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In Bloom

Britain in Bloom Finalists 2012

Hazel Bainbridge

In these austere times many people seem to be turning their hands to various forms of craftwork, whether just as a hobby or to eke out the household budget.

Cardmaking is gaining in popularity, unsurprisingly given the price of the last birthday card I bought. With the ranges of good quality card, beautiful stamps and many other embellishments available, a very professional result is easy to achieve.

Someone who knows all about this and many other crafts is Hazel Bainbridge, creator of Designs by TABBYKAT.

Hazel’s retail outlet, located within the Cranswick Garden Centre, is a treasure trove of products to whet your appetite. Her regular customers look forward to monthly Craft Workshops and are advised by visiting experts, afterwards enjoying a nice cup of tea or coffee in TJ’s Coffee Shop.

Since her marriage Hazel has lived in both Kilham and Harpham, but is now settled in North Frodingham with her husband John. Their two daughters Anne and Helen live locally and have produced three grandchildren of which Hazel and John are rightly proud.

Hazel’s own grandmother taught her to knit when she was only four – goodness only knows how. I’ve tried to teach a couple of my grandchildren at a later age than that, and almost reached screaming pitch with frustration. However, not content with a scarf, this clever little girl to her mother’s amazement made herself a cardigan, aged seven! She has never really looked back and is proficient at bobbin lace, embroidery and dressmaking. Having enrolled on a Fashion and Design Course at Scarborough Technical College Hazel was disappointed to only complete the first year, as the course was moved to a venue unsuitable for her.

She took up commercial sewing and knitting also demonstrating at Shows, but suffered a repetitive strain injury from the machines and had to stop. Next on her agenda was making tiny items for dolls houses, including needlepoint carpets all at one twelfth scale.

In 1995 she and her daughter became involved with the technology necessary to produce instructional DVD’s which have proved incredibly successful. This enthusiastic lady of a ‘certain age’ and who is supposedly retired, now does the rounds of all the large exhibition centres including Alexandra Palace, NEC, Harrogate, Gateshead, Wrexham and Newbury racecourses, Doncaster and Lincoln selling her DVD’s and craftmaking paraphernalia. She makes a rule only to sell what she has used herself and her prices are very keen.

To prove the point she related a story of serving a lady at one of the NEC shows only to see her returning throughout the day, each time with a different companion. Finally Hazel asked her if she had come with a group. “Oh, no. It’s just that if I’ve seen anyone looking at something on another stand that I know you sell cheaper, I’ve brought them over to you.” Not perhaps the best way to endear yourself to other stallholders, but jolly good for business!

As if all this were not enough Hazel regularly appears on the Create and Craft television shopping channel, demonstrating her wares. This is televised from studios in Peterborough and the sessions are live and unscripted – words to chill many a professional broadcaster’s heart, but not our Hazel such is the enthusiasm she has for her products and skills.

Even if you’re not already bitten by the craft bug I can think of many worse ways to spend a rainy afternoon in the school holidays (and I’m sure there will be some) than encouraging the children’s imagination and dexterity cardmaking.   So get yourselves down to the Garden Centre; you never know, you may unearth talents you never knew you had!