updated: UK knitting events 2015

Each year, usually around November, I put up a post of the major knitting events coming up for the year. There are so many knitterly and yarny events happening that’s it’s just about impossible to capture all of them, but I try to keep track of the larger events spanning a day or more, that people are likely to travel outside their immediate area for.

The annual round up is one of my most popular posts, and I know that it works as a very useful reference for myself when I’m planning which events to attend in the coming year, so I hope that other people find it useful also.

We might only be a few months in to the year, but there has been so much happening in terms of events, that I thought it might be helpful to do an update. When I first posted this year’s events, there were a number of unconfirmed dates for gatherings that were still in the planning stages. Since this time some events have in fact been confirmed, and some have been cancelled. We can’t have you planning your year’s schedule around outdated information, right?

When planning out my yarny schedule for the year I like to print out the list so I can check dates, book leave, and track the applications for the events that I’ve applied to.  However copying from the blog post isn’t straightforward, as there’s some coding that gets in the way.  I’ve therefore put it all together in a handy little pdf for your ease of viewing.

Download the travelknitter guide to uk knitting events 2015

I hope you find it helpful, and please do let me know what you think.

on interactions and community

The title of this blog post is the first theme in the brand new “Love Your Blog” challenge hosted by A Playful Day.

love your blog creativity challenge with A Playful Day

I don’t often get involved in blog challenges, but this one clearly speaks to me.  I think there have been many knitting bloggers reflecting on how our blogs have been falling by the wayside, sometimes as life gets in the way, but also pushed aside as we all interact on quicker, more immediate social media platforms.  Well, no more!  Let this be the start of a knitting blog resurgence!

The theme is also particularly relevant to what I wanted to post about anyway, and ties in very neatly with what I’ve been thinking about.

I’ll mention a couple of events that I’ve been to in the last few weeks that are definitely all about community.

First up was the recent Edinburgh Yarn Fest where I ran the p/hop stall, fundraising for Medecins Sans Frontieres/ Doctors Without Borders.  I think one of the major achievements of the organisers (Jo and Mica) was the way in which they were able to facilitate a real sense of community at the event.  There were plenty of spaces for people to meet and relax informally (such as the Podcasters Lounge) as well as a hilarious Ca-Baa-ret on the Saturday evening.  Social media has been abuzz for weeks now with people sharing their experiences of the weekend, whether stash enhancing or selfies of meeting knitting heros and the like.  It was the sort of event that absolutely brought people together.

phop at eyf

My own experience of the event was shaped by my work in running the p/hop stall.  Somehow I managed to not leave the stall for more than half an hour over the whole weekend, which meant that my interactions were based entirely on whoever stopped by.  Luckily I had a wonderful team of volunteers helping out, and I got to meet loads of p/hop supporters.

I had loads of help from Heather, who was an absolute gem and was great fun to hang out with.  We had a brilliant time getting creative with the stall layout, using only what I had in my suitcase and what Heather could find the Asda next door.  Mop handles for the win!

It was the first time that we’d met “in real life” so as we were getting to know each other, we had a conversation that went something like this:

Heather:  So you knit then?

Me:  Well yes, sort of, in theory, but not so much in reality these days.  I don’t seem to find the time for actual knitting any more.

Heather:  I see (looking dubious).

Me:  I do lots of knitting-related things though.  I dye yarn, I organise two knitting groups, I co-ordinate p/hop, and I go to lots of knitting events.  I don’t knit much anymore, but I still seem to hang out with knitters a lot.

Heather:  Ah, so you’re a knitting groupie then!

(much chuckling followed).

It was a funny conversation, but there’s also an element of truth behind it.

I do find myself somehow very actively involved in this thing that we call the knitting community.  Pretty much all of my online interactions of any kind revolve around knitting, whether on blogs, Twitter, or Ravelry.  My so-called “free” time is also largely spent on knitting activity.  I organise two knitting groups here in London, both of which I set up as a way to bring together knitters from different sections of the community.  You might think that going to two knitting groups gives me lots of dedicated knitting time, but it doesn’t seem to work out that way!  Co-ordinating p/hop involves a significant part of my week, with much of this time spent connecting with other knitters around the UK and around the world, whether online or face to face at various knitting events.  I feel pretty privileged to have the opportunity to be surrounded by so many inspiring people.

Somehow being involved in the knitting community is something that really resonates with me, and has turned out to be something I devote a great deal of time to, even if it means I don’t have much time left to knit.

Where I don’t quite make the grade as a “knitting groupie”  though is that I’m really rather shy, and I’m horrendously bad at taking the first step to introduce myself to people, especially if they’re a designer or dyer who is well-known.  I have that little voice that questions “why on earth would they want to speak to me?”  So there are no knitting celebrity selfies for me, I’m afraid.

 

Spring Break

Last week I helped out at the wonderful craft night, The Make Escape.  If you don’t already know about it, it’s a fantastic (and free!) evening for adults to get creative and crafty in East London – think paper, glue and sequins!  Each event has a theme around which the crafty projects are based, with this event being Spring Break.  Regardless of the theme, there is always a space for knitting, and this was where I spent the evening teaching people how to knit.

The Make Escape

It really was a whole heap of fun!  Also teaching that night were the lovely Kareem  and my good friend (and incredibly talented) Sarah.  I lost count of how many people we “recruited” in to the wonderful world of knitting, but it was certainly a few.  I was quite chuffed to be able to teach continental to a couple of knitters too; one who was left-handed, and another who was struggling to grasp English-style throwing when it didn’t connect with her memories of watching her mum knit.  I showed her how to hold the yarn in her left hand (just like her mum) and so  it made a lot more sense for her.

Not bad for a knitting groupie eh?

I think that this post has helped me start to make sense of where I fit in this amazing knitting community.  While you may not be seeing many WIPs or FOs on this blog, I’m starting to think that it’s OK.  There might actually be a place, and a space, for me in this great big knitting community whether I “actually knit” or not.

first event for the year

Edinburgh Yarn Fest - I'm going

Well, the planning for this year’s yarn shows has begun in earnest.

I’m very excited that the first event I’ll be travelling to this year is the Edinburgh Yarn Fest on March 14-15th.  It is a biannual event, and this will be my first time going.  I’m not entirely sure what to expect, other than it will be amazing!

Judging by the dicussions happening over on Ravelry and on Twitter, I’m not the only one getting excited.  People are travelling from far and wide (across the UK and Europe, and I’ve noticed that people are also travelling from the USA!) so it’s bound to be a special event.

I’ll be heading up for a very special reason: I’ll be loading up the suitcase full of knitting and crochet patterns and samples and I’ll be running the p/hop stall over the weekend.  Please do come along, say hi, and pick up a pattern or three.  If you’d like to stop for a couple of hours and help out on the stall, that would be great too!

2015 UK knitting events

The year is drawing to a close, and so it’s time to bring you the list of UK knitting events for 2015.  Once again we’ve got an impressive lineup for the year ahead, and the list just gets bigger every year.  Unfortunately that results in a few duplications over weekends, but that just takes a bit more planning.   Who’s excited?

Confirmed events for 2015:

18 Jan
20-22 Feb
5-8 March
14-15 March
27-28 March
25-26 April
9 May
15-16 May
16-17 May
16-17 May
23 May
30-31 May
26-27 June
25-26 July
7-8 Aug
15 Aug
11-13 Sept
26-27 Sept
26-27 Sept
26 Sep-4 Oct
7-11 Oct
17-18 Oct
29 Oct-1 Nov
26-29 Nov
Waltham Abbey Wool Show Waltham Abbey, Essex
Unravel Farnham Maltings, Farnham, Surrey
Spring Knitting and Stitching Show  Olympia, London
Edinburgh Yarn Festival Edinburgh, Scotland
p-LUSH  Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Wonderwool Wales Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, Powys, Wales
Wharfe Wool Fair Otley Courthouse, West Yorkshire
I Knit Fandango Lindley Hall, London (new event!)
John Arbon Textiles Open Weekend South Molton, Devon
FOFEST  Exeter, Devon  (UPDATE: cancelled until 2016)
Highland WoolFest Dingwall Mart, Scotland
Proper Woolly   Holsworthy, Devon  (new event!)
Woolfest Mitchells Lakeland Livestock Centre, Cockermouth, Cumbria
Fibre-East Redborne Community College, Ampthill, Bedfordshire
British Wool Show (previously British Wool Weekend) York Auction Mart
Popup Wool Show  The Oval Leisure Centre, Bebington, Cheshire
Bristol Wool Fair Clifton and Durdham Downs, Bristol
Yarndale Skipton Auction Mart, Skipton, Yorkshire
Masham Sheep Fair  Masham, Yorkshire
Shetland Wool Week Shetland
Knitting and Stitching Show Ally Pally, London
Bakewell Wool Gathering Bakewell Agricultural Centre, Bakewell, Derbyshire
Geeky Puffin Knitpalooza (retreat with one-day market) Edinburgh (new!)
Knitting and Stitching Show Harrogate, Yorkshire
Possible events:
There are a few events that may well be held again next year, but details are still to be confirmed.  However I know people are chomping at the bit to start planning for next year, so I had to get this blog post published sooner rather than later.

Unwind, held in July 2014 at the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange, Brighton UPDATE: not being held in 2015

Glasgow School of Yarn held in October 2014 in Glasgow

Festiwool, held in November 2014 at North Herts College, Hitchin, Hertfordshire

Time to start preparing the shortlist of the events that I’ll get to in 2015!  What’s on your must-see list?

a knitter’s trip to Berlin

Last weekend was the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.  I have vague memories of watching the news as a kid and seeing the wall come down, but unfortunately I was still in primary school so my knowledge at the time was limited.   However ever since then I’ve had a keen interest in Berlin, and have wanted to go there for years.   I had even started planning a trip a couple of years ago, and have the travel guide on my bookshelf to prove it.  For some reason, I didn’t go.

So when my last birthday rolled around, the Amazing Molly knew it would be the perfect place to go for my birthday weekend.

I knew I’d love the city.  I just didn’t expect to love it quite so much.

Love love love.

autumn in Berlin

 

It just seems to have a mixture of everything I love in a city: that great clash of history and youthful energy, amazing creativity, lots of street food, incredible markets, and a public transport system that includes trams.  What’s not to love?

We were only there for a weekend, but I’d desperately love to go back for longer (and I have no doubt that I will).  Here is a bit of an overview of some of my favourite bits.

Whenever  I travel anywhere I do my research beforehand and try to find the best local yarn shops.  Unfortunately that’s a bit tricky for a weekend in Berlin, as pretty much everything is shut on a Sunday, and yarns shops tend to close early on a Saturday as well!  That’s a helpful bit of info I wish I’d known before I went.

So here’s a list of  yarn shops in Berlin, largely for my own reference for future visits:

  • Die Woll-Lust  Mittenwalder Str 49, Kreuzberg (open M-F 11am -7pm; Sat 11-5pm)
  • Boucle  Nassauische Str 11-12, Wilmersdorf (open M-F 11am – 7pm; Sat 10-3pm)
  • Fadeninsel Oranienstr 23, Kreuzberg (open M-F 10am-6pm; Sat 10am-4pm)
  • Handmade Berlin Monbijouplatz 9 (open M-F 12-7; Sat 12-5).

Handmade Berlin also do coffee, apparently.

 

Handmade Berlin

 

In between trekking across town to peer in windows of closed yarn shops, we found some lovely little vintage markets dotted around.  There was one (can’t remember the location!) that was full of beautiful mid-century furniture.  I love the way that there would be tiny little stalls that would specialise in just one item, like milking stools or vintage sewing boxes.

 

vintage sewing boxes

No trip to Berlin could be complete without spending some time getting to grips with some of the history of the wall.  Although much of it is now gone, there are sections that are still intact, including some that ironically now have to be protected themselves.

We went to this section of the wall, known as the “death strip” as so many people tried to make the crossing through “no man’s land” between the two walls.

Berlin wall marker

 

IMG_4880

It’s so powerful to see the tracks marked out where people built tunnels to try to escape, now delineated through freshly mown grass.

Right nearby is the amazing Mauerpark Flea Market, which I believe is quite a Sunday institution.   It is definitely one of the biggest markets I’ve ever been to!  Every time we turned a corner, we would think “ah, this must be the end!” only to be faced with yet more stalls ahead of us.

IMG_4859

Vintage buttons: my favourite rummage.

vintage buttons

It has an amazing array of general jumble, furniture, clothes, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.  I could have happily bought enough vintage furniture to fill a whole house, but had to be more restrained.

We quite happily had a rummage through tubs of these and came home with a carry bag of knobs for a fraction of the price at Anthropologie:

 

IMG_4862

There are still market stalls selling pieces of “the wall”, but bear in mind that it is now estimated to have been sold three or four times over by now!

The market completely wore us out, but over to the side of the park is an open-air auditorium where street performers ply their trade to huge audiences.  It was amazing.  We originally just went to have a sit down for a while before doing more sight-seeing, but the performers were so good that we spent the rest of the afternoon there, and gave up  on the rest of the sight-seeing that we’d planned.

Next time, next time.

(PS  If you like Trippen shoes, I found the factory outlet store at Kopenicker Str 187-188, Kreuzberg.  Nearest U-bahn Schlesisches Tor.  Keep it a secret until I get to go back again).

Gods Own Junkyard: a Walthamstow institution

more neon

 

For the past year or so I’ve been very very lucky to live only a short walk from Gods Own Junkyard  (yes, I’m fighting the urge to put in an apostrophe).  If you don’t know about it, it’s an amazing place filled to the rafters with nothing but neon.  It’s all the work of the Chris Bracey, who has been the go-to person for neon signs for the past few decades, ranging from the stripclub signs of Soho through to just about every neon sign that you’ll see in a film.  His work is just amazing, and you can even see it in Selfridges Oxford Street.

 

GOJY at Selfridges

 

I’ve been meaning to put together this blog post for a long time.   Sadly I’ve been prompted to post it now as Chris Bracey died last weekend.  Of course, I found out on twitter:

 

twitter screenshot

 

I was pleased to hear that his family will be keeping Gods Own Junkyard open and I hope you’re inspired to visit.  I’ve taken so many friends there, and no-one has been disappointed.  You can even stop and have a drink at the cafe while you’re there.  It will definitely brighten up a London winter’s day.

 

gojy

 

when I’m not knitting

My knitting time has been steadily decreasing to a point where it’s pretty much non-existent.  So many other things (ie work!) get in the way.  I know that lots of knitters are able to use any spare scraps of time to fit in a few rows here and there, but I just don’t seem to be able to do that.  For me, knitting is a creative process, and I find that I just can’t be creative when my head is full with so much other stuff. 

I may not be knitting, but I’m still doing knitting-related things.

I’m involved in one rather large project in particular:  I’ve just recently started as the co-ordinator for p/hop!

 

phop-logo

 

For those who aren’t familiar with p/hop, it stands for “pennies per hour or pleasure”.  It’s an amazing fundraising project that raises money for Medecins Sans Frontieres, and its success is entirely down to donations from within the knitting and crochet community.  Everything element of the project is community driven:  designers donate patterns, and knitters then “purchase” a pattern, making a donation of what they feel the pattern is worth.   We have stalls at knitting and fibre events across the country to help spread the word.  Knitters also offer their time and skills to whip up samples of the patterns to help promote the designs.  And then someone volunteers to co-ordinate it all and keep it ticking over.  And now that someone is me!

P/hop is such a unique project, and to date has raised over £47 000 for MSF’s work.  There are now 60 amazing patterns available, so if you’re looking for a new project to cast on, be sure to head over and take a look.

Oh, and if you see me at knit night or at a festival still carrying around the same half-finished sock from months ago, I promise that I’m still very much involved in knitting, even if I’m not actually doing it much anymore.