Exhibitions at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show

So much inspiration!

I love to visit exhibitions to refresh my creative juices and to inspire future work. Although, I work primarily in knit and crochet, I’m inspired by all textile disciplines. The exhibitions at the Knitting and Stitching Shows are an opportunity to see a wide variety of work by both new and experienced textile artists. I’m going to show you some of the work that caught my eye.

The National Fashion Textiles Competition 2014

The National Fashion Textiles competition is open to 16-18 year olds. Most will be studying textiles at school. The emphasis of the competition is on embroidery. The finalists work is creative and demonstrates a wide range of techniques.

Entries for The National Fashion Textiles Competition 2014

First prize

Silk dress by Sophie Prentice
Detail of Silk dress by Sophie Prentice

The winner of the competition was Sophie Prentice from St Catherine’s school. Her silk dress was inspired by the natural world. The positioning of embroidery, beading, and manipulated textiles enhances the dress design. The variety of soft, neutral colours really are revealed close-up.

Second prize

Miliary Mexican outfit by Fiona Ward, entered in the National Fashion Textiles Competition 2014
Detail of Military Mexican by Fiona Ward

In contrast ‘Mexican Military’ is bright and colourful. Fiona Ward, from Barton Pervel College, uses a variety of hand and machine stitch techniques. Again the placement of the different types of embellishment is well thought out; I particularly like how the couching on the collar extends across the front and is echoed on the cuffs.


Bottle Top Dress by Tara Rimawl

Tara Rimawi’s ‘Bottle Top Dress’ is fun, if not comfortable! I like the use of macramé and repetition of the same type of bottle top makes the design work visually.

Contemporary Quilt exhibition

The ‘Contemporary Quilt’ group is one of the specialist groups in The Quilters’ Guild. They aim to move away from the idea of the quilt as a functional item. So, although they start with traditional techniques, they experiment with new materials and new ways of using them. The quilts on display demonstrate the broad range of styles and techniques used by the group members.

Three Indian Women

Three Indian Women by Gillian Travis
Detail of Three Indian Women by Gillian Travis

Gillian Travis is a prolific quilter who loves vibrant colours, which she has used to great effect in this quilt.  It is inspired by her other passions; ethnic textiles and travel, in particular to India. She specialises in paint, print, felt, and machine stitch, and always uses natural fibres.

Washday Blues

I love this charming scene, which reminds me of naïve drawings I used to do as a child. I also love the vibrant colours. This quilt is also by Gillian Travis, however, it took me some time to realise this because the style is quite different. Clearly, she is a prolific quilter. Take a look at her website to see more of her quilts.

Washday Blues by Gillian Travis


'Flight' by Jill Exell

Jill Exell’s calm quilt is beautiful in a very different way from the previous quilts. If you went to the Festival of Quilts, 2013, you may recognise it; it won the first prize in the Art Quilt category.

Halfway Between

The idea of “halfway between” was the starting point of the work exhibited by members of the Thames Valley Contemporary Textiles Group. They explored ideas varying from landscapes to nature to folk tales as well as thoughts about being halfway between fantasy and reality or life and death.

Rules the Waves?

Rules the Waves by Margaret Ramsay
Details of Rules the Waves by Margaret Ramsay

I love this almost abstract wall-hanging by Margaret Ramsay. She is another prolific quilter, but with quite a different style to Gillian Travis. She is a botanist who likes recording her travels in watercolour; this clearly influences her work. I love her use of hand stitch for mark-making and how she builds up texture by layering and couching the fabric.


Horizon by Sandra Grusd

Sandra Grusd’s wall-hanging was inspired by a print. She used cut-through and bonded construction techniques working with hand-dyed, hand-painted and commercial cotton fabrics. I love the coastal images and the unusual perspective.

Not Just Another Pebble on the Beach

Not Just Another Pebble on the Beach by Hazel Ryder
Detail of Not Just Another Pebble on the Beach by Hazel Ryder
The Mermaid Project by Silkfelt Collective

I love how the colours and textures of sea and beach have been evoked in this wall-hanging by Hazel Ryder. This is another wonderful example of the use of mark-making in stitch. But, there is a hidden dimension, which is only revealed in close-up. Hazel’s daughter studied Chemistry at Sussex University. And having completed her degree, her lecture notes and research papers have been up-cycled into this wall-hanging!

The Mermaid Project

Really, I should have taken more photos of the Silkfelt Collective’s exhibition, since the one here does not do it justice. Each artist created an individual response to the Little Mermaid story. Felt is the medium, so the work is full of colour, texture, and form.

I hope you enjoyed a taste of the exhibitions. I left, buzzing with ideas about texture, colour, and mark-making. Who knows how or even if they will inspire a finished piece of knitting or crochet, but it will be fun experimenting and coming up with something quite unexpected!

Leave a Reply