knitting and stitching show

A Trip to the Knitting and Stitching Show

The Knitting and Stitching Show of 2017

Every year, there is a lot of excitement around the south of England about the arrival of the annual Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace.

A range of retailers

For the past few years I have gone along to the show. I enjoy going not just to stock up the ‘stash’ pile, but I find it is also a great source of inspiration. There are so many different retailers under the one roof. Some very small, boutique retailers (often trying to get their name out there), and some larger, well established retailers. I also enjoy being able to chat with the owners of these stores when they are small. It’s so interesting hearing them talk about their business. I have my ‘favourites’ that I at least like to look at each year, and I enjoy seeing the new retailers too.

The show this year ‘felt’ a little different. There were a few retailers I hadn’t seen there before (though I had seen some of them at shows in Australia as they are Australian retailers). I can’t quite put my finger on why exactly this show had a different feel to it. And it is neither a good nor bad feeling either – it was just simply different!

Our trip

For the past couple of years I have gone to the show on the Saturday. I go with a group of friends, and with various work and other commitments this is the easiest day to co-ordinate for all of us. One of the downfalls of course is that Saturday is the busiest day of the show. The place is absolutely heaving with people. Just after the doors first opened, it wasn’t actually too bad. But for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, it was truly beyond busy. I think next year I might contemplate taking a Thursday afternoon off work to go on their ‘late night’ Thursday. Not only do you get a discounted ticket after 3pm, but it isn’t quite so busy.

I asked a couple of the retailers had it been a successful show for them. Surprisingly they said it hadn’t been as busy as previous years. So I hope there was enough success for most of the retailers there, as it would be a shame to lose the show in it’s current form, or completely, as Scotland has.

Our plan of attack

With so many stalls, and so many options, it is very easy to get overwhelmed at a show such as this. Also, because the group of friends I go with has such a range in ‘craft interests’, we do tend to have quite a structured route that we use to get us through the day.

We simply start at the ‘A’ row, and work our way through the main hall (with sufficient coffee and lunch breaks!). When someone sees something they might be interested in, they let me know the stall ID, and I scrawl it down in the Show guide.

At the end of the hall, we then go back and look at what we were interested in, and make the purchases if we wish. Then, on the occasion where we are still not sure about something, I simply mark that stall as one to come back to at a later stage.

This plan works well as it means we don’t make ‘rash’ decisions, and we don’t have to lug our purchases around all day!

knitting and stitching show retailers

So, what did I get?!

I actually went with a rather small ‘list’, and on the whole, I stuck with it a lot more than I normally do! I also purchased two Christmas presents, which is awfully organised for me!

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This may seem like a slightly odd thing to purchase given I already have a lot. But, I went with the idea of buying threads that aren’t readily available and that I want to try stitching with. So I came out with lace wool (I’ve got an idea for this, and you may be surprised!), and quite a few different silk threads.

a collection of threads purchased at the knitting and stitching show


Ribbons and buttons

Slightly odd for someone who doesn’t do ribbon embroidery I grant you! But again, like the lace wool, I’ve got a plan for this!

The buttons – not for dressmaking, but again, I’ve got plans!

a collection of various silk ribbons purchased at the knitting and stitching show



One of the ‘things on the list’ was to visit the Silk Route and get some nice silk that might be appropriate for when it comes time to do my gold work piece at the RSN. Unfortunately the RSN’s supply of silk is somewhat limited, as I found out when trying to find something suitable for the silk shading piece, and I wanted to have a few more options available for the gold work piece.

I also came away with some canvas (now those previous purchases might make sense!).

a collection of silk dupion purchased at the knitting and stitching show


Odds and Ends

Not much in this category – as I said a couple of gifts, a rotary cutter and some of these Japanese needles I have heard a lot about recently. I’ve not stitched with them yet, but I will let you know what I think! They are considerably more expensive than the John James needles I use, and they don’t come in a size 12 embroidery. So at this stage I’m a little sceptical they are worth the extra expense, but until I use them I won’t know for sure!

Japanese needles


And one purchase you need to use your imagination on!

Well, that’s what I told my hubby! He still doesn’t get it. I think it is an absolutely brilliant idea, and as soon as I’ve worked out where to put it, I will be putting it together. It’s a flat mannie! I promise I haven’t gone completely bonkers (maybe I should let you decide that one though!). I purchased the large female one, and I’m already wishing I had made a pair and added the large male as well!

And, if you are a dressmaker, you can cover them to make them into an actual mannequin.

She is a truly passionate business owner who really believes in her product. I could write quite a bit on these just alone! But in essence, they are made of fully recycled products, have a low carbon footprint, and are made in the UK. And all from a very lovely lady.

flat mannie - an innovative display!


A lovely day out!

And that was our lovely day out! It’s a great day out with friends or by yourself. It’s truly inspiring, not just from the stalls that are there, but from seeing so many people interested in craft under the one roof.

I was completely exhausted by the end. We were there almost the entire day, and with an early start to get a car park, it was a long day. But a very worthwhile one all the same!

knitted village at knitting and stitching show
knitted village at knitting and stitching show
knitted village at knitting and stitching show


26 thoughts on “A Trip to the Knitting and Stitching Show”

  1. It is really interesting how someone else has experienced the show and that many observations are the same. It was my third visit in a row, and I also felt this show was different. For me that was a pleasant thing as the previous two years felt so similar I was happy with a change and seeing some different stalls. I had seen those needles online but not at the show. Which stall did you pick them up from? Let me know what you think of them when you have used them.

    1. I’m glad it wasn’t just me that felt that way Marlous! I can’t place my finger on what it was that made this show different, there was just ‘something’ about it.
      The store I picked the needles up from was “Beyond Measure” I also saw them at a different stall there, but I can’t recall which one. I will let you know what I think once I’ve stitched with them. My hubby thinks they are worth the extra expense if they last longer than the John James ones, but we will have to wait and see on that one!

  2. The japanese needles, if they are like mine, are particularly good for metal thread embroidery, or other tender threads. The hole is round, and drilled, rather than pressed, so there are no sharp edges. They’re on the short side, compared with what you are used to, but when you work in a frame you aren’t tempted to “scoop” stitches as you can in the hand, so that won’t be a problem.

    1. Thanks Rachel. I’ve got a metal work project to start when I get some time, so that might be the perfect piece to try them on. The lady I bought them from did say what you have just mentioned about the way the needle is made, so I suspect that even if the brand is different, they are very similar.

  3. So much to see and do, I think it would be quite overwhelming, but on second thought, I think I could suffer through it!

    1. It is quite overwhelming, and the first time I went after my accident I really struggled. But it’s something I can suffer through quite easily now!

  4. Hi Catherine!

    I’ll be going to the Harrogate one in 4 weeks’ time. Just waiting to try and get some freebie tickets!! 🙂

    I usually go Thursday or Friday, but last year I went to the Thursday late night and then Friday a long morning. The Thursday teatime was great. Most visitors had gone and the vendors had time to chat.

    Going 2 days also meant that I could devote day 1 to looking and making notes of interesting products and then double check my stash/sleep on it before going back the next morning to get what I’d decided I would buy, i.e. less than half of the original list!! So, impulse shopping was curbed greatly. Not completely, but it was an improvement on previous visits!!

    I’ll try and take some photos this time and see if I can’t rustle up a blog post about it. 🙂

    1. Hi Elizabeth, so good to hear from you.
      I can’t wait to see and hear about Harrogate! It sounds like another great show, and I’d be interested to see how ‘different’ it is from Ally Pally. Though to a certain extent it’s probably something you can only judge from being at both shows when you get the ‘feel’ for them.
      Your idea of going on two days sounds very sensible! I’m not sure I could ever do that unless I moved considerably closer, as it’s currently a one and a half hour drive, or longer on public transport, in each direction. And that really does eat into your day, and your energy levels. But I do like the idea of not making purchases you may not need once you’ve re-evaluated what you have at home!

  5. I love going to the Harrogate one, so it will be interesting to see how that one feels. Over the last few years there’s been a lot more variety of crafts which is better, at one point it seemed to be all cross-stitch stalls! My favourite stall is Rowandean, where for £5 you can sit and embroider one of their little pictures, it’s like a little oasis of calm in the bustle of the show. I’ll be interested to hear how you get on with the needles.

    1. I too love Rowandean, but at Ally Pally there is no option of sitting and stitching unfortunately. I agree with you on the stall variety – some years it seems to be all quilting, others all cross stitch. I found this year to have quite a good mix, though maybe more knitting stalls.
      I’ll keep you posted on the needles!

  6. I am hoping to go Harrogate too, last went three years ago on the Thursday, and it was heaving with people. Love your pictures, thanks for sharing.

    1. I think it’s probably actually a good idea to not go every year. Sometimes I feel a bit like I’m not getting anything out of it. That was why I was pleasantly surprised at the ‘different feel’ this show had.
      Enjoy if you do go along!

  7. So sorry to have missed it – maybe next year. Love the silks that you have bought.. I remember visiting the silk route many years ago when they operated out of a small room in their house – lovely people. Look forward to seeing what you are going to do with the ribbons and buttons!

    1. It’s worth the trip if you can get to it. Such a great place to get all sorts of things you ‘might’ need. I think the Silk Route people are lovely too, and very eclectic!

    1. It was s great time, and the location certainly doesn’t hurt! Let’s just say the phone dying made what I thought had been a very well controlled spending day into a very expensive day!

  8. Although exhausting it sounds like a wonderful day 🙂
    I’m hoping to go to StitchFest in Totnes this coming Saturday. I’ve not been before. It’s a small show so I might cope better 🙂
    Enjoy your new stash! 🙂

    1. It’s a great day, though I did need Sunday to recover.
      I hope you enjoy the show. Smaller shows are really lovely. A bit less hectic so you can really enjoy the experience

  9. Sounds like a great show and a wonderful venue. Interesting that there were Australian retailers there. Did they go over just for the show?

    1. It’s a really amazing show, one of the best in my opinion! The Australian retailers did come over just for the show. Some weren’t even staying for a holiday afterwards!

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