Sunday, 30 October 2011

Charlotte Liddle in Sheffield

Close-up of my strawberry applique, one of the projects from Charlotte Liddle's new book!

Hello there!

Here's another of my quarterly blog posts! Hahaha! Oops! Maybe next year I'll be a better blogger... I finished the walking challenge (see my last post) a couple of weeks ago, so I don't really have any excuses for not posting (apart from weird times at work, but that's another story)...
Our walking team finished in 10th place out of 177 teams (individually I came 4th out of 885 people, with 2,695,838 steps, or about 1172 miles), which I'm really pleased about!

I've never done so much walking in my life! I'm sure I'm a couple of inches shorter now...
Click here to see the Walking Challenge League Table

Walking off into the sunset...

So what's the thing that was so amazing that I just had to write a post about it?  Well, our local John Lewis store in Sheffield hosted a book signing and free workshop with craft book writer Charlotte Liddle. Charlotte has now written three craft books: “Stitch and Sparkle: 15 Easy Projects to Stick and Sew”;Stitch Divas: New Ways to Get Creative with Yarns and Threads” (written with Rachel Henderson) and her latest book, “Cute and Easy Quilting and Stitching” which was published this spring. I found out about Charlotte's event when visiting the ladies' for a wee last Saturday, as an advert for it was on the back of the loo door - of all places! Anyway, I asked my mother-in-law Chris along, and we both enjoyed a fantastic couple of hours making one of the projects from Charlotte's new book.
Charlotte Liddle today, sitting behind copies of her new book, with some of her creations from it.

It was really interesting to be able to chat with Charlotte whilst we were stitching away, and it gave me the chance to get to know her a little. Charlotte is from Darlington, and graduated from her Textile Crafts course at the University of Huddersfield in 2005, and currently teaches textile crafts to adults and older teenagers, as well as holding workshops and writing craft books.  After leaving Uni, Charlotte got a job in the office at the Coats Crafts headquarters in Darlington. She was in the right place, because after showing them her portfolio, she got her first book deal! The result, called Stitch and Sparkle”, really is a sparkling treasure-trove full of ideas to combine printed fabrics, lace, ribbon, beads, buttons and all things twinkly to create your own unique accessories, or bling-up your tired but still serviceable old stuff.  In my opinion, it really stands out from a lot of other craft books because every page is buzzing with bright treasures - there's nothing old-fashioned or tired here.

Charlotte's beautiful embellished shoes - fit for a princess!

Gorgeous combination of applique, crochet and beading by Charlotte Liddle.
Charlotte's latest book is also full of projects – 35 no less. She told us that it took her a mere 10 weeks to create. I say “create” rather than write because I know from experience that the written instructions are just a tiny part of a project. They're important, but they just don't give you as massive a headache as the times when you get halfway through making a thing and realise that the fabric's all wrong/your design's all wrong/you've messed up big time/your sewing machine decides that it's had enough and goes on strike/you have a nervous breakdown and turn to jelly... So I'm mightily impressed that Charlotte designed, made and wrote the instructions for 35 projects in only 10 weeks... and stayed sane!  Charlotte had put up a display of some of her creations from the book, and it was great to see them up close to appreciate the details.

The beauty of this book is that it can be enjoyed not only by people who are completely new to sewing but also folks with experience in one technique but need a bit of inspiration to try something a little different... for example, I'd really like to have a go at cathedral window quilting – well, there's a project for that! I have already asked Santa for the book.

Charlotte's creations from her new book.

The project from the book which Charlotte had prepared for us was the appliquéed jam jar covers, using good old Bondaweb (aah, lovely Bondaweb, what would I do without you??) to bond the applique pieces to a background fabric.  It was then very relaxing and easy to embroider and embellish our cute little strawberries.  Joy!

The group's conversation quickly arrived at the subject of haberdashery and fabric shops, and we came to the conclusion that there aren't enough of them.  However, it turns out that a few of us have made the pilgrimage to Duttons for Buttons in York, and we all agreed that it's THE mecca for button lovers!

It's a tiny shop, with about four floors I think, but the ground floor is best – if you're like me, then you'll be gazing in awe at the wall of buttons for quite a while! I went to York for my birthday this year; I'd never heard of Duttons, so when I saw it I just had to go in. I really wish it was in Sheffield so I could have a longer browse. I only bought a few buttons, but they were the tiniest shank buttons I've ever seen! I could easily have come away with enough buttons to make the best Pearly Kings & Queens very jealous.

I could have spent a day chatting with Charlotte (although she may have got sick of me very quickly!) as she is such an open, down-to-earth and really friendly person, with a lot of talent and skill. I'm truly grateful for a wonderful morning of crafting and talking about crafting – just what I needed right now!

Thanks Charlotte, and thanks to you too, for reading!

Best wishes
Joey x


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