On Saturday I went to the I Knit Day at the Royal Horticultural Halls in central London.
Wow! What a day! Luckily the start was not too appallingly early, and the rain decided to give us a respite (at least for a while). I’m afraid I’m not a big fan of London, I find it dirty and smelly and crowded, and I don’t really do well in crowds, but it is worth putting up with occasionally, especially if there is a good knitting reason 🙂
I was very fortunate with the trains, and although all the trains from my station to Waterloo had been cancelled and replaced by buses the ones to Victoria were running on time. After a few minor navigational errors (you would hardly realise that I actually worked the other side of Victoria for 8 months, although I hadn’t ever been to the Horticultural Halls before), I made it to the halls at 10.30. The show opened at 11am, but I like to be early for things and half an hour was perfectly reasonable, and I wasn’t the first person there either!
The other people in the queue were very nice, and we all chatted and admired each other’s knitting, and before long there were quite a few of us, doing what the British love to do – forming an orderly queue, and doing what bloggers love to do – photographing it.
The rain took pity on us and held off until the doors opened, where we were confronted with this:
The first one was actually taken at lunchtime when things were a bit busier than they were first thing, and the second was taken shortly before I went home.
There were a good number of stands to look at and nice wide aisles between them so that you could easily get past even when the stands themselves were very busy. The only downsides were the acoustics, and the seating at lunchtime. I went to Jane Sowerby‘s talk and despite us all shuffling our seats forward and me only being a few feet from her, due to the echoeyness of the hall and the background noise I could hardly hear a word she said. I could see her beautiful shawls though, and later helped to fold them all up, I have a couple of her shawls in my ravelry queue, and I am really looking forward to knitting them. Then later during the fashion shows the microphone was turned up so loud that it was very hard to have a conversation even at the other end of the hall. Seating is always a problem, probably because everyone always wants to sit down and eat lunch at the same time, yet you don’t want the whole hall to be full of empty chairs the rest of the time. I stood up to eat lunch while watching one of the fashion shows but my feet were not friends with me by the time I got home.
The highlight of the day was the talk by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. This was in a separate hall – unfortunately over the road so more queueing in the rain. Here is the hall starting to fill up:
And here is the lady herself:
And the obligatory sock picture:
She was good fun and interesting, although I haven’t had the negative experience she seems to have had when attempting to explain knitting to my friends and family. Perhaps it is just that they are immune by now?
She kindly stayed behind after her talk and chatted to people. I followed the lady in the gold cardigan in this picture back over the road to the main hall, and am now kicking myself for not running a bit faster and saying how beautiful it was and asking what the pattern was.
We all trundled back off to the main hall and Stephanie signed millions of books. Here is the queue for her signing, I think this was after she had already been signing a couple of hours. I do hope she wasn’t there all night.
As well as listening to the talks, one of the delights of days like these is meeting up with other knitters, some of whom I have met before and some not. I’m afraid I will not be as organised as Katie and list them, because I have an appalling memory and it would be embarrassing the number of people I left out. Suffice it to say, I had a wonderful time, and it was lovely to see everyone (again).
I was remarkably restrained in the shopping part of the day. I came home with some lovely undyed yarn from H W Hammand, and nearly my own body weight in fudge (not inconsiderable, I can assure you, as the Wii-fit keeps pointing out to me), and other than that had a lovely time looking at everything and pondering. I love these opportunities to squish all the yarn and see what the colours are really like. Even if I don’t buy stuff on the day I come home with the information tucked in the back of the brain which will whir round and hopefully pop out in a useful manner at some point in the future.
The length of the day felt about right for the shopper, but must have been very long for the stall-holders, some of them had been up obscenely early setting everything up – I hope they sold lots and it was worthwhile. I admitted defeat a little after 6 (the show closed at 7pm), and was fortunate in not having to wait too long for a train home. It did start raining in time for me to get off the train and walk home but wasn’t too bad, and I am hoping that the brisk walk will combat some of the fudge I am now going off to eat 🙂