Saturday, October 13, 2007

Too Much Yarn Stimulation!

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!

Oh my!

Oh gosh!

Ooooh, ALPACA!

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?

Wanda, WANDA, where are you? I've found her! I've found Robynn of Purlescence for you!

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.


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!


Sallie said...

Thank you so much for taking us on tour with you to Ally Pally. It looks like it was a lot of fun. Love the yarn you picked up. Beautiful colors.

pacalaga said...

So pretty! Ironically, I was just on the Cherry Tree Hill website this morning and LOVED that Tropical Storm colorway. Alas, my LYS didn't have it when I went to look - had to go with Green Mountain instead. And then I decided on the way home that I'd knit something from my stash for the friend's baby and keep the CTH all for me!
Looks like you had a WONDERFUL time!

Cornflower said...

Thanks Jo - I was just waiting to read your report, but what is this "idea"/"novel approach" you have up your Halfobi sleeve? Do tell!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful time! Thanks for sharing it with us. And I also just got "The Opinionated Knitter" -- it made its way here in the suitcase of a friend of a friend along with enough yarn for a baby surprise jacket (for the baby of a different friend of the friend).

Anonymous said...

Your tour of the Knit & Stitch brings back memories - I can't believe it was nearly a year ago that I was in Dublin and got to meet you! You know, you might consider submitting a design to Yarn Forward to help them on their way - how about the lace cardigan you just finished? What fun it would be to see you a published designer!

Ambermoggie, a fragrant soul said...

when I said I had enough Colinette I think I must have been half asleep Jo, how can anyone have enough of her yarn? Looks like you had a great day out and you were very restrained my dear, do you need a doctor perchance??

Anonymous said...

Great tour of the London show!

I did the same thing for the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham...early morning departure, late evening return Dublin to Birmingham...will do it again next year! Plus it is only a free monorail and a walk to the NEC...nearly did it for the knitting show too...

Lena's knitting shop in Limerick is carrying hand dyed Araucania sock yarn now!! Could have knocked me over with a feather to see actual sock yarn in the local shop!!

LaurieM said...

Chronicals of Yarnia! Ha! I laughed out loud. It looks like you had a fabulous trip Jo. Very reminiscent of the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair. Only you can ask someone about the sweater on their back at that show. And take pictures with no fear too!

Barbara-Kay said...

Oh, what a jolly good time you had. Thanks for the write up. Although I've been in London, and remember those extremely long tube escalators, I had no idea there was such a yarn show there. Wow!

Charity said...

Thanks so much for the virtual tour, Jo! Looks like sooo much fun! :0)

jill said...

Fiber conferences across the waters! I just got back from two days at the Stitches show here in Baltimore, MD, USA. The sensory overload, the people, the petite sample skeins of malabrigo laceweight (they know how to put the needle in the vein...).

And you got to meet Robynn in person! Oh, jealous. She and I have been corresponding about me writing up a pattern for her Storytellers line - I'm working on it, Robynn! Really! It's the math...

Anyway, sorry for the effusive first comment - I've been reading your back catalogue for a bit and love your voice, spirit, and the lovely photos of Ireland (I went there as a child and always have wanted to return. Someday!).

Angeluna said...

Great virtual visit to Ally Pally! Almost like I was there, well, I did say almost.

Your Halfobi is FANTASTIC! Did anyone stop you to tell you so??? I can't imagine they didn't.

Since I'm planning to knit half the things in the Kimono book (glad you got it), we shall have to compare a lot of notes.

And BTW, I couldn't resist getting some of the leftover stock from Wool in the Woods, including, what else, that Twin Twist. Think it is going to be socks.

rho said...

Oh dear I would so suck at not talking to people with super things on -- I would fell so rejected by the end of the day wouldn't I?

Tropical Storm - I love Tropical Storm - have some to make socks with - of course I bought all the sock yarn that Cherry Tree Hill has - I think I really really like Cherry Tree Hill don't you?

Love love love your top and you are going to love Knit Kimono I keep going I want to make that and that and that - the only other book I feel like that about is Wrapped in Comfort - oh I do love that book.

Sounds like it was super duper!!!

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely exhausted just reading of your foray!!! And very jealous of all that fabulous fiber! What is queued up first?

Holly said...

lovely trip report. See? There was a reason they made us do that in school (grin).

Had not realized that UK Knitters are so reticent to talk to strangers. If I have my act together next year - we should meet at Stansted and go from there.

Artis-Anne said...

Oh thanks Jo for the trip around A P; I certainly wouldn't have had the energy to go from here even!! even if I was offereed a free trip by our local TV !!. No way could I cope with all the crowds and you amaze me , NO chatter on the trains from other knitters ?!! Now I must ask about that book 'Knit Kimono ' is it good ? I have been eyeing it up

Anonymous said...

Lovely report, Jo; too many things to comment on! Your Halfobi looks fantastic (both on and off). Colinette booth...I'm turning bright chartreuse with envy at you just getting to see such a thing. ;) And the Yarnia poster was a great giggle. Glad you had fun! (Did any of the crowd ever loosen up? [g])

I'm really, really thinking we have to make a plan to kidnap you in June for Black Sheep Gathering. Can't you imagine you, me, Ms. K and umpteen Portland Knit Bloggers caravanning down from Portland to Eugene to a fiber festival? C'mon, you know you want to... [eg] (We'd simply have to get a hotel and stay two days. Posilutely. Think fast, they're also having Olympic trials in Eugene at the same time, they're warning people about hotel availability already!)

Spinningfishwife said...

I don't know where you get this "no touchee, no askee" thing from. We do it all the time up here in Scotlamnd. Or perhaps it's just the English? Wierd....

Looks like a great show. I'm going next year. I'll be 50 on the same week and Hubby said "Party?" Nope, I'd rather have the money for a trip down south. See you there!

Marianne said...

Jo, for starters... the Halfobi is absolutely stunning! GORGEOUS!

Thanks for taking us all along with you, what a place! and all the lovely goodies to see and all the wonderful folks!

Ronni said...

What fun! I wish I could have really been there but that tour was definitely a very close second best. Thanks! (Next year maybe.)

Angela Cox said...

Oh my goodness eye candy upon more eye candy !! Waving to you and Gill ...I love "Tropical Storm "too . I will pop over to Gill tomorrow . I am working on my new site ( it's a long story). How can anyone have too much Colinette..but then Amber does have a lot on her mind. The postal strikes are driving me nuts Jo ...I want to order but a book took three months !

KimK said...

Oh, thank you for taking us along with you ... what fun! Now I don't feel so jealous of all the fiber shows that I can't get to. :)

Anonymous said...

Drool, drool, drool!

HPNY KNITS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HPNY KNITS said...

ahhhhh! ally pally sounds so lovely! I wish I could be in all the fiber fun all over! and the Noro top looks cute!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful picture-heavy report from AP. I think some US knitters need to come back to the homeland and loosen up the British knitters. I can't imagine not using the "knitter's handshake" - touching the sleeve or hem of a beautiful sweater and exclaiming "Did you knit THIS???"

The Halfobi is beautiful and an inspiration for my winter knitting - just the thing for the office!

Anonymous said...

Whew! Let's take a few deep breaths after that fantastic tour. Your writing skill makes it so enjoyable; thanks, Jo!

I love your halfobi! Especially the colors. So glad you finished it in time. Congratulations!

Dez Crawford said...

First, the Halfobi is BEAUTIFUL.

I have some Noro in that colorway and I've been debating how to knit it up -- now, you've inspired me to do a side-to-side design with it.

Chartreuse. That would be the shade of green I am, enying your trip to Ally Pally. Thanks ever so much for taking us along.

Still drooling over the Colinette booth. And I adore that tropical storm colorway. Just adore it.

I am so glad for you that you had SO much fun. That crazywork vest was stunning. I would have gone right up and tugged on her sleeve, Southerner that I am -- even more brash then the average American. :-)

Oooh, and a champagne bar. Perfect.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't used them before, you will love the Susanne's needles. I have several sets, ebony and rosewood; they are my needles of choice. Try warming a little bee's wax salve in your hands, then rubbing it on the needles the first time you use them; you might want to do it more than once. Then, as you knit with them, the finish will get smoother and smoother--really lovely, and they've got great points, too.

Cindy/Snid said...

Phew! Wow, sounds like a great trip, although being the brash American that I am, I suspect I would have been chatting people up anyway! Lovely yarns and such and we can always use a good new knit magazine!!!

So, did you have some Champagne? Was it good? ;)

Cindy/Snid said...

Oh! I almost forgot! Your jacket looks absolutely beautiful on you!!!!!!

Lindy said...

Wonderful report! Looking forward to the Dublin K&S Show. Maybe just as well it is smaller and not so much temptation there!

I love Cherry tree hill yarns. Knitted 6 pairs of socks from the Woolly Workshop sock club. (See photos in Ravelry)

Rosie said...

I was approached by an elderly lady at Potters bar Station who tunred out to be a ticket tout! She came up to me and the ladies I was chatting to with "have you ladies got tickets?"...she was a group organiser with tickets going spare and I got one for £8!

As for the lady in the lovely waistcoat, well, I heard rumours that Prudence Mapstone had been helping out on the Knit and Relax stand. I missed her but you really should have said hello!

Did you fondle the qiviut at, mmmmmm

Ha! Google word verifiction has just asked my to type "bigod" that a coment on Ally Pally?

Tracy said...

What a delightful trip! I admire your purchasing restraint in the midst of all that splendor. I, alas, am not so strong--I'm staying away from Rhinebeck this year (despite living just a couple hours away) because it would be just. too. dangerous.

Thanks for a virtual trip! I can do all my drooling without damage to the pocketbook.

Roggey said...

It looks like you had a fantastic time!

Did you pick up any sea silk that you're not telling us about? =)

Pat said...

Ooooooh, you lucky thing. My plan to get to the show fell apart and I never got there.

In a fit of jealous pique I am tagging you with a bookish meme that has been going round. Feel free to pass on it if you wish, but it's quite an interesting one


Terrie D. (StarSpry) said...

Your Halfobi jacket looks great! Your trip sounds great :)

Unknown said...

:) I see we had many of the same stops!
I had to go back the next day, as I had been an idiot and bought a single skein of alpaca silk sock wool instead of two. My bank balance suffered...

Love the photos!

Dez Crawford said...

Jo, I thougt of you tonight. The Ghost Hunters were at Leap Castle.

We do have the banshee on my mother's maternal side.