Thursday, 28 November 2013

Daytripping: Harrogate and the Knitting and Stitching Show. . .

There is nothing I like more on a Saturday then getting together with some knitter friends and travelling by train to a knitting show.  We got to the station really early, we got lattes and muffins, we grabbed table seats on the train, we got out our knitting out and before you know it, we were in Leeds changing for the short ride to Harrogate (and the journey is beautiful - you follow canals through and past Manchester and then you're travelling through the Yorkshire Dales and the sun on the mist that was hovering ever so slightly over the countryside was just magical).

I wish the day had had twice as many hours in it because even though we arrived in Harrogate just after 10am, we could easily have spent two days there - one at the Knitting and Stitching Show and one just exploring the town which, like Bath, has lots of independent stores and I'm sure some lovely walks not too far out of town. 

But our primary purpose was the show.  Last year I went to Ally Pally in London and while this is a smaller version, there's still tons to see.  We wisely decided to do the marketplace first then grab some fresh air and break for lunch outside the venue, go for a short walk and come back for the exhibits.  I've never been to Harrogate before and I wish I'd taken more photos because it's a beautiful town set on a hill with lovely architecture. There just wasn't enough time to fully appreciate it.  Here's the older facade of the very modern building that was the site of the show. 

Harrogate is also the site of the world famous Bettys Tearoom but there was no chance of getting a cuppa as the line-up was out the door and down the street.  We did manage to get to Baa Ram Ewe though, which is just as lovely a shop as its sister one in Leeds.

This show is very different from Yarndale or Woolfest; there are less indie stalls, no animals, and the focus is spread out among all the textile arts ( a quilter can seriously get into trouble with all the gorgeous fabrics on sale).  And there are also many beautiful and interesting exhibits of craft artistry from clothing to home furnishings to art itself.

We met artist Sally Spinks who takes postcards of famous paintings and using some fairly small needles, knits articles of clothing to cover their bare bits, but not out of prudishness; her exhibit is called Random Acts of Kindness and you can see some of her work here.  And we saw Sophie Digard scarves (which really need to be seen in person - the painstaking detail is incredible) - at the Selvedge booth.

But let's face it - there was always going to be some woolly purchases too.  Being in Yorkshire, I had to get some of my favourite yarn - Baa Ram Ewe's Titus -  and before it sold out, I managed to nab two skeins of their special Christmas one-off colourway Wesley Bob.  It's a lovely deep red and would be perfect for some Xmas stockings.

Being in Harrogate, I also needed a local souvenir (don't we always?) and The Knitting Goddess who I first encountered at Yarndale was thankfully on hand.  This skein of sock yarn is called Love Lies Bleeding and it's gorgeous!

I do like to support the local wool industry and buy British when I can, but we all couldn't resist the Latvian mitten stand.  Aren't these kits great?  And only £10!  We each bought a different pattern and plan to have a get-together in the new year and start them all at the same time.  The pattern also gives some background into the history of Latvian knitting.

The other purchase I'm really excited about was found in a booth showcasing the history of detailed crewel work.  I bought three bags of Appleton tapestry wool.  No, of course I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, but having so many colours at my disposal just makes me happy. The fantasist in me says I'm going to learn how to crochet and make myself a scarf a la Sophie. Or learn how to do crewel work.  Or use them in some fabulous fair isle yoked sweater. But I'll probably just sit and look at them for a long while.   

Harrogate was such a fun day out.  We'll definitely be there next year - hopefully for the whole weekend.

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