A new show for me!
There are so many yarn, fibre and textile festivals in Britain, it would be impossible to go to all of them. Yesterday I went to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia in London. Although I’ve been to Knitting and Stitching Shows at Alexandra Palace a few times and Harrogate many times, this was my first visit to the Spring show. I think Olympia is smaller than the other two venues. It was certainly less crowded, which meant it was easy and quick to look around. Just as with the other Knitting and Stitching Shows, there were exhibitions, workshops, and stands selling everything you can think of for knitting and stitching. Heaven in fabric and yarn!
Teaching knitting and crochet classes
This was also my first time teaching at one of these shows and I really enjoyed it. I taught a couple of hour-long workshops. The first was about short-row shaping (used to shape sock heels and shoulders, among other things). The second workshop was on crocheting circular containers (covering circles, tubes, and changing colour). The common feature of each workshop was counting!
As ever, I was too busy teaching to take photos. However, a photographer did catch us concentrating while making the right number of stitches to form a flat circle.
Once the workshops were over, I had a good look at the exhibitions and stands. I’m sure that anyone who visits these shows will tell you that the stands are one of the highlights. They are inspiring and tempting at the same time. I had been so busy preparing for my classes that I forgot to note down the amounts of fabric I need for future projects. I also forgot to list the books I already have (so as not to buy the same one twice – it has happened). And I travelled by train and was already carrying all my teaching materials and did not want to carry more. So I was window shopping rather than shopping. However, viewing yarn at shows does give you a good opportunity to see the range and quality available. This helps you be more confident when ordering online.
Yarn glorious yarn
I look out for small independent yarn producers whose yarn is not available in shops. This year I met Erica from Debonnaire Yarns. She has a lovely range of yarns, some of which she hand-dyes. She also has some yarns which are dyed to her specifications and are spun for her by Italian spinners.
These colourful yarns are from Coolree – hand-dyed in Ireland by Alex in a good variety of weights.
Now vibrant is not really my thing. However, when you look at individual hanks close up you see that each has subtle variations in tone which will make it very easy to use. I succumbed to a burgundy hank of a silk merino mix. The beginnings of a hat, I think!
The next stand caught my eye for entirely different reasons – I love the range of colours available in undyed yarn. Black Bat, from Yorkshire, sell yarns made from rare and British Breeds; they had a large variety for sale, as well as the cute sheep who were enjoying looking down at everyone. There are nearly 100 different breeds of sheep in the UK and although not all are rare breeds Black Bat sell yarn made from nearly half of them. Many of the fleeces come from local farms (they know the names of some of the sheep!). The fleece is processed at the Halifax Spinning Mill.
These friendly creatures weren’t so happy. I could hear them whispering “please rescue us, we’re getting dizzy”. And the grey rabbit was saying “my ear hurts”. They quite enjoyed their view when they first arrived, but they are worried that there are three more days to go – really they just want to snuggle up in the lovely yarn on Toft Alpaca‘s stand!
Recently I’ve been doing more sewing and the choice of fabric at shows is far better than where I live. I came across Little Laura’s Haberdashery for the first time. They have a lovely selection of spring-like fabrics.
One virtually jumped into my bag. This will be perfect for a new peg bag (my current one upcycled from old pyjamas is seriously worn out).
I’ve bought fabric from Fabrics Galore at previous shows. I love how they display fabrics made up into bags and aprons. That stamp fabric is fun and I know someone who would adore the butterflies. But I resisted the temptation because I’m sure I’ll see them at Quilts UK!
The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show was a lovely day out. I enjoyed teaching enthusiastic knitters and crocheters came away with a few goodies and got to know other people whilst queueing for and travelling on the shuttle bus. Oh yes, the shuttle – if you plan on visiting you need to know that the tube from Earl’s Court to Olympia runs at weekends and for certain events, and the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show was not a “certain event”. You need to leave the station by the exit for the Earl’s Court exhibition centre, cross the road and take the free shuttle bus. It’s well signposted, but only once you are out of the station. And check what time the last shuttle leaves to go back to Earl’s Court. A group of us had to walk to Kensington High Street tube when no shuttle arrived after 40 minutes!
You’ve probably noticed that I’ve not shown you any work from the exhibitions – I’m saving that for my next blog post!