Booking a Craft Show

As the autumn rolls around it heralds the start of the many craft shows leading up to Christmas….but how do you select a craft show that is right for your products?

It takes a real confidence to book your first craft show and display items that you have crafted and are very personal to you so you really want to make sure the audience will appreciate all your hard work and sales are good.
I have listed a few handy hints that may ensure success.

  • RESEARCH – Many shows will be promoted online so do a bit of internet surfing. Does the show have a professional and well presented website? Is it visible on social media? Have a look at the exhibitor list – are they people you admire, are their products of a high quality, is there a wide variety of crafts or are there a lot of mass produced, bought in goods?
  • VISIT – If you are seriously interested in booking a show, contact the organisers and simply ask if they can provide a ticket to their next event. Get a feel for the audience – is it busy, what are they buying, are they enthusiastic about the show?Talk to the exhibitors, if they are not too busy then they are often very forthcoming and honest about the pros and cons of a show and may recommend other events.
  • VENUE – Consider the layout of the venue, there can be ‘dead spots,’ dark corners of halls that the audience simply don’t find. The organisers will provide a floor plan – and it is a good idea to highlight and try and book those areas with better footfall.
  • FACILITIES – As a visitor consider how comfortable you feel in the venue – is parking and access easy, are there seating areas, is the catering of high quality and are there sufficient clean bathroom facilities?
  • COST – Small, local shows can prove a good starting point. Costs will be low and you will get feedback on your products. However, if the show is not well attended sales can be disappointing. At the other end of the scale, large, prestigious shows can literally cost thousands of pounds. It is quite a heart pounding moment to commit to such an event but if you have a good product they can work. Look at the numbers very carefully – consider all your additional costs: travel, accommodation, food, lighting, publicity and then work out how much you need to sell to make a profit – make sure you take more than enough product to hit this target. Very occasionally large shows will offer slightly cheaper packages for ‘new talent’ – be cheeky and ask!
  • PRESENTATION – Space will be tight so be canny about how to use it. Sketch ideas out on paper to maximise the product on display without cluttering the space or preventing access. Tables with beautiful cloths provide both display areas on top and storage areas underneath. Shelves catch the eye at different levels. Think about hanging items from the ceiling and using the wall space. Lighting is vital, if possible book a spot with good natural daylight but you will also need electric lighting for dull days, late afternoons and evenings. Brand your product and pop a logo on everything – paper bags, business cards, packaging – new customers often find you on the strength of seeing someone else with your product.
  • NETWORKING – One of the best places to find like-minded makers is exhibiting. There is a fantastic community of people out there many of whom have years of experience to share. Many of the larger shows are attended by retailers and publishers looking for new designers so exhibiting can be a fantastic springboard to expanding your business. Finally I cannot stress how wonderful it is to be able to talk to your audience – this must be one of the few careers where everyone is pleased to see you!

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Win!!! Tickets to the Knitting & Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace, London

Ally Pally Competition

There is a real feel of autumn in the air which can only mean there are a few weeks now until the Knitting & Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace, London, 11th to 15th October.

This is the most fabulous show, packed full of textiles to spark new ideas, classes to try new crafts and, not least, it is one of the best venues to stock up on really beautiful fabrics, yarns and haberdashery.

If you would like a chance to win a pair of tickets as well as a mini beadwork kit and frame, a new chunky cross stitch or a beaded woodpecker kit simply comment here or drop me a line on the contact page of the website.

Please note the tickets are not valid on Saturday 14th October or before 3:00pm on Thursday 12th October.

All entries need to be in by midnight Friday 15th September and two lucky winners will be drawn on Saturday 16th September – Good Luck x

You Know You Are a Maker When …

Darn you Pinterest for tempting me…

You know you are a maker when, despite being swamped by an array of projects, you are tempted to learn a new craft having been seduced by the most glorious images on Pinterest.

This morning’s temptation is rug hooking. There seems to be such a wonderful flow and freedom in the designs and they are very reminiscent of the paintings by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell.

I did have a chicken rug hooking kit many years ago but I cannot think where it has gone otherwise I would have rummaged around and pulled it from the back of a cupboard. So, with a birthday looming, I think it may be time to build a rug frame and invest in new Oxford punch needles, monks cloth or burlap backing and rug yarn. For inspiration and guidance I will be heading over to http://www.amyoxford.com and http://www.rosepearlman.com as well as wallowing in Pinterest. For supplies in the UK then the best site I have found is Cilla Cameron at http://www.ragrugsuk.co.uk

Rug Hooking

We All Have to Start Somewhere

It seems so long since I last posted. The children’s exams, a lot of building work at home and a glorious summer holiday have all contrived to swallow up time.

This morning I decided to make a start on clearing my daughter’s bedroom before redecorating. This sampler was tucked away on the wall to her bathroom and I just had to share it as it is such a wonderful reminder of how I learned to love stitching.

I was ten years old and we were on a family holiday to France. I remember very clearly visiting a little sewing shop in the local town and being quite determined to spend my pocket money on the kit. There was then the rather tedious task of blanket stitching the edge of the fabric before I was left to my own devices. I think I started in the middle, as the design fits the fabric,  but the cross stitches are all pointing in different directions!
No matter, the finished sampler looks fine from a distance and was a fabulous launch into a lifetime love of sewing – so have a go and don’t worry about the mistakes.

First Sampler

Do I Unpick or Just Start Again?

Very often an idea springs to mind when I am doing the most mundane tasks. This little juggling seal started life as a scribble on the corner of a spreadsheet.

I started stitching him yesterday and I think the red bunting has worked rather well. To keep the satin stitches quite small I added an extra line of back stitch down the centre of each triangle and it has created a three dimensional effect with very little effort. As a finishing touch I should be able to find some silver beads to add as little bells.

I started his fur in the evening, when the light was fading, and I now think the grey is too dark, it is going to hid his smile and little ear. The dilemma now is do I unpick or is it better to start again? There are rather a lot of grey stitches to frog and the linen is never quite as crisp and even second time around so I think I have my answer – back to the light box with a fresh square of linen and my favourite erasable Frixion pen!

I will update you on progress shortly and I think there may also be a rabbit brewing. Let me know if you like these hoop embroideries and I will look into options either as a PDF pattern or kit.

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Knitted Nature

Despite knitting since I was quite tiny, I still find it quite mind blowing to think that a strand of yarn can be twisted and turned in so many different ways and combinations to create just about anything.

With my garden now bursting into leaf and the birds in full song I thought it appropriate to share some knitted nature. These lovely creations are a tiny selection of the garden and mythical knitting figures that were on display at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia last month. I only had my mobile phone camera on me so the photographs really don’t do justice to the quirky and imaginative creatures on display. However, everything brought a smile to my face, sparked a few ideas and I particularly loved the rather cheeky troll. Hopefully he and his friends will make it along to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in the autumn and I will be sure to take a better camera along to capture all the woolly wonders.

Knitted Nature Image