I Knit London Tweets

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Great British Sheep (and the great British summer)

Today we were on the South Bank, outside the National Theatre, to take part in their annual Watch This Space festival. It was the Alternative Village Fete and it was wonderful. Things didn't bode well, I must say, when I woke up and carried a huge sackful of wool around to the NT at 9.30 this a.m. when it was pouring with rain and I got soaked through. But the unpredictable British summer saw us through and it turned out to be a lovely day, perfect for knitting with wool!

Today we launched our latest project, The Great British Sheep, which we like to call a "celebration of British wool, knitting and sheep". With over 60 native breeds, more than any other country, you'd think we'd have British wool coming out of ears...but, really, can you go to your local yarn store and pick up a few balls of it? I'm often dismayed by the cravings for foreign brand yarns which don't come close to the quality and gorgeousness of their British counterparts, but which are snapped up by knitters who think it must be good because it's number one on Ravelry and everyone's knitting with it in the States. Sure, there are some very special yarns from all over the world, but why do we have such disdain for our own homegrown stuff? Honestly, whilst collecting yarn for this project I've been amazed by the range and quality (and the price) of some our British wool, most of which you wouldn't find unless you visited the farm from whence it came. It's this that made us want to start the project in the first place, and one of the reasons we are still very proud to be the only yarn shop in the capital with a regular stock of pure British wool, from Shetland, Wales and Wensleydale to name a few.
Rant over. What a brilliant day! The sun shone, the spinners spun, the knitters certainly did knit...a lot. We thought we'd see regular faces and knitting group folk, but, in fact, most of our friends stayed away and we met hundreds of people who have been hiding somewhere, all keen and excited to get their hands on the wool. Free wool! We thought we'd have every knitting group in the city down there getting some stitches in! As it was, during the course of the afternoon hundreds of knitters joined us and took part, and to them we say "thanks". Accompanied by entertainment of the distinctly weird and wonderful kind, surrounded by vegetable sculpture, cake decorating and WI stare-out challenges, as well as guinea pigs, rabbits and ducks from Vauxhall City Farm, we covered our sheep statue in loopy stitch and more.
But, it's not over yet....in two weeks we head for Camp Bestival at Lulworth Castle in Dorset where we hope to finish our sheep's 'knitted fleece'...and we need more wool! You can see a list of the breeds we still need, plus links to all our generous suppliers so far on the Great British Sheep page - but, if you have ANY 100% British wool in your stash, please send it in to us at the shop address, whether we have that breed or not. We'll be teaching more people to knit and getting more folk involved and we need more yarn!
Our first batch of photos are now online here, and if you were there you can add your own to our I Knit photo group.
As a final note for now, we both want to personally thank Yvonne, who has so brilliantly captured our idea and designed and built our fabulous sheep. Thanks Yvonne.

1 comment:

naomi dagen bloom said...

sheepishly i leave the first comment because i'm an american--and knitter and fan of the hand-made, locally grown whatever.

loved reading this and will pass along to fiber friends here in new york city where we always need to refocus on how beautiful small is.

thanks, naomi