Ready, steady stitch

An army of knitters, stitchers and makers is heading to Harrogate. Sharon Dale reports.

Patchwork by Katie Chaplin of Japan Crafts

There has been a craft explosion over the past decade and proof of this happy, life-enhancing phenomenon will be evident in Harrogate next week.

More than 20,000 people from all over Britain and beyond are expected to visit the Knitting and Stitching Show, which is the UK’s biggest textile art, craft and design event.

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While the workshops, demonstrations and the craft companies selling supplies are a major attraction, the show will also feature professionally curated galleries.

Portrait of a Grimsby Girl by Sue Stone

Among the pieces on display will be work by some of Yorkshire’s most gifted textile artists, including Dionne Swift and Alice Fox, and emerging talent from the region’s colleges and universities.

The show’s director, Anna Baptiste, says: “Yorkshire is rich ground for talent. The beauty of the local landscape seems be a major source of inspiration and a creative force for local artists. Yorkshire also has further education colleges and universities with excellent reputations for the quality of their textile courses.”

The interest in making has brought a boom in the amount and diversity of hand-crafted homeware and the event highlights this while encouraging us all to “have a go”.

“Textiles have long been a feature of domestic décor and interior design, from wall hangings, floor rugs and tapestries to patchwork quilts, woven blankets and decorative objects. You only need to dip into social media like Pinterest, pick up a home style magazine or Google ‘craft blog’ to find a huge range of beautiful textile pieces for the home,” says Anna Baptiste.

Sleepy Mouse by Fi Oberon

Dionne Swift, of Holmfirth, runs textile workshops and exhibits her contemporary embroidered artwork all over the world. She believes the fashion for textile art is being driven by a move away from the mass-produced.

“We all seek real integrity in the objects we buy, something to enrich our lives rather than just fill our walls,” says Dionne, whose work is held in the collections of Janome PLC and The Embroiderers Guild.

“Handmade textiles offer a truly unique piece of work and show the real handmade marks in every stitch. They are soft, sound-absorbing, warming, cosy and affectionate. They have a back story and a life of their own.”

She encourages those who are keen to pick up a needle and thread to do so. “It’s about getting back to a slower, more connected lifestyle and away from a computer screen, away from work. Making is a therapy, a time to feed the soul. There is a story and history to the things we make ourselves, we aren’t just making an object, we are making memories.”

Stitched lampshades by Dionne Swift

* The Knitting and Stitching Show is the UK’s biggest textile art, craft and design event, which takes place at the Harrogate International Centre from Thursday, November 24, to Sunday, November 27. Tickets cost £14.50 if bought in advance and £17 on the door. Tel: 0844 581 1302, www.theknittingandstitching The show features stands and over 200 workshops covering everything from crochet, needle felting and embroidery to gold work, cable knitting and patchwork.

Portrait of a Grimsby Girl by Sue Stone
Sleepy Mouse by Fi Oberon
Stitched lampshades by Dionne Swift