Ireland’s biggest textile show swamped amid needlecraft boom


20 December 2017

The Knitting & Stitching Show Dublin reported a 3% rise in visitor numbers year on year after welcoming thousands through its doors last month.

Held at the Royal Dublin Society’s Simmonscourt venue, the 24th incarnation of the annual textiles show attracted 12,588 visitors across four days, and sold more tickets for the 150 workshops on offer than ever before.

Exhibitors thrilled with the show’s thronging crowds rushed to secure their place at next year’s show, pushing the rebook rate up by 10% from last year to an incredible 40%.

The news comes after market research firm Mintel reported a 12% rise in women doing some sort of needlecraft as a hobby in the last two years. Results from the same survey showed 17% of men aged 16-24, and a fifth of women aged below 45, were keen to try knitting or stitching as a pastime.   

Perhaps the surge in needlecraft’s popularity amongst hobbyists stems from the proven therapeutic benefits associated with the repetitive movements necessary to knit, sew or crochet. A hands-on hobby which naturally creates a state of mindfulness and produces a physically tangible product, needlecraft offers a welcome antidote to the dully glowing virtual reality of screen-filled daily life and is a marvellous outlet for creativity.

No matter what first inspired them to pick up a needle, visitors to The Knitting & Stitching Show were able source top quality supplies including knitting yarn and accessories, fabric, sewing machines and embroidery threads in between attending a talks and workshops and experiencing the show’s many interactive features.

A big draw for visitors to the show was the wide variety and eye-widening quality of work on display in the professionally curated galleries, one of which was dedicated to showcasing the work of talented Irish textiles graduates.

Adding a touch of celebrity glamour to the event was The Great British Sewing Bee’s Angeline Murphy who presented two daily sessions at the show. Irish celebrity stylist and lifestyle blogger Courtney Smith was in attendance along with her lifestyle blogger mother Hilda Smith, who described the show as “a riot of colour, full of fabrics, wools, patterns, colourful ribbons and all kinds of craftsy bits and pieces”.    

New show feature The Creative Living theatre, which offered free tip-packed demonstrations by the textile industry’s leading experts, was an instant hit. A particular highlight from the theatre’s programme was a screening of the all nude, all knitted award-winning Nudinuts film Tickled Pink followed by a Q&A session with the film’s creator Sarah Simi.

Albina McLaughlin, Knitwear Designer, said: “Our booth at the Knitting and Stitching Show was like a yarn shop on steroids: The flow of visitors was unending! I’ll be honest: It was an intense three days. But I genuinely enjoyed it.”

Hilda Smith, lifestyle blogger, said: There are over 150 specialist stalls: the place is a riot of colour, full of fabrics, wools, patterns, colourful ribbons and all kinds of craftsy bits and pieces, so there is plenty of shopping to be done. The seasoned professionals had brought along large bags, some were full-on cases with wheels to carry home all the goodies.

“Embroidery is a major fashion trend and I fancied learning how to tackle it. But, unfortunately, we had not reckoned on it being so popular and the classes we wanted to do were booked out.” 

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