- One skein of Travelknitter Merino DK in the colourway of your choice
- One ebook of the full collection
- Two digital copies of the Lulworth Cove pattern
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
26 Sep-4 Oct
29 Oct-1 Nov
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
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
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!
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.
The current horrendous UK weather has prompted this post. The wind and rain reminds me of what we experienced last year on a little week away in Cornwall. It was in March, which can have quite lovely spring weather, but last year it was the second coldest on record. The seaside isn’t really my location of choice for a week of wind, hail, sleet and snow! Trying to make the most of a holiday around all that weather was quite a challenge at times.
Anyway, we booked a lovely little apartment called Puffins in the middle of Falmouth. If you’re looking for a modern apartment in a perfect location, then it completely fits the bill. A fondness of puffins really is recommended though, as the decor is very puffin-focused, right down to puffin salt and pepper shakers. But who doesn’t love puffins, right?
Our apartment had a great view however, with double height windows:
Due to The Amazing Molly having a work emergency to tend do, I was left to my own devices for a couple of days. My Plan A for the holiday had fallen in a heap, as there was no way in the world that I was going to do any coastal walks. Plan B was then to come up with ways to spend time in Falmouth during crap weather.
Here are my recommendations, in no particular order:
Go to a pub with a bookshop! This place was such an unexpected find. The entrance to Beerwolf Books looks like an interesting old boozer…
then you go up the staircase, to discover a lovely pub with a bookshop at the back. Sheer genius. Seriously, why doesn’t every town have one of these? I could spend a lot of time somewhere like that.
When there is a short respite from the rain and the howling winds, go for a little walk to the next town over, Penryn. Stock up on supplies at the Bailey’s Country Store Farm Shop (I got a slice of fantastic egg and bacon pie to eat on the go, and I got some frozen homity pies to eat later. Seriously, the only two places in the world I’ve ever found homity pies are Cornwall and Tasmania. There’s a huge gap in the market, hint hint. I could live on the potato-and-cheese goodness forever).
Then have a nice cup of tea and a bit of cake at Miss Peapod’s Cafe. The focus is on local and organic food, and I managed to snaffle a comfy couch just when there was a rare patch of sunshine coming in.
The cafe is part of Jubilee Wharf, a great multi-use eco-development in Penryn. Jubilee Wharf is also home to various workshops, studios, alongside flats on the top floor. I had a look around some lovely clothing and jewellery studios.
When you have some company again (The Amazing Molly eventually returned), stop by Dolly’s Tea Rooms for a delicious cocktail served in a teapot and teacups. Tasty! They’re also now hosting a knitting evening once a month, but I only discovered this a day too late to attend myself.
On the topic of knitting, there’s a traditional “wool shop” in town, The Wool Basket. I thought it would be just the place for something more on the novelty yarn end of the spectrum, and indeed it was, so I picked up something suitable for knitting an easter bunny. Worked a treat, and the staff were very lovely actually,
Falmouth actually has a great selection of little independent shops, with a good range of interesting, handmade products, as well as a good smattering of vintage furniture shops. There are also lots of art galleries to spend time browsing in, but I didn’t take any photos of those to show you.
In a nutshell, Falmouth is a lovely little place, that somehow manages to combine Cornish fishing history with tourism and university students. I’m sure it’s at its best in summer, but even in the depths of an unexpected winter, it’s a great spot.
It’s that time of year again where we pull out our trusty diaries and plan for the year ahead of knitting and fibre events, right? Or is that just me?
I’ve pulled together a list of all the major knitting events in the UK for 2014, and some of these dates are hot off the press. Calendars at the ready..
19 Jan Waltham Abbey Wool Show Marriott Hotel, Waltham Abbey (new event!)
21-23 Feb Unravel Farnham Maltings, Farnham, Surrey
13-16 March Knitting and Stitching Show Olympia, London
26-27 April Wonderwool Wales Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, Powys, Wales
24 May Highland Wool Festival Dingwall Mart, Scotland (new event!)
27-28 June Woolfest Mitchells Lakeland Livestock Centre, near Cockermouth, Cumbria
12-13 July Unwind Brighton Dome Corn Exchange Brighton (new event!)
26-27 July Fibre-East Redborne Community College, Ampthill, Bedfordshire
5-7 Sept Bristol Wool Fair exact location in Bristol tbc. (new event!)
6-7 Sept British Wool Weekend The Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate
27-28 Sept Yarndale Skipton Auction Mart, Skipton, Yorkshire
16 Aug Popup Wool Show The Oval Leisure Centre, Bebington, Cheshire (new event!)
9-12 Oct Knitting and Stitching Show Ally Pally, London
6-12 Oct Shetland Wool Week Shetland
18-19 Oct Bakewell Wool Gathering Bakewell Agricultural Centre, Bakewell
2 Nov Festiwool North Herts College, Hithin, Hertfordshire (new event!)
20-23 Nov Knitting and Stitching Show Harrogate
Please note that the Edinburgh Yarn Festival will be taking a wee break this year, and are planning a bigger event for March 2015.
I’m amazed at how many new yarn and fibre based events keep springing up all over the country. And every one is different, with a different theme, focus, atmosphere, and fabulous vendors. I’m trying to work my way round them all, but there’s just so many to choose from! I might visit the new Unwind event in Brighton this year (good excuse for a weekend away) and my dream is to get to Shetland Wool Week one day. Maybe this year? Because we all know that knitters DO travel.
That means that the prize goes to commenter number two, that is Linda! Please do get in touch with your details, and I’ll get your prize in the post to you. Happy new year!