Last week was the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in London. It’s one of the biggest craft fairs in the country with over 400 exhibitors, and a whole host of demonstrations, lectures, workshops and fashion shows to keep you entertained.
The stands are spread out in three main halls, and you definitely need a whole day to go round everything properly, we got there just after it opened at 10am and didn’t leave until about 4.30pm – if you wanted to do some workshops too you could easily spread it over two days. Also, there are plenty of places to refuel with coffee, cakes, or a cooked lunch.
It’s incredibly easy to spend an absolute fortune very quickly as there is so much inspiration and so many amazing crafters to talk you through how to do something. My top tips would be to go with a shopping list and a bag on wheels – you will end up carrying tonnes of stuff and it will help save your arms!
Mum and I didn’t do any workshops this time, but we did watch the Make it Coats/Rowan fashion show which showcased some of the yarns and patterns from Patons and Rowan, and some of Coats dressmaking fabrics by designers like Zandra Rhodes. The absolute highlight was the collaboration Rowan have recently released with Swarovski – a collection of beads and crystals to work into your knitting with a capsule collection of stunning patterns, the star of which is the dress which apparently uses over 2000 crystals! They’re not cheap but for a special item would be worth the cost and effort.
All the big companies were there including sewing machine brands Janome, Singer and Brother, as well as dozens of designer-makers showing off their crafts and selling kits so you can recreate their style at home.
With my own shopping list in mind, one of my top picks of the show was the Black Sheep Wools stand. They bring hundreds of packs of yarn and just pile them up on the floor for you to wade through and find what you want!
Next up is Fabrics Galore who stock a massive range of dressmaking, quilting, homeware and ‘fun’ fabrics. There’s always a queue round this stall but the staff move really quickly and everyone stays happy!
Moving on, the girls at the Sew Over It stand helped me pick out this gorgeous purple crepe to make their new Joan dress (I bought the pattern from them too). This will be my most advanced dressmaking project yet as it’s fully lined, and I’m determined to iron out some fitting issues I’ve had previously. I also stopped at the Sew Me Something stall where I grabbed the new Imogen top pattern, and some wool blend fabric to make a second pair of their Portia wide leg trousers having had success with the pattern last year. Jules who owns the business was wearing the Imogen top in this fab yellow crepe which looked really sunny and cheerful, I might have to look out for something similar.
A few other purchases I made were some chunky yarn from Abakhan and some giant knitting needles from Rachael John Extreme Knitting to make a big snugly blanket, four balls of Patons baby wool from Lady Sew and Sew Knits to knit a cardi for my baby cousin for Christmas, some beautiful floral ribbon trim from Aarti J (no idea what I’m going to do with this!), a big pink cutting mat from Sew 2 Go (yes, pink!) and a patchwork ruler to go with it. It was a bit interesting getting home on the tube and the train carrying everything!
Another great thing about the Knitting & Stitching Show is the textile artist galleries, of which this year’s star for me was Kate Jenkins’ The Stitchmongers – a whole shop full of knitted, crocheted and sequinned fish! It looks absolutely amazing, and incredibly life-like if you take a step back.
Mum and I both had a brilliant day out, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to all my new projects. The show also goes to Dublin and Harrogate and I’d definitely recommend going along if you can, I’m already booking out the days for the Spring show next year!