There was a small blurb in the ICHF brochure about a new, innovative way to cross stitch. What it didn’t say was what it was and where I could find it. I racked my brain but I just couldn’t imagine what it could be. I mean how many other ways could there be to cross stitch? I already knew about blackwork, hardangar and even goldwork. What was left? Maybe someone had discovered something that was so old it would seem new and innovative now. Or perhaps someone was promoting some sort of extreme cross stitch where you stitched underwater; or while you climbed Mount Everest and the when you reached the summit, your Sherpa guide ironed the finished result. Or you stitched while balanced precariously on the crown of your head.
After stopping for lunch at Subway, I went in search of this mysterious, new method. I went from stall to stall, saw lots of neat stuff and exercised extreme discipline in not buying aforementioned stuff. Finally, I hit pay dirt.
Sew-It-All is a family business founded in 1991. They are one of the best online shops when it comes to stitching canvas. With a wide range of aida, linen, assorted canvases, afghans and tablecloths available in an equally wide range of colours, you’ll feel like you’ve entered Ali Baba’s cave. Sew-It-All also carries a selection of craft accessories such as scissors, needles and the like.
As I approached the stand, I caught the tail end of a conversation a very personable and charming man was holding with a potential customer. After eavesdropping for a minute or two, I was sure this was the ‘new and innovative way to cross stitch’ the brochure had alluded to. It had to be. I mean, I’ve never run across anything like what the exhibitor was explaining to the woman.
‘I like your face,’ the exhibitor said, turning his attention to my inquisitive expression. (Oooh…the nightly skin care routine was paying off.) ‘I like your face because this face says, ‘I’m curious, I want to know more.’ Oh. (slightly disappointed) Well he was right. I was curious and I did want to know more.
It seems Sew-It-All has embarked on a sort of design-sharing scheme. They will print virtually any type of background that a customer provides onto aida, evenweave and binca. This sounded very similar to stamped cross stitch so I couldn’t see the innovation till this cheeky gentleman showed me a sample of their work.
A customer had been researching her family tree. She was eager to show off her findings but wanted something a bit more original than the standard family tree design. After brainstorming for a bit, she decided to have a map of the UK stamped onto a 14ct aida canvas.
After sending Sew-It-All a photo, she received her custom-designed aida and stitched the names of the relatives she had traced along with the names of the cities/towns where they lived. (I realise that the print may look dark but that is down to the camera. In actuality, the background is softly muted and in no way would it overshadow the stitched design.)
This printed aida is now part of Sew-It-All’s inventory and is available to anyone who wishes to order it. The main reason for this service is to encourage needle crafters to be not only more imaginative but also to share their ideas with other crafters. For example, this aida could also be used to stitch the various rail lines that run through the UK; the names of the cities and towns that the trains run through stitched alongside the ‘tracks’. This would make an ideal gift for a train buff.
Maybe you or someone you know enjoy travelling the length and breadth of this beautiful country. You could create a travelogue of your journeys by stitching the names of the places you’ve visited with a motif representative of the area: a double-decker bus next to London or a castle near Caernarfon in Gwynedd, North Wales. This would make a lovely keepsake.
Or maybe your idea of a fine holiday is boating down the various rivers in Britain. Why not stitch those waterways that wend their way through the country and add a charm or a pretty bead to mark where you docked.
The exhibitor showed me other samples of the company’s work. They included a subtle paw print background for dog lovers and a muted musical motif for aficionados of all things harmonious. He then gave me his ‘business card’ before I left with the admonishment that I tell everyone I knew about this.
(Yes, his business card is a 6 ½” x 7 ½”, 14ct aida.
Don’t know how I’m going to fit this in my wallet.)
If you’d like to find out more about this exciting process, call or email Sew-It-All above.
Like I said before, craft fairs are choice places to find inspiration. And, once inspired, there are plenty of people about who can help you turn your ideas into reality.