Sunday, 1 August 2010

Knit Nation - Saturday, Rav Party, verdict, and back to normal

A long day yesterday, which had some ups and downs, but ended very well with the great Rav Party.  Early start for me to get up to London in time for my 9am class with Marjan Hammink, a.k.a. Yarnissima.  This was 'A gathering of tricks' mixed with 'all about cables' because Marjan had stepped in at the last minute to take over for the absent Wendy Johnson, who suffered from a back problem and had to cancel.  There were 11 of us in the class, and I was surprised at how many of them were complete beginners.  Not just a couple of ladies who couldn't read charts, but people actually having trouble casting on, or knitting.  I would rate myself an advanced beginner, and there were a couple of obviously expert knitters, so the class went with those of us who were capable, just working our own way through the well presented handouts on how to do cables without cable needles, and Marjan working her way individually around the remainder helping them.  So she never really lectured the whole class, and you had to keep listening to what she was telling other people so that you didn't miss out on helpful hints.  Having said that, she was absolutely lovely and very helpful.  She had brought along several of her amazing socks, and had a helpful sample knitted up of all the stitches we were covering.  You can see my sampler in the pic, we covered right and left cables without a needle, then proceeded to a more complex braid, then traveling stitches etc. 

The great thing for me was that I now know how to do the twisted cable on my Eyelet Jumper without a cable needle!  This is a huge step forward as the instructions actually specify using two cable needles.  I had worked out how to do it with one cable needle, and now I don't need any!  Result.

So the class finished at 12, then I had to try to find my way out the building.  The classrooms were dotted at random around the enormous campus, mine was on the 7th floor of a building on the corner of the campus.  I took the lift to floor '0', which turned out to be the basement, then I tried floor '1', still no exit.  I was starting to feel trapped, so had to take the lift back to the 7th floor to ask the way out.  Which turned out to be floor '2'.  Go figure.  I headed back to the marketplace, quite busy now that it was a Saturday, and had another look around, then a nice chat with AlpacaAddict on the Knit & Crochet Guild Stand.  The raffle was called at 1:30 pm, I didn't win anything but the excitement was infectious as people crowded into the marketplace to listen to the numbers being called.

Then after that - nothing.  I now had six hours to kill before the Ravelry Party at 8 pm, and there was nothing to do and nowhere to go.  I queued up for about 20 minutes to eat in the single place available to eat on campus, the Library Cafe, which had run out of almost everything except jacket potatoes and fried chicken breasts.  There were several knitters outdoors on the windy terrace, but still nowhere inside to knit.  I hadn't signed up for an afternoon class.  It was very hot and humid, but I set off for Harrod's.  I hadn't been in there for 20 years on principle, but it has now been sold to new owners so I ventured in.  I was astonished to find it absolutely heaving with tourists and normal people, every floor was crowded with couples and their children, pushing buttons, picking things up, sitting on furniture, crowding into restaurants. It was like a theme park.  A far cry from 1998 when I was a bit scared to be in there because it was so exclusive.  However, no knitting department, and their toy section had a disappointing collection of Dollshouse Emporium houses and furniture, of all things.  You would have thought Harrods would have had some of the handmade houses and handcrafted furniture that Britain is so known for.  Then I went to the V&A museum and looked at the handknitted baby dress in the Victorian section, and at the pullout sheet of handknitting in the textile studies collection.  All in lace from sewing cotton, like fairies had knit them. 

By now I was very hot and bothered, so slowly made my way back to the campus where there was still nothing to do.  I even asked at the information desk if there was somewhere to knit inside, and they looked a bit baffled and hesitantly suggested the now-closed Library cafe.  There were only 2 other knitters in there and we were soon kicked out when the library closed.  I was seriously considering going home at this point rather than waiting another 2.5 hours for the Rav Party.  So I went and sat outside on the terrace (the only place left to go) where I was soon joined by Coralfin, a knitter from Paris, and we had a nice chat and ended up going for supper together.

Anyway, it was all worth it as the Ravelry Party was fabulous!  Jess and Casey personally welcomed everyone at the door, we were all handed a custom-printed goodie bag (pictured) with discount vouchers, buttons, a temporary Knit Nation tattoo (and I am hoping mine will last until work on Monday), and a hat pattern inside, and everyone got a free raffle ticket.  Some of the goodie bags had extras, my friend got a ball of Biggins Yarn, and I got a pair of gorgeous KnitPro wooden straights!

There must have been a couple of hundred knitters there at least, there was music, and a bar, and loads of lovely shawls and knit wear to look at on other people.  Ysolda had a photo booth set up, where my new friend and I got our picture taken, which printed out on a special postcard which included a KnitNation graphic.  Our group was very talkative as we all sat there knitting, and Jess and Casey both came by to speak to us personally for several minutes, autographing our bags and my photo postcard.  We had a woman all the way from Canada, my friend from France, another woman from Belgium, and two UK knitters.  Then at 9:45 came the fabulous raffle (pictured) with loads of great prizes, and I won a bottle of Soak in the special Ravelry scent!  The party was going on until midnight but I reluctantly said goodbye at 10:30pm so that I could make the long trek home.  It was a great party, everyone was in such a great mood and Jess and Casey made it feel really homely and sociable.  I'm glad I met them as Jess said that they aren't going to Knit Camp now after all, so even though I've signed up for the Ravelry talk and BBQ there, I wouldn't have seen them.

So, final verdict on Knit Nation?

Positives:
  • Great communication in advance, and enthusiasm
  • Great graphics, professional website
  • Good organisation at the event, everything seemed to run smoothly and well.
  • Great teachers, famous names, Jess and Casey
  • Good central location, good public transport connections
  • Lots of great yarn at the marketplace, positive to be able to shop indy dyers etc. and imports like wollmeise
  • Great Ravelry Party and goodie bags!
  • Good atmosphere in the marketplace
Negatives:
  • Lacked the social element of the I-Knit weekender, nowhere to sit and knit inside, no events or activities provided for non-class-attendees other than the marketplace.  For example, at I-knit you can sit and knit for charity, or just sit and knit and chat at tables with drinks, there are fashion shows, etc.
  • Lack of onsite catering - nothing at all for Thursday and Friday evenings, the Library Cafe seemed overwhelmed by numbers on Saturday
  • Event a bit lost on this enormous campus, which was hosting several other events at the same time as well as university classes etc.  Watered down the sense of happening. Classes very dispersed instead of all in one area.
  • Cloakroom provided for leaving items in, as well as being very hard to find (up on the 5th floor and down several corridors), costan eyewatering £4 per item.
  • Marketplace a bit unbalanced in favour of yarn, not much else on sale (very few patterns, only a few books, not much hardware)

Someone who chatted with Alice (one of the co-organisers) said that she is considering doing Knit Nation again, but maybe not until 2012.  I enjoyed going and being part of it, but I don't know that I would go three times again, I think one day would be sufficient.

Anyway, life will now be back to normal for a week, until Knit Camp in Stirling.  Here is a quick round up of what I've been working on.

I've cast on for the Sanquhar Glove pattern that I bought at Ally Pally last autumn.  Labelled 'the insane Sanquhar glove' by one knitter on Ravelry, this is a traditional Scottish fair isle pattern knit in laceweight wool on 1.5mm needles.  At first I felt very tentative, as I was afraid I was going to drop stitches, break the yarn, bend needles etc.  But then I got hooked and I have been positively addicted to it all week, racing up the cuff and into the Duke pattern around the thumb gusset, knitting on the train and on my lunch hours, and during all the Knit Nation events.  I'm really enjoying it.  Sorry the picture is blurry.  Apparently when you block it, the stitching will even out a lot.  I am knitting this in Jamieson & Smith 2 ply laceweight.


I have also started a surprise gift for my son, which is a fabric portrait of his two cats using outlines from "Claire's Cats Volume 2" by Darcy Ashton.  I have customised the white cat to look like his cat Lucy.  The outlines are fused on but I need to add embroidery now.

1 comment:

Daisy said...

I loved the day I went to it - should have taken your mobile no. as we spent half the afternoon sat on the grass outside the library café knitting under a tree! Shame I couldn't stay for the party, but wasn't really Neil's cup of tea...

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