not a crocheted tea cosy in sight

– by Jessica Edney

The Knitting and Stitching Show could really benefit from changing its name. Ok, yes, the show does exhibit a lot of knitting and stitching, so I guess that’s where the inspiration came from. But not only is the name a mouthful, it also evokes a mental image of a bunch of old ladies congregating together to crochet tea-cosies and complain that the youth of today are addicted to smartphones. Not that I have anything against the elderly generation (I do spend most of my evenings with my 83 year old grandma), but I didn’t imagine the Knitting and Stitching Show would be my scene.

How wrong I was. Here is a sample of the amazing creativity and artistry that was exhibited:

For a full list of the exhibitors, click here. The list includes individual artists, collectives, textile suppliers and a whole lot more, so if you didn’t get a chance to visit the Knitting and Stitching show, you can still get inspired.

Mum and I were at the show for five hours, so we saw many weird and wonderful things – but not a crocheted tea-cosy in sight. As with most situations in which I find myself, I was below the average age – but I was far from the only young woman there. In fact, quite apart from all of the work on display, what inspired me most was watching people of all ages sharing their love of textiles and art. Older women were passing on their knowledge to the next generation of creators, who reciprocated by talking about their own ideas and experiences. There were many stalls selling vintage-inspired dressmaking patterns and equipment, which was all designed to appeal to a stylish, modern woman – gone was this stereotype of grannies sewing frumpy, lumpy clothing. It was all really encouraging, to see a show that celebrated the traditional crafts and the women who have been knitting and stitching for decades, but at the same time made these same crafts accessible and exciting to young women like me.

Perhaps then I was wrong about the title of the show. Knitting and stitching are age-old crafting techniques – they are almost as old as clothing itself. As varied and innovative as many of the exhibits were, all of the creators had the legacy of these ancient crafts in common. They have chosen to take on the responsibility of continuing this legacy and passing it on to the next generation, which I think is a hugely admirable thing. For me, knitting, stitching and weaving links me to a long line of women stretching far back in history, as well as to women all around the world, in a way that my beloved smartphone never will.


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