Today, Saturday and Sunday – if you are in London – or nearby – you could go to the Annual Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace.
I went yesterday, and I had fun. I found it interesting and stimulating, but I am not sure I would recommend it. On the door it costs £17 (unless you are a student or over 60 or entitled to some other discount). And although some of the items may carry a small discount it is probably not worth your while unless you particularly want something.
Here is what I did.
First I went to meet Kari-Helene (obviously). I wore my Lorelle and she immediately recognised me and it. And gave me a warm embrace. “I feel like I know you!” she said. Me too. I saw the new Purl Alpaca patterns, and the various natural colours of yarn they have available. I tried on lots of the items this time including a cabled jumper, a short full sleeved cardigan and a jacket. I bought the jacket pattern. And the yarn. But in my defence I had gone with the intention of doing this, and I got lots of tips in terms of fitting, knitting and customising the jacket. I really don’t want to start a yarn collection and dozens of unstarted projects so I will have to careful now. Especially as I had sort of promised Gus a “Lore”. Luckily/unfortunately I could not buy the yarn for his sweater as they didn’t have the colour in stock (the light grey that I have used for my Lorelle).
There was lots of things for knitters – more for knitters than sewing enthusiasts – although all the main sewing machine companies had machines for you to try – Juki, Singer, Janome, Baby Lock, and others. One firm I liked the look of was Danish company Isager.
Then there was embroidery. I had a lovely time talking to the Hand & Lock embroidery company. They had some amazing badges and military items as well as some stunning embroidery on show. The most exciting thing is that they are supporting Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery at the V&A. The exhibition is on until 5 February. I am keen to go. Anyone like to come with me? They are running quite a few classes and talks too. I also got into conversation with Helen Jones who teaches embroidery as part of the Royal School of Needlework. They are based in some Grace and Favour residences at Hampton Court Palace, and many of the courses are suitable for beginners. Something else I fancy having a go at.
I also found La Di Da Vintage patterns and Caroline Smith the owner. You can just see her amazing little dollies in the background. I wanted to say hello to LemonKeri (I follow her on Instagram). She was wearing a really sweet playsuit with a pointy-pixie like bodice. I entered the competition to name this pattern, but I don’t think my idea was very exciting.
I was also keen to go and see Emily Peacock. I had just discovered Emily’s wonderful cross stitch cushions, again via Instagram. Here she is holding the amazing lobster cushion, and behind her is the modern squid. I love crustaceans – to look at, as well as to eat. I would love a set of these cushions. I told Emily that I would want a different colour scheme, and she offered to put together a different set on request. How amazing. I am very tempted. But then I have enough of a problem with making things and not having enough space or time for everything I want to do. I also remade friends with Hannah Bass who also designs cushions for you to embroider at home. She puts colourful maps of your favorite city on to canvas for you to sew. Both these lovely young women have brought style and modernity to an old-fashioned craft (my Mum embroidered Georgian style roses on to chair backs and cushions).
I started to watch a demonstration on how the Lutterloh method works. I drifted off. It just seemed like the worst of all worlds to me. Easier to either start from scratch with proper pattern drafting, or buy a ready-made pattern. There is something about the leaflets and the methodology that remind me of the Jehovah’s Witness or 1980s Chinese communist propaganda – idealised figures, dated graphics and impenetrable diagrams. I may be wrong through. Anyone tried it?
There are many really wonderful things to look at too (I wasn’t planning to buy very much although I bought 1.5m of floral cloth from SewOverIt as well as the Purl Alpaca yarn and pattern). I really liked the quilts, the dying, the embroideries and the student work. Much of it was of a very high standard. One of the artists I spoke to briefly was Alice Fox. She really produces some very nice work – mixing organic forms like shells, wood and stone with textiles, dyes and metals. On show were lots of small, detailed pieces such as acorns, whelk shells with stitch work – it was quiet and delicate work but it really spoke to me.
I also really enjoyed an exhibition of Black Icons, created by young people. We celebrate Black History Month at work during October so I am always interested in new work and creative approaches to our UK Black History.
Thanks for a great overview on this show with your keen eye. I feel I’ve seen and heard the best without having to spend £17. Am I the only one who feels a bit cheated if the prices are just the same as online? I do like a ‘show special’ but I fully accept there is great benefit in seeing the products in the flesh and all in one place.
Love the idea of being able to try on the finished knitted item so you can check out that it suits your shape. I looked at the Lutterloh method and I agree it has an odd feel. And with all respect to the woman in the video none of the finished garments she wears look attractive, just somewhat dated and lacking fit. But will watch these comments to see whether any of their method users see it differently.
Being able to try on the knitted garments was a real plus for me. My first knit was such a leap of faith, but this time I know more about my own knitting tension as well as the fit of the jacket. I also tried on a jumper that would need to be longer in the body and shorter in the sleeve on me. Measuring with a tape measure may not be super accurate with knitting as it is not so easy to control size, compared to sewing.
I talked to a friend who has attended the show about whether we would go this year but we decided not to because of the difficulty of getting to the venue from the south east and the crowds. So I enjoyed hearing your experience, thank you. Would you go again?
Good question. It was less exciting than my first visit two or three years ago. I guess I will possibly leave it another 2/3 years Bridget.
Thanks for the review K! I’m saving this show for next year, I’ve spent too much at the Handmade Fair already. But I have been toying with the idea of trying embroidery, so I’m in for the exhibition and looking courses at Hampton court. Never done any embroidery before so would like to get the basics nailed in and then experiment on my own. Keep me posted 😉
Another wonderful post and a fabulous round up of a show I would love to attend. Thanks Kate!
It looks like you made the best use of your time at the show Kate. I’ve been several times but the journey up from here can take hours! The best year was when I was working on a stand and had somewhere to go back to in between forays. I find the crowds, particularly at the weekends, a bit overwhelming but I do enjoy seeing the students’ and artists’ work on show.
Great review. I had a free ticket to handmade Fair this year and actually that put me off going to things like this as your basic be paying to go shopping which seems a bit of a rough deal really
I’ll be going to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show in November, which I enjoy. It’s smaller, though, I assume. Easier for me.
I’ll be in London for a few days at the beginning of December and will be visiting V&A (I’m a member) Too long for you to wait?
Thanks for your review. I’m going on Sunday with a friend and really looking forward to it. I love the look of the pixie-ish top playsuit and you’ve reminded me that I have one of those dolly kits that I bought when they first came out and have yet to make. I was swayed by my love of all things 1920’s.
Great to get a review of a knit and stitch show. I have never gone to the one in Dublin, and wondered if I should – I was going to go last year so I could see the embroidery machines working but as I bought one before the show….there seemed no need to go, although getting to see some of the makers looks fascinating – those cross stitch cushions are gorgeous, I can see why you nearly picked up some – and I just checked out the list for knit and stitch for Dublin this year and the scissors manufacturers Ernest Wright will be there and I would love to try out there shears….I still hanker after a proper set….. may yet get up to it……
Thanks for the review! I’m going to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin in two weeks, I’ve been several times. You are basicly paying to go shopping (which is rather odd) but the upside is that you can see a lot of stuff you would only otherwise see on websites. I live in Dublin so I have access to some very good sewing and knitting shops, but I enjoy the show for seeing crafts and supplies that are otherwise hard to source.
The exhibitions are wonderful, so long as you still have the energy to look at them! It can be very very crowded.
I think the year I got best value was the year I bought a sewing machine. I went to the show with the intention of buying, with an idea of my budget and what features I needed. I brought a sample of some tricky fabric I had, and had a go at stitching it on several different sewing machines.
I have a sort of yearning to get ‘into’ embroidery, and there is a class on making sashiko coasters that I’ve signed up for in Dublin, so I’m really looking forward to that!
Yes – Sashiko looks really interesting too.
Just to add, I have had a look through the exhibitors and I’m pretty sure many of the ones you mention will not be making it over to Dublin, so I just wanted to say thanks for mentioning them. I’ve had a nosey around their websites and I like their designs a lot.
Oooh those cushions are amazing! I also wish I could come to the V&A show. I have a fabulous colleague who takes trips over weekends all the time (a recent one was to Hawaii- crazy). This weekend he is going to be in London and I was thinking when he told me that I should do that some time! Goodness knows I have enough points… of course I will be in Florence this week…London will have to come soon. All that said I am keen on learning embroidery so envy you the opportunities you have.
I know you will have lots of fun in Florence, and I hope you come to London soon.
Great review Kate. I have not been to a show like that before and I had a fab time with Susanyoungsewing. It is as you say paying to be able to buy stuff! I managed to get an online discount which reduced my ticket price. I enjoyed seeing the fabric and other wares that I had previously only seen online, and meeting people behind the companies. I probably didn’t get the best value out of my ticket by not going to any of the talks or checking out the exhibitions fully, but the main reason I went was to have a ‘day out’ and be socialable which great fun! Shame we missed each other!
I am up for the V&A visit. I have membership with the ‘plus one’ if that helps.
thanks – me too, so we can go as a foursome. I will email you Anne-Britt.
Your link to Isager took me to the Lutterloh site. Might just be me, but maybe check your link.
I do enjoy going to this type of show, although it is strange when we have to pay to shop. Then somehow in that setting, I get easily convinced that I need all the various doodads. I need to exercise self control and take cards from people and think things through a little bit. (in much the same way, when I went to tupperware parties back in the day, I got totally convinced I needed to store my cereal in its own special plastic container!
I love those crustacean cushions!
My fault Mags. I have corrected it now. I collect the cards and then think about purchase at a later date. I nearly succumbed and bought a thing for depiling sweaters, but luckily resisted….
Your comment regarding Lutterloh is priceless and brought a smile to my face.
Oh and if the Isager you mentioned is the yarn company, I knit a shawl with their Alpaca 2 that I bought as a souvenir and it was really quite nice to work with and to wear.
I’m hoping to get a weekend visit to my daughter before Christmas. I’m a V&A plus one member too so maybe if I get dates,sorted we can get a group – or not.
Thanks for the show review. I couldn’t have visited this weekend but your comments made me feel I should wait until there is actually something I want.
I’m not an expert in “Jehovah’s Witness or 1980s Chinese communist propaganda”, but I know a few things about the method.
It was created in the 30s. I bought books from that era, and there are really beautiful to look at.
Thanks to the special rulers, you can draw the pattern you want from the 30s up to now, which gives you the opportunity to draw hundreds of patterns. I must have 4 or 5 books, 2 or 3 binders and it’s very interesting to see the evolution decades after decades.
The pros I can think of are :
– huge choice of patterns
– great vintage ones
– space saving : around 200 patterns are contained in a book or binder
– you only need 2 measurements : bust and hips
– great for people who usually need to cut a different size for bust and hips
– it covers all sizes : it therefore can be used to sew for different members of your relatives/family
– it’s easy to use.
– it’s rather cheap, considering the number of patterns you can draw once you’ve got the rulers.
The con :
– There are no instructions. (Which can also be considered as an advantage …)
I’d say that I really like Lutterloh for the vintage patterns. You have access to many beautiful ones and don’t have to worry about finding the appropriate size, or worrying about missing pieces, or spending a lot of money.
Hi Karine – great to hear from you. Yes I think for the vintage fashions this is a great way to access some lovely patterns. I think you did your beautiful SWAP mainly from old Lutterloh patterns. I would be interested to know more. Can I write to you separately?
You can !