Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace

horses follow the highway code too

Yesterday I had a day out in London with Amy and Florence to visit the Knitting and Stitching Show. I think I am now sufficiently recovered to write about it after a night's sleep - it is a full on experience at an amazing venue. Due to tube closures Amy and I started part of our journey on foot and being a complete tourist, I had to take a photo of this pedestrian crossing for horses in Green Park. Even the sign that lit up to cross the road was a horse - how brilliant is that?

Amy had warned me that Alexandra Palace is up a hill, and it really is, I'm so glad we took the shuttle from the tube, there is a fantastic view at the top. The entrance hall was festooned with this amazing knitted bunting, there was a story behind it, but it escaped me.

The place was totally overwhelming, full of so many stands which themselves were full of stuff. Stuff for knitting, stuff for stitching and other stuff that I'm not really sure why it was there like leather handbags and awful paintings.

Highlights for me were the larger stands where a lot of time and thought had been put into setting them up. I think this reflects on my reason for being there which was to look rather than buy.

Coats Crafts fabrics

Coats Crafts knits

Coats Crafts with all their lovely knits and fabrics (such as Amy Butler) had a very grand stand and reminded me of the bit quilt fairs that you read about in America where all the designers launch their new collections. (I dream of going to one of these.) As did the big sewing machine manufacturers, along with magnificent freeform embroidery machines. Amy had a go on this amazing (it was £9000 after all) machine.

Amy driving a £9000 machine without wheels

I felt that the smaller stands where things were actually being bought were rather more biased towards knitting rather than stitching. But there were a handful of gorgeous fabric shops there whose stands stood out from the rest like the Eternal Maker and Raystitch. It even had me looking at fabric that I stock in a different light. Also as Florence mentioned there was a frenzy around the Liberty fabrics on sale at the Fabrics Galore stall where I felt sorry for the poor man cutting fabric there who appeared to be trapped in the stall by fabric. I wonder he spent all 3 days there. I would happily have bought some Liberty fabric but was rather overwhelmed by the incredible choice. And the huge crowds there doing the same thing.


I don't think I have ever seen so many women in one place, the occasional husband that had been dragged along (why would you do that to a man?) must had felt lost and bewildered in a sea of handknits and handbags.

I have no idea what these jumpers were about but I found them cool, funny and scary in equal measure. I think I may have nightmares about the ginger cat.

Amy is planning to buy a knitting machine and finally had a chance to use one at this stand, it was amazing how much knit you could produce with little effort. For me it brought back a whole host of happy memories of my mum having a knitting machine when I was little and making amazing jumpers for my sister and I. I particularly remember a blue jumper with a siamese cat on and one with my name repeated across it.

squint and this photo looks better

I thought the Selvedge stand was really beautiful and have captured it in an awful blurry photo. This was towards the end of the day and I wonder if I had got the shakes at this point. It looked really pretty and I rather wish some of the other stalls had gone to so much effort, but Selvedge did have a lot of space to play with.

the Selvedge stand

They had these gorgeous, very fine crocheted blankets, I think Amy got a good photo of them, so check her blog soon. Florence has also written about the day here.

After the show we had chips and wine in Covent Garden before heading home. This was the first time I have met Florence and it was a total delight to meet her for real, she is as lovely as you would imagine and more. We have only communicated before in the land of blogs and twitter. I also met Amy nearly a year ago now after following her blog.  M is for make has introduced me to such lovely people, it still feels like a really unusual (and modern) way to meet.

Have any of you been to the Knitting and Stitching Show, what was your experience? Or have you met up with virtual friends - were they what you expected?


  1. Looks like a fun day, minus scary cat knits!

  2. Great pics- looks very grand and a little crazy, the fevered atmosphere of liberty ladies especially. Nice to meet online people in person though!

  3. Great blog post! And thanks for the advice this morning. I was hesitant it wouldn't be worth the money but it really was. So many fantastic stalls and exhibitions. I just got back and am completely exhausted! Time for a cuppa I think!

  4. I too went today, with my husband (he offered - I did warn him what he was getting into!) It really is worth the visit and the price of entry if you live in London. You do need to be prepared for wandering at a snails pace, and you'll say "Excuse me" over and over as women politly jostle each other for the best view of the wares on offer...

    Best stalls, in my opinion, are The Shuttle (at the far end of the hall - lovely fabrics at a good price), Black Sheep wool, and the Sew Today stall with discount patterns. Sorry I missed the Raystitch stall though - have been looking forward to checking out the new shop in Islington.

  5. Did anyone dive into a mountain of yarn? Amy and I met a lady on the shuttle who was excited about this famous mountain of yarn somewhere, but I didn't see it or any divers!

  6. I wish you had got a picture of my face on that £9000 machine. I think I was dumbstruck. It was AMAZING!!!

  7. Omg! I love this show 'cause you can meet nice-crafter people like you

  8. I went Saturday too! 12 hours away from baby immersed in fabric and yarn! Whooooo! The yarn mountain? That would be Black Sheep Wools, but you would have had to fight through a crowd of women five deep. They do discount yarn... Rowan, Sublime, Noro, Debbie Bliss. They have an online shop. I got a bit carried away on the Eternal Maker and Raystitch stands.

  9. It looks amazing, I wish I could have got there. Having a go on all the machines looks really fun as well, even if there's no way I could afford them. But I have to say, that cat jumper is VERY scary!

  10. I think I would Have been in fear of Being over excited had I been there! It looks like paradise especially going with like minded ladies. It's funny I've just met up with some sewing bloggers in Birmingham to go fabric shopping and I love the real meet thing when you've got to know people a bit online first, seen their photos, "listening" to them through how they write. And that's the bit that's the funniest- how different people's real voices are from how you imagine them!

  11. I would have loved to have dived into a massive pile of wool!! I didn't see any though (sadly).

    Also, I've tagged you with a Versatile Blogger Award -

  12. It was a great show and I was lucky enough to get all the things I needed. Love it. can't wait for next year

  13. Hey Kate,

    I went last year. I was really looking forward to it before i got there, but once inside I found it really underwhelming. I was expecting amazing stalls and inspirational ideas, but aside from a little section from Craft Guerilla, most of it could have been 10 years ago. It felt like the new craft revolution had completely passed it by. There were far too many stalls selling over-priced market stall tat. I went to the Renegade Craft Fair this year in Spitalfields. Now that was amazing. If they do another one you should check it out - SO cool.