I Knit London Tweets

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Woolly weekends in West Cumbria

What a scorcher! It's been a HOT weekend and it's getting hotter. Where we were on the hottest weekend of the year so far? We were surrounded by fleece, having a woolly time at Woolfest; we were working on a Whopper and paddling at the seaside...
Woolfest takes place every summer in a glorified cattle shed on the outskirts of Cockermouth in Cumbria and it's our favourite knitting show of the year. With a leaning towards natural fibres there's a huge amount on offer, as well as alpaca and sheep to 'ooh' and 'ahh' at. They always look a bit bored of the camera lenses poking into their faces, or maybe it's just embarrassment at the new short back and sides. This year we spent all day Friday and a little bit of Saturday touring the stands, meeting friends and having a good natter. Gerard was especially (and surprisingly) restrained this year, although his first purchase (cashmere laceweight from Knitwitches) was enough by itself to break the budget. The portable Ashford spinning wheel was calling to him but I persuaded him that we could probably do without it right now! You can see all of our Woolfest photographs in our gallery.
We made more of our weekend away as an excuse to have a short break too. I'm a local lad so we met up with friends and spent the rest of the weekend in their back garden barbecuing veggie burgers and drinking organic pear cider and gin. It was lovely just spending time in the frsh air with only the bees, the chickens and the home-grown salads for company. And Ann and John, of course. On Sunday we made the pilgrimage along the Solway coast to Allonby, a one street village with sea views and a ninety-year-old sweet shop called Twentyman's. Their legendary Allonby Whoppers are a challenge to even the biggest ice cream fans (and the biggest gobs).

Whenever we get the chance to get away from the shop Gerard makes the most of it knitwise. As I'm the designated driver it's his chance to sit back and relax for a few hours and get some knitting done. Gerard gets his best knitting done on the M6 and it's seen some of his best work over the last few years on trips to Liverpool and Carlisle! This year is no exception. Aptly, on the journey up he made headway with Jared Flood's Girasole shawl (pictured) - for sun-worshippers everywhere, this circular laceweight shawl is named after the sunflower. He's knitting one up using a natural, undyed laceweight from Garthenor's organic British wool range. Chris from Garthenor was at the show and was delighted to see the yarn in progress. On the way back to London G started on an ambitious multicoloured intarsia hat from Charlene Schurch's Hats On! collection, using the glorious JC Rennie 4 ply that appeared in the shop last week. While I was contending with the worst hailstorm I've ever had to drive through and 3 mile tailbacks, G only had about a million ends to contend with.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Knitting in public and hunting sheep...

Saturday was Worldwide Knit in Public Day and knitters the world over were out and about doing their thing. Here in London we hosted our second IKL Treasure Hunt, sending teams of knitters and their friends scouring the streets of the capital looking for sheep, answering our tricky questions, popping balloons and knitting at all sorts of places.

The theme this year was sheep, and over the last two weeks we've been searching high and low for them. There are surprisingly quite a few dotted around London, from pub signs to historic monuments. The Treasure Hunters visited the 17th Century Painting Rooms at the National Gallery to track down Rubens' A Roman Triumph (pictured); they headed east to St Paul's Cathedral, via the historic Fleet Street and Covent Garden; north to Lamb's Conduit Street, the Lamb pub and Coram's Fields; back south to Waterloo, Lower Marsh and I Knit London. It was brilliant to see everyone - almost 100 people took part, with 30 teams traipsing around the capital. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and it was great to see some teams taking it so seriously!

There were some highlights of the day - Rowan, the phantom balloon burster - did his best all day with quite a few teams making it as far as the end of the street before their balloons (worth an extra 5 points!) were a goner! But he had his comeuppance in Bloomsbury Square when his attack was thwarted by the WNKers team (pictured) who were ready to defend their honour at any cost. Bottled water was involved and it was a nasty skirmish that left the enemy deflated and sodden. For those who think it wasn't worth the fight...the WNKers were overall winners by four points, so that balloon was all-important! (Just to clarify one thing...the team name refers the the Wednesday Night Knitters...OK?)

Part of the challenge was to keep knitting, and the longest scarf of the day went to Denise and Christine, with an astonishing 94 inches! Looking at their answer sheet we do wonder if they did actually do any of the other bits of the Treasure Hunt, but we have some proof they did. They are pictured here (surprised) at Middle Temple Lane on Fleet Street where they were struggling to find the answers to some fiendishly difficult clue whilst being distracted by the wine shop.

As well as answering the questions and hunting the sheep, we had knitting on Routemaster buses, knitting with naked people, knitting with celebrities (a low count this year with only Richard Madeley and Neil Pearson cornered by over-excited ladies with needles exposed), knitting on things, in things and around things. Looking at the photos when we were adding up the scores it seemed like everyone had a wild time - the naked cyclists were especially popular!

But there could only be one winner. As mentioned earlier the WNKers took the title with an amazing 83 points. It was a close call for second place but Team Amethyst took it on the tie-break with a longer scarf than third placed Team Tired. A very special mention must go to team Hobble On who were only half a point away from the medals, in fourth place...and one team member was on crutches for the whole thing! That's dedication for you. Also to The Anzacs, made up of two stragglers with no team to go to - Sarah from New Zealand, and Carol from Australia (pictured). Congratulations to everyone who took part and a huge thanks for making it such a good day.

It took a while to get the score on the doors, but, in the meantime everyone enjoyed the rest and the fresh air out on Lower Marsh, with a few pear ciders and some chocolate biscuits.
You can see all of our own photos on our Flickr page, and, if you took part please upload your own pictures (we really want to see grumpy Neil Pearson!) to the I Knit on Flickr group. If you can't do this, please email your pics to us and we will post them up for you.
Now, what shall we do next year?!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Mickey Mouse knitting...

No, we're not being rude! Today we had a visit from the delightful Debbie, all the way from Florida. We knew Debbie was on her way as she posted in the Ravelry group and got quite a few folk excited about the prospect of bringing over from the States a supply of Cinnamon Tic Tacs. She brought those...and a special gift that could only be Floridian: a set of Mickey Mouse knitting needles and a Disney Learn to Knit book!

We've given the needles to Gromit who sits atop our fish tank and we hope Nick Park doesn't mind. They are brilliant! Thanks Debbie for popping in to see us and I hope you had a great trip. Send us a postcard from your part of the world when you get home - we collect 'em you see, especially if they have sheep on....are there sheep in Florida or do the crocs eat 'em all?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Not just knitting...

Because IKL started as a knitting group all those years ago, one of the things we've always tried to do is keep that social aspect of knitting. When we first opened the shop it was important that there was at least a little space for some bums to rest and some drinks to be drunk. That's where the Chesterfield came into play and comfy it is too. Over the past couple of years the shop has changed but we've made sure that there's plenty of other stuff going on in there as well as just selling wool.

Last night was no exception. A couple of years ago one of our regulars, Justine, suggested starting a book group. We were happy to provide the venue and see how it went. The Kniterati was born and it's been two years in the running now and with only a short break during the summer of 08, we've been having a bit of bookish banter every month. Last night's meet-up saw 18 folk knitting, crocheting and discussing Mrs Pettigrew Lives For A Day. Gin martinis were available (I think a themed drink and nibbles may well be in order for all future meetings) and when I arrived late it was all over bar the martinis! It's so reassuring to see the shop being used as we intended and to see everyone feeling at home amongst friends and strangers and yarn. We've recently opened up The Kniterati Book Group to everyone via the new blog where you can sip your own gin martinis and take part wherever you may be. Head on over there now to find out what the book for July is - the next meeting is on Tuesday 7th July...

Another one of our events looms large when Worldwide Knit in Public Day arrives on 13th June. The first time we took part in this global knit-together we headed off to Trafalgar Square and had altercations with security guards who were confused about our intentions! We said we were just knitting, they said we were performing without a licence. Much hilarity ensued. Last year we decided to take the whole thing a bit more seriously and launched the world's first ever knitting treasure hunt*. We had brilliant number of teams who headed off across London in search of celebrities, policemen, woolly things and more, all the while knitting scarves and carrying yellow balloons (as you do). So this year we're doing at again! It'll be a much more leisurely affair, with a sheepy theme. Teams of 2 to 4 people are welcome to join in. See the Treasure Hunt website for full details and come along on the 13th for a sheepy stroll through London town and back to ours afterwards for some prizes and a party! If you're not in London you can check out the WWKIP Day website to find (or start) and event near you.

So, you may well ask if we ever actually do any knitting in between all this nonsense...? Yes,we do! Maybe not as much as we want to...but we do!
*as far as we know?