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.