Knit and Sew: Embroidery and fun

Alpaca-wool. Svenska: Alpackaull

Alpaca-wool. Svenska: Alpackaull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Thursday I went to the Knitting and Stitching Exhibition at the Ally Pally (or Alexandra Palace). and was greeted at the entrance by the attached – a wonderful London taxi covered in knitted fabric – as per guerilla knitting which is becoming increasingly popular here in the UK.

a knitted taxi

I went just to get some embroidery kits for my grand-daughter who is, at four, nearly ready to learn cross-stitch and found some coloured remnants of fabric and a great bundle of ends of silks and other sewing cottons etc which she can use. So a lovely Xmas present for her, but I was surprised that no actual kits were available. Lots of kits for adults of course and some extremely complicated ones at that. There were a lot of stalls selling materials and patterns to sew your own dresses – there has been a small resurgence of this craft since the TV programme – similar to the Bake Off but not as popular  – but still some people are getting out sewing machines again. I remember all the things I used to sew. I made all our curtains when we were first married, and as a student and very poor, I shared a hand cranked sewing machine – old even then – which we used to make skirts and I even made myself a green cape as I couldn’t afford a coat and which continued to come in handy for my pregnancies…

There were also many stalls with UK produced wool from alpacas and other animals, dyed and woven and items made from it also. It was so interesting to see what different animals are now farmed in the UK for their wool including special breeds of sheep. When we were in Scotland I tended to pick up bits of wool from sheeps’ coats that they had left on the wire fences and it was quite obvious how fine some wool was and how rough others were – fit only for carpets perhaps and not knitting. People were demonstrating lots of items that they had made including felting – a lot of felt around – and also lots of training that you could undertake. You can even undertake a Diploma in hand weaving now. There were lots of workshops and lectures to attend – mostly sold out very quickly indeed, books and patterns to buy, and meeting the author stands too…

The show also had examples of work from graduates of design courses as well as the various City and Guilds diplomas in hand embroidery, The Royal School of Needlework, and Coats. And of course there was an Upcycling Academy run by TRAID where you could manufacture new clothing out of bits of old – they are very inspirational with what they do.

There was also a stand hosted by ~Knit4Peace – the organisation I mainly knit for. They asked their supporters to knit peas (see the pun!) and gave us a really cute peas in a pod knitting pattern which I made 3 pods from – I then ran out of green wool!. I also took along a rucksack of my latest items including blankets and some cute tiny hats I’d found a simple pattern for. All you have to do is to cast on in double knitting 50+ stitches and knit in alternate k2p2 pattern until the item looks big enough for a baby’s head when folded to touch side ends together.  Cast off and draw a needle and thread through the top of your cast-off stitches and draw together to a crown. Sew up the side but fold back a deep edge and sew on the other side of the material for that. What you get is a lovely stretchy folded brim hat. Like this one: but my pattern is simpler… you get to choose the size too – the bigger the baby the more stitches and longer the length of k2p2 that you make… and you can add pompoms or other decoration as you wish even knit in 2 colours.

My current project is a set of bunting in knitted triangles with some simple flower embroidery on them which I intend to wrap some trees in when I open my garden next year… bunting being such a favourite item at the moment! I keep meaning to get to a Stitch and Bitch group but just don’t seem to manage it!

  • National Wool Week (
  • Also do take a look at: as this is a great site with lots of events for knitters and newsletters and so on… Daisy Lowe was in the newspaper only yesterday launching this Wool Knit Nation project as there are free classes around for people to meet designers and learn new tricks.

14 thoughts on “Knit and Sew: Embroidery and fun


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  5. Rusha Sams

    I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that your 4-year-old granddaughter who is interested in sewing or doing any needlecraft at all. I’m keeping my four-and-a-half-year-old this weekend, so maybe I’ll tackle something simple with her, too! Thanks for the idea!


    1. ukgardenfiend Post author

      Hi Rusha Both the 2 year old and 4 year old always try to hold the needles when I knit; and I spoke to various teachers and they agree that 4-5 is the time to start cross stitch and knitting comes a little later in fact. I bought kiddie knitting needles at the exhibition and they are 2 different colours to help them remember left hand right hand. Baby girl number 3 is en route… Mum is in the birthing pool as I write! Exciting…



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