Living in London, I guess I’m kinda spoiled with the amount of craft shows that get hosted here – we have the Knitting and Stitching show twice a year, that fabulous one-off GBSB Live show was held here too, and there are sometimes random (smaller) craft shows held at the ExCel which is in my neck of the woods (well, much closer to me than Alexandra Palace and Olympia, anyway).
The last time I went to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show was in 2017 (see review here) – right around the time I was starting to get fed up with their Alexandra Palace shows, having been for many, many years in a row.
I figured that since it’s been a couple of years since that last visit, I’d give it another shot – especially now that we have Fridays off work and wouldn’t have to give up half of our weekend to schlep across London (literally) to get to Olympia, only to be disappointed. And technically, it counts as research as well, right? So it’s not just a jolly day out, it’s business too, dahling 💁🏻♀️
I pre-booked the tickets online (you can usually find a discount code for £2 off the ticket price, if you Google it), but didn’t book any classes. I did have a browse through what was on offer, but nothing really appealed to me – a lot of them seemed to be aimed at beginners, or dabbling into a new craft. As much as I’d like to broaden my crafting horizons, ain’t nobody got time (or money) for that.
The journey across the city wasn’t too bad – there’s this nice little extension of the District Line that runs direct to Olympia, BUT it’s not operational during the week. Fabulous. So we had to take what felt like the long way round and wait an eternity (LITERALLY) for an overground train from West Brompton 🙄 And even then, the entrance to the exhibition hall was waaaaaaay around the other side of the building, away from the train station. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve walked from Alexandra Palace station to the show entrance and I know it’s long (AND climbs up a savage hill), the Olympia walk is much shorter and doesn’t come with a cardiac risk, but it just felt long after I’d had to wait forever* for the overground train.
*by ‘forever’, I mean like 8 minutes or something. London time runs differently to the rest of the country – ten minutes here is the equivalent of two hours everywhere else.
When I was younger, I visited these shows as a general crafter – dabbling in pretty much everything. As I got into my teenage years, I visited mainly as a cross stitcher. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I visited my first show as a dressmaker. I’ve always been a knitter, but for some reason I’ve never really bought much yarn from these shows – maybe the odd hank here and there for a hat or scarf, but that’s it.
This time, I was visiting as a dressmaker, a knitter, AND a quilter. I say ‘quilter’, but I use that term verrrry loosely. What I actually mean is ‘someone-that-uses-quilting-fabrics-to-make-things-that-aren’t-quilts’. We use quilting cottons in our Etsy shop, and I’ve been dipping my toes just lately into sewing bags and pouches with them. So I was in the market for pretty much most things that I expected would be on sale – the perfect customer you could say 🤔
It’s the first time that I’ve had to go through a bag check to get in to one of these shows – and it was utterly pointless. I went in with my backpack – and most women had decent sized handbags – and all they did was have a quick look in the top. What use is that? I could have been hiding anything under my giant bag of salt and vinegar twirls. Either do a proper bag check, or just don’t bother. Don’t half ass it, that’s just a waste of time and it narks people off. Plus, about 80% of the women probably have some sort of blade on them in their sewing kit/project bag anyway 🤷🏻♀️
Once we made it into the hall, it appeared to be the same layout as the last time we visited – stalls spread across two interconnected halls. I see that they still haven’t stopped non-craft stalls from participating, with the usual hair accessories and kitchen whisks present. And don’t get me wrong, I love animals probably a heck of a lot more than the next person, but NO BATTERSEA, I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR WHAT YOU’VE BEEN UP TO. If I did, I’d ask, or I’d look on your website. A better question would have been – ‘would I like to tell them what I think of them?’ which I would have answered at length with my very opinionated thoughts on the fact that they wouldn’t EVER let us adopt one of their dogs because like normal people, we have jobs. Our dogs – Leela and Fry – get treated like bloody royalty, believe me (as in, the husbeast spoils them, especially Leela, she’s such a Daddy’s Princess 👑), and I will not listen to anyone that tells us we shouldn’t have them because we work. It’s because we work, that we can provide for them. These dogs get all the luxuries, including warm cozy blankets, the good food, lots of toys and attention, and a walker who comes at lunchtime every workday. We literally rescued these dogs off the Malaysian streets, and if Battersea think that they’d be better off in a cage than snoozing on the sofa all day then they’re gonna get a swift punch in the kidneys, basically. Followed by being made to suffer one of Fry’s silent-killer farts.
So no, Battersea, I don’t want to hear what you’ve been up to.
Jog on and get out of the craft shows.
We wandered around the stalls (in a methodical fashion, because husbeast has OCD, so there can be no other option) and the percentage of stalls that I actually stopped to browse at was pretty low. I checked out more yarn stalls than anything, and the only actual fabric stall I looked at was Fabrics Galore because they always bring some Alexander Henry prints. Whilst we were hovering around their stall, waiting for a gap so that I could get to those Alexander Henry prints, I spied their Liberty range. Then I spied a particular print that I was after – their Atlas fabric that I’d already made this shirt for the husbeast with:
The husbeast has *ahem* grown out of it, and had requested another shirt from the same fabric in a bigger size/more casual style (more specifically, the same pattern as the western shirt I recently made him – the Folkwear Patterns Frontier shirt). So my first stop was the Liberty website – obvs – who said it was sold out 😒 Never mind, I thought, I know a place that will have some – Shaukat & Co, an online shop (but also alive in real-life in West London) who stocks the biggest selection of Liberty fabrics you’ll ever see in your life. Of course, they had some, so I placed an order for a couple of metres and felt pretty happy that I’d managed to snag some because it was the husbeast’s favourite print. Later that morning they emailed me to say that actually, they were out of stock, and had cancelled my order – despite the website showing it was in stock 🤷🏻♀️😡
BUT – I spied a bolt of the very same fabric on the Fabrics Galore stand. I slowly made my way through the crowd to get it, and then queued up – in what was, really, an unacceptably slow-moving queue (muttered not just by me, but everyone in front of me as well – to pay. Whilst queuing, I was moving nearer and nearer to the Alexander Henry fabrics that I originally came to the stall for, and I spied the ‘Heart of Darkness’ fabric that I made this Deer and Doe beauty from:
I kind of loosely planned to use the leftovers from that dress for a shirt for the husbeast, but there wasn’t enough remaining so I would have had to bought more to put with it. As with a lot of things in life, I never got round to buying more, so a couple of weeks back I cut into the pieces that I did have left to make a Makers Tote for him to store his crafting bits in.
As I was queuing to pay for the Liberty cotton, I made the impulse decision to buy him a couple of metres of the Heart of Darkness, to make him a long-sleeved shirt, as he was grumbling he didn’t have many shirts to wear. I then also bought a couple of metres of the teal colourway of my all-time favourite print – Zen Charmer:
This is gonna be a summer shirt for him – short sleeves. I think I’ll also try using the Folkwear pattern for this, but just chop the sleeves a bit shorter.
Annnnnd that’s it for the fabric purchases – all for the husbeast, all from Fabrics Galore 😕🤷🏻♀️
The one and only purchase I had made for myself by this point was a knitting pattern:
I really loved this Ziggy-Stardust inspired (probably) design 😍 But you know I won’t be making mine in grey… you’ll have to stay tuned on ze blog to find out the colour combo I’ve gone for! 🤔 It’s gonna be proper lairy, I promise 💜💕💛
One thing I did enjoy seeing was the Trend Patterns stall, with all the samples of their patterns made up:
I’ve eyed up a few of their patterns, but not actually committed to buying as yet. It was quite nice to be able to rummage through all the finished garments, and see how they feel in your hands – you can check out how short a jacket is, or how wide a leg is, before you go steaming in to a pattern and end up having to make adjustments. I only wish there had been more pattern brands there that appealed to me – Tilly and the Buttons and Sew Over It both had stalls there, but their patterns aren’t really my style.
Our next stop was a bead stall, which wouldn’t normally attract us but when we were in New York last year, we bought a bracelet beading kit from Purl Soho:
The husbeast – not one to be constrained by the instructions in the box – wants to create his own designs, so we decided to pick up some more colours of beads for him to work with. So, yet another purchase for the husbeast, still nothing for me 🤷🏻♀️
(he’s fast becoming one high-maintenance husband 🙄💁🏻♂️)
Because I didn’t want to go home empty-handed (apart from the one knitting pattern that I bought, but as it’s just a piece of paper it doesn’t really count), I headed back to one of the yarn stalls I spied at the start of the day. Despite not actually completing a pair as yet, I really want to get in to sock knitting. I have one pair of hand knitted socks that were knitted for me by a friend, and I LOVE them – so obvs I want to start making my own! I ended up buying two hanks of sock yarn, one for me and one for the husband (can you guess which is which?!) for sock patterns as yet unchosen. I was only going to buy one hank, just for me, but when the husbeast realised the yarns had some cashmere in them he was sold. Honestly, he’s such a magpie for luxurious and/or sparkly things 🙄✨🤩
So it wasn’t an entirely unsuccessful trip, but while the husbeast got three new shirts, a pair of socks and some beads, all I got was a pair of socks and a knitting pattern 🙄 But on the flip side, I’m super happy with my knitting pattern and I’ve already got the yarn to make the jumper – it’s gonna be EPIC.
I’m proud of myself that I resisted buying any fabric for me (and FYI, the 2019 ‘fabric buying ban’ – for me only – is still enforced and so far successful), although this was helped somewhat by the fact that I didn’t actually see anything I really wanted.
As well as the super-annoying Battersea stand and all the non-craft stalls, I was also a bit disappointed to see cheap ready-to-wear on sale at one stand. Not only because this is a craft show, and if I wanted to buy cheap mass-produced clothing I’d go to Primark (for free, rather than spend £12 on an entry ticket) but also because this IS a craft show, and they are devaluing all the time and effort that goes in to producing clothing 😡
But hey. Another argument for another day.
We spent maybe two or three hours at the show, including sitting on the floor halfway through to eat our lunch, so it was a nice little trip out. Would I have travelled long-distance to visit here? No. It’d be a bit of a disappointment I think. If you’re gonna travel to London for a show, go to the autumn one at Alexandra Palace instead. It’s better.
One of the highlights of the day for me though was bumping in to some of my lovely blog readers! (Hi guys, if you’re reading! 👋🏻) It’s wonderful to see some of your fabulous faces in real life. If you spot me out and about, please do say hey! 😃
Whilst I complained earlier in the post about the distance I had to walk from the train station (which, in all honesty, is not that far at all, I may have been being slightly dramatic), I might be complaining even more next year – the show is moving venues 😱
I’ve not been to the Business Design Centre before, so I don’t know what it’s like in terms of size in comparison to Olympia. Google Maps tells me it’s a five-minute walk from Angel tube station, which for us is a bit quicker to get to than Olympia, so I will probably give it a try next year and see whether the new venue improves or worsens it. I’ll let ya know.
In the meantime, here’s all the eye candy from this year’s show 👀
The fabric stalls:
The Zandra Rhodes Knitwear display:
All sorts of yarny-goodness:
Some Quilting Inspo:
And some of the best cross stitch kits I’ve ever seen – especially the one in the top right 🤣
Did you visit the show, or have you been in the past? I’m interested to hear your views!
Next week on the blog is a little something new – I made a wallet! 👀 But I’m not so keen on it. Don’t worry, all will be explained 💁🏻♀️
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