I was thrilled to be invited to have a stand at this year’s Stitch & Craft show at Olympia in London. With three floors of crafty action, it’s one of the biggest stitching shows in the UK with thousands of visitors looking out for new ideas in knitting, stitching and papercrafting. When the organisers contacted me about having a space at the show to pump a bit of the Mr X Stitch vibe into the show I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
Using the power of community, I sought submissions of amateur stitched work from our Flickr group, the Phat Quarter. The exhibition was themed around pop culture and humour, and it was great to receive so many submissions from different parts of the globe. I wanted to be able to showcase the work that people were doing right now, and as the Phat Quarter is a fantastic place to visit and understand the memes being explored in stitch, with a whole heap of logistical jiggery-pokery (technical term) I managed gather together work from over 30 embroiderers to inspire the visitors to the stand.
As well as the inspiration station on the walls, I also wanted people to try cross stitch. Cross stitch is a gateway craft – it’s simple to learn, is a great way to realise the pleasures of stitchery and is my preferred stitch, so I was keen to give people the opportunity to have a go. I put some feelers out and with the help of the crew at Stitch London, before I knew it I had a list of volunteers who were willing to come along, hang out at the stand and teach passers-by how to cross stitch.
I figured that if we inspired them with the stitching on the wall, and then showed them how to do cross stitch, they could buy the raw materials at the show and get their stitch on! And, on the whole, I was right!
The show began with a trip down to London on the Wednesday to set the stand up. After an amount of standing, looking at the stand scratching my chin, I leaped into action and hung the pieces on the wall. Through a mixture of good fortune and (towards the end) desperation, I managed to install the exhibition, and without breaking anything.
And then it was Thursday and the show began! But I’ll tell you about that later..!