Back on home ground after an exhausting but exhilirating weekend on Rotterdam. We made the trip after an invite from the organisers of the official Dutch Stitch n Bitch day and became 'Ik Brei Rotterdam' for one day only!
After a short drive through 'beautiful Essex', laden with yarn, needles and a large portion of knitted river, we made it to Harwich for the stimulating 5 hour ferry crossing to the Hook of Holland. I left all my knitting in the car so had to jolly myself with card games, crosswords and shopping in the on board gift shop - does anyone ever buy a StenaLine woolly hat or a model of their hovercraft? These kind of shops are always filled with the most useless tat but you end up with a bag full because there's nowt else to do (drinking and eating are a dangerous option we discovered). Met a lovely knitter from norway though, who wasn't actually going to Rotterdam, just happened to be on the boat.
Anyway, after the brain-numbing boredom of a North Sea crossing we drove the short distance to Rotterdam through some of the most uninteresting (and flat) countryside I've experienced. There were quite a few sheep though, which we like. Once holed up in our little B&B we wandered the streets in search of sustenance - found it in Historisch Delfshaven in the form of tapas and beer. It's at this point I should point out that Dutch beer pouring with half a glass of head is something I won't get used to in a hurry. And what's with the small glasses? Anyway, just as well, we were in bed by 9pm. Shameful.
Up at the crack of dawn though for the show on Saturday. Car loaded up with arrived in the dark at the incredible Van Nelle at 7am. this is an enormous relic of the Dutch tobacco industry; a giant factory now converted into exhibition space, workshops, warehouses and offices. It looms large on the landscape and in the dark it's glass and metal framework are a reminiscent of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Filling such a cavernous and industrial building with all the trimmings and tradition of knitting was an inspired juxtaposition of the elements.
And so it began. The invasion of Dutch knitters started at 10am and continued relentlessly all day long. Once we'd got some basic phrases into our heads and worked out just exactly what a Euro is worth we had a brilliant day. The river had pride of place in the exhibition room and looked stunning - so many squares were brought in for us too, and those who were dedicated enough even sat down to sew a few rows together. Thanks go to everyone who did this and to the hundreds of Dutch knitters who turned up with their squares. There are news pics of some squares posted on the Knit A River pictures blog so you can have a gander.
Gerard was busy with the river for much of the day and basking in the glow of his new celebrity status! If hobnobbing with Debbie Stoller and Miriam Tegels wasn't enough he also made his Dutch TV debut. Debbie signed a copy of The Happy Hooker for us, although we didn't take our own copy so now we have a Dutch version which is useful. She also added her support to the river project which is great news. Miriam is the Dutch speedknitting champ (currently awaiting confirmation from the Guinness World Records about the international title) and she was busy beating off all contenders for her title. It's an incredible sight to see.
One of the funniest things of the day was just how popular our I Knit buttns were - at one point wandering around the building it was hard to avoid those bright yellow circles pinned to the bosoms of hundreds of Dutch knitters. Unfortunately our order for limited edition 'Ik Brei' badges didn't make it in time - but everyone understood them anyway.
For photos of the weekend visit our photo gallery at the website: http://www.iknit.org.uk/photogallery-dutch%20stitch%20n%20bitch%20dag.html
as I have been unable to post pictures to this blog for weeks.