Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Knit and Stitch, socks and sari silk

Back again, nice new glasses, good times with family under the belt. 

The Knitting and Stitching Show, in the rather magnificent setting of the Alexandra Palace, was quite something. It served to bring home to one in very real terms that knitting, and stitching, are sedentary occupations, almost exclusively practised by women, many of them of a certain age.  When many thousands of these were brought together in one place, moving amongst these jostling multitudes involved a dynamic process of being bounced to and fro by and between generously proportioned bottoms and bosoms.  This wasn't necessarily as much fun as it sounds, but humour and good cheer were helpful, and it was by and large a pretty jolly crowd, with merry exchanges between strangers commonplace:

Large girl (swooping and whooping over basket of shiny coloured threads): Oh WOW, look at all the colours... (checks herself looking round) Sorry! (To me) I keep doing this, then getting embarrassed, then realising I'm at the K and S Show, and it doesn't matter!
Me: Yep, you're in a safe space here.

Me (after burbling away for a moment or two to a woman wearing the same colour shirt as my sister): Sorry, I thought you were my sister.
She: That's all right, we're all someone's sister.

The excellent Black Sheep Wools, whose mail order service I sometimes use, had booked a double pitch on the end of an aisle, and filled the centre of it with an enormous unfenced pile of cellophane wrapped bargain packs of all kinds of mass-market yarns which they topped up continuously, and a throng of customers dived and swam about in it uninhibitedly like kids in a ball park.

The number of males we saw, perhaps discounting the vendors, could probably have been counted on two hands, and half of them were in pushchairs. I caught the eye of one larger one as he resolutely trudged behind his female companion, and told him he was a very brave man, at which he laughed and graciously thanked me.  We couldn't, we thought, imagine any area of activity, at least of a legal and respectable nature for which one might attend an exhibition or trade show, that would be so massively dominated by men.

There was a vast range of stuff, from a couple of Indian guys on a small corner pitch selling scraps of silk fabric and rough looking skeins of yarn without labels to choice and costly cashmere and qiviut*; there were quite a few stands selling ready made clothes, and a big section largely dedicated to aid organisations and recycling projects. There were plenty of things I could happily walk past with zero interest in their wares.

I spent to the limit I had set myself, and came away with a good haul, including these skeins of recycled fairly-traded, empowering-of-women sari silk, which are remarkably inexpensive, look like they might be the devil to knit with but could produce gorgeous results.

Now I really should do nothing else but sit down and knit all these sumptuous things into sumptuous things.  

And here are some useful if not sumptuous things I made earlier: socks for my niece and her chap - his legs and feet are on the left, should you wonder.  Hers are Chunky Foot-Ovens, too thick for anything but house socks really, but as she works from home a lot and feels the cold a bit that's OK, and his are Mainly Black; he tends to wear mainly black, my sister once bought him a black t-shirt with the words 'I am wearing mainly black today' in small grey letters on the front, so I made them so that the section normally visible between shoe and trouser would be black, with the lurid colours lurking on the cuffs and toes.  To offset the woes of Second Sock Syndrome, whereby one rompses through knitting the first sock with enthusiasm then loses heart at the thought of having to do it all over again a second time, I inverted the colours, as you may see. They seemed pleased with them.


Now, in order to fulfil my self-imposed target of one thousand published posts in seven years of blogging, I have to accomplish twelve posts in eighteen days before my blog-birthday on 3rd November, so I'll be around more frequently but short and (hopefully) sweet is the order of the day, I hope without too many knitting posts.  See you soon!

* in fact I didn't really see any qiviut, though I believe there was some there somewhere.  It is combed from the belly of the Arctic musk ox exclusively by Eskimos (which they're really called Inuit...).


Catalyst said...

Oh, Lucy, don't apologize for your knitting posts. I'm almost convinced to take it up myself . . . except. My patience would allow me to purchase some of your marvelous products rather than try it on my own.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you had a good time, it sounds wonderful, and I love that recycled sari silk yarn!

Crafty Green Poet said...

those socks are great! The Indian sari silk looks gorgeous, what a wonderful material to work with!

In Germany, apparently lots of students, male and female, knit during lectures.

Francesca said...

The sari silk looks wonderful. And the socks are great - I really like the inverted colour black ones!

Marly Youmans said...

Oh, that sounds so jolly and looks so wonderful. The jostling bumper-car bottoms were funny, too. My mother the weaver would have enjoyed that thoroughly. Me too, though I would have done nothing but gawk.

Roderick Robinson said...

"a pretty jolly crowd..."
"... merry exchanges between strangers..."

Well, if you saw (and heard) these things they must have happened, but are they the common coin of knitters? Certainly not the one I'm married to. In fact it's hard to envisage knitters cohering, homogenising. In trying to characterise the practice I come away with the impression of people both furtive and busy who have adopted needles because in brief flashes of perception (bounded by much longer periods of ratiocination) they have noticed that their hands are idle and this annoys them. Viewed by a non-knitter knitting can seem strangely casual as if, at a prearranged signal, the whole boiling could be cast aside in favour of a MIG welding kit or a manual on double stopping. I hope none of this sounds insulting; it isn't meant to be. Knitting is proof of mankind's ability to do several things at once. Admirable but slightly alien.

Had you been short of company (very short, let's say) I fear I wouldn't have been able to accompany you. On my last - and it will be the last - visit to Ally Pally I was an unwilling consumer of Carmina Burana. This unfortunate piece of music is burned deeply into my consciousness, the aversion therapy now exending to north-east London as a whole.

I trust you were unaffected by AP's history. I approve of the colour inversion since one must never take socks too seriously. I also approve of the chap who wears mainly black. And thank you for the phrase "house socks" which is new to me. I realise this is the genre my Totes belong to; knowing this I can discard the proprietary name. Which is a step forward, albeit short.

Zhoen said...

Recycled silk socks, how soft and sibilant.

Lucy said...

Sorry, bit slow replying here.

Bruce - I would happily knit you something, though there is something of a queue, everyone loves socks in particular. Also, I'm not sure what you would want to wear in Arizona that wouldn't be too hot... :~)

Chloë - it was good, almost overwhelming, but I did have certain things I was looking for, and put a limit on my spending, and by and large I was satisfied with what I found. I'm sure you'd have found some lovely things for yourself!

CGP - The sari silk is really a good thing to buy, I thought I'd make my sister a big throw/shawl thing with it. I was a bit surprised there weren't a few more chaps, I know there are knitting men, in America I've heard it's quite a craze for blokes too. Perhaps there are quite a few but they don't want to turn out to a big show like that. Knitting while listening is very good, in fact though I don't know how you'd combine it with note-taking. Perhaps people don't take notes in the same way now.

Francesca - your cards would have been a hit there, I'm sure!

Marly - I'd love to be a weaver, have tried it at various times small scale. The problem is you need large and rather static equipment, whereas knitting, and crochet, are relatively small and portable, plus you shape the pieces as you make them, so it's more versatile. There were looms and weaving stuff there too.

Robbie - rest assured I appreciate your appreciation of knitting. Shame about Carmina Burana, as the AP really is worth a visit for the views and location alone. We were trying to describe it this evening to non-British friends and to recall what we knew of its history. Totes are indeed house socks, or even slipper socks. I do in fact possess some 'puffy paint' which can be applied to the soles of socks to make the non-slip surface of them. We used to wear totes, but that was in the days of fully carpeted British homes; tiles and parquet, never mind beaten earth, concrete and unfinished hardboard, have proven too hard, and too cold, for anything but the most robustly soled of house shoes.

Zhoen - soft soled sari slippers, super!

zephyr said...

i love this post
and that new yarn
and those socks!

Lyse said...

J'ai beaucoup de lecture à rattraper! Je vois que tu as bien travaillé. Je viendrais peut-être demain pour lire toutes les pages en retard.