I'm back, I'm back from the Knit & Stitch Show at Ally Pally, more dead than alive! Did the trip in one day there and back - the alternative being to stay overnight in some crowded and expensive hotel. Much nicer to leave damp West Cork in the dim light of dawn, fly across to London, dive in head first, extricate myself, and arrive home in the soft darkness of evening. But it was pretty exhausting. Hence no blog until today. Lecturing this morning (to journalism students), and now, at last, in front of the computer to take you all on a virtual tour of the show. Anyone, therefore, who couldn't make it down from Lancashire, across the Atlantic, up from the West Country, or even out from Ireland, hop on my blog bus and let's go
Oh - before you get on board - look, look, I finished the Halfobi jacket in time! What do you think?
There were times when it was not at all certain that it would be done before the day. That second side took forever, not least because of that confounded moss-stitch panel about which I'd been so excited. But at last we were on to the second sleeve and then down to the cuff, and finally, DONE!
Here it is being blocked. You might not be able to make out the moss stitch detail (try clicking on the picture and bringing it up a little larger), but as I said before, it's there, believe me it's there!
OK, enough delay. Off to Cork Airport, on to the Ryanair flight to Stansted. Thank heaven for low-fare airlines, even if they do rather resemble a crowded public bus. Off at Stansted, down to the train for London. Quick, we hop off here at Tottenham Hale instead of going right into the centre - it's much quicker to catch the Tube from here to Alexandra Palace.
Look, even here in the London Underground you can sense that something big and exciting is afoot. Hundreds of women in groups or alone, all clutching big holdalls or shopping trolleys, all heading for Ally Pally. Funnily enough though, given the surely strong link of crafts and stitching, nobody speaking to anybody else. Me I'm knitting away merrily, but although women glance, they look away again immediately. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten last year. Keeping my eyes down and not inviting rejections. But if it were the States, or Ireland, or any other part of Europe, the whole train would be talking, I'm sure of it.
Hmm? Oh, the Baby Bolero from the One Skein book. I'm making it in that ropelike cashmere/silk and it really is a delightful little project for a short trip. I got the whole body finished and one sleeve just on the outward journey.
OK, we're at Wood Green. Everybody off! Up that endless escalator to the street. Gosh, what crowds of women - and how silent. No chaffing, no calling out to each other, no excited babbling. Very restrained, the London crowds.
Oh help, just look at the queues for the courtesy bus. They're already stretching way way down the road. We'll never get there!
Silly me, I'd forgotten - got a London Transport day ticket along with the train ticket from Stansted Airport, so why don't we just jump the next bus to come along, and forget the courtesy service? There's one - quick!
Here we are at last, on a beautiful crisp autumn morning. Look at the crowds pouring in - will there be any room for us at all? Let's go! There's stash diving to do!
You know it really is rather a splendid location for the show. Just look at that soaring roof and the light pouring in. Like a gigantic conservatory. OK, OK, OK, I'm coming! Wait for me!
Knitting books! Those of you who live right down the road from Borders and Barnes & Noble and all the book-heavy LYSs may not realise what a jolt of adrenalin such a sight gives to someone from the Emerald Isle where if a bookshop has a craft section (by no means a given), it will just have something on DIY household repairs. Oh there's that one on Knitting Cuff to Cuff. Must get that. And Knit Kimono! Angeluna, you have that, don't you? Is it a good one to buy? OK, I will then.
Just look at the colours on the Colinette stand! No, Ambermoggie, you have quite enough already! You said you had and specifically asked me to hold you back! Didn't she, Artis-Anne?
Oh and here are some of my old friends, tried and trusted purveyors of yarn by post to West Cork.
Texere Yarns from Bradford -
And Uppingham Yarns from the tiny county of Rutland. It's always good to see these people in person, because no matter how good a website, it doesn't show those one-off unusual little cones of something exotic or strange which was lurking at the back of the shelf.
Oh Angie, Angie, come over here quick, look who I've found!
It's Gill from The Woolly Workshop, where you get all your lovely yarn! And who has she got with her but the legendary Cheryl from Cherry Tree Hill. They're working as a team for this show.
Cheryl tells me that Cherry Tree Hill has bought out Wool in the Woods which is exciting news. Yes, they'll be keeping that evocative name, and also many of the colourways. She just asked me to tell you that Wool in the Woods Lottery colors are now available on Cherry Tree Hill sock yarns for the first time - check out her website.
And look, they've got some of that divine Wool Twist on special OFFER!
Cheryl knows exactly how to get under my guard.
'Jo, these are the last EVER five skeins of the Wool Twist in that Tropical Storm colourway you love. Grab them while you can. If you don't use them all, you'll be able to sell them on eBay - they're collector's items now!'
Well what would you have done?
Ah, at last - THERE is Andy of H. W. Hammand, one of the last spinning mills in Yorkshire and indeed probably all of England (I said ENGLAND, Starmore, not Scotland. ENGLAND! Please don't start stirring up that cauldron...)
Not surprised to find him chatting up the glamour girls - in this case Jeni of Fyberspates, and aren't her handpainted skeins divine?
I hoped I 'd see her. She's got Ed's beautiful knitting needles and crochet hooks perfectly displayed at the front there.
Robynn was actually trying to cast on for a sock on one of Ed's circulars, but business was booming so much she hadn't got past the first few stitches. Such beautiful things she sells. Go check her website and see.
The place was jam packed. This was the first day and I can't imagine what it will be like this weekend. There were workshops and casual get-togethers all over the place, tucked in between the trade stands.
Good heavens, do you see that vest over there? How on earth is it made? Think she'll notice if we get a bit closer?
Looks like.... bits of knitting, linked together with i-cord - I think... If this were the USA I'd just tap her on the back and ask, but in London that's not considered polite.
Now here's something interesting.
A NEW KNITTING MAGAZINE!
Tracy from Hipknits (Kerrie wasn't there on the stand right then) explained that they felt there was a need in the UK for a really good magazine, on the lines of IK or VK, and I have to agree with them. The English publications are - well - sort of mumsy, a bit old-fashioned to my way of thinking, certainly not cutting-edge creative. All good luck to them with this venture - if I can do anything to help them I will. Go look at the Yarn Forward website and see what you think.
Listen, gang, I don't know about you but I'm exhausted and this bag is getting heavier by the minute. Anyone had enough? How's about we head for the Champagne Bar and then for the bus?
I bet Andy Hammand is inside there right now, with the London Stitch n Bitch gang.
Just look at this poster on the way in - The Chronicles of Yarnia. LOVE that!
It's kind of fun, this champagne bar for knitting. And it gives me an idea too. Something I think we could all do... No no, not necessarily fizz with the frogging or Veuve Cliquot with the vest, but a novel approach... Not now, though. Too tired. Talk about it next time. Let's look over the loot on the way home.
Yes, this is all the yarn I bought. I know, I know - but you don't realise the extent of the current Celtic Memory stash. Perhaps not quite visible from space, as Steph suggests, but getting close. How do you think I got on such good terms with all those wholesalers? Heck, I've put their kids through both school and college by this time! Besides which, I've gone beyond the individual ball concept and really prefer BIG cones or bundles these days. Can't be doing with deciding on three balls or four and then finding one more is needed - drives you mad. But isn't this Wool in the Woods beautiful? It's going to make that absolutely stunning vest from Knit Kimono - is it Dogi?
Speaking of which... It was purchases like these which weighed down my bag (thanks for helping me to carry it to the plane, Roggey, I know you feel the same about books).
Plus all three issues to date of Yarn Forward, which will provide bedside perusal for the next week or so.
And Elizabeth Zimmermann's Opinionated Knitter and her Almanac. I really enjoy EZ's writing - she reminds me of Virginia Woolf in full cry, a woman with that enviable possession, a free mind, well able to express her own views and opinions and consider them worth voicing.
Oh and these -
Lene, you've just finished making this baby jacket, haven't you? I didn't want to get a kit (see observations on Celtic Memory stash above), so was glad to find the pattern for sale on its own. And the ebony circular from Susanne is, as far as I know, the famed Holz & Stein under another name - made from the leftover scraps after grand pianos are crafted in Germany. The circular, by the way, is lying on 3 metres of embroidered fine cotton lawn, which I got, all 3 metres, for €5. How could I miss an offer like that. It will make a dramatic Russian high-necked blouse - Russian fashion is going to be big this winter, I prophesy.
Enough, enough. We're home. Let's kick off our shoes and have some cocoa. It was a great day out, but isn't it nice to be home again? And so many new ideas - so much fuel to add to the bonfire of ideas!