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Friday, 7 October 2011

Highlights from The Knitting & Stitching Show 2011

 1. Crafty Celebrity Spot: Mr XStitch
He's the UK's male role model for crafters and runs the informative contemporary embroidery and needlecraft blog Mr XStitch. If you like your crafts full of thread then check it out! Jamie (as he's also known as) was signing copies of his new book Push Stitchery.
2.Friendliest stall holder: Zeena Shah
Zeena's hand printed textiles feature cutey pie things like owls and birds and she has the warmest smile ever. I met her in July when I did the Snapfish Stamping work shop at The Make Lounge. Zeena's stall was 'nominated' by Craft Guerilla who support emerging artists to get more exposure...supporters get to choose designers they think are worthy so that's three reasons to drop by and say hello to her.
3. Most impressive installation: Woman's Weekly
As featured in the Guinness Book of World records, on display in the foyer is the longest ever knitted bunting, sent in by readers of Woman's Weekly. It looks incredible but at the same time the ceilings of Alexandra Palace are so vast that it looks quite small, but I'm guessing if it was a normal room, it would be a total woolley wonder.
4. 'Wow I want everything on that stall' award:Eternal Maker
Fabric lovers be aware, you will spend money! There are lots of tempting fabric filled stalls. This was my fave specialising in Japanese prints. I bought several cuttings including this brilliant sewing themed one which is too good to cut up!
 5. Best dressed stall holder:Akleriah
Akleriah have no description in the programme and the stall is unlike anyother. Anna Kamaniets who made this intricate bodice and wins 'best dressed stall holder' sits in the centre working away on sewing something. She and Akleriah are performance artists and bring a new level of creativity to the show.
6. Best stock: Aartij
Finding gorgeous Indian trims is really hard! When I wrote Bollywood Crafts I scoured the streets of Southall and Green Street but for the average crafter who can't get to Asian shopping areas, few haberdasheries stock decent colourful, sparkly trims. Aartji are a welcomed addition to the show. The Leicester based studio (I'm told you can make appointments to visit) had a beautiful stall with gem studded, mirror encrusted, glittery trims. Highly recommended...if you're wondering what you can do with them, check these ideas out!
7. Best break...
Just one hour of wondering around feels like five hours, it's soooo tiring and it's not like I'm one of the more mature visitors, clearly they must have more endurance than me! You can take part in paid workshops (they costs around £9 an hour and include felting, applique, beading etc) but just as appealing was the activity laid on by this company who specialise in Decoupage (and who's name I can't work out!) where for £2.50 you can decoupage a cardboard object. Hobbycraft are really promoting this craft at the minute, it's super easy and is fast! It's nice to do a crafty activity at a crafty event without breaking the bank.
8. Yummiest pocket money goody:Kniting4Fun
Felt is a common site throughout the fair and where there are beads there are always gaggles of teens. These ones by Knitting4Fun were 30p each and I bought a batch  because they looks look enough to eat.
9. Loveliest stall: Clothkits
Filled with lovely sewing kits (they still sell gorgeous Rob Ryan skirts) this stall was just so welcoming and thoughtfully merchandised.
10. Good use of time:
It looks like a historic tapestry and it is...kind of! The Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry was made by just 250 Scottish volunteers in 18 months and measures a staggering 104m in length. It tells the story of the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745. You will need to pencil in about 1/2 hour minimum to go around and appreciate it.
Of course it's not called The Knitting & Stitching Show for nothing! Yarn is everywhere, all types, shades and textures, stuff you won't find in your average knitting shop so it's well worth doing some impulse purchases of interesting balls to add to your collection.

Get your diary out!
If you can't make it this year (it's on until Sunday) there's always next year. You don't need to be a Londoner - I met visitors from Ireland, Norway and the US....people come here for a holiday and use it as an opportunity to enjoy the Big Smoke while they are down.

Tips for surviving a visit to The Knitting & Stitching Show:
  1. Take lots of snacks! The food at Ally Pally isn't great AND it's surprising how wondering around can tire you out so much. Energy foods are a must!
  2. Sit down! Don't wonder the whole event without stopping to catch your breath and take it all in.
  3. Take cash...most stalls take cards but for smaller purchases you will need to have dough on you.
  4. Try techniques at the Guild stands...whether you want to have a go at batik or lace making they all do demos and will let you have a go. It makes a great break from being on your feet too.
  5. Collect cards from stalls you like so you can contact them after the show if you want to purchase (more?) things from them.
  6. Get your bearings, before you do any shopping or start looking at exhibitions, have a wonder around to take in the scale of what's ahead of you and get to know where key things are....like directions to the loo!
  7. If you spot something you really want, buy it immediately, it could sell out (that happened to me twice this visit!) or you just may not find the stall again because it's soo huge!
  8. Get there early, as close to opening time a spossible, by lunchtime it's so packed you can barely move. 
  9. Look out for freebies..things like lollies and the odd chocolate will keep you going.
  10. Carry a bottle of water....shopping, crafting and looking at exhibitions is thirsty work! 
The show moves to RDS, Dublin 10-13 November 2011
International Halls, Harrogate, 24-27 November 2011


  1. i love how you have reviewed the show... i couldn't make it this year sadly.. i am off to follow all your links, thanks x

  2. Hi Ginny! Don't worry, most of the stalls are the same every year, I've been going since and not much has changed. 1t's an annual Autumn pilgrimage I like to do!

  3. It looks like you had a good time...I wnet to Harrogate and saw some of the same things but Ally Pally seems to have some different stalls. Did you like the Korean 'Joomchi' artist?