As I think I mentioned a few hundred times, one of my highlights recently was visiting the Knitting and Stitching show at Ally Pally. I realise I’m rather behind the curve when it comes to posting about it, but I did take rather a lot of pictures and it seems a shame not to share them!
The first thing that I have to say about the show is that it was busier than I could have possibly expected. I mean, I’d expected ‘Tescos on a Saturday’ busy, not ‘Tube in the rush hour’ busy. The photo above doesn’t begin to convey how many elbows were being used to barge through the crowds. Crafters have no manners when it comes to shopping for supplies.
Sad as it sounds, I spent the journey into London (2 trains, 2 tubes) going through my show guide and marking every stand that I wanted to visit. While it made me feel like the worst kind of obsessive fan, it meant that once I got there and was faced with gazillions of stands, I knew exactly what I was looking for. And I should add that stalls and aisles were clearly labelled. Working my way from one end to the other of the main hall, I could look down a row and know whether or not there was a stand there I wanted to visit. I probably missed out on some good stuff, but it also meant I wasn’t totally overwhelmed.
Being focussed did have its downsides though, as did being on my own. It’s just not as much fun to look around exhibits when you don’t have someone to share them with. The upcycling academy looked like so much fun, but I hadn’t brought anything, and would have felt daft on my own anyway. I also felt awkward looking at most of the displays in the textiles hall, so the only one I really looked at was the Festival of Quilts winners display in the main hall. Having failed to get there thanks to the riots (by the time I felt safe to buy train tickets, I couldn’t afford them!), it was fantastic to see the winning quilts displayed.
It made me determined to get there next year!
I found some wonderful new shops, re-visited ones I knew, and was surprised at the sheer range on offer. At the same time, there does come a point when you just feel you can’t look at another skein of yarn or bolt of fabric, and I retreated to the picnic area to eat my lunch. Incidentally, I recommend bringing your own food, as the offerings at the show were rather pricey and hard to get to – there definitely wasn’t enough seating at the cafes!
Over lunch, I planned what I was going to buy, and suitably fortified by a chicken sandwich, I plunged back in.
Apart from these, I also spent some happy time at Nimu yarn and Fyberspates. True to my pre-show irritation, though, I did make a point of telling pretty much every yarn stall that I visited that I was a crocheter rather than a knitter. When a shop has ‘knitting’ in its name, I don’t expect to find much crochet there, but it never ceases to surprise me how many yarn shops don’t seem to realise that you can crochet with their products as well as knit! In fact, some of the ‘knitting’ stands knew more about it than the others. I support The Crochet Chain as much as I can, as well as other crochet-friendly places, and I did write to the show organisers beforehand pointing out that they didn’t have a category for crochet in their brochure. Embroidery, dressmaking, quilting, and knitting, but no crochet. Imagine if they’d put all the ‘sewing’ stalls together and you get a sense of how appropriate I think that was! I did get a very nice reply from them, though, so I’m hopeful for next year.
I saved the best for last: the Tulip stand. This was definitely the highlight of my day, but it was just too crowded to get a picture. Apart from selling possibly the best hooks I’ve ever used, Doris Chan was there doing demos, talking to people, signing copies of her book and generally being lovely to everyone. I’ve been wanting a copy of Crochet Lace Innovations (more on that in another post), so getting a signed copy was utterly fabulous. Doris has posted about the show on her blog, so I’m glad she enjoyed it as much as everyone shopping seemed to! Since I’d managed to keep my dorkiness to normal levels as we talked, I felt confident enough to ask for a photo. Which part of me is still rather British and embarrassed about, but most of me is going I GOT A PHOTO WITH DORIS CHAN, so I’m overall pretty glad I did it.
And because I was wearing one of her designs (an All Shawl, previously blogged about), I got a mystery gift, more of which tomorrow.
I can definitely see K&S becoming a highlight of my year. Having so many great suppliers in one place eases the shopping problem and avoids paying postage! My hope is to mostly just work through my stash in 2012, but I plan to pay a visit next October to top myself up. Ally Pally is a great venue, and when you leave at the end of the day, weighed down and hot, you’re rewarded with an extraordinary view of London.
Definitely worth the effort!