Britex Fabrics, San Francisco

I’ve been to different places in the States several times over the years but so far, the West Coast has remained unexplored territory for me. When the opportunity came up to visit California, I obviously couldn’t resist going to find out whether there was anything on offer to rival some of the lovely places I saw in Boston on my last visit.

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America tends to do big, bold and grand very well and Britex Fabrics in San Francisco is no exception. It is a multi-storey bonanza of all things craft related and has one of the best collections of craft gadgets I’ve seen outside of Japan.

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Cake Crafting

It’s that most wonderful time of the year when you can’t escape Classics FM’s ‘the only ten Christmas carols we can afford to play’ and cross stitch patterns of the same tired Christmas motifs that have been hauled out for the ten thousandth time. If you enjoy any crafting magazines, you’ve probably had to stop buying them since October as heaven forbid your hobbies are not seasonably fashionable.

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Trials and Tribulations of Thread Shopping

Although I still have ten thousands kits to work through and an unimaginable number of works in progress, after I finished my Ribbonwork Heart, I found myself hankering for some more ribbonwork but with no obvious next project in line.

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While I love working pre-made kits because you can just dive straight in and don’t have to worry about how it will look, I’ve been feeling more and more that I want to move to designing my own pieces and mixing techniques because, let’s face it, there is no project that is not improved by the inclusion of spangles.

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Misadventures in Hand Spinning

Warning: Post may contain photographs of tortuously twisted singles, badly balanced yarns, sacrificial fibre piles and other scenes that may be distressing to experienced spinners.1 (9)

Much to the delight of my downstairs neighbours, I have decided to have another attempt at spindle spinning. Although I love wheel spinning, the total yards of handspun yarn I have successfully created using a hand spindle has stood at 0 for a very long time.

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On Gifts

The subject of handmade gifts is always a topic that generates a great deal of feeling in the crafty community. There are the horror stories of people demanding blankets from colleagues they barely know, then ‘generously’ offering to cover the cost of materials to the tune of £10, or ‘can you spin my cat/dog/deceased relative’s hair’ requests. In fact, the problem is so common that Ravelry has an entire group dedicated to people who ‘knit only for themselves ‘and for people who bless us and hand us boxes of expensive chocolates, or money’.

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I always love the idea of handmade gifts. If I had time, everyone I truly appreciate would get at least a handmade birthday gift every year. Maybe even one designed especially for them. However, the reality of the processes is more along the lines of i) nearly forget birthday until last minute ii) panic, iii) try and be as thoughtful as I can last minute.

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Review: Ribbonwork Embroidery: Techniques and Projects

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links meaning if you sign up to the course from this blog, I get a small commission. However, any recommendations and opinions are my own. For more information, please click here

Ribbonwork embroidery (or ribbon embroidery) is, rather unsurprisingly, the art of sewing with ribbons. This is often done in combination with embroidery floss and other materials. As well as being delightfully quick to work up, ribbon embroidery is excellent value in the effect versus effort department, with even the simplest of stitches looking very dramatic. Also, who couldn’t love something that involves getting to play with silk?

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I had the pleasure of taking a Royal School of Needlework Day Class with the author of Ribbonwork Embroidery, Sophie Long, over a year ago now. When I heard that she was going to be writing a book on ribbonwork embroidery, one of her specialisms, I was rather excited to say the least.

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RSN Day Class: Needlelace at the Fashion Museum

As well as the more intensive embroidery qualifications, the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) runs regular day classes as a way for people to try new techniques or get an insight into what it is like to study with one of the world’s most prestigious hand embroidery schools. Occasionally, the RSN teams up with other organisations to put on special classes on either different themes or different skills.

Recently, the RSN ran a series of classes at the Fashion Museum in Bath, with designs based on items on exhibition there. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Needlelace day class, stitching a small butterfly/dragonfly/questionable insect as inspired by a motif on an embroidered Elizabethan woman’s waistcoat.

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