Pickle and Pongo: New homes required

Now that the Knitting and Stitching Shows are over for another year and the 2014 UKHKA Knitted Textile Awards have been announced, Pickle and Pongo’s jobs are done.  While I will be sorry to see them go, there are far too many dogs in my house already (apparently, according to the Husband though I can’t see it myself) so I have just listed them in my Etsy shop. Do have a look and feel free to share with anyone you think might be interested in purchasing a unique, hand crafted gift.

UKHKA Knitted Textile Awards: and the winner is……..

Me! (big grins and a little jig around the living room). Yep folks, the knitted dog heads did me proud and I was awarded the Gold in the Open category. I am particularly chuffed as I was up against some seriously talented knit and crochet artists/designers but those stern looking judges with clipboards who wandered around Ally Pally trying not to make eye contact with us have in their wisdom encouraged me to continue with my madness and unwittingly given me permission to make more. Yay!

I feel privileged to have once again been given the opportunity to be part of the Harrogate Knit and Stitch show by the UKHKA, this being a fantastic experience in a beautiful town. The regular exhibitors at the show tend to have the same location for their stands each year (probably so that return visitors can find them in the maze that is the Harrogate International Centre) and I was pleased to see that the Spellbound Bead Company were once again alongside and I had the opportunity to stock up on some new music courtesy of Kevin Powell, mild mannered bead seller by day and lead singer in playful punk band Skimmer by night. Anyway, I digress (there are just so many talented creative people out there it is difficult to stay focused!), now back to the awards….

The winner of the Graduate category was Camille Hardwick with her beautiful creations inspired by the concept of an “oxymoron”.

"Camille Hardwick"

Camille Hardwick, winner of the Gold in the graduate category of the UKHKA Knitted Textile Awards 2014

The Silver in the graduate category went to Elmina Fors with her fabulous colourwork.

Elmina Fors Silver winner

Elmina Fors Silver winner (graduate category)

And Bronze was awarded to Ainslie Mackie with these lovely wearable pieces.

Ainslie Mackie Bronze winner

Ainslie Mackie Bronze winner (graduate category)

All of the graduate finalists this year had managed to produce items of knitwear that were both worthy of the catwalk and wearable and I think the winners of the awards in particular did a great job of showing how innovative knitwear can also be functional.

In the Open category, Silver was awarded to Heather Drage for the wonderful Willoughby Brown.

Heather Drage and Willoughby Brown, Silver winners Open category

Heather Drage with Willoughby Brown, Silver winner Open category

And Bronze was awarded to Oksana Dymyd with her gorgeous cushions.

Oksana Dymyd

Oksana Dymyd, Bronze award winner in the Open category

So, back to reality now and I need to crack on with the Christmas commissions.  What an amazing experience it was to be part of these awards for a second year. I would encourage any of you hand knit and crochet artists and designers to consider entering this competition next year. Having your work viewed by tens of thousands of people and hearing their feedback is such a privilege and all of the finalists came away with a sense that their hard work and efforts had been validated both by the judges who selected the finalists and then again by the overwhelming response of the visitors to the stand.

“Caught on Calico”

Apologies to those of you who don’t “do” Christmas until December, but I couldn’t wait any longer to show you my 2014 Christmas card designs.  These three hand embroidered doggy doodles all show dogs (and cats in two of them) caught doing something naughty (hence the name of the series “Caught on Calico”) in a Christmas setting.  The names of the cards are: “The Christmas Party”, “Wreck the Halls” and “The Night before Christmas”. No prizes for guessing which title belongs to which doodle.

"embroidered Christmas doggy doodles"

Nicky Barfoot 2014 Christmas card designs: “Caught on Calico”

These embroideries have been transferred to printed cards for me by Moo on their lovely 340gsm paper.  They are for sale and are proving to be so popular I’m on my second print run.  If you have doggy mad friends or relatives who would appreciate a limited edition art card for Christmas, I’ll have them with me at the Harrogate Knit and Stitch show (20 to 23 November) so do come find me on stand A600 where I will once again be exhibiting my knitted dog heads as a finalist in the UK Hand Knitting Association’s Knitted Textile Awards.  Hope to see some of you next week.

Knitted Textile Awards 2014: Ally Pally

Wow, what a week! I had an overwhelming response to my knitted dog heads at Ally Pally from the thousands of lovely visitors to the Knitted Textile Awards stand. If only I could have captured on camera the smiles they provoked, particularly Pickle the fluffy terrier.  I got lots of interest in commissions, was shown lots of pictures of people’s dogs and even got to stroke a little chihuahua who had been smuggled into the show in a handbag!  Probably the funniest comment from viewers was a lady who laughed out loud at Pickle stating “that dog has eyebrows just like my Dad!”.

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Pongo, Biffa and Pickle welcoming visitors to the Knitted Textile Awards at Ally Pally 2014

The stand looked fantastic this year, thoughtfully curated by Sam Elliott from Kingston University, and it showed off the work of the finalists beautifully.  In the Open Category we had plenty of knitted sculpture to keep my doggies company including a full size brown bear by Heather Drage of “Born to Knit”, a cheeky seagull enjoying a feast of fried chicken by Claire Sams, and the ENTIRE cast of the Hobbit (minus the dwarves as there wasn’t enough room!) by Denise Salway.

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“Herring Gull eating fried chicken” by Claire Sams

In contrast to the sculpture there were some lovely crochet baby shoes with sparkly soles by “This little”, a striking picture by Tina McCara, a wonderfully wearable asymmetric jacket by Becca Tansley, Babsi Cooper’s sculptural crochet dress inspired by the Yorkshire countryside, a colourful crocheted unisex T by Matthew, aka one man crochet, the cutest kiddy colourwork clothes by Anita Joyes, and last but by no means least some gorgeous hand knitted cushions by Oksana Dymyd.

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Hand knitted cushion by Oksana Dymyd

And this was just the open category!  The graduate competition was also amazing in its diversity, managing to be both inspired, technical and wearable all at the same time.  I didn’t envy the judges their job and many of them told us afterwards how difficult they found it.  We await the results at Harrogate.

There was also some inspiring work on display at the Knit and Stitch show by other artists and makers this year.  I think my favourites were Renate Keeping and Jean Bennett.  More on them in another post. That’s it for now.  After a week away being looked after by my Mum, real life and the day job now beckon.  Firstly though a wet and muddy run around the woods with a hyperactive and neglected Weimaraner.

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Way too much energy!

Packing three dog heads into a trolley!

This wet and windy Monday morning I have mostly been packing.  As usual, I have left it all to the last minute and after a frantic few hours trying to locate postcard and business card holders and the other paraphernalia that goes with exhibiting (now where did I leave that hammer!) I have succeeded.  I now know why there is a product called “No more nails”.  I thought the name was a reflection of its superior ability to stick things to exhibition panels but actually it is more about what it does to your finger nails while you try to scrub off the remains of its adhesion from the last exhibition.

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Minimalist exhibition packing achieved!

So once I have decided on the most appropriate footwear to pack for the week (comfy AND waterproof is not the easiest objectives to meet!) I will be embarking on a damp journey around the M25 to hotel Mum and Dad where I will as usual be spoilt rotten.  Note to self: remember to take a big enough handbag to accommodate Mum’s packed lunches this year!  And I don’t feel too bad about leaving the husband on his own for the week as I have left him with the huge roll of bubble wrap for entertainment.

If you are planning to come to Ally Pally Knit and Stitch show this week please drop by the UKHKA stand TG Q13 in the Textile Gallery located in the West Gallery, and introduce yourself to me.  It would be great to put faces to names.  Hopefully see you there.

UK Knitted Textile Awards Open Category 2013

Just back from an exhausting but amazing week at the Ally Pally Knit and Stitch Show where I was exhibiting my knitted life “paintings” after being selected as a finalist in the UK Knitted Textile Awards (Open Category).  I have never seen the show so busy, particularly on the Saturday with thousands of textile enthusiasts visiting us at the UK Hand Knitting Association stand.  Our visitors made some lovely comments about my work, and I am delighted to say that after a hectic few days of judges wandering around with clipboards and faces that gave nothing away, I won the Silver Award in the Open Category.

"Nicky Barfoot display at Alexandra Palace Knit and Stitch Show 2013"

Nicky Barfoot’s knitted life “paintings”

The Gold Award in the Open Category was given to the very deserving and talented Sally Spinks with her Random Act of Kindness Series.

"Sally Spinks display at Ally Pally 2013"

Gold Award Winner Sally Spinks with her “Random Acts of Kindness”

We’ve now got a few weeks to catch our breath before repeating the show at Harrogate on 21-24 November.