Knit and Stitch at Ally Pally

On Friday I bussed over to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally. It’s billed as THE textile event of the year and is overwhelming, crammed with makers, exhibitors, traders and textile students. The W3 bus ride is a delight in itself, wiggling its way up the hilltops of Alexander Park, a stunning autumnal garden with panoramic views of London. Once inside, I skipped the commercial zone and headed straight for the artists’ quarter to discover these beauties which stretch the concept of textile art…

a stitched door, a phantasmagorical Alice through-the-looking-glass style dinner party (actually entitled, Jabberwocky) with bone crowns and felted spoons by Ann Small and Sue Walton…

I sometimes find needle felted artwork can be rather twee, yet Fiona Rainford’s felted seed structures were exquisite in their surface design.

Material Space is a collective of four textile artists united by a love of stitch. Jane Neal’s tactile bark books are so simple and I enjoyed a cheeky touch of some of her creations. I say cheeky but mean senile as I kept getting in a muddle about which ones you were allowed to handle!

I also admired Barbara Cotterrell’s playful ‘tea cloths’ which draw together repeat designs, her love of upcycling and her concerns for excessive waste.

At this point I was starting to feel faint at the wealth of ingenuity, or perhaps it was the ferocious heating system kicking in. Just time for a couple of hasty snaps then before I emerged gasping into the crisp Autumn sunshine.

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