I Knit London Tweets

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Golly! Is this offensive....

This blogpost isn't meant to offend or upset anyone, but in the last few days a debate has been stirring over here at I Knit towers over our friend here (on the left). Recently we started to stock a range of patterns by Sandra Polley, who designs knitted teddy bears, toys and other accoutrements. Amongst them was a pattern for a golliwog. What's interesting is that we didn't question this or have any conversation about gollies, we just put the patterns in the rack. This week Sandra sent us a couple of samples, pictured. Teddy, who is mega cute, with his button arms has been sitting on the table being pawed over all week.....but golly has been in a drawer. And so the debate started.....
For what it's worth, I personally don't find gollies offensive. But then, why would I? I grew up in the North of England in the 1970s an 80s with a golly toy and I had the infamous Enid Blyton book, The Three Golliwogs, too, which I remember fondly and enjoyed reading. Of course, I am not so naive as to not realise that these days gollies have all but disappeared from children's toy boxes, and I realise the connotations and reasons why this is so...but is this just over-sensitive political correctness, or is it blatant racism, or is it simply too much for our 21st century sensibilities?
I am genuinely intrigued at the response from the few people I've spoken to about this in the shop, so please, feel free to comment.....
Here's a couple of links to some articles on the subject for those who, like me, didn't know the background and the history of this much-maligned figure:
I think there's some interesting points in all three articles, and please note that the article by David Pilgrim does contain some images and words that some may find offensive.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

In praise of our local....

We'd like to take a moment to say a few words about our local. Not our local yarn store (although, of course, we would highly recommend supporting those too) but our local pub. Friends and fellow I Knitters will know by now that we have a penchant for a bevy or two. Our knitting group nights aren't the same if the wine/cider/beer (delete as appropriate) isn't flowing. It might sound like we're turning into alcoholics, but, really it's just a nice way to relax after work - a bunch of like-minded knitty folk, sharing some banter and a few drinks to wind down.

Anyway, back to our local. There are a few pubs around by the shop in Vauxhall - in fact the very first I Knit London meeting was held at The Beehive, just around the corner from where, at that stage, the shop wasn't but would be, if you see what I mean. There's a couple of poncy gastropubs too, and a nameless number of very local boozers that we still haven't visited for fear of our lives. But the one we'll miss the most (if we move...) is the Vauxhall Griffin. When we moved to the area four years ago this was a shadow of it's current self and we steered clear, but after last year's remodelling it's a genuine local pub that's serendipitously positioned between the shop and our flat. We don't end up in their as often as you might think (or as often as we should) but when we do it's always a nice end to the day. At weekends it manages to be a packed club night, yet on weeknights it's just right...and on Tuesdays the weirdest pub quiz you'll ever encounter - if only we closed early enough to go! We did manage on Tuesday gone (I sat there on my own for an hour, struggling) and came away with a prize! Gerard was very excited as he says he never wins anything. (It's a set of toy cars, in case you were wondering). One of the best bits is that one round of the quiz is creative - we used to always use our knittiness but I think Rob got wise to this and isn't impressed anymore - I can't say what we won this prize for except to say we had to draw our 'worst disease'. Some may be offended, although if you see Gerard one night please do ask him to share.

So, hurray for The Griffin. They even sell pear cider, and the jukebox is brilliant (about 90% of the time).


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Liverpool 08...

We had a short one-night stay in Liverpool over the weekend. it's gerard's hometown, of course, so we do go up quite often to see the in-laws. I finally got to meet Louis, who was bundle of gorgeousness, especially in his Liverpool hat. So cute! Gerard knit this for him last year, from Artesano Inca Cloud alpaca. It suits him perfectly and I love the way the rim curls up and the little 'umbilical cord' on the top. He's only 5 months old, but you can imagine how much knitwear he's got already! We were dropping off Christmas presents while we we there and Louis got a whole selection of stuff, including a pair of red Converse pumps and a Nenuco denim jacket. He's the best dressed kid in the city.

If you hadn't noticed, Liverpool is European Capital of Culture 2008, so there's loads going on. We visited the Albert Dock on saturday night. The new Echo Arena was an amazing sight, with a halo of blue lights, sitting on the bank of the Mersey. Funnily enough in the cold light of day it was less impressive, mainly because they were still building it round the back!

The thing I always notice the most about Liverpool is the mix of old and new, especially now, with the Dock Road area completely regenerated, with new buildings going up every week. Only a short walk away stand the old warehouses and derelict pubs that have all the character. But the place is an astonishing mixture of both contemporary 21st century architecture and Victorian gothic. We paid a visit to the Anglican Cathedral, which I haven't been to since a school trip when I was 10 years old. It towers above the city and, like Gerard said, wherever you stand you are always miles away from it. We wandered around the graveyard in the rain, which was romantic and spooky in equal measure.

It wasn't all sightseeing though. We popped into the Grand Central Hall to have a nosy at Purlesque, a tiny little knitting shop packed full of stuff. Gorgeous buttons and accessories and some homemade and handstitched pinnies that you may well be seeing at IKL soon. It's a quirky place and worth a visit if you are in town. Check first though....there's a secret rumour that they may be moving soon....

Back in London now, and it all seems so much greyer.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

13th January 1908...

Ever since I was about 10 years old I've been fascinated by putting together my family tree. I remember I started with a big sheet of paper and wrote all the names on it with lines in between. I kept that bit of paper for years and added stuff to it, but it was never really that complete. A few years back I started again and have been doing it on and off since then whenever I have the time to spend in front of the computer, looking at old census records and the like. It's quite therapeutic and actually quite exciting bringing these folk back from the dead. My family are spread thin and we're a disparate bunch so it's tricky tracking down relations I've never heard of. In some respects it's easier though - Gerard had a go at remembering his own close relatives and gave up - his mum and dad have about 20 siblings between them!

A few years back I was speaking to my gran who remembered clearly some of her childhood in Eaglesfield and Eccclefechan and I realised there was nothing like personal stories to give these names on bits of paper flesh and blood. My gran was born excatly 100 years ago today, on 13th January 1908. I always thought she'd make it to 100 but she didn't manage it - she died in 2004, aged 96. I wanted to remember her today. It's fascinating and a bit scary to think how different the world she was born into was to the world she left - within a single lifetime everything can change beyond recognition. If you've still got the chance, listen to your grannies and grandads, they have a few good yarns to tell.

Happy birthday Nana, wherever you are....

...still knitting in her 90s!

Agnes Carruthers (née Johnstone): 13th January 1908 - 2004

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday night's alright

On the way home from the shop tonight I decided I fancied a little glass of rosé wine.

I never know what to buy though. Sainsbury's is not Oddbins. I was busy trying to decide when I noticed a rather glamorous woman in the same aisle. I was distracted by what I thought was her 'Britt Ekland trout pout'. Did you see the pictures in the papers recently - she was on a TV program or something. The woman was slightly scary but she pounced on a couple of bottles of rosé.

If it's good enough for her, I thought...so I picked up the same two types of wine. I'm a little happy right now after drinking a couple of glasses, in fact.

Anyway, I remembered that Craig needed a new scrubber for the dish washing so I went and got some of them and there, again, was the same woman, also looking at scrubbers. I had a better angle this time and I noticed the signs of a bad face lift and then the sunglasses and then the fur lined floor length coat. I was so drawn to the weird shaped lips, I couldn't stop looking. It was then that I realised that it was Britt Ekland.

Mad. You see all sorts in our Sainsburys. Floella Benjamin was my favorite. She's about 12 foot tall.

Anyway, I'm making a scarf.
The scarf I am wearing is a prototype, really. The idea belongs to Susy. She is quite choosy, apparently, so I thought it must be good. In fact I think it's great! Susy had some Paul Smith ribbon and said she was going to copy the colours knitting a length ways scarf. She gave me some of the ribbon and I made a scarf. I'm keeping the first as it's thin and too short but I like it so I didn't unravel. I'm making another for a belated Christmas gift.
I'm knitting on 3.75mm addi's, using Artesano's new DK Alpaca in pretty much all of the colours.
I've no idea how many stitches there are - life's too short to count 'em, so I don't know how long it'll be but I'm sure it'll be grand. I've got about 8 or 9 more rows left, I can't wait to finish. I've a feeling that this is going to be one of those gifts I find hard to give up.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

the next I Knit Show

the SnB day was amazing so we're doing it all (and more) again.

This time it's going to be in August. The Saturday of the August Bank Holiday weekend is an option but I don't know if it's the best option.

As the show is for you I thought I would ask for your adice.

Is the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday weekend a good day for the show?

Please let a comment to let me know what you think.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Hooray for me...knitting in the round at last!

Now, this might come as a shock to some, but I've never knitted in the round AND I've never usd DPNs either! While Gerard has the enviable ability to pick up sticks and seemingly knit whatever he wants without stress or turmoil, I have major issues with patience and mathematics which means I often play it safe. In these times of resolutions and new knitters I wanted to say that we are not all woolly wizards. I am happy to admit that I continue to learn new tricks and despite my little tantrums and impatience it's worth it in the end.

Before Christmas I decided I needed a pair of gloves. It's got to the stage now that I feel like going out and buying knitwear is a bit of a cheat so I'll go about freezing while I wait to get my a*** into gear and knit me own. I started but ran into problems trying to adapt the pattern (for chunky) to DK yarn, whilst trying to work out how many stitches etc to make it fit. Eeek. Maths and mechanics were never my strong point and knitting uses both in surprising large bundles. I've finally found Marnie MacLean's Hooray for Me gloves online and am ready to get started. Now it's just to get my head around going round....somehow my brain (and a couple of years of knitting backwards and forwards) have left me unable to understand keeping going round and round and round...

Anyways, here they are (I might not be able to pull off this pose mind you). I'm doing them in Hummingbird alpaca from Artesano and if you see me on the bus, or at the knitting group, concentrating like a man possessed please take care...if you interrupt when I'm counting I get a bit stressed! ;))


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Street (sign) crime...

Vandals, I hate them! We have neglected our bright yellow street sign over the past few months, leaving it languishing out on South Lambeth Road while we get all cosy in the warmth. Whilst away over Christmas and New Year we left it attached to the lamp-post at the end of the road - only to return to find an attack had taken place! Now here it lies, battered and bruised, with a screw or two missing and twisted limbs. Gory. It's managed to hang onto it's moorings so they didn't get away with it completely (unlike it's predecessor which disappeared overnight early last year) but it's seen better days. I don't know, there's no respect for other people's property these days is there?!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Big New Year Knit-In

Last night we held the first I Knit London meeting of the new Year, and saw a big bunch of knitters, crocheters and one loom-knitter all gathered at the Royal Festival Hall for a really good night. It was brill to see so many new faces, and we got a few new knitters on the needle too with some basic tuition....lollies and chocolates went down well too! We took over quite a large area, rearranged the furniture and settled in for the night. We've got another get-together tonight in the shop and we're looking forward to a whole other year of weekly knitting groups for newbies and oldies alike!

And congratulations to Claire and Tom (below centre) who got themselves engaged just before Christmas (after a very protracted, well-organised and romantic proposal!). Some IKL regulars may recognise them from previous get-togethers, or you may have seen Tom on the telly when we did Eggheads. Also, congrats to Tom on starting his latest project!

If you come along to the shop anytime soon look out for this new Vodafone ad which is positioned very aptly at the end of our street. Aww, cute little smiley balls of yarn!

Y Viva Espana!

We've been away for Christmas and have avoided (almost) the interweb for the whole two weeks! But now we're back and raring to get knitting again! First things first, thanks to all who came to our Christmas party on the 20th - we really enjoyed ourselves and it was a great night. Thanks for all the Secret Santa pressies and the food. Crikey, there was enough to feed an army. We'll be adding some photos form the party and from our Christmas break onto our Flickr today.... Meanwhile, we managed to get around to knitting (and finishing) a number of pressies this year, the pièce de resistance being this poodle wine bottle cosy which I made for my stepmother as a bit of a joke. I actually didn't take enough yarn with me for the pom-poms, so we scoured the local town (Torre del Mar) for a knitting shop....and found two. That's why his pom-poms are a bit darker than the rest of him. He took pride of place in the centre of our Christmas dinner table!

We spent our holidays with her and dad in their Andalusian villa in the hills of Axarquia. Oh yes! It was lovely (despite powercuts, torrential rain and thunderstorms, plus swimming guinea pigs - the most memorable Christmas for a while saw me giving the kiss of life to a guinea pig, by candlelight on the kitchen counter!) To be fair, the torrential rain, thunderstorms and power cut only lasted one night and the rest of the time it was sunny. Getting back into the UK on New Year's Day was a bit chilly. It was a very refreshing, relaxing time away from everything, after a year of much organising, planning and drinking! We are ready for 2008 and we're both really excited about what's in store for I Knit....

One of the things may very well be a Wii Tournament! We treated ourselves to a Wii for Christmas and have become a little addicted to the tennis and the bowling. Our aim is to get everyone on the mqachine to have a bash at games night. Let the games begin....! Whilst away we did some of the real bowling too (although after one strike my back gave out). Here's G getting a throw in. We realised that playing bowling on the Wii is just as strenuous - both our arms were killing the next morning.

We also made a short day trip over to Tangier, which we expected to be full of Arabianm charm and mystery. It looks nice in this pic, but, frankly, it was a grim experience.

Happy New Year to everyone, see you knitting in 2008! If you haven't been along recently there are a few of our badges left with our New Year motto "I Knit for life not just for Christmas" - get 'em while we have 'em at ther knitting group meet-ups or in the shop.