It’s that time of year again, and usually I try to do my Harrogate Report over the weekend when I’ve come back. This time, however, I went straight from Harrogate to help with the MathsJam Gathering, and didn’t really get home until Wednesday.
The two pieces of silk are to give me choices for the Faience necklace, the Sheepjes Whirl and pattern are for the next trip to see The Australian’s family (I don’t know when it will be, but I’m ready!), and the figured organdy matching silk and silk thread are honest stash: I fell for the organdy and got the others on spec. I’ll think of something to do with them eventually. Yes, really. I’m determined to!
I met up with Elizabeth of Sew In Love Stitch Art (always great to have a coffee together, and a wander through the halls), and met in person for the first time Georgina and her lovely goldwork animals, and Tanya and her modern medieval embroidery, inspired by the Luttrell Psalter. I bought her kit of Hounds to help me reboot myself over the holidays. I fell in love with those hounds months ago, but Akhenaten wouldn’t let me buy them. He doesn’t get a vote now I’ve finished him!
I also got Katrina Witten’s new book – signed by the author, no less. I’ve always loved what Katrina does, and there are ideas percolating in the back of my mind.
There are two reasons for going to the Show over two days, firstly because it makes the buying a little calmer and more methodical, and secondly because it means there are opportunities to attend the workshops without everything else becoming crowded and stressed.
This time, I investigated “Contemporary Fabric Manipulation” (I’ve no idea what, if anything, I will do with that) and “Drop Spinning”, using an absolutely gorgeous blend of baby alpaca, baby camel, and silk. I don’t know what I will do with it, but it’s lovely!
Then when I got to the MathsJam, an old friend popped up with a small box, which turned out to contain a gorgeous pair of Ernest Wright “Stork” scissors (pretty sure he doesn’t read the blog, but just in case – thank you!), Sue of TortoiseLoft appeared with some rather nice Sajou threads I’ve never seen before (thank you!), and Scott Elliot gave all of the attendees one of his very newest puzzles (thank you, too).
So, what with one thing and another, I have many new things to play with!
The Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate is my main opportunity to stock up on thread, fabric, materials and oddities.
Yes, I know we all buy online these days, but so often I am looking for something slightly obscure, or I know what I want to achieve, but not how. The opportunity to look and feel before buying, and to talk to the specialist suppliers who are there, is absolutely invaluable.
This time I was semi-organised, and as soon as I arrived, I went to Midori Matsushima’s stand with a shopping list of colours for the Faience Necklace designs, when I get to them. I’m hoping that now I have the silks I will have an incentive to pull my ideas into focus, because I feel that the Dreams of Amarna panels need more colour in them.
I also bought some wool felt and silk threads, some because I have plans for it, and some to have something frivolous to do. I still have a couple of those wooden pots to put pincushions in…
This slightly less dense felt – some from 20th Century Yarns and some from Oliver Twists – is much easier to stitch than the dense felt sold to crafters which is stocked everywhere. I also like the somewhat rougher texture.
I went to a workshop introducing wet felting, which I am planning to use as the initial colour blocking for the “Vision of Placidus” panel, but what I actually bought was more silk to spin into thread for the second layer. I’ll have to wait until the sore elbow and shoulder have healed, but this is something I can do in preparation for the project while I’m still working on the Dreams of Amarna. I’m thinking about Placidus quite a lot in my odd moments!
Finally, I bought a book – only one, but it’s a cracker! – and a ball of wool selvedge, for purposes that will remain a mystery for now…
The Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate is always great fun, if totally shattering – imagine what it’s like for the stallholders, who get four days of it! – but since I have no local needlework shop, it’s my one chance to stock up.
I admit that sometimes I don’t get around to all the projects I stock up for as quickly as I might like – I bought the threads for the Hittite Amulet at Harrogate in 2010! – but as we all know, sometimes a project undergoes considerable modification in the period from first concept to finished piece.
When I visited Elmsley Rose in the summer, she gave me some silk wrapped purl – three shades of purple. I’ve decided I want to work a thistle – more or less heraldic in style – so I’ve bought some wool felt, some coloured purl, and some lovely wool thread. Thank you to Lizzy Lansbury and to The Golden Hinde for comment, advice, and encouragement. The chance to talk to people with knowledge and experience is the real advantage of the Knitting and Stitching Show, after all. Even when I had a local embroidery shop, no-one who worked there had ever worked with metal threads, for instance!
I usually wear my Autumn Leaves Skirt for the Show – what better time to wear it than among people who will enjoy it as much as I do! – but next year I may have another possibility. I’ve bought some lovely swatches of Donegal tweed to appliqué to a different skirt. The scatters of thread – wool, stranded cotton, and exotics – all come from my (extensive!) stash. My current thought is that the appliqué will be circles of different sizes. I only hope I bought enough tweed to do the job!
And finally… I’ve known Ted and Katrina of Rowandean Embroidery, on and off, for about twenty years, since the days when I was making counted cross stitch kits. I’ve always admired the verve and invention of Katrina’s designs, and I love talking to them. But this is the first time I’ve been able to sit down with Katrina – I joined in on a Make and Take, playing with layers of sheers and a few bits of stranded cotton. It was a lovely break in all the trotting around of the show, to be able to sit down and stitch, instead of simply taking about it.
And on top of all that, I had lunch with Elizabeth of Sew-In-Love, who is the fourth blogger I’ve met in real life this year. We had a lovely time, although, in what seems to be a pattern, I don’t think we spoke very much about embroidery!