Saturday, 2 November 2013

Dublin Knitting & Stitching Show

Yesterday I toddled off to the RDS in Dublin to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show, which is on for the rest of the weekend. I've wanted to go to this event for a while, and I've been looking forward to going to the Dublin dates ever since I moved here at the start of June.

I got there late morning, just after 11am sometime, and toured the place spending my ill-gotten gains for about two and half hours. It made for a very expensive day given that it's €16 to even get in the door, but I enjoyed it nevertheless and the whole thing was a very pleasant break from my usual sense of geographical isolation from anybody else who does any kind of sewing. In fact, the whole experience was thoroughly enjoyable except for the impact on my bank balance, which was not at all good. D:

Despite the name of the event, there were actually a lot of other crafts represented in addition to knitting supplies, fabric sellers and haberdashers. There were some stalls for things like papercraft and jewellery making, which I didn't really explore (I am interested in jewellery making but I cannot possibly engage in another expensive and stash-creating hobby). There were also some sewing machine manufacturers/vendors in attendance as well. The final category of 'Other Stuff' was quite diverse and ran the usual gamut -- people selling finished goods from designer handmade to chintzy semi-mass-produced crafty stuff (wooden clocks and the like), several stalls full of Made-In-China handbags, plus the usual semi-mass produced stuff like candles, massage oils, and, most randomly of all, a booth for the Irish Farming Times, manned by two men, one of whom I heard asking the other whether he'd ever seen so many women, ever. (Knitting and stitching events? 99% women, plus the occasional (a) manstander, holding bags and waiting more or less patiently for his spouse to finish shopping; (b) elderly Irish gentleman buying knitting needles, one of whom I had a long conversation with as I bought the most ENORMOUS 15mm needles and he wanted to know what I was going to do with them. He was buying new needles to make cabled socks). Additionally, there were crafty people and artists around the edges of the event and a big quilting display, and there were also classes but none of them really appealed to me so I didn't even consider going to one.

I concentrated mainly on the fabric stalls with an occasional foray into notions and knitting. There was a LOT of quilting stuff in the fabrics and much less suitable for apparel than I would have liked, but from the conversations I struck up with total strangers, garment sewing is really not a big thing here. (Although I'm stupidly shy, in some circumstances I will strike up conversations with anyone, and fabric shopping is one of those times.) I did buy some nice fabrics, of which more anon, although nothing really inexpensive. The knitting stuff I found disappointing. Almost all the knitting stalls were just selling mass produced wool, the same stuff you can buy from Deramores. There were some really nice artisanal wools here and there, but they were all so expensive that I couldn't justify buying anything without a specific plan for the wool. I did buy one out-of-print pattern, which I kind of wish I hadn't bought, and the aforementioned enormous 15mm knitting needles.

My major purchases, were of course, fabric. I bought 8.8m of fabric in total. From left to right: 1m of slinky turquoise jersey; 1.3m of plain black suiting for a skirt; 2.5m of blue and white striped Irish linen; 1m of a blue/green print; 1m of turquoise and brown stretch cotton; and 2m of blue/green checked Irish linen.

The best buys on that list were so VERY much the two pieces of linen. They were from a little stall being run by two charming ladies from Fabric Affair, who are actually based in Northern Ireland. They sell Irish-made linen and tweed fabrics. The tweed looked lovely, although I didn't investigate it very thoroughly (not least because it was INSANELY expensive). However, the shirting fabrics were just gorgeous: mainly blues and greens, all traditional stripes and checks. If I had won the lottery as I hoped yesterday, after my appeal to the universe, I would have gone and bought up everything they had today! Alas, in the absence of instant millions I initially restricted myself to just the blue/green check. Then I got to the end of my tour of all the stalls and found I still had some money left, and since the blue and white stripe was calling out to me, I went back and got that.

The good thing is that all of this has been bought with a very specific purpose in mind. It won't get used immediately because I want my weight to be stable before I start sewing some things, but those linen pieces will be turned into shirts in the summer :D


  1. Well done on limiting your costs. These things can be overwhelming and visually overstimulating on the eyes. I too went to one (in March) and was surprised by the lack of garment fabric stalls - I think there was only one at the Glasgow show. Can only hope there'll be more next year. You've chosen lovely practical fabrics!

    1. It was TOTALLY over-stimulating. I probably might have stayed an hour longer to look around some of the exhibits, but to be honest I was done for. I am not at my best in large crowds at the best of times, and I was kind of boggled after 2 hours.

      I definitely think we're not the main target for these events. I didn't see a single garment display, or a single craftsperson doing garment work, and there wasn't a single class among the classes that were offered that related to garments. A lot of the fabric stalls were heavy on quilting and a few home-dec. When I told people I met that I made garments they were all baffled and told me that it wasn't worth it because Primark. That's always everyone's response these days: but you could just go to Primark! Why make your own?

  2. Manstanders! That's really funny! The only men at the sewing expo near me are the vendors!
    And there is also a dearth of decent apparel fabric, except for the enormously expensive. I hear this comment about sewing shows a lot, isn't anyone listening?

    1. I can't claim that "manstander" is original -- I saw it in the paper the other day and was tickled by the term!

      I suppose I can understand the lack of garment fabric from a pure economic point of view. I was definitely outnumbered as I went round by quilters and crafters, and there's a huge profit to be made from them b/c they buy horrendously priced pre-cuts and "designer" cottons. Also we often want large pieces, like 2-3m, and I guess they can't haul quite that much with them to all these craft shows. Still, it's annoying because I was hoping to fill a couple more gaps on my shopping list. (However, I am going to London and fabric shopping there with my friend in a couple of weeks, help, my wallet will never survive!)

  3. Hi! I went to the show yesterday, and I have the exact same thoughts about it. I don't knit, crochet or quilt, and so it was a bit disappointing that the fabric and sewing sections were mainly focused on quilting. I have nothing against quilting - the finished quilts are so beautiful and I can appreciate the amount of work and skill that goes into making one, but for me, quilts entail too much time before you get to enjoy the finished object, and also - where on earth do quilters KEEP all their quilts? There's only so many one house can hold!

    Anyway I had a pretty good morning. I did a lap of the exhibition and then went back around to get what I wanted. I came away with about 22 metres of fabric (!!!). I got two printed jerseys from Michael H Fabrics ( I didn't they had a shop in Dublin, and I'm going to have to swing by to check it out). One is a black with abstract floral design in purple and orange - now that I look at it again, it seems a bit Halloweeny, but I really like it anyway. I also got a white jersey printed with black, grey and lipstick pink. When I brought it home my other half said it looked really punky!

    I also got 3 lengths of fabric from the Fabrics Galore stand: an Alexander Henry print (zen charmer), a red lacy fabric which I'll make into a dress for my Christmas party, and a beautiful Liberty cotton. If you want, take a look here to see the haul.

    I spent much more than I intended. The onsite ATM was out of order, but the organisers were giving cashback in their offices - but only in multiples of €100! The Michael H fabrics were a good price at €5 per metre, but I blew my budget on the other fabrics. I also got some other bits and bobs- 3 differently sized bias tape makes, a little scissors, an invisible zipper foot for my machine - which the Singer guy showed me how to install on my machine, some fabric markers and some buttons. I staggered home under the weight of it all! Come to think of it, it's probably just as well there weren't more apparel fabric stalls!

    1. I've often thought that about quilting. How many can you make before you have too many? I've been making a lap quilt thing (my first ever) and it is probably the only one I will ever make. To be honest, I am not mad about patchwork in general, though, so quilting was really never going to be my thing.

      I got my mad turquoise print from Fabrics Galore, and my turquoise jersey and plain black from Michael H. I was excited to see MH had a shop in Dublin, except unfortunately their opening hours are Mon-Thurs 10-5. :| I will try to get there some day but since I work for a living and my job is not in the city centre, I doubt I'll get there often!

      I definitely think it was a place where, even with the limited selection of fabrics, it was easy to get carried away. I went to the ATM before I caught my bus up to the show (I live in Blackrock) and gave myself exactly a certain amount to spend and no more. I was €4 under budget, so I bought a cake at M&S on the way home! :D

    2. PS. Wow, I love your fabrics, particularly that black floral jersey. I don't think it looks halloween-y at all in the photo!

    3. Thanks!

      BTW, I was in Hickeys today (Henry Street) to get some gingham, but I also picked up some good dressmaking fabrics in the remnants bin, which was very surprising because anytime I check there all I usually find is quilting cotton and lining fabric.

      I got 2 metres of black silk dupion for €20, and 2 metres of a lovely black cotton voile with a white abstract floral print for €11.90. I had my eye on the voile earlier this year, I think it was originally €18 or €20 per metre. I noticed some other dressmaking fabrics, some cotton sateens, some stretch cottons and some lovely knit fabric labelled as "brazil knit." Definitely worth checking out.

    4. Ooh, good to know! I have not made it into the shops in the centre of Dublin at all (I've been so ill on and off since I moved here, plus I have the MOST ridiculous fabric stash already) so I have not been into Hickey's yet. I will definitely keep an eye on their remnant bin! :D