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Sunday, July 29, 2007

back to knitting

so, I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was brilliant. There was a couple of slow bits but I loved it nonetheless.
Now, it's back to knitting. I'd had most of this week off but I did finish the second pair of socks in a row. They are presents and although they were not ready in time I think they will still be welcome. I blame some knackers on a train for ruining my mojo on the fourth sock, I had to rip it back, honestly I believe in democracy and freedom of speech but when it comes to travel I think people should sit some kind of behaviour test. Either that or the national curriculum should include parenting lessons. Or both! The socks are in Easy Knits exclusive colours, they go out to the sock club this week and then the shop will be stocked with the most fantastic range of colours I've seen, Realease the Stars is my favorite, I wish I had had the yarn with me at Glastonbury..."The more that you fight, then the more they will scrutinize and realize just your size, And believe me, you are no match for the public that has seen no ?? Didn't you know that old Hollywood is over?"
I also rediscovered my Victorian Lace Today - I have stalled on my second scarf as I got to the final stage and realised there was a pattern error in the first section! Anyway - I'm going to finish that gorgeous peach Habu Silk scarf this week.
Reading Harry Potter has reminded me how much I miss reading and I will endevour to read more as I knit. Any tips would be most welcome...
I just watched a program on BBC1 called The Great British Village Show and oh how I wish I had time to make jam and grow marrows! I have never made it a secret that I would love to be part of a WI - is it sexism that excludes me?


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Harry Potter

Recently I have been using this blog as way of confessing, remember - Hello, my name is gerard and I am 34?
Well, today I would like to tell those reading that I love Harry Potter. I've read eveyone and I was very excited to be purchasing the last book last Saturday morning. I sat on a very busy train and sank out of a hangover as I dived straight in. I have ben reading the last book very slowly - I can admit to crying, cheering and biting my nails with anxiety, jubilation and dread.
I am about 150 pages from the end of the book and while I want it to go on forever I can't wait til I get to the end!
other big news this week - Craig is on ravelry. Whatever! Oh and SnB, did we mention that? we've barely slept all week.

Friday, July 27, 2007

We're men, and we knit...

Dear reader, you may or may not know that we have what we call a 'men's knit night' every Friday here at IKL. Now, I know for sure that some folk just think this is plain misogynistic, some think it's divisive and some just think it's weird. But, it's undeniable that, because we've got an extra couple of balls in our stash we do get looked upon with suspicion and are considered eccentric in some quarters! Don't get me wrong, we don't think we're any different from any other knitters and we certainly don't think we're special (well, not for just being men any road). We first noticed the phenomena at the Sunday market stall last year where the sight of a couple of men (with beards too!) caused hysteria amongst some of the punters. Anyways, there is still a stigma attached to the male knitting thing, sadly, so we hold the boys' night to encourage those hiding away behind their machismo to get out and get crafty.

We get asked (more often than you might believe) just what exactly goes on at an IKL men's knit night - it's really the same as what goes on at any other IKL meeting. Drinking, especially. Possibly a bit more bitching than usual though, and of course loads of talk about football ;). Plus, being blokes, the gadgets come out as often as we can get them (top picture, Neil gets to grips with the knitting machine). Last night we were in gadget heaven, joined by the delightful Drew and Tom from Current TV who picked up on the men knitting thing and came along for a spot of filming - look for us soon on a TV near you! Drew got well into the whole thing (here he gets some tips from Jon on how to cast on), and went off into the night a new knitter...

...and for those still to be convinced, look at our stack of empties at the end of the night (left). Proof, if any were needed that we are real men and we knit and it's nowt to be ashamed of!

Don't worry ladies...you are always welcome, even on a Friday (but, be warned, there may be an overwhelming amount of testosterone in the air....)


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Only 63 places to go...and Ravelry is mine all mine!!

G told me the last post was 'a bit gushy' (I was excited!) so this time I'm getting straight down to it. We met, regular as clockwork at the I Knit London knitting group last night, The Freemason's Arms in Covent Garden. G was there from about 5 and the knitters came in droves. When I got there at about 8 we'd already formed three splinter groups because the pub was so packed, but I flitted between them like the social butterfly that I am to say 'hello', and, especially, rob a few chocolate brownies from the table by the door. Thanks for bringing those, and I'm sorry to the many IKL virgins last night - I hope you didn't feel neglected as we were at opposite ends of the pub! But, as always, a great turn-out of knitters and surprisingly knit-friendly staff and clientele - we liked it, and they had some decent ale!

I was a very good boy too, with my knitting. I often find myself embroiled in conversation and beer, rather than stitching, but I revisited an old favourite, my teeny cardy, which was last out of the knitbag over a month ago, and I do believe it may be finished very shortly! With G always on the go, finishing projects left, right and centre the pressure to keep up is overwhelming - at least I admit that as far as knitting goes I'm not great but I'm getting better! I was secretly thrilled when the lovely Elly said, with a hint of admiration, that my cardy was very neatly done (she had had 'a few' glasses by then though I must add). Anyway, here's the pic, which doesn't look much but it feels gorgeous (Rowan Cashsoft DK) and the IKL button badge makes good safety pin substitute for holding stitches! Meanwhile, not to be outdone, G has just finished this pair of socks (his one millionth project so far this week) with some yarn from Easy Knits...you'll be hearing more about him in the next few months, oh yes you will!
The lovely Elly also popped over to Bonnington Square tonight for our Thursday film, Little Miss Sunshine, which I'd never seen, and I loved. Another good turn-out of knitters too, and I now must hold my hands up and say that my choices of films previously may have lacked a certain something. G will be in charge of film choices from now on, after last week's and this week's were more popular than ever! I wouldn't go so far as Steph, who suggested the films I chose were 'bargain basement at Woolies' but maybe a bit more up-to-date would've helped...you can't beat a classic though. Anyways, the best bit about tonight is that Elly stayed on and we played with her Ravelry...and I discovered there are only 63 people in the queue in front of me! I've just got to grips with Facebook (which, by the way, now has an I Knit London group, feel free to join), but I can't wait to get into Ravelry. G, who was a little slower on the uptake than I has about 3000 in front of him - can't believe I got there first!
EDIT....the very next morning, today in fact, I got the email and I'm in the Ravelry club. Hurray. Now I need to take a holiday and spend all my time putting photos and whatnot on there!

Monday, July 23, 2007

The cat's out of the knitting bag...

So, it's finally out! We've been sitting on the plans for the first official UK Stitch 'n Bitch Day for a couple of months now and, to be honest, we've been bursting to tell everyone about it...and now we have it feels like a huge release! Now we can concentrate on putting together a great day for everyone - and we've got some plans for a really special day out for knitters, not least the first chance to meet SnB founder Debbie Stoller.

It's funny how things happen, and it's probably worth going through how this all came about. Those who know us will already know how surprised and thrilled we genuinely were about being given the opportunity to host this event, which came from Debbie herself. We took part, last November, in the official SnB Day in Rotterdam, where Debbie appeared and signed copies of her last book. This is where we first met her and had a chat about stuff, but it never entered our mind that, only a year later we'd be hosting a similar event in the UK. When Debbie asked if we'd do it we jumped at the chance...then realised just what we'd got ourselves into. It was a real honour and a real challenge and a really scary thought at the same time! But, now we've had a couple of months to calm down we are so looking forward to it...so thanks to DS for asking (and also, more selfishly, for bringing out a book of men's patterns!) and, if you know IKL or know us, you'll know that this will be a knitting day like no other! We're looking for yarn producers big and small to take part, with a chance to buy direct from some of the best independent knitty folk in this country and from overseas...keep your eyes on the website for regular updates about who's appearing, selling, exhibiting...

Getting the news of SnB Day finally out of our system came at just the right time, after a hectic weekend spent in Liverpool and London. We both went up to Gerard's home place on Thursday for a friends' wedding/civil partnership (the knitted garters and nipple tassles went down a storm - thanks Sue!). I have always been a bit ambivalent about the whole 'gay marriage' thing, and G and I have never given it any serious thought, although, I must say it's a good excuse for a party. It was long, champagne-soaked day, torrential rain for most of it, but a great party which finshed, very civilly, just after midnight. Back on the train Saturday morning and straight to work...
Then, straight to Duckie after that! It's our last Saturday night this week (28th) for our residency in the knitting gazebo. It's been a really great experience, meeting so many folk, teaching people to knit in the least likely environment and creating something quite special. People have been surprisingly up for getting involved, knitting up their favourite bits of London, and it's another blow for those who think knitting is dying, or just reserved for a particular stereotyped group. When you're sitting outside a nightclub in London on a Saturday night, surrounded by people knitting there's really no way anyone can deny that craft is back!


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hanging out on the SouthBank...

Today we hung the knitted river form the roof of the National Theatre in London. It looked amazing, and WaterAid's volunteers were on hand to talk about WA and the river to the hundreds of people walking by on the SouthBank. It certainly grabbed folks' attention which is what it's all about - every time we do something like this I always feel quite humbled by it - we started the whole thing over a year ago and knitters around the world took the idea and ran with it...thanks, as always, to everyone who contributed. If you still want to help WA you might like to offer your services longterm - they hold hundreds of events all year round and are totally dependant on the time and efforts of their campaigners. Volunteering can be a really rewarding experience in more ways than one! Check their website here for how to get involved in the UK, USA or Australia.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What's in your stash...?

Ooh, Gerard is a naughty boy, letting the cat out of the bag in the previous post...but, honestly, we are thrilled to be part of what will surely become a regular fixture on the knitting events calendar...watch this space!

Meanwhile, back in the world of IKL...our Friday night men who knit gathering was an interesting one last week, not least due to the new 'member' who turned up, unexpectedly. Since we opened the shop and sanctuary for knitters we've had a number of bags of old yarn, patterns, books, needles and other knitty stuff brought in by folk, from friends who can no longer knit or who have sadly passed away (we have a growing collection of dead ladies' knitting, one of which is a slightly eery half-knit jumper, still on the needle, which I like to think was the last thing she saw as she drifted off to sleep, clicking needles in hand). We use much of this for classes and events but for about a month we've had a huge sack of yarn stashed away in the back that was donated by someone (we honestly can't remember exactly who dropped it in) and which we have still to sort through. On Friday, Sue decided to delve deep into the sack to see if there was anything worth filching and out popped:

the gap below is for a reason!

Much hilarity ensued. Perhaps this was the last thing...actually, hold that thought!

Now that smokers have been banished to beyond the cosy environs of bars, we seem to have another problem to contend with on our knitting adventures - not the demon drink, but the gloom. We had a really good night at the new bar at the BFI Southbank for our regular weekly knitting group, and they even sell our newly discovered favourite tipple, Weston's Organic Cider. Only problem is the lights went down after a couple of hours and stayed down - they called it 'ambiance', we call it 'annoyance'. We asked nicely for a bit more light but to no avail...we didn't push the point, so we settled down with conversation and good company for the rest of the evening (and the waiter was cute so we really didn't want to upset him!)

Gearing up for hanging the knitted river from the roof of the National Theatre this weekend. We're hoping to see lots of WaterAid supporters down there from 2pm to 5.30pm on Saturday, and fingers-crossed for a sunny day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

h b to me

Thank for all the birthday wishes. I was slightly mortified when I saw that Craig had started the last e-newsletter with a picture of me and the news of my birthday.

Hello, my name is Gerard and I am 34! There, said. I usually say 29, lol. I am not worried about being old but I can't bring myself to say it out loud. It's worrying. It's interesting to note that I, for a while, said I was 27! It's not that I'm scared of getting old; I think I am scared of growing up. I never wanted to be a man! At 34 I can not deny the fact that I am a fully fledged man! How the beard and the grey hair came to be is a mystery.

So, there you are, 34 years old. We had a great weekend, but dare I say it...I think I am getting too old for all this! Just kidding, but I am quite tired, still. (I think I am still getting over Glastonbury.) We had a brilliant night at Duckie on Saturday, as Craig said. And Sunday was great too, a pub crawl to celebrate the smoking ban. (Lots of people at Duckie on Saturday - even those who didn't smoke mourned the loss of the smoke filled environment because now the club smelled of BO and farts!)

I for one am truly glad that there is a smoking ban. I think I can speak for Craig on this, too. That makes 2...anyone else? It was great to be out all day and get home and not smell of cigarette smoke. It's great to wake up and not have to smell other people's cigarette smoke in your hair!

Anyway, the first decision of 34-dom is less booze! At least for a little while - I have weddings to go to, you know!

So back to the birthday. I had a holiday from work and we went to town determined not to drink but to relax, maybe buy some clothes and possibly go for a birthday meal. It took about 2 hours to get waylayed by a 2-4-1 on jugs of sangria sign on St Martins Lane. After it was time to leave and the rain came. We'd talked about maybe going to China Town for a meal so we headed off. Craig as stubborn as usual going the wrong way but totally convinced he wasn't...until...we got to The Ivy! I went to The Ivy! It was a total surprise to me but the table was booked.

It was lovely. We had such a nice meal and a really great time. Of course Craig was treating the birthday boy but the increasing stress level was actually visible in his forehead when it came to ordering. I didn't get the lobster. What we did order was absolutely gorgeous. I don't very often eat desserts when we are eating out but I had to get dessert at The Ivy. I got peach and amaretto trifle. It was nothing short of amazing. Also just past the amazing mark, I think you will agree, was the fact that we were on the next table to Jane McDonald. Jane McDonald ladies and gentlemen! She was drinking champagne, we opted for Sancerre Rouge and by near the end of it I was kissing my fingers and throwing out my hands to Craig, touching my hands to my heart and throwing out the love in a gesture of 'thanks, I love you, you are great too' a la Ms
McDonald. Craig was a bit embarrassed but, although I am not an ordinary Kirby girl I am from Liverpool and I've recently watched 'Letter to Brezhnev', twice, and that's just how we are!

So, all that's missing is knitting. Well, you'll be glad to hear that I did knit in between courses. I'm on socks at the moment. My lace knitting has taken a back seat not just due to lack of time but also because I realised that there was a mistake in the pattern I am following for a scarf. It said 3 repeats of the pattern for the beginning - 4 points at the end - but it should have said 2! now I am going to have a scarf with 4 points at one end and 3 at the other! While this is not a major disaster nor is it life threatening it kind of killed the buzz.

I do have plans for a Christening shawl for my sister's soon to be here baby. If you have any ideas on patterns I should be glad to receive them.

Finally to my secret pal spoiler...
Of all the people who I have never met and love, I love you the most.
I love my gifts and I apologise for not posting pics and words of love about them. I will do that. asap. Finding the time to do everything is quite hard at the moment but there is love, there is always room for more love.

Finally, finally, I have been bursting to post about it but have been unable until now. I can't say much but we have a very special November treat for all the knitters, keep reading - we'll keep you posted!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Without You I'm Knitting...

Whose idea was it to knit til 2am on a Saturday night in one of London's most famous gay discoteques? It was a brilliant idea, and although we are both a little weary and hungover we can honestly say we enjoyed ourselves at Duckie last night. Our little project was to inspire folks to knit something that represents their favourite bit of London, for whatever reason, and hang them with a tag from the roof of the knitting gazebo. Bearing in mind most of those who got involved had never knitted before in their lives I think it was a bloody great success which is just as well because we're doing every Saturday night in July!

We had the usual funny looks and naysayers who refused to let their cool down (ha, what do they know about being cool...we were knitting!) and I think we taught more people to garter stitch last night than we have since we started IKL. All of the creations will be posted up on the website this week, and if you want to get involved without coming to the RVT on a Saturday you can send us stuff to the usual IKL address and we'll include it in the project - just remeber to attach a tag and tell us what it is and why you chose it...

This is our giant pom-pom/glitterball made from plastic, that represents, of course, Amy and Duckie, which we hung from the ceiling of the tent. We also had Victoria Park in Hackney, the river, Big Ben, a pink handbag and a tale of coming out, a vegan-knitted protest against city farms (knit in acrylic, of course), the Southbank Centre, rats, diversity, a rock from the stone circle in Lewisham, a fish from the Aquarium, a book from the British Library...and all with a story to tell!

And to keep the knitting theme there was even a knitting quiz, where Gerard realised a lifetime's ambition and became an independent adjudicator!

More of the same next Saturday!

Now, a short recovery period of an hour before we embark on our smokefree knitting pub crawl at 2pm this afternoon...I swear this knitting will be the death of us!
Here Gerard shows the least toxic way of enjoying a fag...actually if you lit this it would probably be 100 times more toxic than a real one!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Finally, this weekend we ARE knitting London!

Yes, it might seem obvious but I Knit London have never actually knitted London before. That's all changing this weekend when we try to get the regulars at Duckie to knit up their favourite thing about London town. Tonight I finished off my Pet Shop Boy, which represents my escape from Shakin' Stevens with the release of the Disco album in 1986. before I heard that I'm afraid Shaky was my idol...listening to PSB really did change my life! The boys met on the Kings Road in 1981 and my little PSB doll will be pinpointed to that location on our map of London for this Saturday (and all subsequent Saturdays in July). Bring us your favourite thing about London and tell us why. You can read more about this here.

As well as knitting Neil it's been a Wednesday knit night, but I'm guessing all the knitters are away on hols. A quiet one, but no less relaxing than ever. Some good company here at the shop, and helped along by our recent discovery (at the weekend's festival) of Weston's Organic Cider. At 6.5% only one bottle is recommended whilst trying to knit a spiral cone hat. If it looks a bit rough then I blame the cider.

I Knit London...I heart/hate London...

It's been an interesting week, starting last Sunday (24th), while gerard was chatting with the world's media we were setting up at the Vauxhall Park Summer Fair, sadly damp and rainswept. We set up a pitch making pom-poms, knitting with the giant needles and teaching folk to cast on...plus Jon joined us with his spinning wheel,but his fleece didn't react well to the damp air! We still made a day of it in the park and had a good day in our little knitting tent - Joanna Lumley, local resident and crocheter, opened proceedings. The weather has put a depressing stop to many events so far this summer, but it managed to stop for the Bonnington Square Festival on Sunday 1st (see previous post).

It wasn't the case last Wednesday when we held our knitting group meeting at the Bread and Roses in Clapham - I decided against all obvious wisdom to cycle up the road to the pub and arrived rain-sodden and mud-speckled. It was a small but dedicated turnout for the knitting,
and some of us ventured upstairs for the Frenzic Theatre's Victorian do, where they were partying like it was 1899 (as Prince Albert might have said). The evening was most memorable as the farewell knitting night for long-serving IKLondoner Chris who has moved out of the city for Leicester and who we'll really miss. Chris first arrived on a Wednesday night at The Salisbury last summer and has been a Wednesday knitter off and on since then. She is completely lovely and has the distinction of being IKL's first ever customer, when we opened the shop in September last year she made the inaugural purchase and for that, and much else (not least a LOT of sewing of blue squares) we will remember her. Leicester isn't too far away, she's already sought out a new knitting group there, and hopefully we'll see her back in London shortly. Thanks Chris, for being part of this adventure with us and that friendly smile!

While Chris leaves London, we continue on, and tonight has seen the usual contradiction that this city offers in infuriating chunks. Our crochet lesson finished we headed to the Retro Bar for our first smokefree pop quiz (the Retro has always been a smoker's haven, but tonight it was genuinely nice not be so smelly). We found ourselves in Trafalgar Square at 11.30pm, which isn't late when you consider this a 24 hour city...but, sadly, I don't think it is! Those of us who want to go dancing are foiled by friends who can't get home afterwards, those of us who want to move on for somehting to eat have no choice except Tesco Express pre-packed sarnies, and those who need to use the boy's room are in for a long wait before they get home! Don't get me wrong, I love London - neither of us here at IKL are Londoners born and bred, but after 10 years I am proud to be here, and proud to be part of this city (especially at times like these), but comparisons with other world cities just doesn't wash. NYC is alive, 24 hours a day, and London just doesn't compare...the capital is all but closed after 11pm, and we'll never have the same vibrancy as New York unless we sort that out. 24 hour Tubes, black cabs that most of us can actually afford, 24 hour culture and PLEASE some more public toilets! Some of us don't like urinating up the nearest alleyway! (Don't worry folks, I didn't). Having said that, the trip home on the #87 was a blast - Battersea-living, not-quite-in-Fulham-yet couple discussing the pros and cons of police stop and search procedures under the new terrorist climate was worth the wait - "yah, but Rosie...where's this Utopia, this Meccaland that we're all striving for...?"

Monday, July 02, 2007

Bonnington Square Festival

As Craig said in the post below, the festival was brilliant. We had a great day! Te pompom workshop was a big success and the rain stopped in time for the 2pm start and stayed away until after the 11pm finish.

Special thanks to Amy for her dedication to the art of pompoms.

More pics from the day on our new Flickr gallery - where you can see loads of photos from our first year 2 years of knitting adventures as I Knit London, and you can leave comments too. We'll be putting up all of our photos from last year and this over the next few weeks...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Bonnington Square Festival....it finally stopped raining!

Crikey! It's 10.30 on Sunday night and the festival's been in full swing since 2 this afternoon...and we're still going strong! getting an alcohol licence for our little knitting shop was generally a good idea...although we have sold some yarn today we've now ran out of beer, cider and we've got out the vodka and cranberry. To be honest, at this time of night I think the revellers will drink anything! Drinking, dancing and making pom-poms in the sunshine, it's been a brilliant day, and tomorrow we'll do a proper blog...