My Knitting and Stitching Show review didn’t come easily! This four day event is a celebration of crafts, with exhibitors and classes focusing on a range of textile arts, and I have been looking forward to it for months. Ever since my last attempt to attend the show ended with an unexpected hospital visit instead.
Fortunately, I am delighted to report that it met my expectations and then some. And I even managed to avoid any ridiculous medical problems cropping up beforehand! I thought you might like to hear what was on offer, and how we made the most of our day at the Knitting and Stitching Show. If you are ever in London at the same time as the show, then don’t hesitate to check it out.
On Our Way
I had heard that the show can get pretty busy. And having a natural fear of turning up late to anything, we set off bright and early. Swinging by the station to pick up my super awesome best friend, Sarah.
Sarah is the reason that I crochet. She made my daughter a set of gorgeous tiny rabbits when she was born, and all I could think was “I want to know how to do that!”. This blog would not exist without Sarah.
And in case she needed any further endorsement as a great companion to take to a craft show – she is also an incredibly talented artist, very crafty and bags of fun. So, we piled Sarah into the car, drove the 40 minutes into the city, and were dumped with a friendly goodbye down a dodgy back alley next to the venue.
As it turns out, we actually arrived a little early and the doors weren’t yet open. I could exaggerate the queues as having run for miles, but in reality I think there were about a fifty people casually mingling around the area.
Reluctant to stand around anyway, we looked for a cafe. Coffee was found at what can only be described as ‘an eccentric establishment’. A deli where the two guys behind the till spoke happily and calmly to their customers, swapped immediately to screaming at each other, then returned to calm professionalism again without blinking.
They also really wanted to serve a gentleman who wanted a panini, some pasta. There was some intense back and forth, which may have ended badly if it wasn’t for the aforementioned gentleman’s continually passive insistence that he wasn’t actually in the mood for pasta this morning.
Fortunately, they provided Sarah and I with our coffees without trying to foist unwanted food on us. And we were off to the show.
Knitting And Stitching At The Olympia
The Olympia is a venue I am fairly familiar with. I have been to several shows there, and even worked at one or two in the past. It’s such a massive space however that there are several different zones, and the one the Stitch Show was in wasn’t one I had been in before.
We began by happily pacing the perimeter, to get our bearings and decide what we fancied looking at first. At least, that was the idea.
Genuinely, I have never been to a show before where there were so many things I wanted to poke, prod and stare at. From amazing artists’ galleries to a massive range of beautiful stalls.
I wouldn’t have imagined you could have dedicated an entire space to ribbons alone, or indeed Italian buttons! But there you go. We rapidly got off track, and started the day neck deep in fabrics.
Fabric Stalls at the Knit and Stitch Show
Although there were a couple of large generic fabric stands, most of them had their own individual feel. A style or color palette that attracted you and separated them out from the vast array around you.
Sarah’s got an awesome tablecloth project she’s working on, and was wanting a few different pieces to complement each other. This was one of my favorite fabric stalls. The unusual patterns and pretty colors were off set by lovely quality fabrics. I will definitely be tracking them down again.
I even picked up this cute raccoon patterned fabric, although I currently have no idea what I’m going to do with it.
Perhaps backing for a crochet fronted throw pillow? I will pop a link here in future when I eventually decide!
One of my aims of the show was to learn something new. Sarah and I both wanted to go to one of the classes, and we went through the list a few weeks ago and picked our top choices.
I have wanted for a while to do something with my daughter’s baby clothes. I can’t bring myself to throw them out or give them away, but there is a huge sack of the things cluttering up my home.
When we noticed a class teaching rag rug techniques this seemed perfect, so fortunately Sarah was happy with the choice too. The specific nature of the class was to make a vintage style flower broach, not something I would ever wear or use (or so I thought), but it was the skill of rag rugging I really wanted to learn.
Classes at the Knitting and Stitching Show
Whilst I am usually happy in social environments, I find going to classes (or doing any other activity) for the first time quite nerve-wracking. You would think as someone who runs regular classes that I’d have got over this teenage social hang up, but it’s never worked that way.
So I had to psych myself up, and try hard not to grasp Sarah’s hand like a child, as I false-confidently strolled into the room.
The setting of the classes at the event was much like open classrooms off a purpose built corridor. There were sixteen people in total, a number which the instructor managed very well given the hugely ranging aptitudes that were there.
Learning To Make A Rag Rug
The class was taught by a lady called Jenni Stuart-Anderson. She quite literally wrote the book on Rag Rugs. Jenni was clearly very knowledgable about her craft, with years of experience. Complemented by a pacient and clear manner when speaking to her students.
She started by teaching us how to work a hook, very similar to a crochet hook, to pull yarn through the hessian backing.
This made up the centre of the flower. She then introduced us to the bodger. A tool used to pull through tiny individual strips of fabric, making up the petals of the flower.
It was a bit of a race to finish on time, with just an hour and a half to learn something new. But I finished pretty much as the clock stopped. I was not expecting to like what I had made, purely stylistically. But actually, I love it.
Probably in part due to the sense of accomplishment, but I am definitely going to incorporate it into one of my crochet designs at some point. Or turn it into an enormous hair clip, as my daughter really wants it to be.
So Many Rag Rug Styles!
During the class Jenni showed me one of her books and we chatted about the different techniques and hugely varied styles it produces. It was really inspiring, and I love the care-free nature of the medium. Basically, anything goes.
I found the process quite relaxing, but was unsurprisingly far more at home with the hooking method than the bodger tool. I decided not to buy the tools there and then from Jenni, as I wanted to consider my approach a little further.
Rag Rug Stall
Rag rugging isn’t huge in the UK, so there weren’t a vast number of rag rug stalls. But that one that we found was lovely.
Very simply in terms of layout, but brought to life by the wonderful ladies managing it. We had a quick chat about my aims and they recommended a cheap and cheerful rag rug hook, and piece of hessian to work as the base for my rug.
The kit was incredible value for the money, and the hook worked well with my crochet background, so I went ahead with the purchase.
Walking away very happy with my new project. So happy in fact, that within about three minutes Sarah had decided to take the plunge too. And we returned to the stall for a repeat order.
The canteen was super busy and rammed. So we grabbed our lunches and found some space crouching on the floor in the corner of the room. Keeping it classy, with a combination of salad and wine.
Wine at lunch time is a wonderful rare treat. It also probably contributed ever so slightly to how much yarn I then purchased in the afternoon.
Let’s face it, I’m all about the yarn. I am obsessed with the stuff. The texture, the colors. The huge number of ideas the site of it forms in my head for new patterns.
There were a lot of yarn stalls, though perhaps not the range that there were for fabric stalls. Without a doubt two stand out in my head as being the most exciting.
Toft are the brand that brought Edward’s Menagerie. The first crochet book I ever owned. The reason I design my own crochet toys. They now have numerous books, each just as gorgeous as that first. Though none will ever hold such a special place to me personality.
That’s probably why I look slightly unhinged in this photo Sarah took of me next to the biggest crochet toy I have ever seen.
The stall had some lovely yarns, great examples of their patterns and the softest pom-poms you have ever felt.
Black Sheep Wools Stall
I also fell a bit in love with the Black Sheep Wool stall. They had literally piles of yarns.
Multi-packs of a specific yarn, which is perfect if you like larger projects. There were also some great deals to be found. Including the gorgeous pack that I chose to take home. One yellow, one grey.
I am currently in the midst of totally redecorating my house, and these are the colors I will be theming our bedroom around. It will be great to share the results with you in a few weeks’ time.
Visiting The Knitting And Stitching Show
The Knitting And Stitching Show will be in London again in September. This time from the gorgeous Alexandra Palace. I will definitely be stopping by, and I hope that you will too!
If you went to Olympia’s event this month, why not let us know how you got on and what lovely goodies you picked up in the comments section below: