This week the Ally Pally has played host to the epic annual Knitting and Stitching Show. As a South Londoner, I must admit that it was my first adventure to this grand location that adorns the great heights of N22 of which I only can imagine the views on a summers day. However, yesterday it was raining and foggy, so at best I could make out the car park attendants bright yellow jackets.
I was given a tip off by an old school buddy (a deserter to the other side of the river) who has visited the show for the past few years. So I decided to take my mum for the outing. We arrived at 11pm, which in Knitting and Stitching terms is a big mistake, however lucky for us ( and unluckily for my mum) she has a disabled ticket so we were able to park. We have a saying, my mother and I "you cant get anywhere in this town without a disabled parking ticket" and we are right!
Once we pushed through the storm from the car park to "le grand entrance of a thousand steps", we were greeted by a thousand grey haired heads and a hundred thousand school children, in laymen's terms mayhem. Not knowing which way to turn a jolly attendant pointed us in the right direction for the exhibition, shouting "just push through them, they're just kids" Two of the grey haired women lifted up their sticks and frowned at him. We joined the queue next to the giant mirrored window/doors in which reflections were constantly being checked by the overwhelming amount of women, many of which we noticed had woollen looking hair...coincidence?
Once through we found the first room, blimey, more back to back people! But like a shining beacon at the end of the room it said Cafe, so I grabbed my mum by the hand and we pushed our way through the dazed and static women.
After a coffee, half a kit kat and a chat about the latest news; Jimmy Savile and the fact they had run out of muffins, we decided to attempt to have a look around.
The show consisted of two areas, stalls for shopping and the second an exhibition space. We went for the shopping first, of course.
To be honest, there was probably far more there than we got to see, the sheer numbers of people made it rather impossible. But we did make the most of our adventure, highlights for me included the stitch your own satchel company, Simple Way, who had some gorgeous brightly coloured designs in their range, you simple need to stitch through the pre made holes.
This was the first time I have been introduced to the Bernia sewing machines, boy oh boy do I want one of these babies. The top machine in the range was simply amazing; a computer screen monitor on which you can load in your own hand drawn designs when using their software. It not only does cutting work, but you can work with the HotFix crystals as well as drawing permanent pen designs onto your fabric. This machine really is a business in itself, but at a hefty price tag of £6400 you are paying for the expertise!
And there was one last stall of note, a German lady selling the most beautiful loose crocheted shawls. As someone who has sold at a handful of craft fairs, I always find it interesting that quite often the strangest of things become the "thing to have" on the day. This lady was also selling small pieces of wired flowers as headbands and bargain bags of the stuff for £2, the school girls ( and a little bit me) were going mad for it and she had huge queues! Note to self, next time I do a stall...bags of stuff...
On to the exhibition space, where there were a selection of interesting displays, by now the hordes had died down slightly so there was more room to see. It was fantastic to study the Knitted Textile Awards, which included talented students from universities across the UK. I loved the beautiful soft tones and textures of Sophie Waterford's collection. The punchy 80's inspired Cassette Playa style jumpers by Carlo Volpi and the cute Peter Pan bejewelled collared dress by Lottie Wills were wonderful. The highlight for me was the quirky knitted wedding dress and morning suit by Deimantle Meilune.
An inspiring area was designed by Material Space, who are a group of four artists who have a common background in textiles, who now exhibit together.
There was also an imaginative Alice in Wonderland inspired exhibition, which I thought I should have to take note of. A small room was filled with small quirky handmade iniquities, all created by Chris Bonnett. I loved the little handmade sardines and the Pecking Order pigeons!
Nicola Flint's cleverly constructed squares textiles finished off my highlights.
I think we may be back this Christmas as we both read the itinerary on the back of the loo's which said there will be Sleeping Beauty on Ice... now that is something I would like to see...he he