A stitch online saves time: British show highlights knitting is trendy

Thu Oct 9, 2014 11:06am EDT
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By Matilda Egere-Cooper

LONDON (Reuters) - A knitted wall hanging featuring scenes from J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and piles of yellow and tangerine merino and alpaca wool were among items attracting interest at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London this week.

Britain has seen a resurgence in the popularity of knitting in recent years, helped by a BBC sewing "reality show", and the London exhibition, the world's biggest gathering of knitting and sewing enthusiasts, appears keen to instill the image that knitting is now trendy not frumpy.

Groups of teenagers, along with young mothers and middle-aged women, but only the odd man, turned out on Wednesday, the opening day of the show which has drawn hundreds of retailers.

Britain was home to 7.2 million knitters in 2013, according to the UK Hand Knitting Association, and its appeal as a hobby has been endorsed by celebrity knitting enthusiasts such as American actress Sarah Jessica Parker and "Mad Men" star Christina Hendricks.

Sewing is also enjoying a revival, highlighted by the popularity of reality show "The Great British Sewing Bee". Launched in 2013, the programme gets amateur sewers to take on challenges such as how to make a bow tie, or a silk blouse using a 1930s pattern and sewing machine, as they vie to be named "Britain's best home sewer."

“There's definitely a resurgence of interest in all sorts of crafting at the moment,” Jonathon Burton, one of the directors of the Knitting and Stitching Show, said.

For some in Britain, the trend taps into a rising entrepreneurial spirit that has driven a revival in cottage industries and into the appeal of escapism from the stresses of city living to a more relaxed rural lifestyle.

Rachel Hebditch runs UK Alpaca Ltd, which sells alpaca yarns from a farm she manages in Devon, western England, which has 200 alpacas.   Continued...

A woman knits during the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace in London, October 8, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth