The Knitting & Stitching Show at Ally Pally

Last week was my annual jaunt to the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace – with a slight difference this year in that I was teaching for the first time! It was great fun to do, quite a few people finished or near-finished the needlebook, and two ladies stayed behind and told me how much they’d appreciated the workshop, which was such a relief to hear smiley. One lady who said she hadn’t done much stitching before did find it a bit of a challenge, though, and I’m wondering whether next time I ought to say something like “suitable for beginners at Hardanger with some general stitching experience”. I haven’t quite worked out the right wording, and any suggestions will be gratefully received.

Besides the workshop there was lots of time to look round all the stands. I love looking at the Guild ones, like the Spinners, Weavers & Dyers (did you know that buddleia flowers produce a vivid yellow dye?) and the Braiders and Embroiderers and Lacemakers and all the other techniques. Most of them I will never do myself, but it is very interesting to see. As was Jean Littlejohn’s exhibition A Timeline of Crewel Work; it was great to see a project that I had just read about in Stitch magazine in real life, and study the stitches in close-up.

Of course the things I am most on the lookout for are threads and fabrics, with a sprinkling of beads and other embellishments. This time, in fact, I took two bobbins of DMC to the show to find the right colour beads for Treasure Trove – and did I find any? No. three, four, lots of bead stands, and I still couldn’t find the right shade. I wonder whether it was partly because actually the light in there isn’t very good for comparing colours. Oh well, I’ll just have to keep looking! Fortunately there were plenty of stands with with lovely threads, variegated, hand-dyed, cotton, silk, the lot! I did get several but as they are for an exchange I won’t show them here, in case the intended recipient reads this blog…

I did notice that there was rather more wool and fabric around this year – a definite emphasis on knitting/crochet and sewing/quilting/patchwork, plus a surprising number of stands with felt and felting kits. There was really only one seller of counted fabrics, and I sorely missed Kate from Sparklies who wasn’t at the show this year. It makes such a difference when you can see hand-dyed fabrics in real life (even under the far-from-ideal lighting at Alexandra Palace).

And did I end up buying anything? Well, yes, I did, and I managed to stay well within my budget while getting some really exciting materials! Below are my purchases of the day (including some useful beads for the next Christmas Craft Event).

Purchases at the 2013 Knitting & Stitching Show

One of the stands sold lovely ceramic buttons, and although they were rather expensive I couldn’t resist getting two of them; I think they’ll make a lovely focal point in the centre of a small Hardanger design. Unfortunately I can’t remember who I got them from, so I will have to use them for private projects rather than Mabel’s Fancies designs which need to be replicable.

Ceramic buttons

This year I was especially inspired by 21st Century Yarns with their hand-dyed silks, felt and silk organza. The felt squares may be used as backing, or I may just do some free embroidery on them and use them as patches on a bag. The silk organza squares are dyed in gloriously rich jewel colours, and have led to a set of new designs which I’ve decided to call Extravorganza. I’ll admit it – I like puns, and I’m not afraid to use them smiley.

21st Century Yarns felt 21st Century Yarns silk organza

Unexpected inspiration came from the two small projects I had taken with me to stitch on the train and in the evenings. Combine the Systematic Round Dozen chart, two pieces of coloured 28ct Jobelan, some cream and white perle cotton and hey presto, two rather elegant little squares. They gave me an idea for another pair of designs, to be named Wedgwood – can you guess why?

Wedgwood variations Wedgwood variations

PS My husband calculated that the Systematic Round Dozen chart will, in theory, yield several hundred thousand variations. Don’t worry; I don’t intend to try them all.