I Knit London Tweets

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Love Socks

I Love Knitting Socks
by Eartha Kitt (with slight editing)
I love socks. What can I do? I love socks they're so good for you.
In the end they always resist and pretend you didn't exist.
But my friend
they somehow persist and remain at the top of my list.
I love socks
I love socks
love them over and over and over again.
Good times may come and they may go. I know.
Money goes fast but it comes slow
so slow
One thing is certain
love's final curtain
Won't leave me bereft while there is one sock left.
I love socks
it's going to last
I love socks
the feeling will pass.
I love socks wherever I go
all these socks they're haunting me so.
Miles of socks as far as I see
miles of socks they're smiling at me.
I love socks
I love socks
love them over and over and over again.
I love socks it's always the same
I love socks I'm good at the game.
Can't defend the way that I feel
it's no trend the feeling is real.
Now and then I try to conceal where and when I choose to reveal.
I love socks
I love socks
love them over and over and over again.
I love socks
it's going to last
I love socks
the feeling will pass. . . .

these are for someone very special.
The pattern is monkey from the previous Knitty, yarn is Cherry Tree Hill. I love them.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Dancing to Dolly...

Rounded off our week at Wembley Arena in the presence of Dolly Parton. She was brill. Slightly frustrated as it was all seated, and, although you can't dance to everything I was itching to get up instead of tapping my thigh like someone in an old folks' home. All very reserved and English I suppose to sit there and nod your head. It goes without saying that for Islands in the Stream and 9 to 5 everyone was on their feet. Funniest bit of the night was the woman behind who shouted for an encore of Stand By Your Man only to be told a firmly by her friend "that was Tammy Wynette!" She did a great set, one of those where you don't realise how many songs you know until you hear them again, the only disappointment was she ended with Jesus and He's Alive! - although having said that it is a great song!

It was a brilliant night, and ended with a bit of a posh moment for both of us on the Tube. Naturally, the knitting was out and after a while someone said, "Sorry, but are you the guys from I Knit London?" Well, how strange, two more Dolly fans on the way home, and on our mailing list! Thanks to Jenny and Laura for making us feel a bit like celebrities for a few moments! Strangely enough, we'd also spotted someone else in the crowd who recently emailed us about teaching him to knit, and he's a real celebrity (ish). All a bit surreal, but we had a good laugh about it afterwards. So, Jenny and Laura, don't be scared to come along and crochet/knit anytime, we'll sort your casting off out for you.

Had an email from Jon today, who has finally got himsef a spinning wheel (above). Not content with dyeing his own yarn with Kool-Aid (what that must do your stomach doesn't bear thinking about!) he's now on a mission to turn fleece into his own yarn. Apparently, he also received some dung-laden fleece too. Nice.
Craig IKL

Friday, March 23, 2007

World Water Day

Yesterday (see below) I was at the House of Lords for a World Water Day event. The event was great as it celebrated and promoted World Water Day in an international development context. Cherie Blair spoke as did Barbara Frost, WaterAid's Cheif Executive.

The House of Lords was a terrifying concept to me. All I had to do waas take enough WaterAid and End Water Poverty literature with me and and take to people about the campaign. Sounds easy. The first half, yes! I talked to MPs, Lords and Ladies, not Cherie, actors - Timothy Spall was there but I left him to our cheif exec. I spoke with other people from civil society organisations and even people from the Department for International Development.

I've been into the House of Parliament before and the imposing building, architecture and furnishings really bring home how improtant and powerful the decisions that are made there really are. That and the fact that everyone is in smart dress. I was wearing a shirt but needless to say I was tieless. So was Timothy Spall so I forgave myself but made a mental note for the next event!I was looking out of this window and although the view is quite unspectacular it struck that very few people get to ponder of it so I thought it my duty to share it with you.
And another. There is a bull in Black Rod Gardens dressed in a peers robes. The event was great for WaterAid and End Water Poverty. I even got a picture of Cherie Blair and her signature on some campaign materials - I wont share that with you, though.

Back to knitting - this morning we received hundreds more blue squares as per usual but I had to show you this picture of almost 1500 squares.
They are sewn into a blacket and arrived in a huge box. They are from the Environment Agency Anglian Region. We were astounded at such a great contribution. Thank you to all those involved and special thanks to Pauline for organising it.
Now that World Water Day is behind us we are getting to work on arranging the major outing for the river. We hope to take it to Downing Street mid April.
Can you help carry it up Whitehall on the day?
I finished a pair of socks yesterday! They are gorgeous, I will post a picture later!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gerard in the Lords and the death of morality.

Gerard called me earlier today from the House of Lords. He was standing in a room of that imposing building looking out across the Thames towards Guy's Hospital and said it was a strange feeling, gazing at a view that many of us will rarely see, despite our paying for it. He is visiting the Lords on behalf of WaterAid (his 'proper' job when not running a crazy knitting shop), but I'm sure he'll go into detail if he makes a new post later. This is quite a funny story though to go with his visit: last year Keira Knightley did some work for WaterAid and an email was sent asking if Keira would be coming along to the meeting today - an email from WA top brass said, "No, unfortunately Keira Knightley will not be coming....I will be coming along with Gerard Allt". How his star is rising. I suppose it's reassuring that they allow groups like WA an audience in the closetted House of Lords, and having a democracy is something to cherish. We are lucky, even if it does mean that having a democracy allows freedom of speech to those who in some respects we'd rather didn't have it - yesterday there was a demonstration outside parliament lamenting new laws to allow the gays more equal rights - a horse drawn hearse displayed the words 'a good day to bury morality'. I suppose their morality is different to mine, but I thought homophobia was a criminal offence these days?

Last night's knitting/birthday party petered out into a drunken karaoke mess, but those who stayed the course were treated to Jon's rendition of some random Shania Twain song I've never heard of before and my celebrated "Maniac" from Flashdance. I got some gorgeous hand-dyed sock yarn for my first pair of socks which will begin after the tank-top is finished. Pictures are coming soon....
Top pic is what was left at the end of the night...second pic is myself having a go at 'Scandalous' by Mis-Teeq. Oh dear.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Euroshame...but, hey, it's my birthday!

It started snowing tonight, so I guess that we'll all be unable to get to work in the morning! It was a disappointing weekend for a number of reasons, but I'm looking forward to this week's knitting meeting - it's my birthday on Wednesday, the same day that I Knit London meet up so I got to choose the bar. OK, so it's a big, brash place near the city, but it's got a happy hour and it does karaoke. I hope loads of knitters join us and get up for a song or two. Anyone who gets up and finds a knitting themed song ("Sewn" by The Feeling?..."Needles & Pins" by The Searchers?..."Sheep" by The Housemartins?!) might get a huge round of applause from us.
I've already had a few pressies, including Bonnie Tyler's Greatest hits CD - my friends obviously have a sense of humour ;), and I know I'm getting some lovingly hand-dyed sock yarn later this week from Jon. If anyone reading is planning on coming along to Wednesday's knitting night at Alibi, then, of course, feel free to drop in any pressies! We had another of our knitting club nights last night (Sunday) at The Phoenix in the centre of town:

We had knitting gingerbread bread courtesy of the lovely Roy, and pearly cupcakes lovingly prepared by Gerard:

Some of us made pom-poms:

...and there was even a semi-naked hula-hooper!

We all had a good night, but it would seem everyone else loves their mum too much! So, it was a little disappointing not to see so many of our knitters along there, and even more so with some unforseen technical problems. But nothing this weekend (or maybe ever) could be as disappointing as this sorry bunch of ?&*!$:

Oh, the shame. I know it's slightly ridiculous to be getting this worked up over the Eurovision Song Contest, I know there are bigger things in the world to be concerned about, but when it gets to the stage that the "Great British Public" vote for these goons to represent the country then I just despair! It's about 10 years out-of-date, embarassingly kitsch in a not-even-so-bad-it's-good-just-really-bad kind of way, with some 'tongue in cheek' innuendo for the mums and dads, a terrible dance routine, and four people who really are old enough to know better, especially the fat one who can't dance anymore. And that one second from the left, don't you just want to punch his lights out? Don't you?? As you can probably tell, this has touched a nerve somewhat. Come back Cliff, we forgive you.

Friday, March 16, 2007

more pics and SP10!

I had an email from my secret pal! It's very exciting. This is the first time I've been in and I can't wait for the prezzies to come in, and also I can't wait to send to mine!!!!

We went to NY, did we say? This is another picture from one of the really high buildings. I've been a couple of time (but not for ages) and the wierd thing about being there is that after a couple of hours New York kind of feels like being at home as it all so familiar. I grew up watching Cagney and Lacey.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Film night, yak yarn and Dolly (not the sheep)

I forgot to mention Gerard's gorgeous woven tape measure bag, purchased from Knitty City. Here's a pic:
Just wanted to mention it because we love it and he loves carrying it around like Maggie Thatcher (but nicer), and people actually stopped in the street to talk about it.

It's been all go since we got back to London. I lost my tank-top pattern somewhere along the way, but luckily kept the original and am happily getting on with it. OK, I know it's not fancy (for that check out Jon's Fair Isle tank-top - see below) but I'm proud of it and it's going to be finished before I start anything else. I know it's de rigeur to have a list on 'what's on the needle' but that just gets me frustrated. I will finish it! And I've got a big list of what's coming up next...
This is a pic of the 50% yak / 50% merino yarn I purchased last week. It's much more gorgeous than it looks - I like the minimalist approach, and this is very black with some grey flecks. Haven't decided what to knit yet - I'm guessing it'll just be a hat or something but it'll look super. What's really surprising how soft it is, I always expected yak to be a bit hardier, although I suppose the merino helps. We might get some for the shop - soon we'll have a yarn zoo going on! Actually, that's not a bad idea...I'm ordering some giraffe hair tomorrow! (That's a joke.)
As previously noted, I Knit Londoner, part-time shop worker, and generally gorgeous good egg Jon is working his way through a Fair Isle vest top. I never quite know whether he has some kind of access to a time machine (he is a Dr. Who fan) because he just seems to always have something on the go and gets through his knitting like a demon! Not content with just the knitting though, he's dying his own yarns, and now he's got his own blog as well. Jon, please, can we have some of that time of yours because ours just always runs out! Check out his site at www.easyknits.co.uk, marvel at his dying efforts but don't laugh at the photos of him in his Tapestry hat (although they are quite funny).

We had agreat IKL meeting at the shop last night - nice to see old and new faces, and the drinking and knitting went on til at least 11, until the curry & chips arrived. While away we were a bit extravagant, but when the exchange rate is so good it just feels like you're saving loads but not spending - looking forward to this months credit card bill. We got ourselves a projector and tonight we had our first film night at IKL. Well, we enjoyed it, and it will be the last time I ever mention on this blog that I was in The History Boys...I promise. I'm not a wannabe actor, by the way, just someone who works at the National Theatre and popped along for the day. Here is my 15 seconds of fame:
I'm the one one the left (twice).

One last bit of excitement today - bought 2 tickets to see Dolly Parton next week. If I was any more excited I might just explode. G will be wearing his official Kenny Rogers corduroy jacket as a tribute. Isn't she glorious?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Knitting in New York

Last year (before we had a shop and two full-time jobs!) we booked a trip to NYC, and last week, we took it. Neither of us were NY virgins, and it turned out to be a great trip, completely changed by our knitting experience, and full of drinking, dancing (a little), knitting, eating, walking (lots of it) and spending. All par for the course, really.

We arrived on Friday afternoon, 2nd March, and got the first cab straight into Manhattan. No matter how many times you've been, the view of that skyline as you drive through Queens from JFK is always awe-inspiring. Dipping beneath the river and up again onto the island is like entering some kind of other-world, a secret passageway into an imaginary place...looming large and proud. It doesn't take long to realise that it's just like any other city, only bigger and better and bolder and brasher! We were holed up in a huge hotel on 8th Avenue, central and comfy enough but our budget didn't stretch to the Park Plaza! We didn't spend much time there in any case...

The knitting started on the plane (all hail Denise knitting kits!) - Gerard finished one of his Monkey socks, I got on splendidly with my retro tank-top, and the air stewardesses chatted us up no end! Bless. Anyway, we just about covered every yarn store in Manhattan, from the sublime (The Point) to the ridiculous (Walker & Daughter - more of that later!). They are really spoiled for choice too, but we'll list our faves in this blog in a sec. If we weren't fondling yarn, we were usually drinking cocktails or spending on 5th Avenue (yikes). In fact, we were very excited by the Abercrombie & Fitch store, which came over like a gay disco - loud music, no lighting, photos of semi-naked boys all over the walls (most of whom weren't actually wearing many of the clothes they were advertising). Came out of there fully loaded on Sunday and not a little disappointed to find when we got back to London that they are opening their first store on Saville Row in a few weeks' time! We can be trendy and ahead of the crowd for a fortnight at least.

Our first night we had a quiet one at the cinema, which feels like an anticlimax, but after a long flight, watching Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac seemed perfect. (G met him once in a shoe shop in Covent Garden y'know, buying the same shoes, but that's a different story!). We made up for the slow start on Saturday though.

We arranged to meet our pal, Leonne, in Public, a bar/diner in the East Village where we sipped our first champagne cocktails, and our second and our third etc. Leonne was the hero of our stay - we met her first at an I Knit London meeting last year, and she became a regular, but, sadly (for us) she had to return home to Harlem. But we arranged to meet up when we came and did just that, a few times. Thanks Leonne, for making our stay so cool and for making us feel all international-like! Actually, I overheard a conversation in that bar with some jet-setting model-looking types telling each other just how "great it was to see so-and-so", "last time we were in London / Florida / San Francisco blah blah" and felt a bit jealous! Then relaised we were meeting our friend from Manhattan, seeing another two pals who live in Brooklyn, and had a meal with a colleague of G's who'd flown in from Washington DC. All very high-life and glam. Plus we made so many new friends over the course of the week, and we were both accosted by a alcohol-fuelled Goddess....

Saturday rounded off with an impromptu visit to see the Scissor Sisters at Madison Square Garden Theater. This is below the actual MSG as their home crowd haven't taken to them the way we have over here. Although it was packed and loud and filthy/gorgeous. Strangest support act I've ever seen though - Wigs On Sticks - hilarious! We left late, made it back to the hotel and slept til morning....

Sunday was action-packed too, and by the end of the night it felt like we'd done enough to last a week before we'd even started. Shopping on 5th, modern art at MOMA (left) (Craig says dull, dull dull!)(Gerard says "open your mind and have a dialogue with it(right). We also called in over the road to the MAD Museum where the Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting exhibiton was going on. As we'd planned a trip here later in the week with friends from Pennsylvania we skipped it and just raided the shop. More trawling up and down 5th Avenue looking for a pair of jeans that would safely get up past my thighs and that wouldn't take all the spending money in one day. I failed. We made it back to the knitting exhibition on Thursday, sadly minus our expected group as they were snowed in and couldn't get to New York. Still, a fascinating show, mostly awe-inspiring exhibits. We couldn't take any photos inside but the website does have some sneaky peeks at some of the work on show.

If you're wondering who the Goddess was, she is Miss Kiki Durane, one half of Kiki and Herb, chanteuse and friend of Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco. I first encountered the deranged cabaret duo about 5 years ago at the Soho Theatre and have since seen them when and where I could. Couldn't quite believe they were on in NYC while we were there. Joe's Pub is a great venue, seedy, small, intimate and the show was a corker. The delightful gin-soaked Kiki made our night by lounging in my lap and offering herself up to G (although helping herself to G's red wine was crossing the line!). If only I'd had my camera! Not quite accustomed to the NYC 24 hour way of life (why oh why does the Tube close in London?) we still managed to last til the bitter end around 1.30am and back in a cab to the Milford Plaza.

Monday morning, back to reality and a first for me - walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Prior to that we wandered through Chinatown which confirmed that we probably wouldn't be going to eat there anytime soon. We have friends who moved to Brooklyn last year and arranged to meet up on the other side of the East River for a long round of drinks and catching up. Richard's currently appearing in The Crucible in snowbound Vermont, but made it back for a perfect night - hung around their locals in the Park Slope area, much Mexican food and many, many tequilas later we were stuffing our faces with Dunkin' Donuts and on the Subway home.

Tuesday was when the knitting really started in earnest. We set off early and headed for the Upper West Side. Those knitters in the know will have heard about Kate Jacobs' book The Friday Night Knitting Club, based on her experience of being a member of a knitting group at a Manhattan yarn store. Walker & Daughter was set up by Georgia Walker and her daughter Dakota, and is located above Marty's Deli. Every Friday a group of women meet to knit and chat, and share their life experiences. The book is about to filmed with Julia Roberts playing Georgia, so we just had to pop in, say hello, and check out their group and the shop...only snag is the website (linked above) doesn't give the exact address. All a bit mysterious, and only after a couple of hours of roaming the streets, asking passers-by for directions to Marty's Deli or the knit shop (all of whom were nonplussed) we decided to stop off in an internet cafe. When it finally dawned on us that the place is a figment of Jacobs' imagination we had a few drinks to get over the embarassment! But, great publicity from the publishers is all I can say!

That night we made the real knitting group at The Point. This was the original Stitch n Bitch group, founded by Debbie Stoller and still going strong. We had some cake, cherry soda and settled in for the night. Everyone made us very welcome and we headed off afterwards for more drinks at the bar over the road with Chris and Robert (right). The Point was gorgeous, full of yarn you just wanted to dive into. Probably our favourite store of the visit, and closest to the vibe we have at IKL, very social! But during the week we also popped into Knitty City (below left)(W79 St between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave) which was just packed to the gills with everything you'd ever need. Pearl (yes, she owns a knitting shop and she's called Pearl, honest!) was a delight and we came away with some Lorna's Laces and a knitting bag made from woven tape measures. In Downtown Yarns (right) I bought a couple of balls to make myself a hat, as the snow was heading in, although it didn't get started while I was away, and we got ourselves a wooden swift for our wool winder from Purl (bottom left). Three others stores deserve a mention too - School Products (1201 Broadway), on the third floor of an office block is a real find. A treasure trove of yarn in the heart of the Garment District, it has stacks and stacks of cashmere and merino, as well as random amojnts of yarns of all types - many odd skeins leftover from the nearby fashion houses. Here I got myself some yak/merino skeins but haven't decided what exactly to do with it yet, and then there's Habu, the Japanese textile and weaving store, again, hidden away on the 8th floor of a block on W35th St. This was the most fruitful excursion and we came away having made a huge order for their unique laceweight silk yarn which will be winging it's way over the London very soon. The last shop we called in at was downtown in the East Village - Knit New York, another cafe/yarn store. I think by this time (Friday) we were just about knitted out so we were less enthusiastic about the place than the others and came away empty-handed.

Add to this, on Wednesday evening we joined Booze n Yarn for their Wednesday night knit at the Luca Lounge, again, in the East Village. A bunch of knitters, lots of drinks, and pizza too. We loved it! We hope that everyone who made it to meeting in London had as good a time as we did!

For much of the rest of our time, it was lots of walking, Central Park in the snow, cinema, a visit to the theatre which we'll never forget: if you ever ask anyone "If we only see one show while we're here what should it be?" and FOUR people recommend the same musical how can it be wrong? The answer we got was Spring Awakening, and, despite a standing ovation it was possibly one of the worst things we've ever seen. As G said, "I blame Simon Cowell".

All in all it was fabulous. The shop was left in very capable hands of of our various new members of staff - we should introduce them here soon! Thanks for that, took a lot of the stress out of leaving our 'baby' behind. For now, here's some more of our pics...if you've been to any of the stores, or seen that Godawful show, then please do leave a comment!

Cream cheese and salmon, with a bit of bagel. Breakfasts came in quite large portions.

Gerard in the Garment District - note huge button, sewing needle and large statue of man with sewing machine

Gerard on 'Top of the Rock'