I Knit London Tweets

Sunday, November 30, 2008

tea party

we had a marvelous time yesterday at the tea party. The special event was to celebrate the publication of two marvelous books - Wild Tea Cozies, by Loani Prior and Knitted Cakes by Susan Penny.

We served about 150 cups of tea and there was probably an equal number of slices of cake, biscuits and brownies. There was a huge turn out and competition for the 'bake off' was fierce. We thought the bake off was a great way to ensure that knitted cakes were not the only cake on offer and I for one am glad we did it and grateful to everyone who spent their time baking.
I couldn't manage more than 4 servings of cake but between us - the panel of judges - we did manage to indulge in all the offerings. All the cakes were amazing, from the walnut cake to the tequila and lime cupcakes, the ginger cake to the lemon drizzle, the brownies and the cookies, I also loved the scones! Consequently, we wanted all the cooks to win first prize. As it was we did award 2 winners, Jo's heavenly chocolate brownies with white chocolate chunks and Emily's New York cheesecake. The cheesecake came out overall winner as most of the panel were self-confessed chocoholics and were naturally inclined to go with the brownies but they still felt compelled to vote for the cheesecake.

I thought they were all winners. i missed the perfect moment to be Brucie, though! I could have told each person they were my favorite but I think the sugar rush hindered me considerably.

We even had fruit!

Thanks to everyone for being brilliant and baking all the cakes. It was a marvelous afternoon, should we do it once a month?

I leave you with a couple of shots of some very content I Knit London shop staff.



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

are you a tree hugger?

About one million years ago I did a 5k run in Battersea Park (in fact I think I did it two years in a row) to raise money for Trees For Cities. It was a terribly stupid thing to do as I don't spend a great deal of time running or anything remotely similar. I did it though and I raises a couple of hundred pounds.

With that in mind I had to post about The Woodland trust and their new new project, The Ancient Tree Hunt. It sounds a bit like an oxymoron but apparently they are just a bunch of tree huggers and I think I love them.

They want people to help the record and map ancient trees across the UK. The map will be on their website. How can knitters help? Well, I think knitters will inherit the earth, or something, as we can do anything! They have suggested by knitting scarves, patterns here, we can use them to measure the span of the trees! Marvelous! The scarves are 1.5m long, the official length of a tree hug!

I think this is brilliant. I love trees, for the very obvious reason that they give us life! Most of them are beautiful, too.

I think I might start by measuring the trees on Whitehall, see if I can get into trouble! 


The World's Largest Tea Cosy

This morning was the press launch of the world's biggest tea cosy. We've been working with The Wallace and Gromit Foundation for the past couple of months, asking people to knit squares or strips and send them to us so we could sew then together into a huge tea cosy. It's been great working on such a fun project and the foundation does great work to help young people in the Uk so we are proud to have helped in some way.
We've been asked countless times 'does that mean you have the world's biggest tea pot?' Does the above pic answer your question? We didn't know until last night how big the tea cosy was going to be as we were still receiving contributions so the planning was a little less than we would have preferred. Inside the very heavy tea cosy is Beeci and a gaggle of Wallace and Gromitt Foundation supporters doing brilliant work with raised arms for a 40 minutes or so.

I was very excited to be in the company of two of my heroes. I'm eating wensleydale cheese as I write!
We're even more excited about our tea party this weekend to celebrate the launch of Wild Tea cozies, by Loani Prior.

Bring on the cake!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

not a minute too soon

Yesterday was the best day ever!

Jane Waller and Susan Crawford visted the shop for the London launch of the republication of A Stitch in time. Susan and Jane are two of my favourite people and we were so glad to host them at the shop talking about the book.

They brought with them all of the garments from the book and my expectations, while very high, were thoroughly exceeded!
They are gorgeous.

Jane started proceedings by talking about the genesis of the book and her inspirations, motivations and desires. Jane Waller is a very engaging speaker whose enthusiasm is clear and seemingly boundless.

Susan continued, talking about why she wanted to republish the book and followed by taking us all through the garments in the book. They really are amazing.

This swimsuit was one of the most popular as you can see from our gorgeous model.

We had lots of gorgeous models.

We sold most of the books but we have some left but I don't imagine we'll have for long, It's a truly inspirational book.

The presentation went on for ages as the interest in the garments was huge and Susan has a way of talking to people that encourages us to understand that these garments are not only relevant, they are stunning, flattering and very achievable, all it takes is casting on. Most of the garments are made in 4ply, and although some of them have intricate designs the majority of them are simple, easy to pick stitch patterns with the most beatiful finishing touches, as Susan and Jane said, sometimes there is no reason for the fancy finishing other than it's just gorgeous!

I can't wait for volume 2!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sticky toffee pudding and Sunday roast

Sunday saw our second Sunday Knit Roast knitting group at a pub in Soho. It's the second time we've hosted this monthly Sunday session and it was very quiet - which I put down to the rain, but it did make us wonder whether the knitting group 'thing' has reached saturation point. I mean, there are so many hundreds of groups now, and in London alone you can go to one every day of the week (almost). We'll still continue with the Sunday Knit Roasts in 2009, even if it's just an excuse for Gerard and I to have the day off and go to the pub.
It was actually really nice to have a small crowd at the weekend - much more relaxing and much more chatty. We met new IKLondoners, mum and daughter Moira and Ortrude (who was knitting from a retro copy of Brigitte, a German book which Moira remembered from her childhood). It stills stands then that there'es been someone new at every single meeting since December 2005! plus, the sticky toffe pudding always makes it worthwhile...
Here's a few pictures from Sunday's get-together. we are now realising 'party season' is upon us - we've got a party almost every week from now til Christmas! To kick things off it's the London lauch of A Stitch in Time this Saturday 22nd November...glorious vintage knits, with cake!


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Franklin, my dear...

Last night we were treated to something very special. A personal visit from Franklin Habit. Franklin and his partner, Tom, are only in London for a few days and they agreed to stop over at I Knit London, meet some knitters, sign some books and give us a reading or two. It was a brilliant night. The place was packed and those arriving late found themselves chair-less, but the atmosphere was great, and Franklin was a consummate gentleman and a thoroughly nice chap.

When I finished work I headed straight for the shop and it was already filling up with eager knitters. Franklin arrived at about 6pm and hid away in the basement with Elizabeth from Simply Knitting for a quick interview, before throwing himself before us. The new book of his cartoons, and essays, It Itches, is very funny, very witty and very Franklin. For those who regularly read his blog (The Panopticon) it'll be no surprise that he has turned out a great little book. Franklin read a couple of excerpts for us, the first about Victorian knitting patterns and their sadistic tendencies (or masochistic if you choose to enjoy them!) and the second about the long-forgotten underpant knitters of Great Fussing-on-the-Wold! He certainly has a way with words...any fans of the Yarn Harlot will love Franklin's equally ironic and wicked take on the knitty world...

Franklin was happy to hang around and chat and sign the book, plus a very limited number of his Guys With Yarn calendar (Gerard was first in line to grab a copy?!) This went down a storm..and made some people VERY happy!

The personal highlight for us was our one-off cartoon of Dolores doing Britannia, from Franklin. I'm ashamed to admit that my history (and French) lessons didn't amount to much so I had to ask for an explanation of the motto. But now I get it! And the 'cupcake' bit made me laugh out loud!

Franklin & Tom, thanks so much for coming over. we shall certainly head over to Chicago and pay you a visit. Have a fabulous trip home on the Queen Mary and Bon Voyage!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yes We Can

And we do, often. Knitting of course. I've done lots of knitting over the past few weeks. It's been great being away from the shop but we did miss it, too.
We're back from our US trip and we're delighted to be home. We had a brilliant time and met some great people. I'm trying to think of my favourite moment but it's hard. We were introduced to people at the Stitches East gala dinner and were called up to the stage to say a few words on the mic. That was a bit scary, but brilliant.

We were taken for dinner by Kathleen and Nick Greco of Jelly Yarn. I've spoken to Kathleen on the phone a few times and the conversations were never just about business and I enjoyed them. I enjoyed meeting them very much. They are immensely genuine people and I love Kathleen's enthusiasm, she is so vibrant. They are a very elegant pair. So much so that they chose a brilliant restaurant, they even laid on a limo! I've never been in a limo before that. It was weird and discotastic!

Stitches was in Baltimore, pic of the famous harbour below. Each morning I was there I opened the window and sang out 'Good morning, Baltimore!' Well, I would have done if hotel room windows opened. That line is from the film Hairspray, a major theme of which is a segregation and human rights. It's interesting, then, that we were in America when the first black person was elected as president. I don't think you are allowed to say black, though. He was constantly being referred to as "African Amercian President Elect, Barack Obama". I spoke with my mum on the phone while I was there and she asked if we had got any souvenirs while we were there as this is history. I though that was a bit mad as I think this of it as progression. Craig agrees with my mum. I'm so glad that Obama is going to be the next President of the US and I don't really care if he's black. Maybe that's because I'm not black and I'm not American. I know it's a big deal, Craig reminded me that only 40 years ago black people had less human rights than white people in the US so the decision to make him the next president is at least historic and momentous, even if you didn't vote for him.
While we were in Baltimore we spent lots of time with delightful Eirwen, who runs Knitwitches, and Jane Sowerby, author of Victorian Lace Today. I love them both, it's official.
We also met the team from Malabrigo, they were as nice as their yarns! Too many people to mention, actually, but we have some brilliant square needles coming our way soon! When we weren't on stage, in a limo or cavorting with knitting superstars we got the chance to sip on a margarita or two.
We bought lots while we were in Baltimore. We couldn't help ourselves. We are about to make lots of orders but we had to bring back some Qiviut from Windy Valley. It's so gorgeous and the colours are amazing. It's in the shop right now and I've even started knitting with it and I love it. It's pricey, but worth it, and we have lots of patterns for scarf that only use one ball. We also brought brought back some amazing buttons, bags and shawl pins. Thanks again to Cheryl and everyone at Cherry Tree Hill for making a big deal of us, we had a great time.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Stitches East

This morning we drove west to reach Baltimore and Stitches East. It's the reason we came over to the US this week, to visit the show, meet up with some friends, make some new ones and see if we can't find some goodies to bring back to London.

It's all been a bit of a quick day, but we got into Baltimore about 1pm, checked into the hotel and headed over to the show. It struck us immediately that it's the kind of show we aspire to in the UK. It's pretty much all centred around yarn, with a nice selection from all across the US. There's also a superb range of classes and workshops, exhaustive and worth it in their own right. We  spent the afternoon racing around the stalls which we will have more of a look at tomorrow. 

There was an abundance of beautiful lace shawls (Jane Sowerby is in attendance at the show) and a great mix of fibre. We met Jeri and Matthew from Flying Fibers who are committed to selling British yarns and it was a real surprise to see their stash of Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop and their Garthenor. Ann and Ruth (from the Wensleydale Sheepshop) even made an appearance...in a photograph pinned up in their booth! We finally got to meet Nick and Kathleen, the faces behind Jelly Yarn, who we've been chatting to on the phone for some time. We are the UK distributor for the yarn and we were excited to report to them that it's being lapped up in London. They had a few new designs on their stand which are now winging their way over the Atlantic to us.

Purchases were few today (more to buy tomorrow I'm sure), but G did snap up some suri lace alpaca from Diane at Windy Valley Musk Ox - their range of laceweight yarns goes from the $90 a ball qiviut to the more modestly priced but just as gorgeous alpaca and cotton. I think we'll have some in our suitcase for on the way home. Some really beautiful stuff all round, and not just yarns either - Signature needles, some incredible resin and glass buttons, handmade needles cases, tote bags and other accessories and notions. 

After the main show we headed back to the hotel to freshen up before the fashion show and the dinner at the Hilton. The event is organised by XRX books, who publish Victorian Lace Today and Knitter's Magazine (amongst others). Their latest publication, Knit One Below by Elise Duvekot featured highly in the fashion show. The premise of the book is to use the k1b technique, combining yarns and using this simple instruction to form intriguing and interesting fabrics. The show also highlighted the work of many others designers and yarns all of whom had booths at the main event. Not all of it was to our taste but there were some glorious knits in there too. There was a penchant for wraps and shawls, and it was noted that on the catwalks this year there was the same...an indication that handknitting has influenced the high-end Italian designers this season and not the other way aorund...?

The dinner tonight ended the day on a surreal (but posh) note! We are here as guests of Cheryl and the gang at Cherry Tree Hill, but we didn't expect an on stage introduction in front of 1000 of people. And from Alexis Xenakis no less. Alexis is the photographer for most of XRX's publications, including VLT, and is  revered here at IKL. So when he got up on stage and apologised for not introducing us at the fasion show earlier, then asked us up on the stage for a short speech we were a bit gobsmacked and embarrassed! We said something about I Knit Day and invited everyone to visit us in London! Suddenly everything went in a direction we didn't expect. It's not false modesty to admit that we didn't expect anyone to know who we were...then we're ending the night the Marriott hotel bar with XRX CEO, Ben, Jane Sowerby and Eirwen, Tobias from Malabrigo, Jane Slicer-Smith, Susie from Kollage and, no doubt, looks of amazement on our faces.

We are off in the morning to have our photo taken by Alexis! Bizarre.


Friday, November 07, 2008

New York City boys

It's our third day in New York and the gin and tonics (and the jetlag) are finally taking their toll! After Tuesday's late night celebrating the results of the election we took it easier yesterday. Much of the day spent in the village and Soho, starting with a glorious pumpkin latte at Grounded (coffee shop on Jane Street) before a meander down to Canal Street and back again. Mostly window shopping although I did get myself a new hat and Gerard bought himself a $3 dollar umbrella as the rain came down - haggled down from $5 I might add. We're the last of the big spenders! We've both been to New York a few times and the streets are becoming more familiar with each visit; this time we've taken it easy, just wandering, rather than feeling the need to fit on the stuff that, as tourists, we're supposed to be doing (although today we did queue at tkts for show tickets and spotted the Naked Cowboy, pictured - what's the point of him again...?)

We also popped into a couple of knitting shops yesterday too - Purl in Soho, and The Point, where we spent a couple of hours. I got myself a hank of blank Twinkle super chunky (not available in the UK...yet!) and whipped up a 'scarflette' together with wooden button, "hand carved in Massachusetts" so I was told. G rustled up a little earflapped hat for his nephew and it was nice respite from the walking and the rain. Having friends here also helps with avoiding the obvious and we met up with James and Ryan, had a few drinks and headed for Pylos, a brilliant Greek restaurant down in alphabet city. A few more drinks later and we were ready to head back to the hotel. we're staying over (WAY over!) on 38th and 10th Avenue, which, even though it's only a 15 minute walk into Times Square, feels like a lifetime away. But it's not bad actually, and for £70 a night (between the two of us - thankyou Priceline!) we can't complain.

Tonight we saw Gypsy, with Patti LuPone which was disappointing actually -old fashioned entertainment that didn't live up to the hype. We should've learned from our last trip when we saw Spring Awakening (which went on to win all the Tony Awards) and we hated it. I just don't think musicals are our thing. Oddly.

Tomorrow we head off to Baltimore for Stitches East.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The times they are a-changin'

Gerard and I arrived in NYC yesterday (Tuesday) at about 10.30am. There's always something special about taking a taxi from the airport, through Queens and under the East River, emerging into Manhattan. But what a day to be here! Despite the jetlag we met up with a schoolfriend of G's, James, and stayed out very late celebrating with the rest of New York. After a few bars we ended up in a new spot called Wilfie & Nell to watch the results...

I went out onto the streets of Greenwich Village about 1am to take some pictures and it was an exciting and moving experience. We'd seen Times Square on the telly, where thousands of people had gathered, but downtown there were people shouting from their apartment windows, drivers honking their horns, singing in the street and smiles all round. There's a genuine feeling of change and excitement that isn't engineered, it's that thing that just happens when a mass of people all share a common emotion, and you can feel it in the atmosphere and see it in the faces. We're both feeling lucky to be here at such an amazing time - it really is a bit of history and one of those days when you'll remember where you were when you heard the news...Barack Obama is the next President of the USA!