Friday, October 19, 2007

The Knitting and Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace, 2007

The "Knitting and Stitching Show" has got to be about the worst title imaginable for what is actually an incredible, immense, and well attended contemporary venue for all forms of fiber arts. There are dozens upon dozens of vendors, many coming from distant locations (like Dale and Ian Rollerson's The Thread Studio of Perth, favorite supplier).

One can find all forms of needlework...from chessy cross stitch patterns to the most exotic goldwork kits; from cheap, stick-on glitter to hand spun yak yarn; from scrapbook supplies that might catch a stitcher's eye to expensive, turned wood embroidery stands; from Ott lights to self-published books; from felters to smockers; from fiber magazines to beads from Africa; from Chinese textiles to marbleized fabric; from counted threads to contemporary's all there...under one, turn-of-the-last-century crystal ceiling beyond a palm tree decorated lobby. It was more than I dared to hope. It was eye-candy, education, and inspiration rolled into a shopping opportunity that required a debt-free credit card.

Getting there was no problem. From the moment my sister Wanda and I left the tube station, we knew where to go...we followed the sea of women to a bus stop and shuttled to the exhibition door. I was amazed at the large number of cute, uniformed English school girls in attendance. It is no wonder that stitching is so popular in Great Britain; they expose youth to the art. There was an exotic, specialty chocolate stand right inside the main door. Business was brisk...chocolate and embroidery, what could be better?

Wanda and I decided to walk the aisles, one at a time, and not to purchase anything on our first day. Shopping on the second day, after all the options are viewed, is a better choice...except that Kim Thittichai's Hot Textiles was sold out by then. We only progressed through the Great Hall, the area most heavily populated with vendors. We left the exhibitions for the second day...along with our purchases.

This plan went well. It was amazing for me to walk the floor with my sister, a traditional stitcher, an expert at Blackwork, one looking for the perfect kit to begin goldwork and for insight into quilting...absolutely nothing that I'd look at. It was amazing, though, because it gave me a chance to think, to look, to see the different types of embroiderers. It let me watch needs being fulfilled, merchandising ideas, and popular forms of stitching I'd otherwise have ignored. It was fascinating, but I was eager for the second day.

With Wanda, my viewing was more limited than I would have done alone. Alone, I would have skipped all the aisles of vendors and spent two days with my head buried in a notebook, scribbling down ideas, engrossed in someone's else output, feeling inferior, and unable to purchase anything due to being overwhelmed by the total. As it was, I felt rushed through the exhibits and certain that I'd missed things...but I never felt inadequate, behind-the-times, lacking in abilities, or hopelessly behind all the latest techniques. I didn't see everything; but, what I saw, I really looked at.

I spent a great deal of time in the Pfaff Embroidery Emroidery Challenge Exhibition, in the Studio 21 exhibition, and in both student areas (knitting and embroidery). I had hoped to take notes while looking at the work from the 62 Group; but, surprisingly, most of this just didn't live up to my expectations and I never took the pen from my purse.

I got to meet some cyber friends and bought some great "stuff" at Oliver Twist and the Thread Studio as well as Maggie Grey/Valerie Campbell-Harding's new book and the booklets I didn't already own from Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn.

More posts will to come will concentrate on the things that really impacted me.

1 comment:

arlee said...

sigh--i wish i wish i wish......
Yo0u can get Kim's book directly from her on her site--well worth the money!!!!