It was my first visit and, because I left later than planned and got stuck in traffic on the M6, I only had two hours there. This was sufficient time to browse the exhibition but not the stalls. If you are used to visiting the big Knit/Stitch and Quilt shows you will find this rather small, but on this occasion less really is more. I get overwhelmed by the quantity of everything at larger shows, and end up glancing at the exhibitions because there is so much to take in. Everything, no matter how well executed and innovative, becomes much of a muchness. At Uttoxeter I had time to read the programme, examine the work and take in everything.
The entry categories encouraged diversity and I was pleased to see an overlap between the disciplines of embroidery, quilting and even a bit of knitting! EQS Ltd provided the materials for the two special categories with the title “Perchance to Dream”. This created a coherence to this part of the exhibition, yet encouraged a breadth of imagination and talent – no two pieces were anywhere near the same. I am thinking of entering this category next year.
I thought the bed quilts were lovely; there were a few I could have quite easily snuggled under, and it’s good to be reminded of the practical application of our skills. The children’s category was of a high standard, and it must have been very hard to judge. I happened to pass by as one of the children was engaged in conversation with a workshop leader, having a really good discussion about her technique. I’m not sure you would get this at a larger show.
Hopefully this show will become a regular event in the textile lovers’ calendar while still retaining its local charm. I’m not sure it is worth travelling a long way for unless you wanted to do the workshops but the exhibition and stalls would fill a good half day so I would say it is worth around an hour, hour and a half drive. The train station is next door so it’s really accessible by public transport. The venue is about 20 minutes from the M6 and not much further from the M1 so if you were returning from a holiday along these motorways it would make a lovely journey break.
My entry didn’t win anything but I think it is always worth entering for the judge’s comments which were “good surface texture using inventive stitch” and “Very innovative use of materials which would be strengthened by underpinning of design”. I wasn’t quite so sure about the second comment when I read it, but having thought about it, they are right. This was a piece I designed about 12 years ago, and it was more an evolution than a design. My recent pieces are much stronger, but I still love this one!