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October 09, 2009


I was there too and agree with everything you said.

Makes me a little bit happier that I could not get tickets for tomorrow at Ally Pally.
Maybe next year you should open a tea and rock bun stall?

I went last year and would go again just to see the beautiful exhibitions but, as you said, it's in a painful location and with no proper refreshment area that I found. Shame as it's such a great gathering for all thing knitty. Love your buns!

Completely and utterly true on all counts, and exactly why I haven't been for the last few of years. Well, that and the fact that I have enough in my yarn stash to last several lifetimes.

But I have as much in my fabric stash and it doesn't stop me going to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC each year, which though it is even further away is somehow so much more accessible. Surely there must be other suitable and comfortable locations for major knitting events in London? Maybe there will be a venue free after 2012.

Very nice rock buns by the way.

I was there too...how I agree! We got there 2 hours late because of transport problems, left Dorset at 05.30. got to Ally Pally at midday!
Actually it's probably a good thing, 2 hours less to spend hard earned cash.
Managed to come home with yarn, Rowan fabrics,silk for embellishing stuff and a Rowandean kit!

Looks like you have the same problems in the UK as we do in the States with well supplied chairs and snacks. Surely the fiber fest overrides the lack in other areas? That's what they promoters are counting on anyway.

I feel better about not going now. I was toying with the idea of making the trip tomorrow but the memory of just how difficult Alexander Palace is to reach was putting me off. I think I will stay home with my knitting and baking.

I was thinking of going to either The knitting and stitching show or the Festival of quilts next year, and you have helped me make my mind up - definitely FoQ!
Well at least you got a bit of shopping done!
I have visited Stitch/The Needlecraft Fair at Olympia2 several times, and seating and tea were never any problems there - maybe we should suggest they move the K&S there ;-)

Gosh! I was feeling hard done having taken four hours to get from Dorset to Ally Pally yesterday but Goosey wins!

Must confess was a little disappointed in the show. My first time and I was kind of hoping for more independent producers but on the upside came home with some lovely pretties to pat and stroke.

Awww, this stinks! There is nothing worse than messing up a fun day of shopping with lack of comforts like tea and chairs. Hopefully your complaints will not fall on deaf ears this time and improvements will come next year.

It does sound silly that there weren't better arrangements for tea, glad you were able to enjoy some goodies when you got home.

Next year come to the show when it gets to Harrogate. Its much better, lots of space easy to get to - by road and rail - and loads of places to get tea including a full downstairs floor with lots of tables. I can't wait.

At least you got there! I got my dates mixed up and was very excited driving down from Lincolnshire to London, staying with my Mum (who lives on an Ally Pally bus route) with a toddler and a 2 month-old in a studio flat for two days. LAST WEEK Goddamnit! LAST WEEK! When it wasn't on at all. I have decided to go to the Harrogate one instead. We just went for lunch at the Garden Centre - which is very nice by the way!

Hi Have just returned from the show (Friday 8.30pm) and had just been moaning to my husband that my daughter and I had not had any decent food or drink all day! Horrid chips, horrid pastries, and tea in a cardboard cup yuk! As we can't eat mayo in our sandwiches we were doomed. Shared a table with a lovely elderly lady who was visiting the exhibition alone, and we had a lovely chat about Janome V Bernina machines and the prices £4000 +! In fact there were lots of lovely ladies to chat to, pity there wasn't lots of tea and cake too. If you are going this weekend I recommend taking a PICNIC!! Enjoy. I did get a bargain bag of Debbie Bliss pure new wool 10 balls for 12.99! There were lots of choice.

ah, I went to the show today and it was as mad as your trip sounded. Home now totally exhausted!

I went today, and even though I live less than two miles away it still took me 40 minutes to get there!

Sounds to me like someone ought to ensure that the management of that event get sent a link to this blog. Feedback should be constructively received and they should want to improve their event.

i sooo agree with all that you have said - it took my friend and i nearly three and half hours to get there and although there were some lovely stands we were actually disappointed and then it took us 4 hours to get home! dont think i'll be doing that again!

So heartening to hear your comments, Jane, about the catering arrangements - because I think this is all about the organisers understanding the whole experience that people are here for - of course we want to sit down in between shopping raids and squeal with delight at our purchases, sharing this with friends and new people alike, over luscious buns and tea, in proper cups, with proper plates. Please, for heaven's sake you organisers of exhibitions out there - feel it and think it through - who is your target audience here? This is about people who love texture and colour and things that are real - hence the need for food and drink that is the same, and not served up in paper cups with UHT milk cartons. With love from a fellow crafter who delights in the senses and all things pertaining to lush domesticity.

Completely agree with you about the tea and seats. My friend and I had to sit on the stairs with our not very nice cuppas to get somewhere to sit at all. Maybe it's because I'm a Londonder but I must stand up for Ally Pally - the view across London alone is worth the trip for me and I love the building itself. Many thanks for your lovely blog, by the way.

I live in London and the inaccessibility of the venue has stopped me from going the last two years. The lack of tea facilities is now making it less likely I will ever make it!!!

Phew, it wasn't just me then! I had the most disgusting 'hot drink' that I left on the table.

I'm left wondering if it was the reason I came home empty handed...

This has got to be the most polite rant I have ever read. Hoping the shopping, at least, was worth the bother. Have a rock bun for me, please, and another sip of tea!

I havnt been to the show for many years, but I do recall the lack of decent refreshments. I remember being "bussed" up the hill to the venue in a courtesy bus but from where I dont know. Probably a tube/rail station.
AP is such a beautiful building, in such lovely surroundings it is a wonder someone hasnt had the forsesight to set up some lovely cafe/resturant such as those found across London in museums.

Jane , you have discovered the lovely Wagtail yarns. I bought some last year and have used it mainly for dolls hair. The colours are so lovely and the sheen to the yarn divine.

Jane - I too went and agree totally. I took a picnic with me but thought I'd pick up a cuppa there. What a mistake! As I was on my own I at least managed to find a seat to eat my lunch, but the look of disgust on everyone else's faces as they had their cuppas totally put me off. Also felt completely worn out from fighting my way around everything. Far too busy for my liking. As much as I love the stalls I may have to find an alternative way of doing my annual knitting and stitching shopping next year!


Was thinking of you yesterday as I went on the NYC Yarn Crawl. Some great stores and some great stuff! Also, next time you find yourself in Manhattan, you must check out the High Line--the newest addtion to the urban landscape--http://www.thehighline.org/.

Finally, have you ever heard of a great company called Peace Fleece? I buy knitting needles from them--they make me very happy. http://www.peacefleece.com/

Have a happy Sunday!

Just want to add a link about a knitting event I have literally just found out about (via Ravelry) that is being planned for the South Kensington area of London next summer : http://www.knitnation.co.uk/

I don't know anything more about it but let's hope they get the crucial link between tea (and cakes) and knitting!

Oh how good to know I was not being ridiculously grumpy about the tea arrangements! I was there Saturday, and went for a cup of tea which turned into a mission! We were forced to file past the grotty milk and stuff to place our order, then all wait on top of each other while they took more and more orders, then wait forever for the tea...then fight our way back to the manky milk and then discover no tables left! I actually found the whole thing a lot more frantic feeling this year...I love the view over London but hate the pushing shoving atmosphere. They opened the roof vents it got so hot on Saturday! I did come away with some beautiful things and so much inspiration though!

I do know what you mean but I was happily distracted by an entertaining threesome of lovely ladies who wern't stitching but were bitching!! I didn't notice how long the tea was to arrive but did notice how wrong it tastes from a paper cup!!

This made me smile a little. I'm afraid that Alexandra Palace is the perfoect venue for me - it's a thirty minute walk from home, mostly through parkland or along the New River.
Some tips for next year:
1. Try to get there by train Alexandra Palace mainline is really well connected with trains every 15 minutes - very easily accessible from Herts and Cambs.
2. The catering facilities are appalling and the last thing you need is to be carrying your own flask of tea, however there are two really good caffs in the park, one in the garden centre and one behind the top car park to the front and right of the building. Both are about 5 minutes walk and perfect for the beautiful sunny day we had on Saturday.

Sounds like a nightmare! As a committed tea drinker, I take a flask of hot water, proper tea bags and a little container of proper milk on days out like this. This makes me sound like I'm 65 not the 35 I am but needs must. A day without a decent cuppa is a day not lived to the full! A x

Next year check out the lovely cafe by the duck pond - it's only a short walk down the hill.

Interesting, Alexander Palace is now relatively near to me so I had toyed with the idea of venturing out to the show. I was lazy in the end but maybe it was just so. Sounds crowded and stressful - and I spend enough of my week in that kind of atmosphere! Still I hope you bought some nice goodies to make the venture worthwhile? xxx

These places just never get the refreshments and seating allocation right and everything is always so expensive.

Last weekend at the National Wedding Show, Mum and I shared a (plastic) ham and onion marmalade (read Branston pickle) sandwich for £4.50!!

I bet you were pleased to get home and have a proper cuppa! x

I still wish I could have been there, knitting in London...that would be heaven! The rock buns do look like something to escape that scene for though, I plan to make some soon!

There is a tea room at the knitting and stitching show at ally pally. You have to book and there are time slots. I considered it quite expensive this year as the price had gone up compared to last year and there was lots less cake.

I live quite near Ally Pally, and in fact take my daughter there for ice-skating lessons every Saturday morning. But I have given The Knitting and Stitching Show a miss the past couple of years because of exactly what you describe. It's bleak, when it should be fun, cheese-paring when it should be generous (and from what I remember the admission isn't exactly bon marche). I wrote a piece about the lack of decent cakes on my blog last time I went. Thanks for reminding me - we had to go away this weekend and I was half wondering if I missed anything. Your rock cakes are always inspiring btw.

Well, I love the opportunity to visit Ally Pally once a year from South London. I find the travel relatively easy considering it's so far away (train/tube). I love to stand and look at the fantastic views of London - you can see right over to Canary Wharf on a clear day with a panoramic 270 degree view. It's fantastic - better than any country view. I also love the building. I try to eat lunch and take breaks outside, the sun is often shining this time of year. I really go to see the art textile exhibitions which are truly inspiring, (most of the materials can be bought online from the comfort of your own home - so a programme is useful). However, I do agree that the catering is woeful!! Somebody tell Twisted Thread to up their game and make some effort. The downstairs cafe offers the best seating and murals, but it is very dark. I'm now full of ideas for a while....

I totally agree with you about the tea situation. We had a brain wave this year and since we drive (my Mum comes down for the week and this year we went to the show on both Thursday and Friday), we put the air-pot full of hot water and the cold box for the milk in the back of the car. We arrived at 9.30am and had a very pleasant cup of tea sitting in the car before the show started, and another one at the end of the day before we set off for home (the home made chocolate fudge didn't hurt either :-) ).

Another bonus is that by the time we had drunk our tea and had yet another admire of our purchases the traffic had calmed down a bit and it wasn't quite so horrendous to get out of the car park.

I worked at the show this year and it's terrible! Nowhere to sit down, huge queues for everything and horrible food and drink. I subsisted for 5 days on chocolate bars, mini cheddars and cans of overpriced coke - no wonder I gained weight and felt terrible! I did however meet some amazing people and see some lovely yarn, fibre and fabric.

We usually get a coach from Norwich which makes it reasonably painless to get there, and I am struck by the wonderful view over London but I wholeheatedly agree about the dire catering.

Heartedly even!

What a wonderful post - I could feel your thirst!! This had me chuckling at the immediate identification and empathy I felt reading your descriptions of the conditions :)
Thanks so much for your blog - I've been reading it for a few years now and have your books.

From Canada,

Totally agree, Jane. My friends and I had a whole plan for how to better organise the show (and get rid of all the non knitting/stitching-related tat just there to make money.

Luckily I bought some flapjacks from Pain Quotidien at King's Cross en route so at least we had something to dunk in our rubbish paper cups of tea.

I would have loved to have attended the show at Ally Pally, I've never been, but it sounds like a nightmare to get to.

I did get to the Quilt Festival at Birmingham NEC in August and I have to say the catering arrangements were equally as bad. The organisers just seem to turn a blind eye to the fact that we all love to sit and have a natter for a while over a good cup of tea and even a nice piece of cake, but it seems too much to ask.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with the Colinette yarns. I live about 5 miles away from their shop in Llanfair Caerinion and just love to pop over and drool over the yarns. It definitely lifts the spirits on a Welsh wintery cold wet day. They open the shop once a month on a Saturday when you can pop in, see what they have on special offer and enjoy tea and cake! Yum

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