I Knit London Tweets

Saturday, March 29, 2008

crochet coral reef

excitement for the crochet coral reef is growing and the shop was packed on Thursday night. Not everyone was crocheting coral reef but those who were made some brilliant contributions.

Thursday nights at IKL are still being used to promote the coral reef project run by The Institute for Figuring. Don't think that the project is confined to Thursday's though, if you want to come down and contribute please please feel welcome any time.



I've done 2 shawls recently. Clapotis, from knitty.com. 

This was for my mum for her birthday/mother's day. I used manos silk and I really enjoyed knitting this. The manos is brilliant; great to work with, soft and luxurious and very, very long! I only used 2 hanks for this project, I was amazed.

Shoulder shawl in Syrian pattern from Victorian Lace Today.
This was slightly less interesting to make but really easy. The pattern is just a 6 stitch repeat and only involves the knit stitch, yarn overs and simple knit 2 together decreases. I used 5 balls of Habu Silk Gima for this shawl. I only went up to 220ish stitches as this is a Christening shawl for my nephew, Louie. Consequently I thought it would be more stylish for a young man about town if it was without a lacy boarder.

The silk is brilliant to use and once worked it's gorgeously soft. It is a kind of 3/4 ply but they are not spun together they seem to be flattened/compressed and they separate in places when it's worked which really benefits the texture.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Things that make you go...AAARRRRGGGGHHHH!

One of the great things about being in a relationship is that the person that you are with is not you...which means that together you make a better person that you do on your own. Gerard and I have very little in common, weirdly, and I don't understand some of his 'stuff' and he doesn't understand some of mine but one of the biggest differences between us is the ability to let all that stressful stuff about life just wash over us....I can't do it, but G can.

So, I know when a situation is bad when Gerard looks like he might explode! The last two weeks have, of course, been some of the most exciting times for us both, with the new shop opening and all the work that entails. It was hard work, but we've put in so much that it was all worth it....but the whole celebratory mood has been dampened by some of the most inefficient service we've ever encountered. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old fart...just how complicated can it be for British Telecom to install a phone line for us?

For two weeks now we have had no internet access and no telephone into the new shop...so, apologies if you are reading this and you've sent us an email, or booked something online, or tried to call us. We've been assured that it'll be sorted out, but we don't hold out much hope as we are still trying, and trying. We both feel like we've been taken for a ride - and then when we dared to suggest some sort of compensation for loss of business...? Not likely. It wouldn't be so bad if they told us it would be done on such-and-such a day and it was done on that day, but each time there's another problem...and then another...and then another 40 minutes on the mobile trying to get it sorted and having to start the whole sorry tale from the start again. When , finally, we had an engineer in yesterday we did get a phone (hurray) but the BT hub that they had sent two weeks ago now doesn't work, and we have to wait another 2-3 days for a new one....or they did suggest we go and buy one ourselves! It's hilarious - how is it that one of the country's biggest phone/internet providers can take three weeks to connect someone to the internet?

So BT, thanks for ruining one of the most exciting couple of weeks of our life.

And may I extend that thanks to car hire company Sixt (or Sixti, which apparently isn't the same, although the website is the same and the branches are the same...). That's a whole different story, but, seriously...

Why isn't anything ever easy?!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


...to everyone who came along to yesterday's opening day for our new shop. We hope you all loved the new place and will make it a home away from home! We've added our photos to the Flickr group, and if you have your own then please feel free to share them with us there.

We must say a very special thanks to Lynsey, Tom, Tom, Claire, Celia, Graham and Alix who, at various times over the last week or so have lifted, painted, stocked and scrubbed various bits of I Knit London to get it ready!

One of the highlights of the day would be that it wasn't just our friends who came out to celebrate. We saw many old friends and made many new ones too. One person we would never have chosne to be without though, sadly, couldn't make it yesterday; we certainly would never have chosen to do this without Esther, who has been a longtime friend to IKL since she came to one of our pub knit nights way back in 2006. Esther, we missed you and we send our love and hope you'll be back with us soon.

This Wednesday's knitting group night will be opening party mark 2...see you then!


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

We love local...

It's ironic, after our last post, that we woke up to discover that one of our favourite local shops has closed down. It's very easy to say 'support your local shops' and all that but go to the supermarket every day instead. We live in a flat in Vauxhall and there's a huge Sainsbury's so it's not easy to support the local shops - we are pleased to say that we do try, including some of the local Portuguese delis in the area. But we did patronise the bakery on the corner regularly...so it was a shocker when I went past this morning to see it had closed down. Kaye's Of Lambeth was literally a family-run company in Lambeth for 70 years, started in the 1930s and sadly now swiftly and unexpectedly erased from the streets of Vauxhall. Gerard, especially, will miss their rye bread. It comes at a time when we find ourselves moving into a very local street, and only days after finding the We Love Local website. It's funny how things happen all together sometimes. It's also weird timing as we did go into Sainsbury's last night and partaking of a special offer on Rosé...what struck me was that the receipt said I'd saved £5.99. But, actually, I'd spent £18 I wouldn't have spent to get the saving...so I didn't save anything. It's obvious, but I still fall for the tricks of the supermarkets!


Monday, March 10, 2008

A house is not a home...

So we're now counting the days until Saturday's opening day at Waterloo. There seems to be so much still to do, which isn't helped by finger injuries and bad backs! One of the things you lucky knitters can look forward to is the new loo! For anyone's who's been along to the knitting nights at Bonnington Square you may have experienced the basement toilet, which is functional but memorable for all the wrong reasons. The new shop had a fairly grimy counterpart until I took a hammer to it. That wasn't my best idea, although it does mean we have a nice new one for everyone to sit on. Hurray. Pictures are proving impossible to load, but maybe that's a blessing!

The shop is taking shape. It's an empty shell with some of the previous fittings and fixtures in place. In an ideal world we'd start from scratch but time and money are against us on that one. We're of the opinion that IKL is more than just bricks and mortar though, and when it's filled with the sound of chattering knitters it could be a barn and it'd still be great. The best thing about the new space is that it's so much bigger...which means more room for yarn, more room for lounging around and more room for classes. As Hal David once wrote, "A room is a still a room, even when there's nothin' there but gloom. But a room is not a house and a house is not a home"...which, basically means I'm trying to say that it's what happens inside IKL that's the most important thing. Having said that, we have splashed out on some lovely new IKEA furniture to fill up with yarn and there's even a chance our new sign will be ready before we open, or perhaps not.

One of the things I'm looking forward to the most though is being part of Lower Marsh. Gerard and I both worked at the National Theatre (I still do!) so it's somewhere we're familiar with as it's so close to the South Bank. It's a really 'local' street, and there's been a market here for centuries. I'm always telling the story of how we stumbled upon the shop in Bonnington Square, and the same serendipity has landed us with the new address. Wandering past a few months ago I noticed the empty shop and thought we'd make the big decision to go for it. It was a clothes shop called The Closet (and all jokes about us both moving into the The Closet have already run dry!) There's a brilliant shop called Radio Days which has, in the past, been a destination for the ladies of the box office at Christmas Party time for a fancy frock or two. I like rooting through the fabulous vintage mags from the forties, and have picked up a few vintage knitting patterns in there too. Further up there's the retro What The Butler Wore for some 60s/70s fashions and next door to that one of the city's best kept secrets, the Scooterworks café. All this and a local bookshop, a couple of nice pubs, Iceland, Boots, sex shop and even the woodwind instrument shop! All it needs is a fabulous knitting shop and you've got a village in the centre of London! I fear that with Cubana at one end and The Walrus at the other we may see late nights at IKL go on til the wee small hours.

For a history of Lower Marsh and a view of some of the shops and cafés you'll find there check the Lower Marsh website.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

London's newest knitting shop...

Sort of.

It's been just over two years since Gerard and I started I Knit London. Back then we were a regular knitting group, organising weekly meetings for knitters in London pubs. Every Wednesday we'd choose a pub, send out a newsletter and wait for people to arrive. So far, so easy. It's only ever worked because people came, what we did was really nothing at all. So we'd teach people how to do stuff, and sometimes they'd teach us and we all had a few drinks and got on like a house on fire, made new friends and made stuff. But there was more to do, there was a Sunday market stall at Spitalfields, a decision based on the fact Gerard couldn't buy any recylced sari silk in London, so thought he'd do it himself. Those very early Sunday mornings were very hard work and even if we didn't make back any of the stall rent, we met more knitters and we invited them along to our weekly pub meetings too. Our circle of friends got bigger and our plans did too. but, the last thing we wanted was a shop - why would we need another full-time job on top of the two we already had?

One of our local hang-outs was the Bonnington café, where I'd meet Gerard for lunch when it was my day off from the National Theatre, and he was working around the corner for WaterAid. I don't remember when it was that I first suggested asking about the corner shop, at that time looking pretty grim with the metal shutters down and a blight on the square to be honest. Gerard was working from 8am til 4pm so we thought we could run a shop for people after work, open from 4 to 9 and still give ourselves a little time to have a life. We'd close on Wednesdays so we could still go to the pubs and knit and all would be well. We knocked on a few doors, found the owner and decided to give it a go....and it's been an unexpected journey.

Shortly afterwards Gerard was promoted and had to stay on til 5pm. It's only an hour difference but somehow 5 to 9 each night didn't seem proper, so we got someone to sit there for afternoon, usually on their own, pretending to run a shop, only with no customers. This is when we decided to get our licence to sell alcohol and decided that we'd alternate our weekly knitting group between shop and pub, giving everyone a chance to come and discover IKL and to live up to the 'sanctuary' part of the name which we'd been adamant about from the start. And so it went on....

Recently I've been hearing that because we're a 'business' we're different to other knitting groups; somehow this makes us less worthy of praise, as if our 2 years of work is somehow reaping financial rewards. I only wish! True, Gerard did, finally give up his full-time job at the end of 2007, meaning he can now spend his time and energies on his first love, but it's also true that it means from two incomes we're down to only one! I'm glad the 14 hour working days are over, I'm ecstatic that we won't have to give up our flat and live in the shop again (well, not as far as we plan it anyway) but with only two of us running the shop and the knitting group, not to mention organising SnB Day last year and this year's I Knit Day, it's still a long way from time to relax and put our feet up.

So, the last thing we need right now is more stress and more sleepless nights - but we genuine love IKL so much that we're going to do that anyway...and we're moving. Bonnington Square has been good to us, it's been a beautiful place to rest our knitty heads and it will always be part of our IKL story...but there's always time to move on. Next week London has it's newest knitting shop, at 106 Lower Marsh, Waterloo, SE1. Open late, licenced bar, gorgeous yarns and still a place for knitters to drop-in, put their feet up and have a natter. We wouldn't miss it for the world and we hope knitters from London and those visiting the city think so too.

From a weekly pub knitting group to what we consider to be a very good local yarn store, it has been a long hard slog. We won't be retiring anytime soon and we'll continue to do our best to offer London's knitters what we think they want and need. To all those who think it's easy you are welcome to have a go, and for those who think we're in it for the money - well, I can only laugh! The one thing I will say is that I am never a do-er, I'm always a wannabe! Thanks to Gerard this has been the most interesting (most stressful, most exciting, most unpredictable, most fulfilling...) 2 years of my life. If you want to do something just do it...we are no businessmen, and I still feel like I'm making it up as I go along. The clever part is making it look, apparently, so easy.

I Knit London will open at Waterloo on Saturday 15th March....until then, there's lots of painting, scrubbing and shelf-building to get done!