Sunday, 12 October 2014

October Big Day Out - The Knitting and Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace

As previously mentioned in another post, last Thursday my friend and I had tickets to visit the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in London.  This was the third time I've visited this show (2nd this year as there was one in March).  I purchased our tickets using a Prima magazine subscriber discount, so it only cost us £9 each to attend, which was very reasonable for a day out.  My friend was due to depart on a three week holiday to India in the few days following our visit, so it was a good chance to have a lovely day out together before she went. 

We got there just before noon, as it's difficult to get away early when I have to walk the dog and with traffic and using public transport it took nearly two hours to get there.  It was definitely worth it though, as we had a super day out.

There are three main rooms to explore when you get to the show, two smaller rooms, one with lots of exhibition spaces, plus a grand hall/market area with lots of stalls selling everything you could possibly think of for knitters and stitchers and others besides.  We explored one of the smaller rooms first, one which had some demonstration spaces.  After a look around the stalls in this room, and then after grabbing a bite to eat, we sat and watched a fabulous demonstration of Macro Knitting, which to the uninitiated is knitting using big needles or big French knitting frames.

I so loved this demonstration, as the lady presenting it had a great personality and tried very hard to get everyone to have a go at doing some of the knitting.  This got us interacting with each other and made the whole thing much more fun.  I tried my hand at both the French knitting which was a little tricky and with the macro knitting needles which were great fun.  I added a few stitches to this.

These particular needles are huge and rest on the floor as you use them so as not to put pressure on the different parts your body.  I did find them a bit tricky, but the results looked fabulous.  This rug was cast on less than 20 stitches and was made with wool offcuts from a textile factory.  They were being knitted into a beautiful little rug or runner.

Also as part of this demonstration, we were shown how to hand spin different yarns together to make interesting and quirky new yarns, and how to cut a plastic carrier bag into one long strip, which could then be rolled up into a ball and used as a yarn to knit with.  Why would you want to knit with a plastic carrier bag you might be asking.   Well, I don't, but when you apply the same technique to the body of an old t-shirt, lambs wool jumper, wool or fleece blanket or towel, you can make great balls of yarn for macro knitting and recycle old unusable items into something amazingly useful in the process.  You can take a look at this technique by googling where a demonstration video made at Alexandra Palace 3 years ago, has been posted on Vimeo.

In addition, we were also shown how to use general fabric scraps as yarn, which when twisted or cut into strips and then sewn or knotted together, can also make a kind of yarn to macro knit with. 

I loved the effect of this when knitted up.  So textural and any fabric could be used from tweed to polyester.  I really do love this idea and it's application to a zero waste lifestyle.  I can think of several things I can recycle into useful door/bath mats, throws or rugs in this way.  This demonstration was really the highlight for me of the whole show and ironically, the stand holding it was a wool shop that is just down the road from me and which I have visited in the past, namely Fabrications in Broadway Market, Hackney, East London. 

(This is not a sponsored post, but I thought I'd give them a mention as they are a local independent business and I was so impressed with their ideas).

Needless to say, the huge knitting needles have definitely gone on my Christmas list and can be purchased from the shop.  I didn't buy any on the day, as they would have taken me over my budget of £20, but I would definitely like to own a pair and would love to knit some super thick throws or rugs with them using scrap or woollen fabric yarn.

Anyway, once I'd got over the excitement of this particular demonstration, we carried on around the show, heading into the larger room next.  It was very busy, although not quite as busy as I remember previous shows being, as on this occasion we were attending on the second as opposed to the first day.  I bought a couple of small things. 

Some larger sized Clover pom pom makers for a project I have in mind.  These cost £6, and some sweet 'Handmade with Love' sew-in labels for quilts and other handmade projects.  At 50p for 20 labels, I thought these were very good value and they had a nice rustic look to them for quilts.

In all honesty, I did buy a few metres of fabric for my business, but this came from a separate budget to my personal one, so doesn't really count in terms of Stopover.   I know that if I hadn't bought it, I would be kicking myself once I got home, for the missed opportunity.

Finally, we had a look at some of the textile exhibits in the second smaller room before leaving.  There were some interesting displays and some very fine work as always.  The skill and creativity that people possess really does amaze me.  In addition to my few small purchases, I came away from the show with a prospectus for a college in London, that I might try to find a course at, which was very useful and it is one that has been recommended to me in the past, so I am looking forward to having a good look through it and see if any of the courses appeal and are within my budget.

All in all we had a great day and I would definitely recommend a visit to the show, to anyone with an interest in fabric and wool crafts, plus many others besides.


  1. Sounds like an inspirational great day.

  2. Hmmm, those big needles are very interesting. I wonder if we have anything like that in Canada.

    God bless.

    1. I was thinking of trying to make some, perhaps with thick dowelling rods or even sweeping brush handles. I'll let you know how I get on if I do.