The crafting world in general is overflowing with ideas and inspiration. When thinking about gifts, some of these ideas suit some people more than others. So here’s a little list of ideas I’ve come up with to suit a range of different stitcher’s. Whilst this is very much embroidery focused, it might help you with your other crafty friends as well.
For both beginners and more experienced stitchers, a lovely kit is always well received!
For beginners, think carefully about the person, and about how much time they are going to spend on the project. When just starting out at any new hobby, it’s always nice to be able to see it finished nice and quickly. Crewel work, or embroidery completed in wool, is a nice way to start as it is so forgiving. But surface embroidery with DMC or Anchor threads is also a nice way to start. The advantage of these kits is you will be exposed to a number of different stitches throughout your design.
Be careful of the quality of the kit you are buying. Cathy wrote recently about how some kits have dreadful quality fabric and thread, making it an unpleasant experience for even an experienced crafter or stitcher. Most kits are supplied with enough thread, however some are better than others. Make sure the author is either readily available to answer questions on what thread is used (and will hopefully replenish what was insufficiently supplied), or at a minimum, the thread numbers are given.
Probably not surprisingly, I am going to say to support those individuals who are not affiliated with the big corporations. The likes of Jessica Grimm, Jen Goodwin, Anne’s Orchard, Lizzy Lansberry, Tanja Berlin, Lorna Bateman,and any other’s you know and love, provide good quality products and are out there promoting hand embroidery with their own businesses. Let’s support small business! You are also more likely to get the support I mentioned earlier.
Tools and supplies
Good quality tools make a big difference!
A decent pair of scissors (like these Kai scissors) is an easy addition to your gift bundle. Curved scissors, Goldwork scissors, pretty scissors – so many options! For beginners it would be lovely to give them a pair that will serve them well.
Hoops are a must if you ask me. They come in many different qualities too unfortunately. Plastic hoops like the Susan Bates hoops and Clover hoops work quite well. I’ve never managed to successfully use a spring hoop, but for small pieces some people like them. For more serious stitchers, I would consider gifting a seat frame if they don’t already have one. They make an absolute world of difference! And when paired with a clamp for your table, you can have a great workspace. Elbesse also make great quality ‘normal’ hoops which are quite deep, meaning you get a good grip on the fabric. But as they are wooden, I would suggest binding them.
For alternatives to hoops, you could consider something like a Millennium Frame or a Mythic Crafts AB frames. These are great at holding the fabric nice and tight (though not as tight as a slate frame). They are quick to set up, and you can transport your work easily as you can take your work off the frame. The difference between these types of frames and a slate frame is that they only hold the fabric tight from the top and bottom. So you will have less tension on the sides of your work. I have found however that you can get a good amount of tension in the centre of the piece (more so than a hoop).
I’ve not had any experience with Mythic Frames, however you can read Mary Corbet’s review here.
With Millennium Frames, you will need to think a long way into the future for this one I’m afraid. You are looking at a minimum of six months to delivery date after ordering them. I purchased mine a couple of years ago, but based on comments I’ve seen around social media, I don’t think anything has changed with this.
You may not need to know what the project is going to be, but how about giving someone some threads they don’t normally use? Silk threads come in all sorts of ‘flavours’, and supplier’s like Mulberry Silks and Oliver Twist’s have a great array. The great thing about the Mulberry Silks is the little packages you can choose. With different thickness and related colours all in a little package.
Linen thread is something I was introduced to when doing my canvas work piece. It has a lovely sheen to it quite different from cotton and silk, and is lovely to work with.
And it doesn’t need to be specialist does it? What about the new DMC colour range?
Classes and Workshops
A brilliant idea for any crafter is a contribution towards a class! It could be for a particular class, or a voucher for the shop or teacher they regularly attend. And why not make it extra special and take a class together?
With the internet becoming such a huge part of our every day lives, the way we learn is, and has, changed. Whilst embroidery is something that a lot of us like to do in groups (and I think that is a huge benefit of embroidery), for some, that isn’t an option. Or perhaps stitching with a group is an option, but you don’t have ready access to tutors. This is where online classes are a great idea.
I have taken online classes (the fox and the pansy) with Tanja Berlin, and her’s are absolutely brilliant. She gives you wonderful help (provided you take photos and upload them), and you also have access to the ‘commentary’ on your fellow classmates work. So whilst it’s not the same as being in class, it is replicated well online.
I’ve not taken a class with Jen Goodwin, however she is a respected RSN tutor, and offers online classes throughout the year.
Embroidery Tours and Conventions
This is something I have never actually participated in, but every time I see these things come up I do think how lovely it would be! As a gift, funding the whole of this might be a bit much, but a ‘voucher’ towards it might be a lovely idea.
Beating Around the Bush
This well regarded bi-annual conference is back next year. The catalogue of classes is out, and it promises to be another wonderful week of classes.
On a separate note – they also have their ‘competitions’ with attendees voting for their favourite as well as the ‘official best’ winner. So if you have a design or a piece you would like to submit, now is the time to think about it!
Lady Anne’s Retreats
Run by the incredibly talented Phillipa Turnbull, this is an amazing opportunity for those interested in historic embroidery. You will see pieces not normally available to public viewing, and also get tuition from Phillipa and other highly qualified embroiderers. I knowOwen Davis often participates in Phillipa’s tours, and I can say he is an amazing tutor! It looks like the next one of these retreats is in 2019 – so lots of planning time!
Alpine Escape in France
I have heard so many great stories about this retreat! The views look absolutely amazing! I’m not sure how much stitching I’d actually get done though…. Again, a great array of tutors and different projects. They do fill up fast, but with the potential travel involved, booking ahead might not be a bad thing.
This is just a small list of what is available out there. There are cruises in the Mekong and through Italy. Then there are the Bath Textiles days annually, and the like of Jessica Grimm and Sarah Homfray run their own ‘escapes’.
So many gift ideas for stitcher’s!
I hope this has whet your appetite for a range of different gifts you could think about for your crafty friends. This is by no means an extensive list. Just thinking now, you could also give a special box or frame to finish a piece in, a fancy pincushion or sewing box, tickets to a fair. When you really start thinking about it, there is so much we could give!
What about you? What ideas do you have for gift ideas for your crafty friends?