More from the Knitting & Stitching Show in London

The last time I wrote I shared some of the artwork I loved at the Knitting & Stitching Show. This time I’m sharing a bit more, with a special focus on my favourite artist this year.

*** Please note: this post will have verbal references to eating disorders in the context of an art exhibit, which some might find triggering; none of the artwork has any explicit imagery related to this mental health issue. ***

Remember Libby Vale, the artist with the “Ironing Bored” in my last post? She also created a doll that reflected our modern human self-absorption. Note the bag full of Stuff You Don’t Really Need in the her hand. This doll was posable and each day would look different.


I love seeing textile art in 3D so these textures drew me in. I forgot to record who made them.

The next artwork reminds me of Zed’s creations. Do you agree?

More 3D art. I’m always drawn to wire creations, they look so ethereal.


Now comes the exhibit that touched me the most. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder in her teens, this was very powerful to me. The work of Caren Garfen gives voice to her former self and to those who can see themselves reflected in her words and creation.


This size 0 dress tells the story of Anna. It was painstakingly stitched with human hair.


A reflection of mood.


The angry voices of the loved ones who don’t know how to deal with an invisible illness


Caren created a dollhouse reflecting the mood of an anorexic. Everything inside it has a relation to eating. In the middle sits the artist, underweight, with a food-related unfinished artwork, looking lost.


Finally, a piece of her handmade patchwork blanket. Knowing when to ask for help is what people with a mental illness struggle the most.

I hope you enjoyed this post, even if the last theme was a little heavy. Art isn’t just about the positive side of life, and its role needs to also be one of awareness about what surrounds us. If sometimes you feel you’re struggling – you’re not alone.

About Leonor

Textile artist, indie dyer, conjurer of fluff.
This entry was posted in embroidery, Guest Artists, Guest Writer, Inspiration, Mixed Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to More from the Knitting & Stitching Show in London

  1. Kathryn Luciana says:

    Wow, great pieces!

  2. ruthlane says:

    Thanks for the post Leonor and again, I wish I could have attended. One day…

    I love the doll that has the bag “Stuff You Don’t Need” and the phone. She looks like 50% of the women that come in the store every day. It’s also interesting to see the work of Caren Garfen. The subject is tough but one many people deal with every day. Thanks for sharing.

    • Leonor says:

      If you ever do attend let me know and we can meet in person! πŸ™‚

      Yes, that doll was very resonant. I’m sure a lot of people fit that profile…

      Caren Garfen has my infinite admiration for tackling such a big subject, and owning it. We had a really enlightening conversation about eating disorders, one that wouldn’t have happened almost for sure 10 years ago.

  3. I think it’s great when art raises awareness of different issues, especially things that are hard to talk about. I can’t believe that writing was stitched with hair

    • Leonor says:

      I agree! Art has to be more that just “pretty.” I was flabbergasted as well (about the hair) since I’ve a slight hair phobia. I’m glad I read the dress’s words before the description, otherwise I might have not gotten that close πŸ™‚

    • What I think is clever about it too, at least in the photo of it, is that the dress looks big and shapeless, when in reality it’s only a size 0.

    • Leonor says:

      The dress was actually tiny – think 3-year-old dress πŸ™‚ There’s a lot of miniaturisation in Caren Garfen’s work, and apparently it’s a common characteristic in people with eating disorders – interestingly, I do believe I had tiny handwriting when I was suffering from anorexia as a teenager!

    • Oh wow… I didn’t realise that about miniaturisation. The stitching on the dress must be tiny. It’s funny how a photo can portray a different sense of scale. Than you for sharing all this

    • Leonor says:

      I didn’t know that either! I read it in Caren’s manifesto πŸ™‚ The stitching on the dress truly is tiny, which makes the whole endeavour even more amazing to me. Every letter is really well written and the detail is amazing.
      I’m glad you mentioned the photo making it look big, because to me it looks tiny! I was there in person so it makes sense. So interesting how we see things so differently depending on the perspective.

    • I think it’s like that in life generally… I’ve lost count of the times my husband and I will hear someone say something and come up with totally different interpretations of the meaning or intent behind it.

    • Leonor says:

      That is very true for sure! Each brain has a different interpretation. Fascinating, isn’t it?

    • Totally😊

  4. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    Wow, very powerful and meaningful images. I’d love to go someday, too. These are images that make you think and give truth to our world whether we see it or not. I love the 3 D wall textures and the string art below. Thanks for sharing!

    • Leonor says:

      I’d love to see you here! This event is worthwhile for the art alone. I love it when art serves a social purpose. This was powerful stuff for sure.

  5. annielynrosie says:

    Thank you for posting those images. What a show we missed! Some really powerful art there.

  6. Antje says:

    Very powerful art from Caren Garfen and that is from your photos! I’m still hoping to visit the show in Harrogate so I’m sure the real thing will blow me away.

    The 3D doll is something we can all relate to I’m sure. Two days ago I had a discussion with my EPH about having given my children pots, pans, pan lids, wooden spoons and various bottles tops to play with in addition to some bought toys. Nowadays it must all be new, colourful, exciting, purpose created ‘STUFF’ that very quickly is superfluous and unwanted….it starts at a very early age sadly. I wonder which ‘method’ encourages more creativity?…..but that’s for another discussion!

    Thank you for sharing your selection of the artwork.

    Have you noticed any new trends?

    • Leonor says:

      It’s even better in person for sure! If you liked Caren Garfen’s work in pictures you’ll love it even more in person.

      You’re right about the “newness” of everything. Remember fidget spinners? Where are they now, if not in landfills? Sad.
      I think perhaps creativity is helped when one needs to use it to create the things one doesn’t have. A friend of mine is a great sewer because she wanted skirts her mum couldn’t afford to buy when she was young… But who knows?

      I didn’t notice much in respect of trends, I think that would’ve probably be more noticeable in fashion but it was the section I noticed the least πŸ™‚

  7. tracey2008 says:

    Wonderful art pieces and messages Leonor, thank you.

  8. Lindsay says:

    Thanks, Leonor, and particularly for highlighting the work around eating disorders. It looks extremely moving. I’ve just booked tickets to take my Mum to the Harrogate show so I do hope the Caren Garfen work will be there.

    • Leonor says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Lindsay. I was fearing it might be a little “heavy” a theme but I’m happy to see so many understanding the role of textile arts in this sort of issue.
      I believe Caren Garfen will be at the Harrogate show, yes! Hope you like it even more in person πŸ™‚

  9. zedster66 says:

    Thanks so much for this, Leonor πŸ™‚

  10. Pingback: Production Anxiety | feltingandfiberstudio

  11. A great show Elinor It will have to go on the list for the dream world tour I will take when I win the lottery. Some very powerful art.

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