Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thread Festival review - part 1

The second annual Thread Festival of Textiles proved a pleasant mix of needlework supplies, artisan gifts and inspiration.

The Farnham Maltings is a quirky and interesting place to hold an exhibition. The rooms are a bit higgledy piggledy, but with lovely beamed ceilings, stands offering thread-related supplies and gifts, and plenty of parking, it’s all rather charming.

Upon entering the ground room floor, we were enchanted by the embroideries of Jan Messent of the Basingstoke Embroiderers’ Guild. She sat beneath a wall of embroidery, stitching away at her latest project, which is an embroidered version of Van Gogh painting. She explained that the brisk Impressionist brush strokes translate well into stitches.

Jan happily chatted with everyone who came to admire her work, sharing tips and inspiration – for her current project, she attached thin muslin layers atop a stronger aida-type fabric, with a thin card border. This gives the threads support in the muslin without compromising the fabric’s ethereal, gauzy quality.

The Thread Festival caters to all needlecraft and textile enthusiasts, so sharing the space was the likes of Farnham Quilters, the Guild of Silk Painters and the Guild of Weavers, and Spinners & Dyers. The Great Hall held tables of contemporary fabrics for sewing as well as embroidery. We foraged at wonderful vintage haberdashery stands, with bargains galore, including old linens, muslins and giant spools of thread to add to our embroidery stash.

I bought some stunning linen threads from Namolio, which I want to use to stitch onto this interesting woven scarf I picked up for £2...

Nancy Nicholson Designs featured folk art-inspired embroidery kits in gorgeous colours:

The show was busy without being shoulder-to-shoulder uncomfortable, which often happens at larger exhibitions. The crowd was a healthy mix of ages, too, proving the craft revival is still going strong. 

Next week I’ll tell you more about my visit to Thread – including an interview with the one and only Sophie Simpson of What Delilah Did – displayed on her stand were loads of creations from her latest book, Stitch the Halls, as well as the dreamy creations from Storyland Cross Stitch. Here’s a sneaky peek:

Sophie and her mum chat with a visitor
This is only the second year of the Thread Festival, and I hope that future years see a greater number of needlecraft suppliers. There were some lovely stalls with embroidery and sewing threads, dyed silks and pretty buttons – but there is room for more of them, and a lot more fun stuff that usually can only be found online (needle minders and floss organisers come to mind straight away).

Thread has the foundation to become as successful and anticipated as other Maltings events, such as the Unravel Festival of Yarn. I look forward to next year...

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!


  1. It looks wonderful. I spent my weekend being one of those kind of vendors at a local quilt show. I get so much inspiration from being around all that color and pattern and like mind-minded people!

  2. Looks fantastic. I will have to go next year!

  3. Looks like a wonderful event.
    Clare x


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