As you may recall, my husband, son and I spent an enjoyable Sunday (8 November 2009) at the International Craft and Hobby Fair at the NEC, Birmingham, UK.
In my last post, I mentioned stopping at an exhibit stall that was so fab it needed a post of its own. Well…this isn’t that post. No…this post will see me shopping at a charming stall filled with charming things to top up my supplies, adding to an ever-growing list of projects to stitch, purchasing one final gift item and meeting a couple of artsy folks.
After we purchased Lil Awesome’s jeep, we walked back to the crafts arena to visit the stalls I had earmarked prior to our lunch break. I had made up a list the night before of what supplies I needed to make sure I wouldn’t forget anything and to make sure I stayed on budget. I treated myself to a new pair of gold-handled stork embroidery scissors as my old ones no longer cut the threads but chewed through them. It seems my scissors have been ‘borrowed’ by various family members to cut items other than embroidery floss. Construction paper, denim jeans, carpet remnants. My seam ripper went AWOL several months ago so it’s been replaced. I also bought a pair of very strong rare earth magnets to hold my charts in place. My old magnets vanished… mysteriously. I also got some new needles to replace those that have been used to sew buttons and hem skirts and were never returned. I’ve been wanting to replace all my old needles as they become unusable with gold needles. I understand gold needles glide right through the fabric and helps minimize wear and tear. After nearly 40 years of stitching, I think I deserve the best supplies I can afford if I’m going to produce the best results I’m capable of. My first and, as it turned out, my only stop for these items was The Coleshill Collection stand. (Shortly afterwards I purchased a small toolbox for my stitching supplies. And a lock.)
While I was picking out my planned purchases, my eyes wandered around the stand to see what other items were available. It seemed like every nook and cranny of the stall had something neat to offer. And there they were. The two items that I didn’t even know I needed them until I saw them. The first item was an Able Stretcher Needlework Frame. Actually I already own an Able Stretcher. I bought it about seven or eight years ago at the International Craft and Hobby Fair when it was held at ExCeL London. As I became more proficient at cross stitch, I became more adventurous and started doing larger designs. So large that even the largest embroidery hoop I could hold comfortably wasn’t big enough to stitch the entire design without having to reposition the hoop everytime I finished a section. I would end up with creases in the fabric from the hoop which were a nightmare to iron out. I needed something that could hold the design in one position from the moment I placed the blank fabric in till the moment I stitched the last cross. I looked at traditional stretcher bars but didn’t really like them. They just seemed to much bother. I had pretty much given up hope of finding anything I wanted to use when I discovered the Able Stretcher Needlework Frame. It is so simple to use. All I do is adjust the frame to the desired size, lay the fabric across and secure it with the clips that come with the frame. It takes less than five minutes to do and there’s no need to remove the fabric until I’m finished stitching. The frame provides excellent tension and maintains it till the fabric is removed. My stitches are more even than what I could have gotten from ordinary embroidery hoops or traditional stretcher bars. The Able Stretcher comes in four adjustable sizes to accommodate most sizes of fabric and is suitable for tapestry, needlepoint and quilting.
You may be wondering why I would purchase another Able Stretcher. It’s quite simple actually. I tend to do rather involved and fairly large cross stitch designs. While I enjoy the challenge of stitching and the finished results, the process can become tedious. So I take breaks and do smaller projects; well small by my standards. With a spare (and smaller) Able Stretcher all I have to do is swap the frames on my floor stand when I fancy a change of pace. Easy. The only drawback is these frames are getting harder to find. Nowadays, I only seem to see them at craft fairs or online. www.willowfabrics.com carries all four sizes of Able Stretcher frames as well as replacement clips, pins and arms. Extra arms allow you to accommodate different sizes and shapes of fabrics and designs. Try doing that with ordinary hoops.
The other item I purchased is quite unique. At least I’ve never seen one of these before. It’s called a ‘Tail Catcher’ and it’s used for securing those short threads you sometimes get on the back of your work. Normally when I finish an area of stitching which utilizes the same colour, I usually run the thread under a few stitches in the last row of the area stitched using the needle. This helps ensure that the stitches won’t work themselves loose and gives the back a neater appearance. But there are times when I run out of thread before I finish a section and there just isn’t enough thread left to give me room to use the needle to secure the tail end. The tail catcher solves this problem. It comes in two pieces that are linked together by a small chain so they are always together. One piece has a wire loop, similar to a threader, and the other piece has a small hook on the end. You use it by working the wire loop under several stitches on the back of your work. Use the hook on the other piece to ‘catch the tail’ of the thread and guide it through the loop. Then pull the loop carefully under your stitches. Not only is the tail end secured, but the back of your design has a more professional and polished look. As far as I’m aware, The Coleshill Collection is the only place your can purchase these. So you can either stop by their stall the next time there is a craft show in your area or visit them online.
With my new purchases tucked away in my shoulder bag, I made a beeline to the embroiderstitch.com booth in the hopes of seeing some who, till now, I had only ever read about. But, oh my gosh, would you look at the size of this post. I’m really sorry. Sometimes I just get so carried away. I better let you go. See ya soon.