Tribal antique textiles

A Show of Creative Hands

October comes round every year and there is always a dip in the bank balance.  This is the month of my annual pilgrimage to The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace.  Like a child at Christmas I’m up early, too excited to sleep knowing that there is a day of browsing (and buying) beautiful fabrics, yarns, threads, beads and everything else you can possibly imagine, all under one roof.

Within 10 minutes of arriving I was making my first purchase at TOFT! TOFT is a modern British craft company based in picturesque Warwickshire. Started By Kerry Lord who grew up on an alpaca farm, Kerry now uses the alpaca yarn produced on the farm to create lovely quirky characters, otherwise known as Edward’s Menagerie. I have bought myself a starter kit, so watch out everyone, there might be an animal or two coming your way!

K & S Toft

The fabulous creatures of Edward’s Menagerie from Toft.

I think needlepoint often gets a bad rap as being old fashioned and a bit granny-ish, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.  There is now an array of talented designers and crafts people out there creating fabulous modern takes on traditional crafts and needlepoint that is bursting with vibrant colour.  Tina Francis Tapestry and PomPom Design are two companies making waves and creating tapestry that is full of colour and strong geometric patterns. They are a total attention grabber.

K&S Neddlepoint

Left: PomPom Design’s vibrant geometric needlepoint kits; Right: The intricate designs of Tina Francis Tapestry resemble woven fabrics.

Another favourite is Merchant & Mills. Putting the ‘cool’ back into haberdashery, Merchant & Mills has a collection of beautiful honest fabrics, timeless patterns and stunning sewing accessories which anyone would love to own. I have my eye on a few things and with Christmas coming it is the perfect place to pick up a gift for the creative sewer.

K & S Merchant & Mills

Merchant & Mills tempting array of sewing accessories and fabrics.

The show is also a great place to discover creative talent. There are always fantastic exhibitions from master crafters alongside beautiful antique fabrics and needle work to admire.

This year one of the highlights for me was Nikki Delport-Wepener.  Nikki is a very talented embroider who has trained in the traditional embroidery techniques of the East. She also has a stunning collection of important antique Eastern embroidery.  To see beautiful museum quality  embroidery up close is such a treat.  Also on display were examples of Nikki’s own accomplished work.  I was particularly taken by the embroidered Pohutukawa and Koru Fern wedding dress; being from New Zealand this caught my eye. I broke the news to my husband when I got home that we have to get married again so  I can have a dress like this one!

K & S Nikki DW Images

Left: The stunning embroidered wedding dress; Right: Beautifully intricate antique oriental embroidery from Nikki’s private collection.

On the slightly quirky side was Kate’s Plaice, The Stitchmongers. Where else can you find a fishmongers that has been totally created with yarn.  With a mix of knitting and crochet, Kate Jenkin’s has used her love of all things fishy to create a shop made of wool. You may have seen her work featured in the Waitrose Weekend newspaper recently.

K & S Kate's Plaice

Kate Jenkin’s Stitchmonger’s is a true show of craft, skill and dedication. It’s good enough to eat!

So it’s all over for another year in London, although there is a spring edition in March if the bank balance has recovered.  Or you can catch up with the show in Dublin or Harrogate later in the year.

One very happy creator will now retire to the sofa with a glass of wine and one of the many projects waiting to be made.

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