I Knit London Tweets

Monday, September 08, 2008

I Knit Day 2008

It's been a whirlwind week. Back in February we confirmed that I Knit Day was happening, we'd chosen our birthday weekend and we'd heard from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee that she'd come over as our special guest. From that day to this it's been a bit hectic. Sometimes we've wondered why we're doing it, sometimes I wonder where the days have gone. With Gerard as I Knit's only full-time 'member of staff' sometimes I just wonder if we are completely bonkers. But on Saturday it all came together and I Knit Day came and went as quick as a flash. For about three weeks now I've been saying, usually at about 3 o'clock in the morning, "I'm NOT doing this again next year!" but I enjoyed Saturday so much that I might have changed my mind....we'll see what we can do!

But, for this year it was a culmination of sleepless nights, arguments, meetings, phonecalls, about a million emails and lots of persuasion, hard work and, well, money. We've been reading the blogs and the Ravelry forum with huge smiles on our faces and we're chuffed to bits that so many people enjoyed themselves. We're just ignoring the ones complaining about cups of tea and the rain. We know there were some problems which we'll sort our for next year but going around that fantastic hall on Saturday and seeing so many knitters with ridiculously large grins on their faces made it all worthwhile. Yes, of course, we're sorry the heavens opened precisely at the time hundreds of people were queueing for the Yarn Harlot (despite Gerard's likeness, he can't control such things!) and we're also a bit cheesed off about the sandwich situation - but nice to see knitters with initiative heading round the corner to the nearest café. But we hope everything else made up for it..and there was quite a lot of everything else!

For us, this started back in February, but the reality kicked in on Thursday morning when Stephanie touched down in the UK. Gerard swiftly headed off to her hotel with a fruit parcel and a bottle of bubbly in hand. Reading Stephanie's blog over the last few days has been entertaining and eye-opening and it's great to see the city from someone else's view, especially someone with such a way with words. I'm really pleased to see that Stephanie did what I advise all visitors to do; stay off the the Tube and walk. You see so much and the city just opens up before you; history, culture, community, London life. I've spent hours trawling the streets and there's always something new to see. Stephanie's jetlag meant we didn't get to meet her in person until Friday when we recce'ed the venue (see Steph's Friday blog - yes, she really did say "I'm not doing it!" We just laughed nervously.) Then it was off for lunch with Stephanie, Roz from Search Press, Claire Bowles (PR), Billy and Joanna from Melia Publishing and the two of us. After the meal, and a few beers, we were happy to find that Stephanie was well up for it. Phew!

The rest of Friday is a blur really. I think we probably spent most of the evening carrying heavy boxes of books, loading our van and driving to and fro. It's not all glamourous celebrity knitters you know? We do work too. A special part of the whole weekend was having Gerard's family together with us for the first time in London - his mum and dad, two sisters and two nephews all in tow to lend a hand, show some support and generally look all glowing and proud. We spent late Friday in the pub at their hotel and calmed down before the day ahead. We should mention here that, although this whole event has been planned and organised by Gerard and myself, we would not have got through the whole thing without the help of friends who volunteered to help out on the day. From the moment you stepped through those (fabulous) Art Deco doors you will have met a whole host of people who worked their socks off to keep the whole day running. They are old friends and new friends from the knitting group and at the risk of gushing, they are all brilliant and without them we'd have been lost. From ticket takers to queue movers, chaperones and booksellers they kept the whole thing going while Gerard and I ran about like headless chickens!

So, Saturday arrived. we were up at 5am to load more stuff, including the big sheep, and head off to the venue. Waiting outside at 8am with an expectant group of exhibitors was an interesting experience. This was it. When those doors opened we were the only two people who knew what was going to happen, we were (gulp)...responsible. Us? How did that happen? When the queue started to form outside the main entrance just before 11am the realisation that all these people had been brought to this place by us set in...and the realisation that if this all went t*** up we'd be surrounding by thousands of angry knitters (and we know what they're like!) with pointy sticks. The thought of escape crossed our minds a number of times. But, when it came to it, seeing those first few faces entering the hall to be met with a deluge of yarn and a big smile put my mind at rest. It was to be a good day.

The rest of the day is also a blur, but I remember a few things distinctly; I remember Jane Sowerby's table-ful of the most amazing lace shawls; I remember a glorious fashion show from Susan at knitonthenet and Jane Wallers' A Stitch in Time; I remember Gerard in Erika Knight's fashion show taking the easy way out with a hat then looking super in his chunky cabled cardi; I remember hundreds of eager knitters queueing in the rain to see the Yarn Harlot; I remember the rapturous welcome we gave her when she emerged from behind that curtain; I remember seeing Elly for the first time in ages and giving her a great big hug and feeling a bit emotional about it; I remember getting one chance (and one chance only!) to wander around the hall and check that everyone on the stalls was happy (they were); I remember introducing Mazzmatazz and feeling a frisson of excitement from the crowd; I remember saying "Erika Knight is here!"; I remember thinking, on more than one occasion, "is it me or is this just the most bonkers thing we've ever done?..."

By 7 o'clock it was all over. There are just too many things I've forgotten to mention, too many people to thank. But, to all of our special guests, to Stephanie, to everyone who booked a stand, to all the charity projects, to all the knitted aliens, to everyone who bought a ticket and to our sponsors at http://www.knitonthenet.com/ we just say "thanks and we'll see you again next year".

One final thing to say is that I'm devastated that we didn't get a single photograph of the show. With this in mind we make a plea that anyone with pics share them on the Flickr group. If you don't mind me taking a few to illustrate this blog please let me know and I will do so.



indieknits said...

What do you mean you can't control the weather?! Lol!

It was a fantastic day and you both did such a great job!

.x.Helen.x. said...

Fab day guys! Thank you thank you!

Auntie Noo said...

It was an awesome day! I met so many friends, and laughed so hard.... and went home very proud to be a knitter :)

Thank you to you both - and all the volunteers.

Heather said...

It was just wonderful and you should be proud of yourselves for pulling it off. About a dozen of us travelled down from Scotland (mainly from Glasgow Knit'n Stitch)- a big commitment in time and money - but really worth it :0) See you next year !

Melissa said...

It was a fabulous day and all the comments I heard were effusively positive. Well done guys, hope you're starting to recover!

Melissa x

Flibbertygibbet said...

Thanks for a great day. If any of my photos are of use, feel free. (Flibbertygibbet)

Prodigal Knitter said...

I think we need some photos of the aliens ....

monica said...

I've read amazing things about this day all over the web! So glad it turned out great for you guys. Congratulations! I'm an American moving to London at the end of this month and I'm so happy to see that so many exciting knitterly things go on there and I can join in soon ! Can't wait to visit your store!

natalie said...

I had a fabulous time, and am trying to persuade MSF


to come next year.

I really wanted to come and see the shop but I quite understand that you needed the day to yourselves on Sunday!


Kate said...

Thanks so much for a great day! Can't wait for next year.

DutchJan said...

It was such a GREAT day. Really Yarn heaven and the top end of all yarns were there. We loved it to hang our knitted landscpae images at such a wonderfull venuw. Thanks for making such a fantastic day and I live Erika Knight's designs

2ply from Ravelry said...

It's been the first knitting event I've been to in 40 years of knitting and I had a WONDERFUL time. Thankyou, thankyou. I really hope you do another iKnit day next year.

Peter said...

I've recently returned to knitting after a very lengthy gap. I thought Saturday was inspiring. It took me back to the early days of Patricia Roberts and the wonderful 'Yarn Store' both of which kept me going for years.
Hopefully this second wind will last even longer. Thanks for all the hard work.