Judy Newman (pictured) is an accomplished craft designer, author of three best-selling craft books, former Craft Editor of several national women’s magazines and is now one of the organisers of Australia’s leading craft event, the Craft & Quilt Fairs in 11 cities across Australia and New Zealand.
Craft is not just a passion for Judy, it’s a major part of her life. After formal training in Textiles and Design and teaching these subject in high schools, Judy eventually found her niche as Craft Editor for Better Homes and Gardens magazine. The work combined her love of craft and designing with a love of magazines.
After several stints for various magazines (Country Craft, Country Looks) and craft book publishers, Judy wrote three of her own craft books, successfully selling them in Australia, the UK and USA.
She then took on the position of Craft Editor at The Australian Women’s Weekly. Part of her role was to oversee the sponsorship by The Weekly of The Needlework, Craft & Quilt Fair. Judy worked closely with the organisers, Expertise Events on the inaugural event in Sydney in 1994 and then in following years as further locations were added to the calendar. This was how she met her future husband Gary Fitz-Roy, managing director of Expertise Events and the couple married in 1995 and now have two children.
Judy has also worked as a contributor to Network Nine’s Our House program, providing step-by-step projects, finished pieces, instructions and locations for craft stories. Judy has also appeared on Healthy, Wealthy & Wise, Ernie & Denise, and Mornings with Kerrie-Ann.
Judy is currently one of the organisers of the highly successful Craft & Quilt Fairs, working specifically on the marketing and visitor attractions for the fairs and editing the preview magazines.
With so many of us leading busy lives, you would think activities such as quilting and knitting would be in decline. Not so, says Judy Newman.
Judy told Australian Women Online that quilting remains as popular as ever and that knitting is making a big come back this year. “Each year we see more and more knitting yarn exhibitors at the fairs,” she said.
“I was at the Townsville fair a couple of weeks ago and I just couldn’t stay away from the knitting yarn stands. They have these amazing new knitting yarns – spun silk and textured novelty yarns that make you want to pick up a pair of knitting needles and start knitting.”
The popularity of Scrap Booking has increased to such an extent that scrap booking now warrants it’s very own event, the Scrap Book Expo in Brisbane. “Our Scrap Book Expo started to sell as soon as we got the program up on the website and we haven’t even hardly advertised it,” said Judy.
Another hot item at the fair is Beads. “They are very much in fashion at the moment and we have a lot of exhibitors with bead products – beautiful glass beads, semi-precious gems and vintage style beads.”
In fact beads have become so popular in recent years that organisers have developed a whole program just for beads and bead making. The Bead Fair will take place at the Craft & Quilt Fairs in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.
“Beads are fabulous. They’re something that anyone can get their hands on and have a little play with. I have two sons and they’ve had a lot of fun with the wire spinners from the bead exhibitors.”
“Embroidery is also something people are very interested in. We have a guest artist at the fairs this year who does exquisite work. Catherine Howell designs her own pieces. She has a fashion background and combines things like silk ribbon, beads and luscious velvet to create these beautiful bags.”
Exhibitors come from all over Australia and from as far away as Japan and the USA. But Judy Newman says the fair is not just a collection of retail stands.
“A huge part of it is the education program and that ranges from just walking into a seminar and listening, to actually getting hands-on in a craft circle where people can buy a kit of products, sit down and learn a technique and then walk away 45 minutes later having made something,” she said.
“And then there are also the craft classes. We run a small program of classes that go for 3 hours and there are some that go for six hours. These usually start a day or two before the show and some of these classes are held in the evening.”
A highlight of this year’s fair will be the exhibit of Japanese Textiles which will go on display at the Perth show and then travel with the fair throughout Australia and New Zealand until the end of the year.
“The Japanese Textiles exhibit is something that has been put together by people in Japan especially for us. The exhibit features pieces from people who are the best in quilting, knitting, sashko and embroidery in Japan.”
For more information about the Craft & Quilt Fairs, please visit the website at www.craftfair.com.au.
In addition to the Quilt & Craft Fairs, Judy and the team at Expertise Events organise the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne and the Scrap Book Expo in Brisbane.