Monday, November 27, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
Ik Brei Rotterdam...
After a short drive through 'beautiful Essex', laden with yarn, needles and a large portion of knitted river, we made it to Harwich for the stimulating 5 hour ferry crossing to the Hook of Holland. I left all my knitting in the car so had to jolly myself with card games, crosswords and shopping in the on board gift shop - does anyone ever buy a StenaLine woolly hat or a model of their hovercraft? These kind of shops are always filled with the most useless tat but you end up with a bag full because there's nowt else to do (drinking and eating are a dangerous option we discovered). Met a lovely knitter from norway though, who wasn't actually going to Rotterdam, just happened to be on the boat.
Anyway, after the brain-numbing boredom of a North Sea crossing we drove the short distance to Rotterdam through some of the most uninteresting (and flat) countryside I've experienced. There were quite a few sheep though, which we like. Once holed up in our little B&B we wandered the streets in search of sustenance - found it in Historisch Delfshaven in the form of tapas and beer. It's at this point I should point out that Dutch beer pouring with half a glass of head is something I won't get used to in a hurry. And what's with the small glasses? Anyway, just as well, we were in bed by 9pm. Shameful.
Up at the crack of dawn though for the show on Saturday. Car loaded up with arrived in the dark at the incredible Van Nelle at 7am. this is an enormous relic of the Dutch tobacco industry; a giant factory now converted into exhibition space, workshops, warehouses and offices. It looms large on the landscape and in the dark it's glass and metal framework are a reminiscent of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Filling such a cavernous and industrial building with all the trimmings and tradition of knitting was an inspired juxtaposition of the elements.
And so it began. The invasion of Dutch knitters started at 10am and continued relentlessly all day long. Once we'd got some basic phrases into our heads and worked out just exactly what a Euro is worth we had a brilliant day. The river had pride of place in the exhibition room and looked stunning - so many squares were brought in for us too, and those who were dedicated enough even sat down to sew a few rows together. Thanks go to everyone who did this and to the hundreds of Dutch knitters who turned up with their squares. There are news pics of some squares posted on the Knit A River pictures blog so you can have a gander.
Gerard was busy with the river for much of the day and basking in the glow of his new celebrity status! If hobnobbing with Debbie Stoller and Miriam Tegels wasn't enough he also made his Dutch TV debut. Debbie signed a copy of The Happy Hooker for us, although we didn't take our own copy so now we have a Dutch version which is useful. She also added her support to the river project which is great news. Miriam is the Dutch speedknitting champ (currently awaiting confirmation from the Guinness World Records about the international title) and she was busy beating off all contenders for her title. It's an incredible sight to see.
One of the funniest things of the day was just how popular our I Knit buttns were - at one point wandering around the building it was hard to avoid those bright yellow circles pinned to the bosoms of hundreds of Dutch knitters. Unfortunately our order for limited edition 'Ik Brei' badges didn't make it in time - but everyone understood them anyway.
For photos of the weekend visit our photo gallery at the website: http://www.iknit.org.uk/photogallery-dutch%20stitch%20n%20bitch%20dag.html
as I have been unable to post pictures to this blog for weeks.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
IKL at The Retro Bar on 15th November
Here's a selection of pics of current works-in-progress from tonight's group, just to prove that we do get some knitting done in between the drinking and the blathering.
Chris - bloody impressed by this! Yeah, so there's a few holes (a bit of character) but I remember teaching you your first few rows at the Duke of Argyll a few meetings back....look at him go! Aww, I'm so proud.
Also, in a packed programme tonight...
Honeymoon bolero jackets (in black?)...
and profound conversations about the fabric of the universe, Halloween costumes loaded with maggots, conjugated verbs, 'to showjump or not to showjump?', Lordi and chocolate money.
Thank you knitters, you are all gorgeous. We're off to Rotterdam on Friday morning for some official Dutch Stitching 'n' Bitching so boys' night on Friday will be in the capable hands of Stefan, Jon, Tom, Eamonn and assorted men who knit. We'll be back on Sunday with lovely Dutch photos and stories from Holland. Meanwhile there are some new pics up on our MySpace group page (click the 'chat to us....blah blah blah' on the top of our right hand column to see them).
PS I HATE Blogger. Three pics and it won't do anymore. What's that about? Frustrating to say the least.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Christmas competition and knitting burqas
It's Chriiiiiistmas! (as big sideburned 70s Noddy Holder used to say). Nearly. I Knit London was just an embryonic glimmer in the mind of Gerard this time last year, so our first Christmas is to be celebrated. I'm sure we're planning a party round at Bonnington Square (and now we have a very retro plug in radiator it's oh so cosy) sometime soon, but we need to decorate. We haven't got any decorations. We might knit some. Actually, why not ask the world's knitters to knit some too and give them a prize for the best ones? And so, IKL's Christmas Knitting Competition is created - if you've got some lovely Lurex yarn or even tinsel lying around then why not knit us a decoration for our tree? Send them in or drop them off at IKL and we''l hang them on our tree - all those received by 20th December will be entered into the competition and we'll have a judging panel to choose the best. What do you get from it...? Well, your creation will hang in the swanky IKL shop over Christmas and if you win you get a pair of Lantern Moon needles - size, wood of your choice. LM needles are handmade from ebony, rosewood, blonde wood and coconut palmwood and they are the ultimate in gorgeousness. Go for your life - new knitter or old hand, the most special will win, not neccessarily the most accomplished.
Just wanted to post a pic of Tom's never-ending scarf. Good on yer lad! Keep going....Tom is an IKL regular who's determined to make a six hank Colinette Point 5 scarf, which is rapidly turning into a complete burqa in Welsh wool. It's fabulous Tom. Each meeting is always a revelation...but what about the hat to match next time?
Friday, November 10, 2006
Just like having your mates round for the night...
It's incredible to think that this time last year we had no idea we'd be sitting in our own knitting shop, surrounded by lots of lovely knitters and lounging on a giant yellow bean bag. But, stranger things have happened. I still have to pinch myself sometimes to believe we're doing it, people like it, and we've made so many great friends since we set out on this knitting journey in January. Gerard can't believe he was a lonesome knitter for years before he decided to go out and meet some more! When I finish my day job and think that I'll be going to do another four hours (or in tonight's case 6) in the shop I'd expect to be ready to just curl up into a ball, but it's just not like work. We've had folk in every night his week. Last night's unofficial Wednesday night out-of-the-pub meeting was grand, with so many new faces and great atmosphere. Tonight it was the same feeling, with number of knitters just popping in and staying on the couch all night. Our original intention was that IKL would never be just a shop, but also a sanctuary, a living room away from home where you could chill out, have a drink and get on with your knitting without distraction (except to stop now and then for a piece of cake). I'm happy that knitters are finding it welcoming and warm(ish) and long may they continue to lounge amongst the Tilli Tomas. What better place could there be??
I've been adding a few more links over there on the right this week, which I've mentioned below. One project that I haven't linked to (because I can't find one) is the BBC led knitting for war veterans. They are supplying yarn and patterns so there's no excuse not to be involved. We'll try to post more info as and when , but for now we know they are aiming for 100 hats by December for those war vets from WW2 to the present day. If there's anyone who would also like to come down to Vauxhall for some filming as part of a BBC documentary about the project then please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
One more addition to the blog is our message board. We've had this for a while over on MySpace but didn't advertise it much, but the link is now over there too >>> come over and chat to us or other knitters whenever you like.
For those following the pink baby jacket fiasco, for my beautiful niece Cassie, then it's bad news I'm afraid. I was using a pattern from a book in the shop, just flicking to the right page and doing it bit by bit. Of course, I never thought someone might want to buy the book. Now I'm patternless and whilst we wait to reorder the whole thing becomes a distant memory. Poor thing. Am I just the worst godfather ever....6 months and still no knitted bootees or owt.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
News, PIt Bar and charity knitting
It's a bit slow here at work today, David Schwimmer and Simon Pegg are filming outside on the river bank but can't spot any stars so came back inside and fiddled with the blog somewhat. I've added some more links down the right for some our favourite knitting sites and blogs, plus some non-knitters that we like. There's also a new list of charity knitting projects - the success of the Knit A River campaign has proved that knitting can make a difference, raise awareness and create change, however small. If you've been inspired to knit blue squares perhaps you'd also be inclined to use your needles for good with one of the other projects listed. There are so many charity knitters out there we'll add more as we go along.
Most of the posts below should have photos attached, so if you've been reading and it doesn't quite make sense without a pic then bear with us. I'm having no luck at all posting pictures from the Retro Bar Halloween party and the last I Knit London meeting in Pitcher & Piano.....frustrated but determined to get them up!
Monday, November 06, 2006
Vintage pattern library.
Spent most of the few days finally sorting out our vintage patterns. We have over a thousand gorgeous, unique, hideous and unforgettable bits of knitting from the 1940s through to the 1980s and they are all now neatly sorted into ladies, mens, boys and girls, babies and accessories. And, believe me there's some real gems...all are available to copy and take away if you're feeling adventurous, and there's also some really great, wearable stuff especially from the 50s and 60s that I'd love to see someone have a go at. I've also registered our collection of pattern books on www.bookcrossing.com - this is something I've been doing for about 3 years, leaving books in the wild and following them on their journey. If you're not precious about your books set them free. It's like a free global library and I love the whole randomness of the thing.
I'll be putting a selection of patterns up on the website shortly and we're also going to have some free patterns available to print off from the collection. Feel free to send any requests or pop into the shop for a browse or inspiration. Thanks to Esther in particular who supllied a number of old patterns, and especially to the charity shops in Carlisle that I raided on my last trip home.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Where the boys are...
Just before that all comes over a bit masculinist (?) we, of course, also welcome the ladies at any time...in fact there was a lady amongst us last night. Just a disclaimer, lest you thought we were femophobes. Am I making these words up? Anyhow, we have enough meetings in the shop, the pub, the Old Vic Pit Bar etc that whoever you are, whatever your persuasion, whether you knit or purl you're welcome anytime.
Talking of which, that leads me neatly on to this brilliant headline form yesterday's London Paper. It's a really disturbing story, and reported with the usual stereotypical tabloid undercurrents, not least the fact that Martina isn't just a "tennis star", she's a "lesbian tennis star". Ah well, it's the 21st century after all, things haven't changed that much. I'm more intrigued by trying to get hold of some gay rams' wool, I'm sure it just knits up into something fabulous.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
about last night
Last night, however, (at first I laughed off suggestions that we were cursed!) the knitting club did not run smoothly, at least in the beginning.
Firstly, Salvador and Amanda being the pretentious eejits I should have known them to be cancelled our booking as they didn't want knitters in their bar. That's Salvador and Amanda near the Photographers Gallery, please boycott and tell as many people you can to do the same. Then, after hastily arranging to go to The Soho Theatre Bar we found out that it was closed for a refurb! So we just though we would go back to one of our favourite bars, The Crown and 2 Chairmen as it is just a few doors away from bar number 2.
I arrived a little later than usual as I had printer problems - trying to print out directions to bar number 3 that I could post on the door of bar number 2.
I got to bar number 3 to find some unhappy knitters not knitting. The upstairs bar we wanted in bar number 3 was being used for a private function and we didn't like the downstairs bar - dark, smoky, noisy, packed etc etc. I was, understandably, a little confused by all the toing and froing. I don't usually mind toing and froing as chaos is often refreshing and I believe in the saying 'you know you're alive when you are fighting'.
We made the decision to move to bar number 4, The Pitcher and Piano, which was just opposite, still on Dean Street. I told the bar staff and the door staff of 2 and 3 and I even posted some information about where we were around the entrance to bar number 3.
We had a great night in the end, after much carrying of heavy chairs from the upstairs bar which they wouldn't open.
I am really sorry to those of you who couldn't find us. We were there and although it seemed like there was a strong force against us we managed after a few vodkas to overcome it. There were about 20 of us knitting eventually.
I even learned to crochet (above) and have just about finished my hat (below), although judging by some of the reactions to my gorgeous kid mohair yarn I don't think I will be in possession of the hat for very long.
The divine Sue Powell taught me to crochet. Sue will be teaching crochet in the shop soon so if you are interested let us know as places will be much sought after, I have no doubt.
So, to recap, a million apologies for this week's meeting being a little messy. I'll bring cake to the next pub meeting to make up for it.
Knit on - don't let anything get in your way!
Join the UK Forum for Non-Violence and ask for peace
The aim is to create a huge human peace sign like the one below in Budapest.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Dancing with dead pop stars...
Ah, Halloween, don't you just love it? I spent most of the evening teaching a witch how to cast on (not a personal insult, just a descriptive term you understand) and telling the local kids that I didn't have any sweets and I certainly didn't have any money! I realised I'm officially an old git too when I found myself getting irritated by the seventh time it happened - I wouldn't mind but when I used to trick or treat we dressed up but we weren't that scary - is it just me or are some of the costumes these days just too realistic? I hate those bloody Scream masks cos they scare the pants off me, and those axes stuck in kids' heads are just not that funny! Or are they?
After closing the shop at 9 I cycled over to the Retro Bar for the Halloween party. You can almost guarantee a better class of fancy dress when there's a few gayboys involved, what with the scope for drag and make-up. We were just lame and didn't make the effort but the place was full of dead pop stars (a few pics below) and packed. Bloody funny (no pun intended) but 19 out of 20 in the pop quiz still wasn't enough to win. Some eerily good turns too, it was like rock hell (John Denver was obviously lost) and not an Elvis in sight.
[Photos will be inserted here when I get it to work]
Once home it was just time to watch the original Halloween movie. It's one of my favourite films, really creepy, and it's got one of the shortest but best knitting scenes in cinema history. Jamie Lee knits away while her mates are all being slaughtered across the street, but gets her revenge later when she plunges one of her needles into the side of Michael Myers' head. Nice. Always have your knitting ready in case of attack by a demented serial killer I say.