Words: Jenny Whisker (@jennywhisker)
Are you a knitter? A quilter? A cross stitcher? Or a velvet crimpler? If you have a crafty bone in your body then it’s likely you’ve already heard of the Knitting and Stitching Show. It is one of the biggest textile events in the UK, attracting tens of thousands of people each year. It’s hosted in London, Dublin and Harrogate and that’s where I caught up with this celebration of all things craft and textiles.
The show takes place from the 22nd – 25th of November in Harrogate International Centre. I went along on the Saturday which is usually the busiest day so I got there bright and early. Courtesy of my Folksy credentials I was allowed a sneak preview of the stalls before they opened to the public. There were exhibitors quite literally as far as the eye could see, spilling over into the neighbouring halls, selling beads, books, fabric, jewellery, papercraft, ribbons; I could go on but you get the idea, it was a crafters heaven. There were also a number of beautifully presented galleries featuring work from world renowned artists and quilters. If you were organised enough you could book onto the hands on workshops and teaching sessions. These had to be booked in advance and you could learn anything from Bobbin Lace to Fabrics for Figure Flattery.
I’m relatively new to the world of craft but I’ve had a love affair with fabric for many years, so the dizzying choice was a blessing for my creativity but a curse to my purse! I think the trick to getting the most out of these events (as a spectator) is to do a bit of research in advance. I’d looked through the list of exhibitors online and picked out a few of favourites. I made sure to visit them first before the big crowds arrived. There is just so much on that it would be impossible to see everything unless you’re there for a few days. Best to be organised and do a bit of planning to make sure you don’t miss anything.
There were so many great stall holders and after much browsing and chatting I decided on my top three: Tania Sneesby, Decopatch and Clothkits.
I was completely in awe as I explored all on offer at Tania Sneesby’s display. Who would have thought you could pack so much loveliness into such a little area? Her products were beautifully presented. She has been selling her work for five years and has attended many craft shows. With so many other great products on offer it’s important to make your area stand out and her bright and cheerful bunting certainly helped attract the punters! I bought a beautiful landscape picture, hand drawn and then machine stitched with extra pretty embellishments. Tania had some advice for creative people toying with the idea of moving from craft as a hobby to a business…
My next stop was Clothkits, a company that has been around for decades but re-launched five years ago. As I was chatting to Nikki a woman stopped in surprise and said she couldn’t believe that the company was still going after all this time, she dressed all her kids in Clothkits and they’re all grown up now! What a great example on how to bring the experience of many years of business and match it with exciting new fabrics and designs. I liked the range of products they had and the beautiful bright colours on display.
The basic of a ‘cloth kit’ is very simple, Nikki explains a bit more about it…
My new favourite hobby is decoupage (the posh way of saying gluing paper and fabric to objects!) so I made a point of stopping by the Decopatch stall. Nigel and Julie were great teachers and had their own demonstration area so people could try it out. They had a great selection of special decopatch paper to choose from and a good variety of shapes and objects to stick them to! You can stick the paper to anything and the most boring objects can be transformed into bright and cheerful decorations. Give it a go, it’s great fun. Julie helped Emelia and Ellie get started on their first Decopatch decoration…
When I’d done some shopping I wandered down into the basement to the workshop area. I watched Celia Banks teach her class ‘Fine Tune your Dressmaking’ and picked up a lot of great tips. She demonstrated the techniques and then everyone could give it a go on their sewing machine. It was impressive to see how changes to a few simple stitches could transform a garment. Here Celia gives Folksy followers her top five tips on getting the most out of a commercial pattern.
I spent a full hour wandering around the galleries. The standard of work was extraordinary with world renowned textile artists displaying their beautiful collections. It made me rethink my idea of embroidery as I saw traditional stitches mixed with modern designs, the result was visually spectacular. I was curious to find out what inspired some of these artists and Cas Holmes was happy to tell me about her latest collection, ‘Urban Nature’.
Preparations for next year’s Knitting and Stitching Show are well underway and the date is in my diary! I was impressed with the variety of exhibitions at the event and the standard of teaching at their workshops. More than anything I was inspired to see so many creative people using their passion and skills to make a living. Who knows, maybe this time next year you’ll see me there!