The London Knitting and Stitching Show

Any knitter will tell you that there’s just something about yarn that’s — how do I put this without sounding weird? — alluring. A ball of yarn, after all, is more than just a ball of yarn: it represents infinite possibilities. “What could I make with this?” a knitter thinks, as she strokes a ball of downy, grey angora, or a skein of chunky tweed wool. Half the fun of knitting, in my opinion, is standing in the knitting store and imagining the possibilities. This is how one ends up with a knitting bag overflowing with yarn and needles and three different projects going at any given time. (Hypothetically, of course). So, imagine, if you will, how it felt for me to stumble upon this:

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In case it’s not immediately clear, those are GIANT PILES OF YARN. Giant piles of discounted yarn! I had to stop myself from diving in. Where is this knitting Elysium, you may be asking? Why, at the London Knitting and Stitching Show, of course, which took place over this past weekend. It was so incredible, I had to go twice.

On Friday, I went to the show with one of my newfound friends from sewing class and we had a blast. There’s something really fun about walking around a convention center filled with yarn, fabric, needles, thread, beads, and other crafting supplies with another person who also finds those things exciting and beautiful. Together, we wandered around the cavernous Alexandra Palace and admired the many stands full of lovely textiles, yarns, and supplies. We also took two workshops: a cross-stitch sampler class, and a paper cutting class. Turns out, cross-stitch is pretty easy (but not that interesting, in my oh-so-humble opinion), and paper cutting is HARD, especially for someone like me with dangerously poor knife skills. But there’s something so invigorating about learning a new skill, especially one that involves using your hands to create something pretty.

My first day at the show, I tried to be restrained and not buy very much. Hence, I only purchased one new Rowan pattern book (the fabulous Nordic Tweed one) and the yarn for the awesome Nordic mittens in the book, plus a package of discounted yarn from one of the giant piles. I had to pass up a lot of other cool knitting stuff I wanted to buy, including a kit to make Latvian mittens, which, in case you’re not familiar, are awesome:

Image courtesy of folkcostume.blogspot.com

Latvian mittens (image courtesy of folkcostume.blogspot.com)

But I figured the Latvian mitten pattern was a bit above my pay grade (I still need to learn how to do intarsia), so I passed them up. Sigh.

As the weekend went on, I found myself thinking a lot about the show and a few of the items I had passed up, so on Sunday, I took a shuttle bus full of old ladies back to Alexandra Palace and did some more shopping. This time, I stocked up on beautiful tweed from Magee of Donegal (I’m planning on making a quilt), discounted books and Liberty print items, and a pack of deeply discounted Rowan Cashsoft yarn. I left feeling satisfied and super energized about my various knitting projects. Right now, for instance, I’m working on an afghan with a cool “lovers’ knot” pattern. I really look forward to working on it at the end of each day. What can I say? I’m a knitting nerd.

All those cables are a pain to make, but they look so cool!

All those cables are a pain to make, but they look so cool!

Sewing has taken a back burner for the time being, since our living situation continues to be up in the air and I haven’t felt like making the trip to buy fabric and then to the sewing shop to use their machines. So I’ve returned to my first love, knitting, which I can do right from the comfort of my own couch — or hotel room, or plane seat (assuming they let me take the needles through security). Al and I might be picking up and going on an impromptu vacation tomorrow, and you can bet I’ll be bringing my knitting bag along. I also happen to be in one of those dreaded down periods in my writing, so it helps to have fun projects to distract myself with. You know what they say: When all else fails, knit an afghan.*

* No one says that. But let’s make it a thing.

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