Warning: A VERY long post, sorry!
I'm a very happy girlie tonight! I visited the Knitting & Stitching show today. I can't get over the fact that I was there for 6 hours! I left the house in such a rush in the morning I didn't eat, and I didn't want to sit down on my own and eat there either, so I had breakfast at 5.15pm which (shamefully) was a BK meal. My feeble excuse is that I needed something quick so that I could grab it and jump on the train because by then I just wanted to get home!
I found my way there pretty easily, so I must be getting the hang of the underground thing now. I only had one scary moment and that was at Kings St Pancras Station on the way home. I'd been following signs for all the other lines (there are 5) but hadn't seen any for the one that I needed yet. I stopped and double checked that I was supposed to be changing there, then carried on blindly and found the line about 5 minutes later.
I left Reading and jumped on the H&C then changed at Kings. On the Picadilly line I found a woman who was sitting and patiently knitting something in the round. Whatever it was it was tiny! Must have been for a baby. When it was our stop and she stood up, I asked if she was heading the same way and we followed the crowd of women to the shuttle bus stop. Thankfully the shuttle buses went one after another continuously (or seemed to) so I got there with time to spare. Alexandra Palace is huge!
I was the first at the Learning Curve workshop room so I sat down. Then a woman came in who introduced herself as Lisa and the tutor. She was really friendly so she stopped me from feeling nervous or anything. She's part of the Craft Guerilla group and normally teaches knitting in a pub in London, so is well used to teaching beginners!
Note: Craft Guerilla have a craft book coming out in the Spring. Each person has written a chapter on their area of expertise, and Lisa has written the chapter on knitting. We were each given a booklet which is the chapter, so we have advance copies (and got to be proof readers) which is fun.
Another person joined us and for about 10-15 minutes it was just the two of us so we choose our needles and yarn (either 4mm or 6mm needles, with different yarns to correspond). Then we started casting on but had only got as far as making slip knots when another two ladies joined us. They quickly got themselves settled in with needles and yarn, and we continued.
Everyone picked it up pretty quickly. We were shown the long tail cast on which is what I used to cast on my scarf after following a video online. It makes a really pretty first cast on, and also gives you the first row of knitting. Then we frogged it and learnt another way of casting on using both needles which isn't quite as pretty. It involves doing the first part of the knit stitch, but pulling the loop onto the left needle instead of the right to make your stitches. During this another lady arrived. As she already had some knitting experience she picked it up really quickly and got stuck in with us.
Then we started knitting and away we went! We each did about 6-10 rows while Lisa came around to see if we were having any issues. I purposely dropped a stitch so that she would be able to show me how to pick it up again so that was really useful. I'm not 100% sure I'll remember how to do it when it comes to it but I'm gonna give it a go first before I frog the whole thing! I remember Lisa saying that my stitches were neat and tidy, because the dropped stitch didn't run and make a ladder, so that was good.
Then we started purling. Purling is my weak spot, so after I finish my scarf I'm going to have to make a 'practise scarf' and just purl for ages to get used to doing the tension like I did with knitting. Instantly my neat rows started getting a bit looser. Then we did some ribbing as everyone was picking knitting up so quickly and we had the time to do it. I wasn't pulling my yarn from the front to the back before swapping stitches, so I ended up going from 12 stitches to about 18 with lots of holes! Not very pretty! We then learnt how to cast off which was good. We had 15 minutes left at this point so we cast on again and did some more while looking through the booklet and talking about following patterns, and a cardigan Lisa's been making for the last 3 years.
Then it was 12.30pm and it was all over. We said our thank yous and goodbyes. Then I started my way through the first large hall I came to (which turned out to be the exhibitors hall). I spent about an hour wandering around. At first I didn't want to buy anything but I soon broke that! Strangely, the first things I bought were for sewing (a cup cake that can be used as a pin cushion) and not to do with knitting at all! This hall had exhibitions from various different artists, textile graduates and displays from companies.
I then wandered through to another fairly large hall which also had a restaurant, a lovely, lovely smell, and lots of tables and chairs. I wandered through the stalls which were more of a guild themes. The Quilters Guild, the Embroidery Guild etc. I then came back into the corridor I first went to, walked to the end of it and looked at my map. And realised that I hadn't yet been in the Great Hall which was twice the size of the halls I'd been in so far!!
By this point it was 2pm so I had a quick phone call to Mam to find out what size circular needles she has - Mam doesn't knit any more and has a case full of needles in different sizes that she's giving to me this weekend when I'm at home. Then I started browsing.
Oh the shops :) I spent about £91 altogether at the fair, including the £11 entry and £15 workshop fee. I found so many skeins of wool that I just loved the colours of, but were stupidly priced at £12-20 EACH!! For 50 grams!! I kept refusing to buy them and carried on wandering.
I visted the Let's Knit stand which made the very same issue of Let's Get Crafting that started me on this knitting malarky 4 weeks ago. They were selling goody bags of the next issue which hasn't hit the shops yet, and differing freebies for £3. The magazine sells for £4.99. I picked up a bag that contained 3 bottles of black fabric paint (Oooh and I also found some freezer paper, first 'shop' I've seen it in!), some 5mm knitting needles that are topped with 'luxury beads' and 2 balls of acyrlic wool that I doubt I'll ever use. The fabric paint will be fun to play with though!! That was the main reason I picked that over other bags which contained 5 ball of wool, or crochet hooks etc. When I went to pay the guy showed me the Let's Knit book 'The Knitted Gifts collection' which normally sells for £9.99. If you bought it with a goody bag it was £2, so £5 altogether. So in it went. It has 70 patterns in it, and I've already seen a few things that I think I'd like to make.
I carried on wandering and then visited a stall where I fell in love with some 45% silk, 55% merino hand dyed yarn in a dark teal/blue colour. I asked how much it was and was told £8.99 which I thought was fairly reasonable as it knits on 3mm needles and the skein contained 1000m. I went to pay and found out it was actually £13.99. BUT I bought it anyway. I love it. It's so soft, it's like stroking my cats at home. I kinda don't even want to knit it, just keep it and have it looking pretty. Oh dear!
I then bought a skein of purple sock merino yarn for £12.50. It's very pretty but not quite as soft as it doesn't contain any silk. I'm gonna knit myself some purple socks! Yay!! I fell in love with some gorgeous purple skeins in Colinette's Yarns but it was £12.95 per skein and I just couldn't bring myself to spend any more, knitting is an expensive habit! (Note: It's cheaper on the website, but I definitely seem to remember it being more like £12 at the stall so I might have linked a different skein). Maybe after payday, or for Christmas. I have to get my hands on it sooner or later!
I'll post another post showing my haul from the day :)
It took me 2 hours to wander around the last hall, and by the end I was so tired from not eating and carrying heavy bags I was barely looking at some stands (that were embroidery etc). At 4pm I decided to leave so as to not get caught in the underground rush hour. I don't mind standing on normal trains, but I hate the crushes on underground trains.
I got back to Reading just before 6pm, sorted through my bags then went and had a nap! I was so tired, I ate on the train and it made me very sleepy. I woke about an hour ago and started typing this up, so I can post it and get on with some knitting now!