Monday, 15 May 2017

Knitting and Stitching Show Edinburgh April 2017

The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show,  is a wonderful place to find yarn and creative ideas. I visited Edinburgh last month and went to the show there.

It was held on the Royal Highland Show Ground near the airport.

There was a free shuttle bus service from the city centre which was very efficient and packed with women of all ages excitedly talking about craft.

I wanted to buy some wool in a specific range of colours.  I usually buy online from McAree Brothers in Edinburgh and I sure that they would have a stand at the show.
The first place I went was to see this display of knitted and crocheted pieces.  I had been speaking to someone on the bus who had helped with this wonderful project.  The Butterfly Garden and Enchanted Wood was made to raise money for a hospice. The helpers had a wonderful time making it and putting it together.  It certainly attracted a lot of attention.

A vegetable patch

I love the sheep and shepherd

I arrived at the show early so that I could have a good look around before it got crowded. This standwas very colourful and was from Latvia.  Their shop is in Riga so it is definitely on my list of places to visit when I go back to Riga next year. On my last visit the National Museum was closed after a fire so I was unable to see their collection of woven bands.

A Latvian stand selling mitten kits

The kits for the Latvian mittens were very stylish and beautifully presented.  I am sorry that my photograph does not do it justice.  I forgot to take my camera so i was relying on my phone. Traditional Latvian knitting is so densely patterned with lovely symbols.  Each of the kits came with a description of the pattern and the area from which it originally came.

I found McAree Brothers but although the stand was well stocked I could not find the combination of colours that I needed.

There was plenty more to see and do.  There was a selection of workshops and talks to attend.  The workshops had a lovely way of advertising their content.  A display on the wall showed examples of items  that you could be making- including a pair of knickers.The workshop spaces were very well organised.  As a visitor you could see in to the workshop space to get a feel for the class.

I went to every wool outlet but still could not find my colours.  I did find an excellent pom pom maker which I bought.  Many belts from Sweden use pom poms to weight the ends.  Although I can make them in the conventional way I liked the simple but effective design of this device. to make a number of pompoms at the same time. I have tried it and it works very well.

making pom poms the easy way.

There was plenty of knitting on show and being demonstrated.  I like the broom stick knitting so I asked if I could take a picture for my blog.  She is not a demonstrator but a visitor like myself who wanted to have a go.  She attracted quite a crowd!

There were some delicate and intricate samples on display.  An inspiration to skilled knitters.

There were many stands selling wool and I visited them all.

Guilds and Societies also were represented.  The stand from the Edinburgh Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers had two spinners working away at their wheels.

I had a great day out.  I had never visited the show in Edinburgh before and it was great to see that it is as well attended as Harrogate and London.

Her are some web addresses if you are interested.



McAree Yarn

Happy Weaving and if you can, do go to the Knitting and Stitching Show. It is great fun. It is on in October in London, November it moves to Dublin and finishes in Harrogate in late November 2017.

May 1017

Monday, 1 May 2017

Travels around the Baltic:The Russian Museum of Ethnology in St Petersburg

St Petersburg

We visited St Petersburg in 2014 and I was astounded by the wonderful collection of textiles and woven bands in the Russian Museum of Ethnography.  I wrote an article about the museum which appeared in the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers in    I had long wanted to go back to look at the collection in greater detail, so I arranged to meet a curator with a particular interest in the Finno-Ugric peoples.   I spent a day in the museum asking questions and being shown around the displays.  it was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about the costumes and traditions.

The Russian Museum of Ethnography houses an astonishing collection of textiles and artefacts and is is one of the largest of its kind

On the day of my visit I was surrounded by many parties of school children in the museum.  The museum has a dedicated resource and activity area where children were painting and there were resources for many crafts including pottery.  One group was painting. In the end room a group of young children  were dancing and learning songs and obviously having a great time.

A school party learning about different cultures.
This activity area for school children had its own set of display cabinets.

Embroidered towels.
This embroidery had been created by Lidia Vershinina, one of the guides in the museum.  She was dressed in costume and showed me the belt that she had woven herself. 

Lidia Vershinina

Here it is.
close up of belt woven by Lidia Vershinina

Lithuanian Belts

Lithuanian woven band

I was able to ask about a display that I had seen on my previous visit. I liked the white flower pattern on a dark navy background and I had woven a copy of the belt - minus the lettering.  This navy and white belt was used for as a mourning band.

There were many woven bands on display either on models with complete costumes or selections of different bands. 
Selection of bands from different regions.
I was particularly interested in the Sami collection from the Kola Peninsular.  This will have to be left to a future blog.The museum is large and I cannot do justice to the range of costumes and textiles but here are some more images. 

Tula province

This costume is from the Tula province which is about 120 miles south of Moscow.  The belt is a simple 0 and X design but in striking black and red. This makes it stand out against the white skirt. The costume is  from the mid 19th century.

Close up of Tula belt pattern

Here is another costume from South Russia with an elaborate border on the lower edge of the skirt. 

close up of the skirt border


Here is a skirt from Belarus with a bright belt in pink and yellow. I love the chunky tassels. The skirt material was also very interesting. It has an attractive damask like design. 


This costume is from the Ukraine where it borders Poland. Sash belts are very dramatic for both men and women.

Here is a close up of the sash belt worn by the woman. This is woven in  warp faced plain weave. I think that colours are lovely.

Sash belt in warp faced plain weave woven in wool.

Nizhny Novgorod

This lovely costume is from Nizhny Novrogod.

Here is a close up of the belt she is wearing. There are 15 pattern threads for this belt. 

Close up of belt pattern.


The museum has a small but very well stocked book kiosk. I bought a few books and was delighted to find a book on band weaving. It is in Russian but the patterns are clear. 

Published in 2015 ISBN 978-5-904036-37-9

Here is a sample page from the book so you can see the quality of the patterns.

I also bought a book about the European Slavs which is in English.

Published in 2008 ISBN 978-5-9501-0143-4
This book is very interesting as it has old photographs as well as modern photographs of the costumes in the museum.  

I had a wonderful day in the museum.  It is so full of interesting textiles beautifully displayed. 

Tassel making

I find the numerous ways of making decorative tassels fascinating.  I bought a lovely booklet from this Etsy site. It is downloaded as a PDF file. It is called How to make complete tassels.   by Elena Shevtsova. The instructions are for one type of an elaborate tassel. 

Her woven belts look lovely so her shop is great to browse as well. 

Susan J Foulkes    May 2017