks Kim Thittichai for trusting and letting me loose on the general public!) which is where I met Birmingham Embroiderers Guild, so my blog has come full circle and that really is a great start to the year!

Until next time, Happy Stitching!