Being as I am, unencumbered by small children, small or large animals, or a husband who considers that the day properly commences before half past ten, this:
was a bit of a shock to the system. Yes that is 7.10 am on Saturday morning. Not something I am familiar with. On the plus side the train was pretty empty and for some reason unknown to me, people choose not to sit next to the lady furiously knitting pastel yarn into a tube whose bag reads "Hands off my Socks".
The reason for the really early start (as opposed to just the early start) was that I was meeting Zee, her husband and her friend R:
in front of a Palace (as you do). We saw soldiers:
And as it was R's hen weekend we followed the sound of the drum and went to the Household Cavalry Barracks and watched some drill through the railings. They were not very good at drill. I suspect that this is because they are the Army. They really need to go to watch the Navy for a bit and then they will get better. (NB Biased? Moi!?).
However, whilst soldiers are very pretty and soldiers doing drill are very funny, we needed breakfast. So in true English style we went to the pub.
I knit while I was waiting for my breakfast and Zee filched my camera to record the occasion. The decor shows that it was a real pub. I also know this because at 10.15ish as we sat eating breakfast two Chelsea Pensioners came in for double whiskeys.
However, much as I love my sister the call of the yarn is strong and I could swear that a faint whiff of lanolin was creeping under the door of the pub, swept past by the bulk of another red bus. And here is where I went:
IKnit in the Royal Horticultural Halls.
These Halls are a testimony to Art Deco architecture and even the overhead lights have a touch of the Rennie Macintosh. This is only something that I noticed later as I was rather taken up by the yarn, and the other yarn, and the next yarn, and the fibre, and the yarn, to pay much attention to anything.
Whilst trying desperately to prevent myself from leaping headfirst into the piles of yarn and lying their cosying up to the alpaca/silk/cashmere blend I went to Jane Waller's presentation on the relaunch of her book, A Stitch in Time, which covers vintage patterns from the 20s through to the 50s. It was fascinating to learn the way in which garment shapes changed and the reasons why; for example, the switch from early 40s plain, practical almost military short sleeved rib pullovers to the embroidered flowers of the late 40s/50s when the war ended and people wanted a little frivolity again. Jane's talk was followed by a fashion show parading some of the knitwear from the book and there are a good three or four that I am seriously tempted to put on the 'some-day I will knit this' list.
The highlight of Iknit was always going to be Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's latest stop on her book tour. She was, as expected, charming, entertaining and intelligently humourous. It was great and I haven't laughed that hard in ages. I would be lying if I said that I did not find it especially funny that a Cambridge PhD student thinks that it is impractial to carry emergency knitting - I always knew they didn't quite make our grade.
To add the cherry to the icing on an already jam-packed cake (if you'll excuse the pun), it was just before Stephanie's talk that a lady a few rows in front of me turned around; and it was Caroline, better known as Wool for Brains. This is the first time I have met a blogger in person who I have only known through the internet before and it was a real pleasure to chat to her and tour the marketplace for a little while.
One of the things that separates Iknit from other knitting shows is the amount of knitting being done during the day. I was polishing off the foot of the Gumdrops socks in the morning and when I ran out of yarn half way through I picked up another ball and cast on a sock for H. The yarn was this:
And it seemed rather appropriate to be knitting Canadian yarn to go to see a Canadian knitter!
And then, as all good things must, our knitting day came to an end. Nowhere else could I have seen so many knitters, of so many different nationalities, all together. Nowhere else would people come up to feel my sleeve and ask me about the yarn and the pattern and how long it took to knit, and nowhere else will anybody ask my why my bag says "Hands off my Socks"; here they giggled. I very much hope that it is adieu not farewell to the Iknit land of knitters because next year, if they're there, I'm there.
Sock, meet Oliver and Ben;
Eye spy with my little eye, something beginning with S