I've been at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Ally Pally this afternoon. This is the first time they've opened on a Wednesday and it was blissfully quiet: no elbow matches, no scrums, no danger of being thrown headlong into the pile of cut-price yarn at that stall, not even a queue for the toilets! Also, I managed not to purchase a SINGLE THING. Yep, a zero-growth day for the stash. It seemed like there were slightly fewer stalls this year, and more interesting gallery exhibits - plenty to enjoy without buying more stuff. In case you're heading up there in the next few days, here are the highlights according to me:
Beautiful watercolours, stitched pictures, and soft sculpture (including the apples used on the show publicity), and lovely illustrations by her husband, Charles, too. Both artists are now dead and their son and daughter are manning the gallery. There's a video of Renate speaking about her work; she was involved in planning the exhibit before she passed away earlier this year.
This thought-provoking gallery features the tiniest hand-stitched lettering EVER. And cross-stitched biscuits. My mum and I had a chat with Caren, who was really friendly and slightly bemused that someone had just 'tidied up' a deliberately out-of-place element of her display!
Baa Ram Ewe (TGK15) has very attractive seamless knitting patterns; I didn't spot any organic wool at the show this year, unfortunately, but theirs is made of all-British fibres and spun in Yorkshire. Janice Gunner's quilts (RCF8) prove that saving teeny tiny scraps of fabric isn't ridiculous (although my mum led the way to this one, the vindication was all mine). My mum's perennial favourite is Aid for Burma KSDP (TGI10) - lots of unusual trims and applique thingamajigs as well as handmade accessories. Organic cotton fabrics were thin on the ground this year but, if you need more fabric, The Eternal Maker (L12, L15) has loads of Cloud 9 and Birch.
And a local tip: there's a fantastic vintage clothing shop in Hornsey (the area at the bottom of the hill in front of Alexandra Palace). It's called Mishka, and if you get on a W3 bus opposite the Palm Court entrance/exit, going towards Finsbury Park, you can get off virtually right outside the shop (the stop's called Priory Park). It's a chaotic treasure trove and there's always some fabric and haberdashery for sale alongside the incredible clothes. I've heard that some of the Downton Abbey costumes came from here. If you're not completely exhausted by the K&S Show, it's well worth a visit.