Thursday, 11 October 2007

Champagne at Alexandra Palace

I had an enjoyable but exhausting four hours today at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace (a large Victorian exhibition venue in north London). This is a huge show with an emphasis on knitting (and not just socks, but cutting edge showcases from fashion colleges and artists etc.) and covering many other fibre arts such as lacemaking, braiding, spinning, felting, dying, quilting, etc. etc. etc. There is a large hall full of artists displaying their latest work, some of it for sale, other fibre exhibitions, Quilt 2007 (an art quilt display), another large hall with many of the fibre associations such as the Lacemakers' Circle, the Lace Guild, the Ring of Tatters, Machine Knitters Guild and many others, and a huge hall full of shopping opportunities. I dropped into the Ring of Tatters' stall because I am a member, and admired the 1/12th dollshouse displays of a hat shop with every hat decorated with tatting, and a florist's shop where all the flowers were tatting. At the Machine Knitters Guild, they were able to tell me about a few machine knitting groups that are still running, and one of them is about 25 minutes from me so I might try a visit next month. In fact, the lady thought that machine knitting is starting to pick up again, on the back of the hand knitting trend, because she has had several people asking where they can buy a machine.

The show runs for four days and also offers book-ahead workshops and fashion shows. I went to the Rowan fashion show which featured garments from several of their booklets and from Issue 42 of the magazine, and we received an unexpected goodie bag! Amongst the promotional literature inside were some balls of cotton yarn and a pattern for a tote bag to make. I enjoyed the show but why do they have to blare the music so loud that it was actually paining my ear? (god I'm getting old...)

The shopping area also featured large displays by some of the yarn companies, magazine publishers, embroidery companies etc., some with drop-in teaching areas. I headed straight for the shopping before and after my fashion show, and kept finding sock yarn which got cheaper at every stall. I started out at the top end with some Lorna's hand-dyed, then found the Cherry Tree Hill stand and got two more colours of Supersock Merino, then found another shop doing three balls of sock yarn for a special price, and finished up at a Scandinavian trader selling sock yarn for £1.60 a ball! I also got some more dpns, and some straight bamboo needles, and stocked back up on machine needles (Schmetz quilting) after breaking several when I was learning to use my frame. I also fell off the wagon and subscribed to a knitting magazine because they were doing the first three issues for £1 and I couldn't resist.

I tottered out in complete exhaustion about 2 p.m. and made my way to the Champagne Bar which was supposedly being run by the London Stitch 'n Bitch group. I didn't see any of them, unless they were amongst the big group of teenagers learning how to knit, but I did enjoy a cool glass of bubbly and knit some more rows on my Ridged Feather sock. I am absolutely loving the colours of this self-striping yarn (Regia Cotton Colour), I might try to model a quilt after them. The yarn itself is a bit splitty, but I am enjoying seeing the pattern emerge. And there is something quite civilised about sitting in the Palm Court of the Alexandra Palace, sipping chilled champagne as you peacefully hand knit.

1 comment:

swooze said...

Those socks are neat looking. I look forward to seeing them modeled!

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