Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.

Yesterday afternoon I went to my first ever Knitting and Stitching Show, in Alexandra Palace.

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Wowsers was this a big event. I thought I would share a few tips if you’re planning to go, either to Ally Pally or at one of the other events around the country.

1. Book in advance.

I only really decided to go a couple of days ahead of time, so I missed out on any special offers or coupons or money off offers that were going around. As I could go on the Thursday afternoon (Thursdays are open late, till 7 – all other days, they close at 5pm), I got a cheaper “late entry” ticket at 8 pounds, which is half of the usual entry fee, and totally worth it. I had a good couple of hours of wandering around, and it was quieter than it would be on the weekend (Saturday tickets sold out at some point last week I think – so I can’t imagine how busy that would be!)

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How cute is this little blue-tit?

2. Book workshops if you can.

I didn’t – as I said, I wasn’t organised enough and so didn’t book into any workshops. This is a real shame, as I think that’s where the real value of the event lies. Next year I will definitely get myself organised and get a couple of workshops in the diary.

3. Wear flat shoes.

A lot of walking. A lot. Trainers are a must.

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Knitted love-birds, guys. KNITTED LOVE-BIRDS.

4. Wear layers!

Because of our crappy weather I was wearing a massive raincoat (to be honest, I love my big yellow raincoat, so I have been wearing it even when the sun is shining, but I digress), and by the end of my visit I was sweltering. Yes, I could have taken it off, but I am a bear of small brain. Also – HYDRATE. Poor yarn decisions are made when under-watered. It’s a well known fact.

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Ok so this may be one too many pictures of knitted birds.

5. Plan ahead, and know what you want to buy

I tried to do this, I really did. I had notes and everything, on what I needed, and how much. But when I got there, it kind of all went a bit wrong and – ooh shiny!

I didn’t buy anything I don’t have a plan for, so I wasn’t too bad – but there’s still a list of things I need, and it just means my to-do list is only getting bigger.

6. Get a map

Yeah, yeah like anybody needs telling to get a map. Turns out I do. I told you I was a bear of small brain, right? The list of London exhibitors is here, if you want to be really smart.

Anyway. Don’t make the same mistakes I made – but even if you do, you’ll have a great time.

So, you want to know what I bought, right? Prepare yourself for some poorly lit photos (it was a long day). Ready? Ready.

First off: 3 magazines for a tenner from the Practical Publishing stall – two sewing (with patterns) and one knitting. Have already made a start on the cute little fox that came with Knit Now.

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Oh you like your blog photos blurry AND badly lit? Well you’ve come to the right place my friend – take a seat, rest your feet.

Bargain, right? I think so.

Then I focused on getting my yarn supplies. I first hunted down the huge piles of yarn from the Black Sheep Wool stall – I’ve bought from them online a couple of times, and it’s a great range and a very speedy service. Although I do think you need to squeeze a few balls before you commit to buying, amirite ladies.

I bought 10 balls of this lovely lovely Sirdar Click yarn for £16 instead of RRP £32. The only plan I have for this is to get nekkid and wrap myself up in it’s soft squeezy loveliness  make unidentified (as yet) Christmas presents*.

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This is possibly the most sinister photograph of a ball of yarn ever taken.

You can’t really see the detail of the colour in that photo, so lucky for you…

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…I took an even worse photo! I assume the colour is discontinued, and that’s why it was so cheap. It’s a lovely soft grey with speckles and will make a great scarf. Did I mention that it’s lovely? It’s totally lovely, guys.

I should stop there before I embarrass myself further, but I’m kind of committed to this now, so.

Next stop on the yarn trail was a pattern and two (massive) balls of Rustic Aran yarn from James C. Brett. This cardigan is going to be SNUGGLY. Pity it’ll be mid-summer by the time I finish it. Together this all came to £21, and I have no idea whether this is reasonable or not because I forgot to hydrate.

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I then bought three fabrics. A lovely spotty cotton poplin from Abakhan (£4.99/m) and then a cotton lawn (£6/m) and some grey wool (£9/m) from M. Rosenberg & Son.

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I can only apologise for these photos.

The poplin and lawn will be blouses/shirts, and the wool is going to be a shift dress (I have a new job and gleefully declared that I would make myself a dress to celebrate. I may have been drunk. Or dehydrated. Possibly both)

So there you have it! That’s my take-home from the 2014 Knitting and Stitching Show. Main lesson learned – I need to take better photos of my stash.

How did you find it, and what did you buy?

Today’s quote is from Elizabeth Zimmerman, knitter-extraordinaire.

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