My first ever visit to a trade show - Stitches at the NEC

My first ever visit to a trade show - Stitches at the NEC

In February, I decided to visit the CHSI (craft hobby and stitch international) trade fair at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) Birmingham. This was the first time at a trade event for me, although I've attended loads of knitting and stitching shows, spring fairs,gardening show - you name it!

I found out about the show from one of the agents from a fabric distributor who regularly visits with new collections. Registration was easy, it's all online of course, finding a hotel was more of a challenge, and finding a reasonably priced train ticket near impossible!

I started by thinking about what I wanted from the show. It was quite difficult as I had no idea what sort of thing would be available. I did get some information from CHSI with tantalising glimpses of the goodies that would be available from new companies and lists of established companies that exhibited.

I came up with a list;

Visit companies that I already deal with to say hello as some of them I've only had email contact with

Search out some new haberdashery suppliers with more unusual products

Find another fabric supplier to deal with.

The Adventure Begins

As I live on the North Yorkshire coast, I find it easier to drive everywhere but this time I took the train and it was actually a very enjoyable experience. Trains have improved a lot since my student days.

Two heads are better than one, and on this occaission I took my Mum with me. She is an experienced knitter and knitting tutor as well as a botanical artist so I know she has a good eye - what I didn't bargain for was how early she heads to the bar! Good thing we booked two nights in our hotel.

Birmingham is a very friendly city, everyone we encountered was happy to help and advise us. Our hotel was a very short taxi ride away from the NEC.


The show runs on sunday, monday and tuesday in late February. I had been advised that tuesday was the quietest day to go and that was good advice. The exhibition hall was light and airy and although busy, there was nothing like the crush you get at retail shows. You could actually sit down for a coffee without sprinting like Usain Bolt when you spotted an empty chair!

I went to the show to look for fabric and haberdashery, but you can also see wool, papercraft, modelling clay and art materials.

I spent the whole day browsing round, looked at everything and then had a huge discussion over lunch with my mum! 

I eventually decided my priority was to get more haberdashery type items, so I headed for a beautiful stall bedecked with ribbons and all sorts of trimmings!

It was really like being a kid in a sweet shop! I have found some lovely rustic looking ribbon, beautiful patterened bias binding and baker's twine as well as the usual array of printed ribbon. My mum even sneaked some of the 'knitted with love' ribbon into my order, but that's going to her knitting class....sorry!

Then I headed over to Dashwood Studios stand. I love their bright and cheerful collections and already stock some of their fabric. I've got an order on the way from them and wanted to add to it, and look who I added - this rather splendid daschund called Bertie!

I did admire this stag's head they had on display!

Next it was over to Lewis & Irene. I began stocking their ranges in the autumn, and I have more on order, including some gorgeous christmas fabric and advent calendars. First to arrive should be Vintage Circus, and I wanted a sneak peak at what he real fabric looked like.

I also wanted to meet my agent, Andrew, as I've never even spoken to him before, so it was good to put a face to the name.

 After more browsing, I headed over to Makower's stand. Makower was the first company I dealt with and they've been very supportive as my business grows. My agent is Keith, and it was he who first told me about Stitches. The team at Makower offer Mum and I a welcome cup of tea and a chocolate and we sit down to have a chat. Inevitably, I have ordered some more fabric.

I am really excited about this pirate fabric! I think it will go down well in Whitby where we have our own pirate weekend and Captain Jack Sparrow lookalikes roam the streets in (goodnatured) piratical hoards!

I came away exhausted and slightly overwhelmed by all that was on offer. There are seminars available on all sorts of business topics, free of charge. I gave those a miss this year as I just wanted to see what the event was like, but next year I'm going to be booking in on a few of them.

I'm excitedly waiting the arrival of all my goodies which I will put on my page as soon as I can. If you subscribe to my newsletter, there will be discount codes for some of my new purchases.

I'd like to share some of my photos with you

I'm thinking of stocking some cutting equipment, boards and rulers, so I had a look around what was available.

This beautiful display is from baa ram ewe knits

Ant this one is from Historical Samplers

Love this button display

Just the job to wear when watching Nordic Noir

Little balls of pom-pom goodness

This whole display was knitted

 Same time next year....

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1 comment

Looks like you had a marvolous time :)
And must confess Lewis & Irene & Makeower are my fav manufacturers. Currently wIting for L&I Bluebells. If it one you have on order please let me know :)


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