The Knitting & Stitching Show at Ally Pally

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I must admit, I had to look up "Ally Pally" when I received the information about the Knitting and Stitching Show. Where was this mystical place? What is a Pally? It turns out, it's really Alexandra Palace, the "People's Palace", built in 1863 in 196 acres of parklands. It has burned down a few times, been used extensively over the last 150 years for exhibitions, shows, theatrics and community events, and has even now got an all-year-round ice rink. There's your history lesson for this icy Saturday morning, and know we all know.

Yes, it's a spectacular building, and the view from up there is incredible - even on a cloudy, wet morning - but we were more interested in what was on the inside. 

Why hello, Knitting & Stitching Show. With EEWI ladies and knitting friends aplenty, we set out for a yarny adventure through the many halls of Ally Pally.

We admired the knitted village, complete with prize-winning fire station (and fire fighter brooches!), a Stratford-upon-Avon styled cottage, and a maypole.

My favourite knitting village entry was this little farm. Look at those knitted piggywigs in the top left!

We admired the handiwork of Mr X Stitch.

Here's a close-up. I love this piece - it's a brilliant use of juxtaposing materials (in function as well as ideologies!) and the colours are perfect. I love, love it. I really like Mr X Stitch's work, but this one bumped him up to a whole new league in my book.

And, when we were done admiring the "serious" straight-faced art...

... we frolicked with the dinosaurs who were all very welcoming and generally fun. How fabulous is that triceratops? And the bobble trim on the ankylosaurus!

Black Sheep Wools were on top form with their yarny bargains, as always. We stopped for a chat with some other WI-ers and all around us, knitters were frantically rummaging for bargains in the pile of yarny goodness. Some even seriously considered diving in. We saw women making off with armfuls of yarn they could barely carry, trying to decide the best way to get home.

I bought this: 10 balls of Sirdar Snuggly Kisses in Twinkle colourway. It happened upon my feet as we stood at the edge of the rummage pile and for £16.00, I thought it was quite good. It's a soft variable grey/white yarn that is going to find its way into a blanket, I think.

From another stall, I bought a strip of Makower Space Labels which I'm going to make into a string of bunting for somebody special who celebrated his 6th birthday this week.

I bought some cheery fat quarters as well. The stripes and strawberries are for appliqué purposes (watch this space for tea cosies!), and the coordinating floral fabrics are just to admire. Like you do. It's totally normal.

I also found a Simplicity sewing pattern for £4, which is quite reasonable (I like to think). We saw the dress on the left made up and on display (made out of a distinctly retro lime green and blue quilting-weight cotton) and I really, really wanted it. I don't like the lack of sleeves, so I would make the middle dress which is the same, but with little sleevelets. I like the fullness of the skirt and the length is just right. Of course, I've never sewn a full dress before, so this is one step closer towards achieving my new year resolution!

Our group split up as it tends to do at these large, busy shows and so the lovely Nikki and I hastened to the shortest tea-serving queue and ordered hot drinks. They happened to be accompanied by scones with clotted cream, which we ate gracefully on the floor of Ally Pally with about 100 other people who couldn't find seating.

There was plenty to look at in the afternoon after our tea, like this wall of colour at Jamieson's where I enjoyed the fair isle bunting and Colleen chose yarn for knitting pebbles.

I find it hard to resist such striking displays of colour. Each ball of yarn here is a different shade, in a subtle variegation of a colour that really you can't help but admire. Now THAT is a good display.

I had come to the show with the intention of finding knitting patterns that I actually like, and I was successful. I bought three magazines for £5, and they came with a set of enormous plastic knitting needles which will make a rather cheerful addition to my growing collection. I like the look of those "easy" strawberry socks, and there are some nice quick-knit patterns so I can start using up my modest collection of yarn. Speaking of strawberries, did you notice the strawberry tea cosy peeking out from behind the giant knitting needles? Ha!

And so, we left Ally Pally all rather worn out and successful. I'm ever-grateful to Elizabeth for saving me from the underground trains and giving me a lift to AP, and the brilliant EEWI company which always makes the day that much more pleasant.

I've always referred to knitting as my "winter sport", and it's definitely getting to that time of year with glum weather, icy cold breezes and a definite need to turn the heating up. Brr. Time to get out last season's unfinished bag project...

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