I Knit London Tweets

Saturday, June 30, 2007


Glastonbury is amazing. I will never moan (publicly) about the mud and the rain. The rain is easy to avoid. The mud is not. Every year I go and come back with mud. It's still in the kitchen but washed from all my clothes, except some is still on my bag.

It took a day for the rain so Wednesday was amazing, I was back stage with WaterAid so spent most of the day waiting for passes and eventually got to pitch my tent at 6ish. Thanks to Lioba, I had trouble with my tent but eventually got it sorted and everyone was very jealous as it sleeps 5 people and has a massive porch, yet there was just me staying in it as Craig could not make it in the end. We spent the evening with cider and wondering round then made our inevitable way to Kings Meadow and the Stone Circle. It was summer solstice but I didn't stay for the day, I was very good as I had to work the next day - more about that later.

Dame Shirley Bassey was, obviously, brilliant and we loved her and chanted her name over and over and over.

I was, obviously, quite close to the front. The second pic is of the screen, shake it Shirley shake it!

This picture is of the back of the screen. I was totally fascinated and amazed by the backstageness of back stage. It was totally unglamourous, though. There were flush toilets but even these were traumatic after a couple of days. There were a few famous people. Some of us began to wonder whether we were being stalked by Will Young. I don't think we were in the end, I think he was just everywhere! I didn't see Kate Moss but I saw her winnebago! It was bigger than the shop!

This is me and T from WaterAid actually on the Pyramid Stage. I was so excited and giddy. The flash wouldn't work on the camera because it was so bright behind. We were actually seeing what Shirley was seeing, apart from the crowds as it was Thursday afternoon!
This is some of the work I had to do on Thursday! I had to do a piece in the press conference in the backstage bar, which was called Lulu's. I was so nervous and when I saw that I had to stand on a platform with a microphone I almost lost it.
Naturally when I had to go up I was great! I had to have the speech in front of me as I was so nervous I thought I would forget everything. Once I heard my accent over the speakers, it was kind of coming from behind me and I was amazing at how much of a Liverpool accent I had, I felt a strange sense of pride and also achievement.
I was talking about WaterAid and campaigning at the festival. There were lots of press and even Michael Eavis himself with his daughter Emily, they both run the festival.
It was an amazing experience. As was the whole festival. Every year it is an amazing experience. I'm glad it's over - it's hard work walking through the mud when you are completely sober - but I am already excited about next year.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I have to deal with...Spamalot.

It's gone 2am and I've just got home from the Mid-Knight Matinee of Spamalot - I felt I had to post because I had such a briliant night! The performance was in aid of The Theatrical Guild, a charity for those who work in any area of the theatre, and it started at 11.30, so the crowd were all (possibly) merry, and certainly up for it. What a great show, though. I doubt a regular audience are so enthusiastic but it was the funniest thing I've seen in ages, and you have to love SRB! Spotted in the audience tonight: Paul McGann, Phyllida Lloyd, Nina Myskow, Nickolas Grace, some woman from EastEnders and Nichola McAuliffe (that roll-call for the benefit of Young Tom, who likes that kind of thing!).

Th evening's entertainment came at the end of a long day in the IKL shop - mostly spent sorting out my html in preparation for our sparkling new newsletter next week. Hopefully it'll be more concise, less dense and easier to get the info you need...plus a special surprise each week, or maybe fortnight! Jon dd most of the work on that actually, whilst I whinged about technology about Facebook and generally all things 'modern'! And here's me writing a blog, how ironic. Some people still can't believe I exist without a mobile phone, but it was possible for the first 30 years of my lie so I don't see why I shouldn't be able to cope?

Spoke with G today who has been two days in a field in Somerset - rained today but he had the honour of speaking to the assembled hordes at his frst press conference. He'll be blogging about his whole experience either from Glastonbury, if he can, or a full report when he gets back next week. I'll save te stories for him to tell. He's working at the festival for WaterAid (of course) and will be in the backstage area, which, apparently, sounds much more glamourous than it sounds. So far, so he was told, the closest he's come to a sleb is when 'someone from Ash' walked past.

Tonight we watched Pleasantville at the IKL Thursday film night. I remember seeing it years ago and it's a lovely film - which makes it sound awful! But it wasn't awful, and we all liked it. The film nights, and sometimes lunch breks at the NT, are now the most likley times I actualy get to sit down and knit so tonight I finished the left front of the baby cardy that I've been on recently. It's really the best way to learn new stuff - just pick something and do it...I'm doing stuff I've never done before (very basic) but I'm learning, if my impatience doesn't get the better of me! The film nights are a real treat, and although we rarely get a big group I look forward to them more and more - plus, Esther is always reliable with the M&S chcolate cokies, flapjacks or assorted nibbles!


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Knitting in...the rain, the park and Tsumugi silk

It's end of what feels like a really long week, it's our dear Queen's (official) birthday and it's thunderstorms a-go-go. Hope she doesn't get wet. I'll admit to feeling just a little lethargic after last night's knitting night for blokes spilled over into The Wheatsheaf on South Lambeth Road and went on til almost 2am. And why is it that after such-and-such an amount of beer/wine the only thing you really want is cheese and chips? We were joined in our manly knitting last night by the divine Miss Elly who we assured could watch BB on our big screen. Alas it was not to be - the knitting has saved us this year from the death of summer that is Big Brother and I am grateful for it!

It's been a full week and I'm looking forward to our Sunday off, although will surely spend most of that in front of this screen, tweaking the website and our new newsletter. Wednesday IKL night in the pub was one of the most relaxing for ages, in a really gorgeous spot by the lake in St James' Park. Inn the Park has a premium position, and it's a bit annoying that they've filled it with the most expensive drinks I've ever seen. It's nice and all, but really you're taking advantage when you start charging over a fiver for a small bottle of red wine! Staff were quite bolshie too. We spotted the owner, Oliver Peyton, outside and considered having a word but our British reserve meant we just put up with and enjoyed the view! Until the rain came...you can always rely on that. But we split up into two knitting packs and found some space both inside and outside, all cosy-like under the trees.

Looking forward to Duckie in July (we have an arty knitting project planned for Saturday nights), I was knitting the Abbey Road pedestrian crossing! Of course, Sue outdid me by a mile and knocked up a Belisha beacon in a matter of minutes, complete with crocheted beacon and propped up with a coffee stirrer. But at least I finished mine, which officially meenas I've finished two things in as many weeks - the first was this scarf-thing which I started in Brighton on the 3rd. On Thursday, much to Gerard's surprise I picked up my baby cardigan and started that again...I'd thrown it aside in a strop the other night after mistake #1762 sent me over the edge of sanity. But in the clear light of day (and with Starship Troopers as accompaniment) I began again, with determination renewed!

Now, someone was a bit disparaging recently about my choice of films for our Thursday night film night and I was most put out. I'm of the opinion that knitters come in all shapes and sizes, and you can't (usually) recognise one in the street without having an Attenborough-like eye for the giveaway signs. I'll agree, Starship Troopers is not, perhaps, the most relaxing evening's entertainment, but we were happy in it's presence and the knitting didn't suffer! We did have M&S chocolate biscuits and sultana cookies to help us along. But, the point is, the films we show aren't determined by a blinkered generalisation of what a knitter should be, but more by our own random choices. I've liked them all so far...but apparently I'm "odd"! You can see what we have coming up over the next few weeks here - and suggest your own if you like. Leave a comment.

Gerard's Victorian Lace Today obsession still refuses to lose it's grip! And why not, the stuff he's made so far is beautiful - and makes me jealous as hell. We've just ordered a mountain of Tsumugi cones from Habu to replenish after his first lacy scarf sent the 'buy what you see' knitters rushing for the cones we had...they've just added 6 new colours too so we're slavering with anticipation for those to arrive.

Not that today's downpour fills me with any hope for a long hot summer, we've agreed to take part next week in the Vauxhall Summer Fair in Vauxhall Park. I'm determined to have a good day there, so I'll have my cart of yarn, big needles, loads of brightly coloured acrylic, Innocent Big Knit hat patterns and other bit and pieces for folks to play with. It's Sunday 24th and it would be great to see any knitters there - they'll have loads of stalls, games, entertainment etc, plus Joanna Lumley is opening it! Also, Jon Easy Knits will be rocking up with a fleece and his spinning wheel to demonstrate the lost art to a bemused Vauxhall crowd. I'm looking forward to it, and I promise not to go on about how I should be at Glastonbury watching the Dame instead.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Fighting for the right to...knit?

Knitting in public eh? What's the point? - that's the question I was asked by a slightly bemused German (?) tourist on Saturday as a bunch of us sat on the steps of Trafalgar Square with our needles out, big and small. After searching for an answer I came up with the idea that we were demonstrating a craft that many folk still associate with their granny (not a bad thing, surely) and that knitting is having a renaissance and it's, like, really cool, and hopefully we'll encourage people to take it up. Something like that. He said I was 'very amusing' and walked on. It was certainly a sight to behold, and I think at one point I looked up from my knitting to see a wall of cameras pointing in our direction that almost outnumbered those of us actually knitting!

Whilst Gerard was at the G8 last week, trying to convince some of the most powerful people on the planet to sort it out, we had our own little battle on our hands - fighting for the right to knit in public! No sooner had we settled on the said steps than we were approached by Security Guard #1 who was curious to know what we were doing and why. After a brief explanation he looked none-the-wiser and thus ensued a relaxed debate about sitting down and knitting. It would seem you can sit on the steps, but you can't sit on the steps and knit. I agreed to remove all signs of "World Wide Knit in Public Day" which I'd printed off and laminated for the occasion but it wasn't enough. Only when Security Guards #2 and #3 arrived was I told we were holding an unauthorised event! When I asked if we stopped knitting could we still sit here he got a bit flustered - I must admit, it didn't help that I chose my giant needles to bring along for showing off, which apparently made our little shindig a 'performance' - I told him it was nothing of the sort - "I'm knitting a curtain" - I said, in an "isn't that obvious" kind of sarcy manner. After much name-dropping ("I emailed Ken and he said it was OK!"), our arm-waving, raised eyebrows and incredulous looks gave way to him actually not being arsed in the end and we talked him into submission - as long as we were out of the way by 2pm so the march for Palestine couldn't be disrupted by our little performance. Is knitophobia a word? - in the 21st century you still have to stand up and be counted my fellow knitty comrades! ;))

All argy-bargy aside, it was a fun day. I met loads of new knitters, and, although after a couple of hours in the sunshine we were baking, it was hilarious to see the reactions of some of those mystified tourists. We even managed a couple of hats for the Innocent Drinks Big Knit campaign. The last few of us headed to St James' Park for a few hours, with some Stella (classy) and returned to the square for more brief knitting with the Stitch and Bitch London group who arrived on the scene after their crawl around London's landmarks. From there, more drinking at Walkers wine bar off Whitehall and a jolly good chinwag. A good day was had by all!
Thanks to Gail for some of the pics!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I've always been alternative

well, this week has been amazing. The Alternative G8 Summit in Rostock, Germany. Some of my WaterAid colleagues where in Heiligendamm but I stayed in Rostock for lots of the workshops and debates.
It was a very full program of events and so we had early starts and late finishes. The early starts were mostly due to the fact that we were staying in Wismar, some distance from Rostock -a 90 minutes train journey. This meant lots of knitting!
It was very funny as I didn't really fit in with the radicals, rebels and protesters, visually at least. I was freshly showered and fully fed from the hotel breakfast every day and I smelled lovely, obviously, of Issey Miyake and carried my tape measure bag freshly. I was desperately sorry not to have been able to get to the blockades or go on any demos but that was not why I was there, unfortunately.
I was quite worried about all the media reports about the violence and the brual way that protesters were acting but when I got there the sun was out (it was about 95 degrees!) and my comrades were not brutal they were people who simply wanted to express their right to have their voice heard and I felt very honoured to be part of their gang. I longed to be at the blockades. The media seemingly made it up, or at least wildly exagerated. Fancy that happening? I have a friend in New York who didn't even know there was a G8 summit as there news is mostly about about a celebrity going in and out of jail.

What happened in Rostock and just outside the £30 million fence that was built around Heiligendamm was super super important. Protesting is our right and we must exercise that right whenever we feel we must. Last week in Germany was one of those times.
The Alternative G8 was a way of ensuring that issues that concern us stay within the public sphere for discussion. If we did not do this the G8 and other leaders may become even more unaccountable and that, to me, is unacceptable.
The G8 have committed themselves to providing £30 billion to Africa but they have committed themselves to this before, and more before, and not kept the promises. I hope they will this time.
Water and sanitation were not on the agenda but we will continue to campaign for this for next year Japan will host the G8 summit in July. It seems odd to me that not more people see that water is key; it underlines advances in all other areas - people with HIV/Aids need more water than people without! Even if people in Africa have HIV/AIDS medicine what good is a tablet if you have no water to help you take it? What good is a school if you do not have time to go because you main task for the day is walking for 4 hours to get water for your family? Would you have gone to school as a 13/14 yr girl during your menstrual cycle if the school had no toilets?
Apprarently the media tent at Heiligendamm laid on food and drinks, as much as the media could consume. Our hotel had the best breakfast I have ever had at a hotel. How lucky are we? Almost like we have nothing to worry about. Apparently George Bush missed most of the last day of the G8 summit due to a stomach bug. I wonder if it was brought on from over indulging in all the luxury.
So the early mornings and late nights took there toll - I was only there for three days but sometimes it's difficult to concentrate when you are so tired. It took me a couple of seconds to think of a solution (I don't drink coffee), knitting. I am proud/surprised/amused to say that I was the only person knitting during the Alternative G8. It helped me to focus and stay engaged when extreme heat and sleep deprivation was hammered away.

I worked on this scarf. Another from Victorian Lace Today. I love lace knitting! And I love knitting on addi lace needles! Which, coincidentally, we have just had another delivery of so why I am writing this when there is lace and more socks to be knitted on addi lace needles I don't know!
The yarn is a gorgeous peach silk from Habu.
I finished the last scarf but have yet to block it so I will post pictures of that soon.
Craig is currently knitting in public in Trafalgar Square. He is ecpressing his right to be in a public place doing something he enjoys with friends while hurting no one. I hope he is not arrested as we have not paid the £440 per hour hire fee for Trafalgar Square.
I must also confess to being a little bemused by this international knit in public day. I knit in public every day and so do most people I know.
I can hear police sirens! I hope the knitters are ok!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Moves and movies...

While the cat's away....Gerard was in Germany this week for the G8 summit (not rioting!). As a very important WaterAid person he has to go to these things and speak to important people about important issues because he's very important. Meanwhile I got free rein to redo the IKL shop - made some more space, moved our leather sofa and made a cosy little hidey-hole for knitting and generally tidied up a bit - you'd be amazed the amount of fluff you get in a yarn store! The move was successful (I think) - Gerard made his thoughts perfectly clear and thanked me for all my hard work when he got back last night. Our Tuesday night class certainly had more room to swing their crochet hooks around - it's just a shame the organisation failed and we ended up with too many pupils. May I take another opportunity here to apologise to those who we couldn't accommodate, and to Sue, our teacher, who was looking like she was about to smack me around the head.

So, with Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday spending almost 24 hours a day in the place it was gratifying to have G back on Thursday night to help out with the kitchen which I'd neglected in favour of the 'public' space. I was having a little 'me' time, watching All About Eve at the Thursday film night, which, incidentally, was brill. Thursdays have become something of a haven for me as it's time to stop working and have a couple of hours to switch off. It was nice not to be working for a change, and I can indulge myself by choosing movies I want to see (sorry, Starship Troopers next week!). It's no secret that I always wanted a film shop, and once upon a time I had an enviable collection of about 2000 movies, rare and weird and sometimes embarrassing and mainstream (on VHS, remember that?) Sadly they went down the Ebay road when it was decided that we needed more space and money for yarn. I fear my record collection is heading the same way, but recently I've realised that life should be easier without any of this guff anyway.

I've taken time off from the main job at the National Theatre this week to cover the shop and tomorrow am off again for Worldwide Knit in Public Day - we're hoping to have a gathering in Trafalgar Square from 12pm to 2pm, with a suitcase full of yarn and needles for passers-by to get involved. You can bring whatever you like to knit, or help us make some mini woolly hats for Innocent Drinks' Age Concern campaign - we have money off yarn vouchers and free Innocent Drinks tokens to give out too. If it rains, well, that would be typical, but we'll still be there! This is a worldwide day of events, so there's loads of knitters all over the place getting their purl out in public - of course we're used to it, meeting up all over the place. We still try to come up with new ways to get knitting noticed, to promote the craft and the get people back 'on the needle' - it's always funny when we see one (or more) of our ideas appropriated elsewhere. Quite flattering really.