I Knit London Tweets

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Women

we went to see The Women the other day. I'm not a massive fan of Meg Ryan and I hadn't read any reviews or anything but I was looking forward to it.

I thought it was going to be some kind of indie style, philosophical, female driven depiction of female empowerment. It really wasn't. It was fun, though, and the performance were good but it centred around a man you never met. It was great that it was a film entirely populated by women but even this was a bit weird as it was a little overused. Women were everywhere - on street corners, stood in corridors, loitering everywhere. Seeing lesbians stood kissing each other in the aisles of a lesbian restaurant was rather marvelous, though Sitting down at your table and kissing is very boring, especially for a lesbian!

It was a great film, though. I haven't seen the original but I will soon. Joan Crawford was in the original and we all know how difficult she was. Joan is a famous knitter and would often knit on set. Apparently, she didn't like Norma Shearer too much so she would knit really loudly, clacking her needles together, while on set hoping to upset her co star! Director george Cukor once ordered her to leave her knitting off-set!

When Craig told me this it kind of summed up the whole film - new version at least - there was not an ounce of subtlety anywhere in the film.


Monday, September 29, 2008


I've been shopping. I've had lots of time since the 6 September - well, relatively as the shop is still very busy.

I went a little crazy on eBay. I got about 20 books in a week. All are great books, some better than others but I love them all. I think I might do some fair isle swatches and get them framed...

Practical Knitting Illustrated is brilliant and was published in 1930's I think - there is an inscription that says 1940.

this is most of my purchases!
this is Craig's only contribution! - not even if we had a dog!
I love this book. It has a section about designing sweaters and there are pages and pages of charts like the one below.
Does anyone want to manage a very busy knitting shop in central London? I have some knitting to do.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

knit and lace blocking kits

The most fabulous blocking kits arrived today. I'm a bit of a sucker for a gimmick - I know that you can use any old metal rods and pins but you can't beat a bit of kit that was specially made for the job.

They are by Take It Personally by Gifts By Tip and they are fab.

The kits consists of twelve 36" rigid wires, two 24" flex wires, twenty steel T pins, blocking instructions AND a yard stick. It all comes in a tube so storage is easy, too!

I love 'em, no excuses now!

here they are!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

we are the 'elite'

The Times listed us as one of the best things to do tonight. They called us London's elite!

Does this mean that we are the biggest and the most briliantest and the bestest knitting group in the whole wide world and the universe?

Nah, it just means that we're great! Being in the newspaper is great but it's not really validation we need, is it? I always knew you were the elite. I say this a lot, the knitting groups are only great because of the people who come. It's great to hear you all chattering away and showing off your knitting and getting excited about other people's knitting.

One of my favorite things about working in the shop is regulars to the group who come in looking for something they can't quite find and they ask for help - "there was a woman in here the other night night and she was knitting the most beautiful shawl out of sock yarn and I can't stop thinking about it so I want to make one."


Monday, September 22, 2008

dream workshop?

the blog a day idea didn't last long!

We're busy planning for national knitting week. We have lots going on, with presentations and book signings -
Knitting and Crochet Guild presentation on Wednesday 15 Oct
Lise-Lotte Lystrup, author of Vintage knits will be with us on Thursday

Franklin is coming on 14 November!

We also have the launch of A Stitch in Time on 22 November.

AND, just as a little tease! we have the launch of the most brilliant tea cosy book sometime in the end of November!!!!

Before all that, though, Erika Knight will be with us on 4 October to launch her new book, Men's Knits, and auction the garments!

With all this in mind, plus, I am still dreaming about having met Jane Sowerby, Heléné Magnusson, and Erika Knight, and Sandra Polley, Sasha Kagan, Maggie Knits and everyone at I Knit Day, I am wondering about dream workshops. 

There are a few people people whose workshops I would love to attend. There are so many people with so many skills that I would love to learn that, I think, I could happily be a full time workshop participant. It's a tough questions, but...

Who would lead your dream workshop?

I'd love to have your ideas and opinions, please leave a comment.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Knitters 0 Non-knitters 2

After last year's attempt to beat the Eggheads we were up for another challenge and a few months ago we entered BBC4's newest quiz show Only Connect. The Knitters teams was made up myself and Tom, reprising our roles from Eggheads, and new member Esther. The episode was broadcast on Monday night and you can still find it on BBC iPlayer if you're quick. Actually, it's funny how you misremember things - I wasn't looking forward to watching but it wasn't as bad as I thought. We did OK, and certainly have nothing to be too ashamed of...all I kept thinking though was how rough I looked and that I don't smile much ;( We take some comfort in the fact that we were beaten by a team of Quiz Professionals who run their own Quiz Show company! (Though not sure why they were the 'Lapsed Psychologists' and not the 'Quiz Quiz Quiz' team...?

The game itself was a good one. If you're into useless trivia it's perfect for you! What really got the nerves going was when we heard the string-heavy theme tune which made me think...oh dear, this sounds like it's going to be a bit too highbrow for my liking. Indeed, some of the questions in the rehearsal (and the show) went right over my head (I still have no idea what a quark is) but I am especialy proud that we managed to get the pilots of the Thunderbirds in the right order for one point, even if we didn't know any novels by Evelyn Waugh. But our winning streak still hasn't started! Two done, two lost....next time victory is ours.
In a nice twist, Gerard and I went off to our semi-regular pop quiz at our favourite London pub, the Retro Bar last night. With 19 out of 20 we won the bloody thing! hurray. Our prize....we didn't get the money but we did win the 2009 Cliff Richard calendar, which they give away every year in the quiz. Secretly I was quite pleased and I kept hold of mine. So he might be a homophobic hypocrite but he was a bit of a looker once and his tunes (pre-1981) aren't bad. Last time I mentioned Cliff on this blog we had a barrage of Cliff fans getting in touch and commenting to preserve his sainthood. This week they failed to get him to number one in what was a gimmick that actually just tarnishes what is an amazing pop career. It's a shame he had to try so hard with a crap song and a crap gimmick. Re-release some of his good stuff and he's more likely to to get to number one again. There's some kind of irony in Cliff, once a supporter of the hateful Festival of Light, that he's sandwiched between Sex on Fire, I Kissed A Girl and The Pussycat Dolls!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

a blog a day...

...well, I'm going to try anyway. I doubt it will last long.

Here are a few pics as I have Craig's camera! (I've lost my camera and the cable that connects my phone to the computer!) I think we are moving the shop around tomorrow - that'll be the second time this week - so I might find them both!

this is a picture of my favorite knitting at the moment. It's going to be a glove with Icelandic heart pattern from Hélène Magnusson's Icelandic Knitting. I was thrilled that Hélène came to our show the other week and I fell in love with her as I had fell in love with the book. Hélène wrote a special message to me in my copy of her book. Also, I'm really glad to say we sell the yarn used in the book, Lodband Einband from Istex, pure Icelandic single ply lace.

we got lots of Malabrigo last week. This is the lace merino and omg it's gorgeous. We have very little left, actually!this is the sock yarn. it's really amazing and it's been flying out. It's a 3ply superwash merino, kettle dyed, loads of colours.

new in this week is Woolcraft with Wensleydale which was also at our show the other day. I love this stuff. It's amazing. The sheen is extraordinary. It's pricey, mind, but there are only a few of the sheep left, especially the dark colours.

Guess what my Mum's getting this Christmas. If she's lucky!


Monday, September 15, 2008

did I say relax?

As if!

It's been so long since I blogged properly that Craig has started gently encouraging me to get back to it. The thing is, I'm always so tired and never have any knitting to put up because, actually, running a knitting shop prevents you from doing any knitting. Which, I suppose, is one of life's little ironies.

Not so little, of course.

I still don’t really understand my life. I never have, really – Stephanie Pearl McPhee said that knitters are incomprehensible and I laughed knowingly. I’ve always felt incomprehensible to the people that matter most to me, another irony. This meant I often felt uneasy. I don’t feel uneasy any more though. This feels like the most natural way of being. I love this life, the knitting, the knitters, the events, the cider, the authors and designers, the artists and of course, the wool – ohmygod the wool, we’ve just got some of the most extraordinary Wensleydale in lace and DK, it made my mouth water. I wonder if I’ll ever get to knit anything with it?

The I Knit Day was amazing. I know lots of people enjoyed themselves and I’m thrilled. We worked really hard on putting it together and reading the blogs has been brilliant. A few of them actually made me cry because it made me feel so proud that I didn’t really know how to deal with it. We did a good thing and I’m glad loads of you enjoyed it.

The run up to the show was probably the single most stressful time, ever! We vowed that we were not going to do it again. However, we started planning next year as we sat in an (almost) empty Lawrence Hall waiting for the AA to come and start our van. It was the last thing we wanted but secretly I was so glad to be able to sit down and relax and eat some of the weird stuff brought from Netherlands by Hilly and Carla. The stroopwafels were great but there was some weird liquorice.

There are so many people to thank. I’ve thanked them in person so I wont name-check anyone here, except my Mum and Dad and sisters and nephews who traveled from Liverpool to share it with Craig and I. It was really important to me that they were there.

So Knitting…erm, I’ve started lots of things – tea cosy, anyone? More on that soon. Another Elizabeth Zimmerman surprise baby jacket, another EZ conch hat to replace the one Lorraine fell in love with, booties and socks using Natural Dye studio Angel. It’s amazingly soft – baby alpaca, cashmere and silk. I would put up pictures but this shop has bee moved around so often I’m dizzy. It seems to have swallowed first my camera and now my mobile phone. (not that bothered about the latter to be honest).

AND – the book is out soon! I’ll probably have copies with 6 weeks.

We’re already working on the next book! We’re already working on the next show, too, so please don’t miss out, if you thought 2008 was great you will not believe what we’re trying to make happen for 2009.

On top of all that, Strictly Come Dancing has started again! Well, that’s just a small extra when because I’ve got Craig. With every day he gets more amazing.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Gone (but not forgotten) with the wind...

One of my favourite pastimes is catching up on the recently deceased by way of newspaper obituaries. Now, I know how that sounds. But it isn't morbid fascination with the once famous, more a sign of respect. I think one of the highest honours you can have is to be, at some point in your life, deemed significant enough to warrant an obituary in The Times (I choose The Times simply because their scope and coverage is greater than that of most other daily newspapers when it comes to remembering the dead). What's respectful is that the choice of subject isn't dictated by any celebrity status, rather by significance. This means that those remembered are the famous, the infamous and the obscure, all of whom have contributed to their field - from science and sport, education and the environment to music and movies. I'll admit to being most fascinated by the passing of once celebrated film actors and actresses whose stars have either faded or ascended into legend.

Recently, whilst taking in my daily dose I spotted a sad trend...Fred Crane, not a household name but an actor who goes down in history as having the first line in Gone With the Wind, passed away only a month after Evelyn Keyes, who played Scarlett O'Hara's sister in the same film. With only the genetically-prosperous Olivia deHavilland still with us for the main adult cast (her sister Joan Fontaine still going strong too) it's another door closed with that link to "Hollywood's Golden Age" (ask me about my obsession with Luise Rainer next time you see me!). Gone With The Wind is glorious. I remember seeing it at a screening in Sydney to mark it's 60th anniversary, in the same cinema where it was screened back in 1938 and there was a real sense of occasion. A film with an interval! Imagine that these days with the attention span of most audiences. Yes, it's a soap opera, but it's top notch soap.

Whilst our blog isn't all about knitting, there's a good reason to bring it up here too! GWTW does contain a couple of great knitting scenes (and there's plenty to get excited about if your just into pretty frocks). Whilst Rhett and the gang are out raiding the shanty town there's a brilliantly tense scene of the ladies waiting back at home for their return. Quite a bit of knitting going on there and it drives the scene along, the women busying themselves as the menfolk are away. It's interesting that Scarlett, ever the black sheep, does a bit of cross stitch instead! There's also a very moving scene of what I call Unfinished Garment Syndrome. This is a device I've spotted employed in films and telly, using knitting, where someone embarks on a project for someone else. Generally this means either the knitter or the knittee isn't going to make it to the end of the film, the Unfinished Garment being a symbol of the character's untimely demise. It happens here when Mrs Meade clutches her Unfinished Pair of Gloves for her son, recently killed in the war. There's nothing more poignant than a project languishing on the needles, never to be worn by the intended. Watch out for the UGS - it'll having you weeping into your WiP.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mikes, t-shirts...and the secret of good vinaigrette

Everything is learning. I always think if you don't take something away from every situation then you're doing yourself a disservice. Learning a useless bit of trivia, or learning something about yourself (or others) that makes you change your way of doing stuff. It's all the same to me. For me it's usually the trivial stuff I like to store and my collector's mentality means I'm always up or filling my vital brainspace with another piece of intriguing fluff. But, I'm also up for learning big stuff too.

After last Saturday's I Knit Day we've both found ourselves reading all the blogs and message boards with huge grins, happy that it went well and that people enjoyed themselves. But there's lots of stuff we learned too (after all this is really the second show of it's kind that we've ever done, and the first this big)...next year more sarnies, more presentations and separate rooms for our special guests. Through reading Yarn Harlot's blog I've also learned that I need to spend more time rediscovering London. When I moved here I walked for miles, usually looking up. Our life is taken up with so much work for IKL that sometimes I wonder if there's any point being in London as we never see much of it!
One of the least likely parts of Saturday's learning curve is the secret to great vinaigrette. Gerard made a new friend in Hélène Magnusson, who spoke about her Icelandic Knitting Using Rose Patterns and he's alreayd begun his first project. Her other book, which she presented to Gerard, signed, is The secret of good vinaigrette revealed to Icelanders which is one of those unexpected surprises you come across now and then (and a brilliant title). Learning how to make bilberry flavoured vinegar is the last thing I expected.

Monday, September 08, 2008


...and relax...


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.


Friday, September 05, 2008

The final countdown.

Get your air guitars out! Diddle-der-der diddle-di-di-der! It's the final countdown....

We've been to-ing and fro-ing form the Horticultural Halls all day in our big van, loading, unloading and stopping off for a couple of hours for lunch with the Yarn Harlot. Stephanie, it was really very nice to finally get to meet you in the flesh and I hope you find your knitters tonight...or maybe you've snuggled up in the hotel away from the weather...?

Anyway, this is short and sweet as I'm being called to carry some more boxes and Gerard can't quite believe I'm writing a blog when there's so much work to do! I mean, honestly, after almost 9 months of work I think I can take a few minutes to say a few words....?

Up at 7am for an early start in the morning...then the fun really begins.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pete Waterman, pop genius and train fan

It might not come as much of a surprise to learn that I, Craig, used to be a trainspotter. I had all the books and everything, wrote all the numbers in a little pad and got really excited when the APT stopped at Kingmoor Marshalling Yards in Carlisle (which was just over the field from the house where I grew up). This might not mean much to those uniniated in the whys and wherefores of the trainspotter but I still get excited when I think of seeing the APT. It probably won't surprise anyone to discover that I was also a bit of a fan of Stock, Aitken and Waterman - not just post-ironically either. I think they are under-rated musical geniuses. Honest.

Well, both of these come together when Pete Waterman (should be Sir Pete by now surely?) visits Lower Marsh today! He's signing copies of his new book A Train is for Life at the Ian Allan bookshop, just up the road from our knitting shop! I'm tempted to take in my original 12" of Kylie's The Locomotion to get signed.....

Monday, September 01, 2008

all aboard

As Craig said in the previous blog post I went all the way to Spain and back last Tuesday just for the miniscule opportunity of getting on TV with my knitting.

I was filmed knitting but I've got no idea if they will use any of it. I sat next top Amy on the plane, she crochet and I knitted. It was the most surreal experience of my 
life and I was served an G&T by Mica Paris. 'would you like a double, darling?' 

'Of course, darling!'

The episode I may or may not be in is tomorrow night at 9pm on ITV2 and I shall certainly be watching, with a double G&T.

I found a picture not really of me, but with me in it. Well, I say 'me in it'; you would be perfectly within your rights to dispute that!

Amy Lamé is gorgeous and I love her and I hope she wins!

below are some pics at the 5 Star resort we went to. We were there for about 2 hours. Believe it or not I managed to fit in 5 glasses of sangria. Obviously this is because it was very hot.

in th back ground you can see Benidorm.