I Knit London Tweets

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I love sundays

Today is my favorite. I started a new scarf yesterday but didn't have a chance to get much done but I got a lot done today. To be honest the scarf was started a few weeks ago when I finished a hat in Rowan Cocoon, but yesterday I ripped it back to add a few extra stitches.
This is my shifting sands from Grumperina, made in Rowan cocoon.
Sunday is also my favorite because I love cooking but don't get much time to spend in the kitchen these days.
I just had to take a picture. This is soked fish risoto with prawns, mushrooms, peas and spring oinions. It's in honour of rosie, She makes amazing food, particularly risoto. I saw her this week and she starts a degree course in Bournemouth tomorrow. Have a great day my love.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Music and yarn...

You know how we all like surprises...well, yesterday when I arrived at the shop for the knit-night I discovered a shelf stacked with I Knit London's first ever exclusive yarn. Not only that, it was screaming "look at me, I'm gorgeous"! Last year for our Wednesday knit-night we met once at a bit of a dingy Sam Smith's pub in Soho called the Duke of Argyll - I always remember it because it was an odd meeting. First thing was that it was the first one Gerard had missed so I was going solo, secondly almost everyone who came was new - we'd already collected together a bunch of regulars by then but this night was memorable by their absence. But, from that one meeting we made three of our new best friends young Tom, Jackie (where are you?) and Jon (aka EasyKnits). It's worth pointing out that Jon wasn't EasyKnits when we met him, so we feel some responsibility for his new found purpose in life - although he's got more creativity in his little finger than in my entire body and he's been knitting since conception so maybe we can't take too much credit!

Anyway, where's this going? Well, when Jon dyed up his first batch of yarn we were well impressed. We had a few samplers in the shop and, honestly, it's very rare to get the reaction from customers that we did when they spotted them. Never ones to miss an opportunity we decided to ask if he'd make 10 colourways just for us - we'd provide the 'inspiration' and he could do the hard work! We chose our 10 favourite songs, rustled up a CD and left him to it. For the past three months we've waited with baited breath while Jon slaved away in his labyrinthine studio, concocting potions, mixing colours, creating yarny magic...and this is the result. It was well worth the wait. In no particlular order these brand new colourways, did I say exclusive to IKL(?) are Release The Stars (Rufus Wainwright), Venus as a Boy (Bjork), It's a sin (Pet Shop Boys), When Doves Cry (Prince), Hotel Yorba (The White Stripes), Atomic (Blondie), Enough is Enough (Babs and Dons), Big Spender (Shirley Bassey), Ashes to Ashes (David Bowie) and The Man with the Child in His Eyes (Kate Bush)...time for cheesy 'tagline' - something about 'pop socks' I suppose would do! Check out Jon's blog for his continuing adventures and don't forget he dyes his own colours too - he'll be selling his wares at the UK Stitch 'n Bitch Day so get 'em while they're hot.

On the music theme, you know that feeling when there's a song you've loved for ages, but it's never really been a big hit? That feeling like it's your song, you've discovered it and it's really cool, cos, like everyone else is missing out? I had this feeling with Tony Christie's Amarillo - this was a favourite of mine and my pal Ann's for years. I once worked in a very cool record shop in Carlisle (I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but bear with me) and Ann and I struck up a friendship over a love of Take That and brilliant forgotten pop music. These days they are called 'guilty pleasures', which I hate cos we never felt guilty about our Barry Manilow records. So, when Peter Kay released it and it became the soundtrack to every hen party, wedding reception, leaving do for the next 20 years we were a bit aggrieved....well, now I'm on the other side of the thing. I've become a bit obsessed with that stupid Lambrini advert! The song is by Al Wilson, called 'The Snake' and it's a bit of Northern Soul 'stomper' - there must be mods up and down the country shaking their heads in dismay. With all this stuff in the charts where downloads now count I can see it being a big hit and becoming just as irritating as Amarillo did. Shame. I quite like the new charts though...Phil Collins back in the top 20 is never a bad thing! (I am a child of the 80s before you start).

As a pre-teen/teenager of the 80's I had a successful trip to the local charity shop yesterday. I need to start doing little walks for the back problem and I haven't been for ages. Sadly, many charity shops have lost their edge in these days of Ebay, but there are still surprises to be found. Yesterday I got myself a copy of Nu Shooz's Poolside LP ("baby, i-i-i-i- can't wait") and Lovebug Starski's House Rocker (remember Amityville (the House on the Hill))?! Both of these are records kids...remember them. I've got about 3000. Oh, I also found this:

Now I bet you can't get that on iTunes! (It's for Ann, honest).

Last night's knitting group was another full house...nice to see, as always, some new faces and hopefully regulars to be. We polished off the chocolate cake, had a few ciders and it was lovely. Alice from Socktopus joined us with her friend - rudely I never asked his name, sorry! Alice will be joining Jon and all the others at SnB Day too with her Socktopus delights!

Some teaching was going on too...in between the swigs of red wine to keep you going!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Crafty soirées and The Rottweiler...

We hosted the first meeting of the new Kniterati book group last night. It was a nice night, with some considered chat and chocolate cake! I think I like the idea of this monthly meet-up, as , like our film nights it gives G & I the chance to stop work for a while and be part of the group - sometimes at the weekly knit meetings it's all a bit too much responsibility! It was a lovely group who braved a sudden downpour - I know from Ravelry that there were a few others reading the book who didn't make it along so I hope you can get down next time. We chose the book last night, and I was picked out of the hat - apologies as it's another crime novel, but much newer: The Rottweiler by Ruth Rendell. The next meeting is on Tuesday 30th October, plenty of time to get yourself a copy and read it - and don't scared about not knowing what to say, you can happily sit there and knit whilst the rest of us blether on.

A few weeks ago we were visited by Marissa at Hodder books clasping a preview copy of Jane Brocket's gorgeous book The Art of Domesticity. G nearly wet himself. It wasn't even a book, it was just the proof copy pages - but even then it looked tasty. Now the book is due out it is a thing of beauty. We agreed that Jane should be part of the UK Stitch 'n Bitch Day, but before then she's coming down to the shop to have 'crafternoon tea', sign the book, share some inspiration, chat and be generally celestial and goddess-like. If you've haven't seen her blog take a look here - I always want to just crawl through the computer screen, like I'm entering another world - the photos themselves look good enough to eat!

Jane will be at the shop on Saturday 20th October from around 12.30pm - it's free and, of course, we'll have the book available for sale and signing.

These meetings, film nights, events at the shop have really made us proud about IKL. Our dream of a knitting shop and sanctuary (both parts equally important) have been realised. After only a year it's sometimes quite emotional to see that all the hard work, long days (and nights) and quite a few sacrifices have been worth it. The place really comes alive when it's buzzing with people, and we are so chuffed that it is a 'sanctuary' as well as a shop. We will be extending our knitting group nights to two days from next week, with a meeting on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and we'll always be looking for the chance to hold a crafty soirée or knitting 'do'...and in 2008 expect some exciting ones!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I've just finished my first tea cozy from the book of the same name (see earlier post). Isn't it brilliant. I can't wait to pour some tea for guests.

It made from Artesano Alpaca Inca Cloud on 4mm addi lace. I use the addi lace whenever I can! The ears where a little annoying and they came out quite big but I didn't want to change them because the look a little funny, don't you think?

I was thinking of calling it Lorraine after my friend in Cork because she drinks more tea than anyone but I thought that might just be wierd! I love the book, it's been really popular, too!


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bye-bye boys' night...but hello to bog roll covers and book groups...

Hello everyone...yes, I am still in the land of the living, although my bulging discs have slowed down my socialising somewhat I am satiated with my current diet of internet, daytime TV and quiz shows. Physio continues but no real improvement (although I've come off the painkillers at last). If only sitting down was possible rather than having to spend all my time lying on my right-hand side, which restricts activity just a bit. Anyway, thanks to m'colleagues at the National Theatre who sent me these gorgeous flowers (and choccies too, not pictures cos they didn't last long enough!) They are beautiful, but I daren't get too close as, mentioned in the last post, sneezing is like stretching my sciatic nerve the entire length of my body. Ouch.

Readers of the newsletter will have seen that there's a-change a-coming at I Knit London, with a shifty around of our knitting group night and other stuff. It's all down to 'popular demand', honest! The Wednesday night meetings at the shop are getting very popular and we realised that meeting on the same night every week left some people with no chance of experiencing IKL...and that's just not fair is it? So, we'll still be having the fortnight in the pub (if anything just to keep G & I sane - we've spent more time in the last year in the shop than we have at home!) finding all the best alehouses for knitting, and we'll also be at IKL every Wednesday in between. No change there, but from 4th October we'll be having it on a Thursday too. Every Thursday at IKL from 6 as usual for those who miss the Wednesday. This means that film night (left) finds a new home on a Friday - which seems like a perfect start to the weekend. We've had some good films in the last few weeks, but numbers dropped - probably because they weren't too well known - but it's always a good night, and genuinely relaxing (if you can sit down that long. Ouch). We kick off with The Talented Mr Ripley on Friday 4th October...which links nicely to the book group, another new venture!

I put my hand up and admit that I haven't read a book for almost TWO YEARS! I know, shame. I got bogged down in a biography of Arthur Rimbaud and, being an anally-retentive, pedantic geek I felt I couldn't start another book until I'd finished that one. Mmm. Well, thanks to Ravelry we discovered a desire for a knit-friendly book group and offered ourselves up as a venue. We can't take any credit for it, but we're really excited to host it, on the last Tuesday every month, and I have just finished the book (The Cry of the Owl, by Patricia Highsmith - that's the link to Ripley, by the way, if you didn't get it). We're called The Kniterati and anyone can come along. We've put a page on our website to keep folks up-to-date with meetings and books. It has dawned on us that in order to have 'a life' we need to include everything we do into IKL - that is our life, and pretty much everyone we know we've met through the knitting group, some great new friends and some brilliant times.

Sadly, in amongst all this shuffling around something had to give...and it was the Friday night men's night. I think we're both proud that for over a year we hosted the only dedicated knitting group for men in the UK (?). We were never trying to make any kind of statement, we were just offering a place to go and enjoy a few drinks without those weird looks - believe me, we still get them, and unless you've been a part of ANY minority group it's probably quite hard to understand that feeling of freakishness you get when fingers are pointing. Happily, we've always enjoyed being freaky. We never thought we were different, better or worse than anyone else but the men's nights have been some of the best knit nights I've had, and, again we've made some close friendships that will last. Next Friday, 28th September, is the last ever. Join us if you can, whoever you are and whatever you've got.

One more thing to mention before I go and lie down (on my right-hand side, ouch) and it's these two books...

After the phenomenal reaction to the Jean Greenhowe booklets we chose Tea Cozies as our 'book of the month'. It's gone down a storm. I am now realising that for all the overstyled Rowan magazines, the glorious Erika Knight (love her!) books, the expensive hand-spun silk yarns and the unfathomable-but-beautiful Victorian lace shawl patterns there's a whole host of us knitters who just like the simple things in life - and what could be cozier, more English and more useless (which makes it a must-have in my book) than a cozy for your bog roll or a woolly jumper for your teapot? Gerard's messing with nature and knitting this sheep cosy (below) with alpaca, and Tom hasn't lost a fight with a very small Tommy Cooper impersonator, he's actually modelling the very latest in 'crocheted top hat toliet roll cozies'.

And, very finally, if you didn't think they were cute, you surely will this...a new pattern from Artesano's Hummingbird range this papoose is possibly the dinkiest, cutest and most adorable thing I have ever seen. Baby not included...

Monday, September 17, 2007

no sneezing please, we're sick!

Today Craig and I are both sick. I do not dare suggest my illness is in any way simliar in symptoms or severity. I have man flu. Well, that's what my sisters call it. I have a bit of a virus which is giving me headaches and a bad chest. Craig sneezed yesterday and the screams were unmerciful. They drowned out my coughing.

This is the medal I got on Saturday! I ran through a cold, got lots of asthma which helped the lurgi get a little stronger.

I love my medal. The sun was shining and it was really warm, nice day and I ran the 5K in 35 minutes. I'd hoped to do a little better than that but I had to walk for some of it as I couldn't breathe! The things we do for trees!

We need more of them! especially in cities! Thank you to everyone who sponsored me. If you haven't and you would like to please do so, here www.justgiving.com/gerardlovestrees

I've spent most of the time since in bed! I'm really scared about the marathon!

Being sick and off work is made so much more unbearable by Noel Bloody Edmonds!

You'd think all this time meant I had got lots of knitting done. Well, I haven't. It's hard to concentrate. poor me! He's a picture of where I'm up to with my Easy Knits sock yarn. I've stopped holding my breath for more Easy Knits stock for the shop. I still have hope though.

This is just a very standard pattern because I love the colours so much. It's called Release the stars. I'm still slightly obsessed by that album.

I spoke with Brandon Mably the other day and he's very excited about his UK Stitch 'n Bitch gig. He'll do a couple of hour knitting in colour workshop for a lucky 8 or so people. All the workshops are free.

I'm really looking forward to the pub meeting this week. we'll be in the Lamb on Lambs Conduit street. Craig is actually feeling much better and is seeing a physio tomorrow so he maight even be there, too.

We're also excited about moving the film night, probably to Fridays. The Wednesdays in the shop are so popular we we decided to open up Thursday nights for a regular weekly knitting club in the shop.

Friday, September 14, 2007

about last week

Sorry for not posting for a few days. We've been busy as ever. My main excuse for not posting is camera problems! I can't find the battery charger part to the bleedin' camera! So no pics. I have been knitting, though. I'm half way through a pair of socks using Easyknits. The colourway is inspired by Rufus Wainwright and called Release the stars. It's yellow and brown and orange and it's gorgeous. I will post pictures in the next few days.
I've also done some of the flowers from the scarf on the cover of the latest Vogue Knitting. They are so easy. I'm not making the scarf, just the flowers for a bit of decoration. I made a huge version out of colinette point five and it's all peaches and cream - pink and that! It's gorgeous.
I've started on a tea cosy, too. It's from a new book we got to the shop. It's called Tea Cosies, funnily enough. I'm doing a sheep tea cosy. I've only done the sheep's head and the ears, in artesano alpaca, and it's also fab. I've decided that it's my Saturday knitting so I can't wait to spend some time doing the loop stitch this weekend.
In other news - Thanks to Amy, my social life has seen lots of action this week! Last Friday I went as Amy's plus 1 to Hell's Kitchen. Nothing much happened, to be honest, but it was still rather marvellous. It's strange having a camera 2 inches from your face when you are trying to decide which starter to have. I got all confused and nervous and forgot I had to order a main meal, too! It may have been the champagne and the gin cocktail we had before we ordered, actually.
So, if you have been watching you may be familiar with the menu (I've only seen 1 episode and it was after I had been), I had scallops to start. They were amazing. I'm not used to dining so well so Amy helped me decide and they were cooked perfectly! I gave them 10/10. They even came with a bit of pastry!
Then I had dover sole. It was a little salty with a tomato salsa and anchovies but I love anchovies and salt and the fish was cooked well so I was happy again!
Then I had raspberries that were built into this castle with sugar wafers. That was very sweet, gorgeous. Amy's dessert wasn't that nice, an undercooked soufflé, so she sent it back and we were ready for action. The maitre'd was really nice and said 'I'll bring you another.' I was a bit disappointed to be honest, I wanted to be kicked out full of lovely food and lots and lots of wine. There were loads of people there, I met the Puppini Sisters who are almost edible themselves.
This week I went to the press night of the new cast of Spamalot. It was marvellous. Craig has seen the show a few months ago and loved every minute of it and talked about it for weeks so I have been really keen to see it. There were so many famous people there, including half of the Coronation Street cast. I was desperate to talk to Cilla in the party later. We didn't stay long though.
Will Young was also there. Now, one of the more interesting things about having a tracker on the blog is seeing that certain websites are sending a lot of people your way. One of those is williamyoung.biz. I'm rather dim and didn't put 2+2 together so couldn't work out why, until I went there and discovered that William is long for Will. I mentioned him in a post about Glastonbury and the Will fans found it and told other Will fans to come over and read. Anyway - Will looked lovely.
In real life - thanks to everyone for your well wishes for Craig's speedy recovery. He's seeing a physiotherapist and spending a lot of time lying on his side and he's feeling much better for it.
The UK Stitch 'n Bitch Day is almost here - I can't beleive it! We've got so much planned, and so much yarn will be there, including Wensleydale Long Wool Sheep Shop and Garthenor. Debbie Stoller keeps telling us that she is so excited - she can't wait to meet the UK's knitters!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Daytime TV and supporting your local yarn store!

As I've said before I'm suffering with pain so have been languishing at home for a week or two now. It's dperessing enough not being able to go out for a long walk, or even a short one, without having to contend with daytime TV. But, somehow it's so addictive - I find myself desperate to know just how they'll get at auction for their Beswick porcelain horse, and just what that house is worth after they've knocked down a few walls. There's also a plus with the range of obscure films they broadcast...I am a hoarder of movies so try to record everything I can, and there's some real gems tucked away in the daytime telly schedules! Laura is on right now - an absolute classic. I'm going to try to stick o golden oldie into the Thursday film nights now and then.
Talking of trash TV, after our Eggheads appearance last week, Gerard hits primetime tomorrow when he's off to Hell's Kitchen! I'm not kidding. I've advised him to kick up a fuss cos it makes good telly and we'll all get to see him...he says he's just going to drink a lot and see what happens!

Yesterday I made it out and into the shop. I haven't been round for a few days, and I couldn't make the Wednesday night knitting group last night either - sorry folks, I hope it was good 'un, and the Tube trouble didn't dampen spirits and put anyone off. So, in the shop all day, pottering about and it gave me time to do a bit of business stuff. It's always nice to speak to those people who keep us going, the people who actually make the yarn. One of our founding ideas was to include in the stuff we sell yarns from this country. To support our own producers is, to us, a vital part of keeping the knitting industry alive. We were always amazed that the choice of yarn elsewhere either ignored completely, or just paid lip service to 100% independent UK producers - department stores won't touch the stuff because they are all about making a profit (let's not get on our high horse here, by the way, of course we are running a business and we have to make a profit, but we can do this without neglecting some gorgeous yarns, and without ignoring what knitters tell us they want). I remember I was surprised to find most of Rowan's yarns are produced overseas!

Anyway, one of our must-haves was Jamieson's of Shetland. I spoke with Peter yesterday about another large order, and I am really pleased that their stuff does so well. it proves there's a market for it and that, depite the number of knitting books recommending the big names, savvy knitters know that there's more out there. I always like calling them too, sometimes you even get the kids answering the phone and it brings it all home to me that they are genuinely independent, family yarn producers. I love that! I was actually calling because, as some of you must know, there's a new Simply Shetland Book on the way with Eunny Jang's Autumn Rose Pullover. I am honestly thrilled that such a high profile pattern is using Jamieson's, opening up their yarn to a whole new bunch of knitters! Their stuff has always been huge in the US and it's about time we appreciated it more in it's home country!

Thanks to fimngersandtoes on Ravelry who put this in my head and started this bit of a rant. But, y'know, when you support LYS you encourage choice and diversity, and the knock on effect is that we have to compete with other LYS and that just makes us more determined to expand our range, find new yarns and suppliers. We already have at least three yarns in store that we wouldn't have if not recommended by customers and long may that continue!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Honestly, we do knit!

picture this, mid morning, office in South London, I pick up the phone and dial

-Hello, Merlin Inflatables.

- Hi, my name is Gerard. I work for a charity called WaterAid. You made an inflatable costume for us recently...a huge hand.

- Ah, yes, I remember. How are you?

- I'm fine thanks, you?

- Great, how can I help.

- We think we may need another costume. Part of our campaigning is based on sanitation and the fact that billions people don't have sanitation, anyway, I think we would like an inflatable poo and I wanted to ask if that's something you could do.

- Sorry I couldn't make out what you wanted, you have a soft voice. You want an inflatable costume...different from the last.

- Yes, sorry I always get a bit shy when I say it to people I don't know - bare in mind the sanitation focus - we need an inflatable poo and I've looked at your brochure and I'm not sure what category it would fit into...product replicas or large inflatables and rooftops.

- Can you tell me again what you want, I'm so sorry I still didn't catch it.

- An inflatable POO.

- Oh, right... A number 2? I think we could manage that!

- Oh, thanks, I'm sorry I always get a bit embarrassed. A number 2 is a polite way to say it over the phone. I've never thought of that...

- Well we have done other costumes like this - what kind of size are you thinking?

- I suppose about 15 or 20 foot long and 5 or 10 foot wide.

- OK. Now, a number 2?

- Yes. Bear in mind the sanitation focus.

- Right, would you like the like it in words? T W O or T O O? Or would you like the number 2?

- erm, oh, erm, I don't think we've got there, actually. What we need is P OO. P for Paul. Not T for Thomas.

- OH! HaHa! POO? I see. Would you want P OO or with an H?

- No. Not letters. We need the artifact. We need a respresentation. We need a big inflatable poo!

- Right...

- And we'd like the option of floating it on a river so I'm not sure if that makes a different to any quote you can give me. erm...

This conversation actually happened.

I shit you not.



Thanks to everyone for your kind words and support about our recent appearance on Eggheads - the BBC 2 quiz.

We lost. We were robbed. We were told there would be no trick questions then we got a trick question - if you watched you will have seen that I found both my questions very tricksy! I wasn't so good on the show but the other 4 were brilliant, especially Craig. Craig is brilliant.

We had so many plans for the £55 grand. Craig said last night that he still can't beleive we lost £55K - my response was, we didn't! We never had it so we we could never loose it, we just didn't win it.

A special mention to our teams mates, Jon did amazingly well - they didn't show it on the telly but he and Ms Keple went on to compete in about 8 sudden death questions! He was great but for the lack of citrus knowledge.

Science Tom was also amazing. He was robbed!

We didn't use Another Tom very well. We should have put him in one of the rounds and left me alone. I was actually the only person who knew it was The Geneva Convention!

Anyway, I hate mucials and I wont deny it!

Do you know http://www.lovefilm.com/? I have been a member for years and I love it. They are online rental with no fees - you pay a monthly subscription and get to rent 2, 3 or 4 titles at a time. You have a waiting list and when you send one back they take the next available from the top and send it. Then you watch it. Then you return it in the envelope they provide. Then the cycle repeats.


Follow the above link - you get a free month!