Research & Reflection: The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate 2016

Two friends, Margaret and Sarah, and I went to the Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate yesterday. It was the first time I had been to such an event, and was overwhelmed with the number of exhibitors and visitors in the 4 or 5 enormous halls. There were exhibition spaces featuring the work of single artists, or groups of textile artists.

These pieces were made by members of the unFOLD group of textile artists.

I liked the use of locational found objects in Christina Ellcock’s work inspired by the coast. The artworks displayed lots of three-dimensional textures and forms. Her sketchbook had strong patterns and graphical elements. Sally Skaife employs a subtle colour palette to explore her chosen subject through repetition of lines and marks. Both of these artists had produced a series of works on their chosen themes, which gave the viewer the chance to enjoy the similarities and variances between the individual pieces. We went back towards the end of our visit, to hand sew two small pieces of calico together. These were labelled with our names and the number of stitches used, and will make their way into a future unFOLD project.

I was pleased to revisit the work of Debbie Lyddon, whose art I had first seen at the 62 Group’s Making Space exhibition in Macclesfield earlier this year.


Debbie Lyddon, Liminal Objects: Sea Purses 4, 2016 (linen, wire, saltwater).

I love the colour palette of blues and browns, natural rust and white salt that this artist uses in her work. The rust and salt give an element of unpredictability to the outcome, but are eminently suited to the subject matter. The simple repeated shapes suggest, but do not closely copy, the forms of sea creatures.

Gawthorpe Textiles Collection is exhibiting some beautiful historical textiles, alongside the work of modern artists who have responded to works in the collection.

The exquisite cushion cover (above, left) was embroidered with floral and grid decorations by Annie Eastwood in 1923. The stitch is in fine wool and silk thread. The stitches were so tiny and numerous that it was hard to imagine how long this must have taken to make.

The fragment of miniature hexagonal patchwork with beading (above, right) still had the basting stitches in place. It was precisely executed and must have been made by someone with very nimble fingers.

Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn have a huge exhibition space filled with their art works, books, DVDs and, fascinating for me to see: their sketchbooks and samples. This is particularly relevant for me to think about, as my tutor has recommended more sketchbook and sampling work. Their sketchbooks were filled with life drawings, colourful paintings of landscapes, observed details, project development drawings and written notes. I purchased four of their teaching books containing different techniques for textile artists, so will enjoy trying some of those out in the near future.


Cos Ahmet, Memory Threads I (hand-felted cords bound in wool, cotton chenille, wax cast of the artist)

Cos Ahmet works in a variety of media with textiles (weaving, tapestry etc) and his art explores the ‘self’. I thought that the piece above was interesting in its use of mixed media and self portraits in the form of wax masks taken from the artist’s own face. The cord coming from the mouth suggests to me that he is exploring the stories that we tell about our past; how memories are formed; the ‘tangled’ web of memories. The wrapped cords perhaps also suggest viscera or the folds of the brain. A thought-provoking piece.

I also enjoyed the work of Alysn Midgelow-Marsden, who includes metallic elements in her work; and Dionne Swift who makes densely, machine-stitched landscapes, and paintings, which I very much liked, for their observation of local colour and simplified forms. Some artists prefer not to have their work photographed, so I have linked to their websites.

The Graduate Showcase exhibition had many interesting student pieces: including those below. Josey Florence Mendez displayed innovative plastic textiles embellished with threads and other materials. Hannah Christina Sims made flat textiles into cut, folded, sewn and coloured, three-dimensional surfaces. Some pieces were framed, others were formed into objects like the lampshade below.

Sam Hussain Designs exhibited exuberant pieces, such as this vest, which is decorated with painting, embroidery and embellishment.

The Embroiderers’ Guild had an exhibition of work inspired by Capability Brown.

There were so many inspiring pieces, but these three caught my eye: Diana Springall’s beautiful, textured piece showed two very different scales of texture and had a pleasing composition. Janet Edmonds’ charming work had an unusual texture, that looked like couched rows of textile or thread. It reminded me of a small version of a North American hooked rug. Annette Collinge’s colourful art work featured abstract depictions of land, sea and sky with a variety of shapes, raw edges and large hand stitches.

Another major feature of The Show is the huge variety of stands selling everything textile-related: yarns, threads, tools, antique textiles, books. I really could have spent a fortune on beautiful supplies ‘just-in-case’, but managed to limit myself to some sashiko thread and needles and a piece of Japanese fabric in dark indigo, from Japan Crafts plus a bag of colourful thread ends from Oliver Twists. For the rest that I longed for, I kept a note of the company names for future reference.



This was an inspiring day and gave me an insight into the world of a textile artist, allowed me to survey the vast array of materials available, and to experience a variety of styles of work, from historical to contemporary. I felt very drawn to the art works that interpret land and seascapes in an abstract or simplified form. In terms of the supplies I saw, I returned several times to the two stands selling Japanese textiles and threads, and to Sallie Ead’s Antique Textiles, where there were all sorts of linen, cotton, old and worn textiles of all types. The brightly coloured silk and cotton threads, hand dyed felts, yarns and textiles were also very beguiling. Working with found items, recycled textiles, and bright colour palettes feels comfortable to me, and although I enjoy experimenting with new techniques and media, I think I will always return to those themes and materials.


Websites:- Accessed 25/11/16 Accessed 25/11/16 Accessed 25/11/16 Accessed 25/11/16

Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn’s website Accessed 25/11/16 Accessed 25/11/16 Accessed 25/11/16 Accessed 25/11/16 Accessed 25/11/16 Accessed 25/11/16 Accessed 25/11/16 Accessed 25/11/16 Accessed 25/11/16 Accessed 25/11/16 Accessed 25/11/16


4 thoughts on “Research & Reflection: The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate 2016”

    1. I would have liked to take even more photos, Inger, but some artists had large signs up saying ‘no photos’, which of course I had to respect. As to the vendors: I have never seen so many tempting supplies in one place :o)


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