Thursday, 21 July 2011

Knit Nation Post (sort of)

Last weekend saw the return of London's most international of knitting expos, Knit Nation. Last year I was a mere visitor, but thanks to some fortuitous seating in Anne Hanson's class, the wonderful Hayley was able to introduce me to my near and dear knitting group. Now, I'm not a soppy blogger, or one to gush, but this really was one of those life changing moments. Thanks to meeting this fantastic group I've been able to forge relationships with some funny, passionate and loving knitters, as well as been able to get to know many of the real movers & shakers in London knitting. Without this, I couldn't possibly have had the confidence to make this push into designing as I am at the moment, and as such I am very grateful. (Gush over.)

As part of this new foray into the world of London Knitting I was able to forge the close friendship with Alice, aka Socktopus, who I have mentioned on this blog before. As half of the Knit Nation team, I was able to persuade her to let me get elbows deep in Knit Nation organising, and as such ended up as Crew Coordinator. If you attended Knit Nation you probably would have seen me running around making sure everything was going smoothly!

As a consequence of all this running around I didn't get a chance to take a single photograph over the 3 days of the event, and as such won't discuss it too much further, except to say a super duper thank you to all of the crew for making my job super easy, thanks to the vendors for being really lovely, thanks to the visitors for really getting into the spirit of the event, and making my life really easy, and super thanks to Alice and Cookie for letting me be involved. There have been a few really good posts gone up about the event, I'd strongly recommend In The Making's report on being a Crew Member, Knitspot's review of being a Teacher, and VisaLisa's photogallery.

Additional and super duper thanks go to Pippa of Sweet Clement and Emms and Lou of Loumms who allowed me to sell 3 new pattern designs through their stall (and did all of the hard work of actually "selling" them for me). This was really generous, and really awesome. Thanks guys!

The list of people I was able to chat to is almost endless, if someone was at Knit Nation, we almost certainly crossed paths. Of the teachers, the only 2 I missed were Susan Crawford and Julie Weisenberger (Cocoknits), which was a shame as I find her patterns really inspiring. Highlights included Judith MacKenzie complimenting my spinning, Anne Hanson giving me her phone number, Juliet Bernard (editor of The Knitter) saying she couldn't wait to hear from me regarding submissions, and Jon Dunn-Ballam (of EasyKnits) agreeing to come to our Knit Night. I could go on, but you'd think me a terrible bore!

I do, however, have photos from Thursday. This was the "calm before the storm" so to speak, and was spent first in the V&A, on a tour given by Judith MacKenzie, and later enjoying a delicious afternoon tea. Judith's tour was fantastic, I don't think I've ever met someone so genuinely passionate, knowledgable, and without ego. She would spot textiles from across the room and before we'd even got close she'd tell us how, where and when they were made, and a story of how she knew (mostly involving a visit to tiny cottage industries in exotic locations). For example, I must have walked past this rug in the Islamic exhibit a hundred times,

And never thought much about it except "blimey, that's massive, imagine the picnic you could have on that!" But with Judith's guidance we learnt about how the fibres were extracted, how it was woven and the knots tied, how it would wear (did you know a good wool carpet takes 20 years to reach it's peak condition? Walking on it slowly shears off some of the wool scales giving it greater lustre. In some Muslim countries babies were given carpets, so that by the time they were old enough to marry it was of the highest quality) and how the museums had restored it.

We also saw some fab Muslim Menswear (I have to get Andrew into some of these):

And the creepiest thing I've seen in ages (even Judith couldn't explain this):

Just for Alice, we found a pug dog in the hideously beautiful ceramics gallery:

After the tour we went for tea. We had tea (duh), sandwiches, cake and scones, and a glass of bubbly. Twas awesome. In this terrible picture you can see Steven West, Marjan Hammink (Yarnissima) and Judith MacKenzie, but I was also sat with Merike Saarniit, Ysolda Teague, Elise Duvekot and Alice. (Non-knitters note: This is awesome).

 So yes, all in all, twas a fantastic weekend and I am a very lucky girl!


  1. As I have always said, Judith knows and tells all the best stories. :) I'm rather quite jealous that you got to tour around the V&A with her; apparently last year they had a tour guide and Judith knew more than the guide!

    Your post certainly makes me wish I was an aspiring fashion designer instead of an aspiring garden designer. ;)

    Also, well done wrangling all of us volunteers!

  2. Yay! So happy to be mentioned, thanks! And a great post from "behind the scenes" as well :)