It's been a fascinating day. I've been pounding the aisles of Hall 12 at the NEC Birmingham, examining the wares of hundreds of suppliers at the CHSI fair. In the climate of general economic gloom, it was good to learn that visitors are up 15% over last year. And all the exhibitors I chatted with reckoned that they had been very busy over the course of the show to date.
For those of you who went to CHSA, this is nowhere near as spectacular in terms of display. There are no keynote pieces over which to drool, but instead a mixture of small completed works, blanks to decorate, and paints, pencils, fabrics, findings, beads and other delights. The displays may be much more restrained, but there are still some lovely makes to catch your eye. (Carmen, I thought you'd like to see the skull!)
Knowing my love of the Cow Parade, you won't be surprised to see that Daisy and YeeHaw (as I have named them) posed for me. Sorry about the strange angles; although I'm tall, they were way above my head!
I was pleasantly surprised that the minimum order volumes for trade deals are such that I can actually manage to stop paying retail prices for the things I use the most. I came home with a fabulous collection of catalogues (some of which I have already drooled over) and a desire for a business trip to Brussels to pick up an order from one of those catalogues. (Craft, chocolate, fashion, Belgian beer...so very much worth the journey...)
During the course of the show, there was a free workshop programme, focusing on business development issues, such as website traffic management, social networking for business, a presentation by the Federation of Small Businesses and a session to help with PR. I've known these be chargeable at other shows, and thought that the free programme was a bonus.
For the first time this year, the show included Creativity on the Catwalk, using items from exhibitors at the show. In addition to the items that you would expect to see featured - patterns, fabrics, yarn - there was also some creative millinery, bags and some very funky spray painted tops, as shown below. I loved the use of quilting and batting in some really innovative designs, and the knits were gorgeous.
I'll let you know what I bought in the next post. In the meantime, I need some lunch (albeit rather late), and to put my feet up on the sofa. I only wish I'd worn my pedometer, as I could have felt truly virtuous tonight!