The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show 2014, London

I can’t believe it’s that time again already! Last year I had such a good time at the show that I just had to go back again.
When I was thinking about the show I decided my iPhone would stay firmly in my bag, and I’d just wander without taking photos. Then I saw the skeins of wool and knew that you’d enjoy seeing some pics again. So here goes, prepare yourself for much loveliness. I really enjoyed this feast of colour.

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I missed Mr X Stitch again. One day I will catch up with him to say hello!
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I was really tempted to do this and hung about the table for a little while watching a few women stitch, but time was ticking and I wanted a good look around before my sewing workshop. It was £5 to have a go at this embroidery kit. The flower design was printed on the fabric, then a piece of gauzy material is placed on top which you stitch through. What a lovely prettifying technique!
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The quilts are always a wow. There are women who are available to chat about the techniques which have been used. I noticed they wear gloves so they can show people the backs of quilts and handle them without leaving marks. I like this level of respect and care.
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I spent some time in the Wilderness! It was the same last year; I got intensely itchy fingers to craft after the profusion of colour, texture and sheer inspiration. I hadn’t taken any crochet and there were 40 minutes before the workshop, so I joined a table and started to crochet a strip to add to the chains to gradually decorate the area. A textile artist who goes to festivals and teaches knitting was running the project, along with an intern or two from Toft.
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I chatted a novice knitter from Leighton Buzzard who told me about the forthcoming Canal Festival she and her knitting group from Nutmeg Needlecrafts will be involved in. They have a canal boat which is to be yarn bombed and are currently searching for squid patterns. Excellent! I love this kind of thing.
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That plastic crochet hook was the worst I’ve ever used. I looked such a beginner struggling with all its bendyness that someone asked if I was just learning to crochet. It took every ounce of self-control not to say about Simply Crochet. You can imagine!  It was a relief to switch to what seemed like super-long knitting needles, after my recent circular knitting.

The grandmas who came on a coach trip from Stratford Upon Avon looked sidelong at me as I started knitting, but without comment. You do, I do; we all love to watch people knit and note how they hold the needles and wrap the yarn. And the loud Essex ladies (I’m sure they were knitting bunting with me last year) settled down to knit alongside us too. I do enjoy social crafting and meeting new people.
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I like to do my own thing, so rather than knit a tiny row and turn, turn, turn I went for a longer row for my chain. It’s smaller than others but the lovely intern from Toft said she always likes different and going against the grain. Hurrah! So do I.
Here she is crocheting mine to join it above the yellow.
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Time to sew! Last year I hadn’t signed up to any of the workshops and because I went at the weekend they were fully booked. As I’d got a half-price ticket to the show (from an Amazon Local deal following a quick Google for discounted tickets) I felt I could definitely sign up for one. It’s funny how we justify our treats, isn’t it?
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Janome seems to be the machine of choice for sewing classes and workshops.
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I was the only one who took off their boot/shoe. Ah well. Like Patch who commented last post about this, we are also a shoes-off house and so I’m not wearing them when I sew anyway. I do take slippers off though too. I just think I can feel the pedal and control it better.
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This sew a mini storage basket hour-long workshop was for any level of sewer. Ho-hum. I’m not sure how a complete beginner would have managed. It was fast and furious with experienced sewers racing far ahead of us less speedy ones, so the next step (or two steps ahead) were demonstrated before we were ready to take it in. My slower timing wasn’t helped by the fact I hadn’t realised there were pins so I had to take my first bit of spotty fabric off the interfacing and resew a section as it was skew-whiff. Still, I was pleased that I re-threaded an unfamiliar machine without an issue. I also used interfacing for the first time (the experienced “I’ve been sewing since I was 10”) helpful lady next to me said mine was much thicker than hers which maybe didn’t help. I’m not sure I could have put the teeny dressmaking pins through it and the fabric, let alone taken them out.
It’s a fun way to make a storage basket and very ingenious. I want to make another. However I will NOT be using the same materials. The hessian frays and moves around. You can see where it’s not sewn properly on the bottom left. But I liked the shaping where we sewed the corners so they flare it at the bottom and the basket sits flat. I can’t remember the term. Oh, we also ‘nested’ our seams. That’s another new thing.
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Here’s mine. It’s not bad for the speed of the making. During the sewing I had a text from Someone asking if I was having fun.
‘Wasn’t when you text. Was furiously sewing a storage basket, argggh never sewing hessian again!’
‘Bet you never thought you’d write that sentence. :-)’

That is very true. All in all it was fun, albeit slightly stressful. When the tutor Sandra Togher, from the Bowery Gallery in Leeds, said “You have five minutes left” I thought of the stress experienced by the GBSB contestants, with the cameras and pressure of competiton etc! But I’ve learnt some new skills which I can practice and refine. Good value for £10, don’t you think?
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Here is my neighbour’s basket. Perfect isn’t it? She’s so good that she altered the way you sew the top and so hers is much neater than anyone’s. The interesting thing was that when Sandra asked if she sews professionally the answer was no; she works with her husband selling cars, doing the accounts, but it’s been a long term dream to teach people to sew. She really should do it. I’d go to a class.
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I stood and watched a machine patchwork demo, and then bought a few sweets from Henleys of Gloucester as a post-hessian stress treat. Any excuse for liquorice comforts.
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I also went back to the Wilderness to check on the chains. Rather than the lone chain there were now a jolly collection hanging from the stand. Can you see mine?
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At 430pm it was so much quieter, I reckon the coach parties had left. I enjoyed another mooch around both halls and did some shopping. The show is huge and there’s something for everyone. Cats Protection were there again (I don’t really get why, is it that crafters are often cat lovers? Mad knitting women with cats? I do know one or two, or six of those actually…) Interestingly there were arthritis relief and massage stands too. That’s the shape of the things to come, maybe.
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The fabrics are what were making me swoon. I loved them last year but wasn’t sewing. This time I just had to buy a few half metres and some fat quarters. Yippee!
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Here are my buys. I keep being attracted to chicken fabrics, this is my second lot.

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There were a few amusing events on the tube home, but I’ve waffled enough now. If you’re near enough to London why don’t you go to the last day of the show tomorrow? It’s a lovely day out, and even if you go alone people are so friendly and chatty that you won’t be silent for long at all. You can play my shopping bag weebles game too (you remember? Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down?) At the end of the day you’re constantly bumping into, or swinging around and hitting, each other’s bags; bouncing off their packs of yarn and fabric. It’s funny and all good natured.

Are there similar shows where you live? Have you been to one and if so, what makes you swoon?

Knitted dishcloth, button nerdiness & anticipation

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I’m wondering really if I need to start seeking out a dishcloth/washcloth anonymous group soon, because I still seem to be held in the grip of an obsession.

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Last night I sat and knitted my way through a Strictly and Gilmore Girls intending to finish another washcloth (in the softest bamboo cotton, not dishcloth string like the one above!) and because I couldn’t seem to stop have ended up with the makings of a scarf. It looks just like the type we used in Brownies and Guides. This morning I’ve held it up and wondered if I should undo half but I might carry on for the fun of it and decide at the end. I’ll post my version of the pattern whatever it becomes.

Really feeling I need to write a blanket apology about the awful photos you’ll see from now until Spring. I’m a clicker not a photographer – that’s obvious – and the blankety grey skies with terrible light levels are not helping at all, sorry.

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We stopped here recently and ate a delicious lunch, then wandered around the full to the brim Most Marvellous shop where I bought bags of colour coordinated buttons. I’m going to look out for a big jar – I have so many different little tins and jars of buttons. I guess they’re more colour coded sorted separately, but I do fancy having a big jar full to the brim on the windowsill in the little room. It will provide a handy distraction to stare at when I’m meant to be doing more sensible stuff on the PC!

On Sunday I’ve been invited to a rather exciting event. I can take a plus 1 and asked a couple of crafty friends if they wanted to accompany me. The first is booked on a card making workshop, the second is attending a book-binding course on Sundays. I love my friends! This did make me grin, my busy creative friends.

As the invitation helpfully stated that the +1 could be friend or family or someone from the blogging community I had a little think about who and had a brainwave. She replied within minutes sounding very excited about finally meeting after a few years of internet contact, and about the thing, which frankly is quite exciting!

To be continued….. ;-)

The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show, London

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I’ve had a very good day. Very good indeed. I tried not to take hundreds of photos but did bear in mind that quite a few readers have said they are looking forward to hearing about the day.

On the tube journeys to Kensington Olympia I played a little game to guess who would be going to the knitting and stitch show. It wasn’t too hard. Do they have a: knitted/crocheted hat? Knitted/crocheted scarf? Handmade item(s) of clothing? Colourful bag? Flowery rucsac? Anything Cath Kidson? All were complete give-aways. I followed a couple of women for two parts of the journey and then bumped into them by the ribbon and button stall where we had a chat, as you do. I tend to chat to people wherever I am, whatever I’m doing and there were some very friendly people at the show.

In case you’re wondering; I wore my knitted lacy purple scarf, it’s warm but I also had a feeling it’s de rigueur at crafty events to wear something handmade. I was right. I saw a divine cabled top, really nice chunky wool, it just fit and suited the wearer so well. I had to stop myself from rushing up to ask for the yarn details, pattern and needle size. 019021

The lady in purple is Lara (mid cough, oops) the editor of Mollie Makes who was later running a VERY popular crochet flower workshop throughout the day. I tried to find a spare chair, but each time I passed they were all occupied, with spectators standing around too! I’m so glad crochet is so popular. When I said I really like MM Lara seemed genuinely delighted, she seems very sweet. 024Wow. Just wow! A lady and I joked that you’d have one very muscly arm from using these hooks!

025Perhaps knitting would give you an equally balanced upper arm workout?027This is where I made my resolution, yet again, to relearn to sew. Aren’t the fabrics beautiful?

028029The next two photos really, really made me want to visit the Mrs Moon shop which speaks volumes for the beautiful layout of the wools, patterns and samples. The women looked so elegant as well.

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Rowan Big Wool. Mmmmm I feel a snood or scarf coming on sometime, in a berry red or grey perhaps.033

The next two pictures were part of an area with a table of free-form crocheters who, I think, were making pieces to decorate costumes. There were some women in huge dresses, painted faces and high-high-high-up hair, or wigs, like the aristocrats during the French Revolution. The area was labelled The Garden of England Royal Museums Greenwich.The show is turning into a good way to check out new places and visit other exhibitions, rather like following a trail of bread crumbs.035039

I was forbidden to take a photograph of the felting and silk artist Yulia Badian in her Woodland Boudoir fetchingly dressed as a woodland fairy, but drinking a can of red bull. She was quite attention grabbing I can tell you.041042

Deebie Hall’s ‘Lady Spring

I’m always partial to willow art. 044

Sue Stratford’s The Knitting Hut was also one of my favourites. Just look at those chicken kits! Several were purchased as I browsed. I took a photo of her knitted meerkats but sadly it’s a fuzzy one.047

Just when I was beginning to flag I spotted a spare chair at The Knitter/Simply Knitting table, opposite the full to bursting MM crochet area. Half an hour knitting alongside friendly people felt equal to a session of meditation. I can’t describe how relaxed I felt after that pit-stop. I liked that you could take the whole ball of wool, needles and pattern away all for free.

Something funny happened during the session. Eight of us knitters sat around a circular table and I noticed that seven were ‘throwing’ the wool. The eighth was an older woman who knit sliding her hand up and along the needle. The rest not. One of the magazine editor demonstrators complimented the neatness of mine which led to discussing techniques and the feeling that persists which says I’m ‘not doing it right’. All agreed it’s an individual thing; there are many ways to accomplish the same end. All good, all rosy. I’m feeling pretty confident showing off my technique in public while hoards flow around the area, some taking photos of us (eek!) THEN a group of Grannies come along and make quite a deal of the throwing technique and actually take one woman’s knitting away to show her how to ‘do it properly.’

“Look, you wrap the wool round your fingers like this, see? You hold the needle under and do NOT take your hand off…blah blah.” The lady took it quite well but I’m just so glad it wasn’t me.

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This was my favourite quilt from the exhibition, it’s so country home in style.052

On the tube home I heard fragments of people’s conversation:

‘I spend my limit then I stop. Do you remember last year when I didn’t have enough money left for a cup of coffee?”

“He’s expecting me home later than this but will come to get us when I tell him what time the train gets in. Umm NO! I haven’t told him how much I’ve spent!”

“Next time I’m gonna take a wheelie bag to fill, and probably get right in people’s way.”

“Bugger! I’ve got me wool stuck in my zip aint I?!”

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I’m very pleased with my Clover crochet hook, bought from Jane Crowfoot. She’d sold out of 4mm but this was one that was lurking in an under the counter box. She did say she might be in trouble with her Mr for selling too many and not having enough for online customers, but they’ll just have to wait eh? Lucky me!

I’m off to drink a large glass of red wine, finish my bunting with my beautiful alpaca wool, or maybe unravel it to crochet something with my NEW HOOK!

Happy weekend everyone.