Wooo Doggies! Talk about a whirlwind trip! Complete with Airborne and The Blogger's Curse--a dead camera good for about 5 shots and then pfffft.
(Thanks to HPNY and GaleGarmen for a helluva good time. Next year, ladies?)
I arrived in London and hooked up with HPNY and GarnGarmen at Liberty. Knitter's Night at Liberty--how cool is that? The perfect place for some middle-aged yarn-obsessed broads from New York City, Stockholm and Texas to unwind their brains and skeins. They had just spent all day at the show and we promptly sat down to tea, sandwiches and wine to fondle their newfound treasures. Being surrounded by like-minded souls, we were welcomed warmly as the other tables cast covetous glances at HPNY and GG's stash enhancements. Our accents may have marked us as foreigners, but we knew the secret handshake--just pull a skein or two or ten out of a shopping bag and watch the room grow silent. Works every time.
(Knitter's night at Liberty)
Please check out their blogs for pics of the beautiful natural alpaca, hand-dyed sock yarn, Colinette mohair and other goodies they bought. This was a great preview for me as I was going the next day. Thus fortified, we marched upstairs to check out the Rowan yarns and GG kept up her fierce reputation as Sweden's Prime Stasher by picking up about 10 skeins of wool in blues and greens for some colorwork. I nabbed a couple of skeins of wool/silk in a lovely pale green, 'porcelain.' We laughed, we bonded, we rocked....and then we pooped out.
I'm not sure who was more dazed and overwhelmed--the knitters, the quilters, the embroiderers or just everyone there. There were three huge halls crammed with vendors selling yarn, roving, sewing machines, fabric, fat quarters, novelty threads, beads, doodads and wampum with side rooms for quilt, fiber art and knitted exhibits. You had to keep your wits about you as victims would spot a booth, freeze in their tracks and then slowly let the tractor beam pull them into that stall. I nearly mowed down more than one person this way. Clever monkey me had gone over the list of vendors, marked various booths on the map and hit the halls with a clear-eyed sense of purpose. I went by Alpaca Select, Colinette, Loop/London, Sublime at Sheepish and the Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop to warm up before my class with Sasha Kagan. I also nabbed the manic "Pub Knitting!" booklet put out by Rowan just for the title.
Sasha Kagan is a small, wiry woman with a noticeable hum of energy about her. We were instructed to pick out 2 skeins of yarn(thanks Rowan), some needles and cast on. She taught us how to knit with 2 colors, wrapping the unused color around the knit stitch thus weaving it into the back while working an intarsia design. This eliminates the need for 2 separate balls of your main color as you can just carry it along the back and it also does away with wrapping your yarns when changing colors. This is not at all like carrying it along the back as a float but creates a fabric with better tension while maintaining the design on the front. It really helps if you can knit with both hands. HPNY and I figured it out fairly quickly and then I turned to help my neighbor. She was a new knitter and had the zippiest green scarf with a leaf fringe around her neck. I'm sorry I didn't get her name as she was a fashion student and I can't wait to see her name in lights. I had an afternoon class with Jean Littlejohn who does pieces with fabric and felting on a machine.
(the Best of Britain takes five)
Later, HPNY and I went to see Tom Stoppard's Rock'n'Roll(Czechoslovakia, 1968, Syd Barrett) which was bit choppy in the first half but really soared in the second. I was most impressed with the group sitting next to me. They not only had cans of gin&tonic and plastic cups, but the foresight to bring a thermos full of ice cubes. All that was missing were the cheese straws and swizzle sticks. Afterwards, HPNY and I had dinner at J. Sheekey where HPNY(partridge) and I(oysters) developed a good cop/bad cop routine with the spotty service--you really don't want to mess around with a pair of women who are determined to get the most out of every waking minute on a 'Me Time' vacation. Don't. Even. Try.
I loaded up on Jaffa cakes, Humbugs, wine gums and fruit pastilles for the guys and cookbooks for the DH--Arabesque by Claudia Roden, Biba's Italy by Biba Caggiano, Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey and The Calcutta Kitchen by somebody. Varjak Paw and Outlaw Varjak Paw by SF Said looked like fun for the boys while I got Minette Walters' The Devil's Feather and Chickenfeed for myself. My friend Fanny arrived from Devon and we saw the Holbein in England exhibit at the Tate Britain before taking the boat(such tourists!) over to the Tate Modern to check out the very long slides in the main entrance. We stood there looking up and up at these shiny structures hearing the shouts of terror and glee of the sliders and mulled over whether we would really slide down one of these things or not. I love heights--it was the going down that gave me pause. That and the idea of my handbag becoming a hurling atom in some kind of supercollider, rendering me or someone else completely unconscious. Uh, we went to the gift shop instead.
Five minutes to gab with HPNY after wading through the lines at Gatwick.
FYI: The sign says no knitting needles.
I panicked and packed my knitting into my checked bags, keeping a couple of skeins and a crochet hook for the flight. HPNY simply took her knitting off the needles and put a pair of large circulars into her carry-on bag. She got through ok. I just can't freelance crochet so I ended up reading and napping the whole time. Back home and I log on to find that I missed seeing Gisela, a former colleague. She did photography for Rowan 40--pretty nice work, eh? I'll have to see her next year after I finish getting my firstborn out of hock from Visa and American Express. Clean your monitors because here's a teaser for Friday Yarnpr0n:
Yes, there's roving.