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21 May 2010
Stitch and and a Bit of Boom Bang A Bang
... Free sewing pattern: Project Pouch   ...  Douze Points Eurocraft   ...  Wonderful woolly and Icelandic  ... 
    ... Gerty's continental love advice ... A sneak peek at a Night of Surgical Stitching    ...

Spangly sparkly Euro-flavoured greetings to you

We hope this newsletter finds you well, stocked up on sticky Eurosnacks, fully recovered from knitting amongst the bodies and bones, and raring to croon foreign lyrics into a handy 25mm bamboo needle.


S&B London learners: Free knitting lessons will take place twice a month from 6.30 at S&B London meetings. If there are lots of you then you may have to wait. Check for the Learners Lesson icon next to the meeting title.

See our Learn to Knit and FAQ pages.
Please note: All learners should aim to arrive before 8pm.

Race for Life - June 13th
Stitch Yourself for the Science Museum
Help Us teach by becoming a Stitch Sage

The Icelandic entry A look at the Icelandic knitting magic that is lurking under that Volcano ash.

The SEW Fabulous entry Sew yourself a Piece of Cake Project Bag with our rather splendid free sewing pattern. Go on.
The Everything is Eurotastic entry We try to hunt down some 'nil points' crafting. It doesn't work.

Douze points go to Gerty Our outraged ball of woolly agony teaches you to find love continental style.
Don't forget to put the Knit Crawl 2010 on the 13th of June in your diaries.
It's going to be epic.


Stitch London meetings:
For more information on each venue click on 'More info' to go to our Venues page.
 THURSDAY 27th May 

Time: From 6pm
Venue: Royal Festival Hall (Level 2)
South Bank Centre
Belvedere Road

Map More info
TUESDAY 1st June

From 6pm
Venue: Leon at Spitalfields Market
3 Crispin Place
E1 6DW

Map More info
MONDAY 7th June 
Time: From 6pm 
Venue: Stamford Arms 
62 Stamford Street 
SE1 9LX 

Map More info


Stitch and the Icelandic Entry by The Bluestocking Stitcher
Iceland has given us many dubious things: The shouty man from The Sugarcubes, volcanic ash, some unmemorable Eurovision entries, the continued career of Kerry Katona and that Nolan sister nobody can name.  It has also given us some fabulous things: Bjork, Emiliana Torrini, Magnus Magnússon and a wide variety of puffin-based recipes.  And, of course, a knitting heritage which includes the famous Icelandic yoke jumpers and lace knitting.

As well, as the traditional Icelandic knitting, there is a small group of Icelandic artists who weave traditional handcrafts and local influences into their work.

Hildur Bjarnadóttir has received international acknowledgement for her work, which builds on the textile crafts that her mother taught her from the age of 4.  She sees a fine line between conceptual art and decorative crafts which she likes to explore with paint and textile based pieces, such as the marvellously named Fairy Puke, which looks like a simplistic take on expressionist art, but is actually a finely embriodered piece of linen, or tatted sculptures that look like doodles.

My favourites, though, are Vík PrjónsdóttirVík is not a single individual, but the invention of a group of artist-designers. If you think you haven't heard of Brynhildur Pálsdóttir, Egill Kalevi Karlsson, Guðfinna Mjöll Magnúsdóttir, Hrafnkell Birgisson, Þuríður Rós Sigurþórsdóttir and a small knitting factory in Vík, then you may be surprised to know that you've seen their influence.  All of those knitted moustaches and beards that you see around?  Well, back in 2005, the beardcap was born. According to their website, it's based on the traditional headgear of Icelandic farmers. Their version added a moustache, in two different styles, gentleman and farmer.

Víkurprjón was the one of the oldest knitwear producers in Iceland.  The factory used traditional methods, colours and patterns. In the 1980s and 1990s, this had been profitable for those in the Icelandic wool industry, but in the 21st century the Icelandic wool industry found itself in decline and the factories all suffered. That all changed for Víkurprjón in 2005 when Vík Prjónsdóttir came along.  Their designs are produced by the factory and are exported around the world.

The current works include several blankets based on Icelandic traditions, landscape and mythology.  The Sealpelt may look rather like the latest stage costumes for a hipster band from Brooklyn, but is based on the Icelandic myth of a farmer who took a seal pelt he found in a cave, only to find a naked woman crying in the cave the next day (you see where this is going?) and marries her. Eventually, she finds the pelt, and disappears from his life.  The Shield of Wings is inspired by the Sea Eagle.

Rather poignantly, their landscape blanket depicted the area of Iceland above their knitting factory, specifically the glacier under which Iceland's most active volcano (which was noted as erupting once a century) hid.  We all know what happened there. The image of their landscape blanket is now annotated to show the location of the eruptions.  They report that the people of Vik have to stay in their homes as ash rains down on them and ask us to think about the farmers of the area and their livestock.

As they say in Iceland "Svifnökkvinn minn er fullur af álum!" (My hovercraft is full of eels!)

 Stitch and Nil Points! by The Purple Purler

Well this article was meant to be an exploration of the worst knitting Europe can offer, and it started off promisingly. Just check out this blog post: Scandinavian knitting at its, err...finest?

But alas! The Internet let me down on the awful European knitting front (although I could write a whole book dedicated to the monstrosities some of our American cousins have come up with!) I honestly thought that the home of lederhosen would come up trumps. But no!

What I have discovered is the beauty of 'European' craft. So maybe I should rename this article Stitch and Douze Points! Or what this article is actually going to become: Stitch and the best craftiness from countries we don't know much about who will be taking part in Eurovision.

Entry 1 Azerbaijan's culture is rich with textile crafts to make you gasp, dating back as far as the 3rd millennium B.C.!!! Much of their traditional craft centres around embroidery, with peacock, nightingale and pheasant motifs combined with geometric patterns, but they also have a history of knitting and ornamental knitting. The results are beautiful. DOUZE POINTS!
Entry 2 Belarusian customs include giving neighbouring countries' diplomats a woven belt which takes nearly a year to make, and features geometric shapes. However, the most interesting feature of Belarusian craft is the use of fantastical creatures. Magical!! DOUZE POINTS!

Entry 3 Moldova is a country which also has a history steeped in textile crafts, with motifs based on their agricultural traditional, and geometric patterns. Embroidery and carpet making are the main crafts of this country, and they are bloomin' gorgeous! DOUZE POINTS!

Wonder if their Eurovision songs will live up to their crafts? *reserves judgement*

FREE SEWING PATTERN: The Piece of Cake Project Pouch by The Blue Stocking Stitcher (pattern) and Deadly Knitshade (article)
Worldwide Knit in Public Day is almost upon us. Stitchers everywhere are sharpening their needles and smoothing their crochet hooks (do you smooth a crochet hook?) to just the right slidiness for a bit of public purling. We've never been afraid of taken our halfmade handmades out into the fresh air but there's the slight worry of how to get them out and about while keeping them safe and sound.

Fear not! Enter the Piece of Cake Project Pouch. A neat little drawstring baggie straight from the brains of our very own Blue Stocking Stitcher which helps you carry your WIP (work in progress) and keep it safe from cake crumbs, rogue one-legged pigeons and accidentally 'knitting needle getting caught in your keys and yanked out of stitches' horror.
Break out some fine fabric, your sewing machine (or a trusty needle for you hand-sewing folks), some sharp scissors and a bit of ribbon or cord. In no time you can create a pouch to tote your WIP where ever you may roam.
Other tips for crafting on the go:
The wonder of the centre-wind ball– stamp out those pesky rolling yarn balls by rewinding your ball to pull your yarn from the middle
The sweetness of circular needles – even if you're knitting something that require straight needles circulars work just the same. They're short enough to tuck away and to avoid poking into the ribs of too-close commuters on the tube (unless you want to give them a warning prod)
The power of point protectors – shove them on the end of your needles and keep your work where it's meant to be. Save shelling out for fancy ones and stick a bit of cork on the end. Works just as well and gives you the excuse to drink wine.
Now all you need is somewhere to take your stitching out on the town. May we suggest the Stitch London 2010 Knit Crawl?

 Ask Gertrude: How to woo with your wool

This week, Gerty gives a little love advice on how to snag a foreign romeo with your fibre-flinging skills. 
Dearest Gerty

I've dreamt of my big day from as far back as I can remember. Now that I'm approaching 40, getting married is all I can think about, after knitting that is. However my obsession with knitting has scared off potential suiters for the past 39 years. There's a new temp at work who has caught my eye. He wears these gorgeous hand-knitted jumpers. Watercooler gossip is that he comes from a family of knitters from Armenia. I've been proudly displaying my knitted items at work hoping he would strike up a conversation. I know he is the one. I really want to impress him. How do I make sure I can bag him for life?

Desperate Doreen, Darlington

My Dearest Deranged Doreen. Well aren't you all cunundry. We need to get the juices flowing down there ... in Darlington.

As he has just come from Armenia, he might be a bit shy to talk to a fair English lass. I recommend purchasing a copy of Armenian Knitting and making everything in the book. Wear the items over a period of weeks to make him feel more at home. He will associate you with feelings comfort and security and hopefully he will start a conversation.

If that doesn't work next time you're at the watercooler and you see him walk on by, stop fingering your cowl and break down in tears, start to cry. Don't stop. Guys can't ignore a crying lady. Especially when they're of a more mature age like yourself. Guaranteed he'll come rushing over and offer you his hanky. It'll probably be handknitted and have his initials embroidered. Most girls would at this point run a mile assuming him to be a borderline psychopathic mummy's boy. But you will wipe your tears and explain your tears of joy by complimenting him on his hand-knitted jumper. That should get you into a conversation about knitting and hopefully that will seal the deal.

If that doesn't impress him then we're going to have to ramp this game up. [Warning, involves stalking. You sound like the kinda gal that would be up for it].

Follow him home one day after work and find out where he lives. On a day you know he is at work, pull a sicky and break into his home. Remember to wear gloves (handknitted optional). Find a picture of his mother and take it. Before you leave pop a handful of sleeping tablets in his orange juice carton.

You will spend the rest of the day knitting a mask to make you look like his mother.

The next morning get to his house early dressed as the 2009 Armenian Eurovision entry and wait for him to collapse after drinking the orange juice.
Drag his body to bed and wait till he starts to wake up. The sleeping pills will have made him very groggy. Dressed in Armenian garb and pretending to be his mother, instruct him to 'marry the girl from work that knits'. Insist that it's do or die and then run away.

If he doesn't propose to you the next day at work, then I'll swallow my limbs.

If that all fails then you may need to confront a different reality. As head Stitchette (literally, just a head), I meet a fair few knitting obsessed women (and men). Their knitting obsession hasn't stopped them mating.

If the above steps haven't secured your man, then Doreen, it isn't your knitting that scaring off the men. It's you. You need to accept that you're a munter. Use your skill and knit a boyfriend and a cat and be done with it. Take the red pill, Doreen.

Know the truth.

See this question and others that didn’t make the newsletter on Gerty’s blog

Do you want a pink ball of woolly fury to make it all slightly less wrong? Email her at

Stitch and Surgical Spendidness

For those of you who missed the fibre-filled night of knitting amongst the bodies and the bones at the Hunterian Museum you can see some All Stitched Up pictures on our blog.

Huge bandage-covered thanks to every single one of you who helped us teach the huge herd of lost learners who appeared on the night.

Also a huge thank you to the Hunterian Museum for squashing so many knitters in one place. And for putting up with Gerty and her ego after seeing herself on all the posters.
It's nearly over. Wipe your tears, you fool! Eurovision is next Saturday so you still have time to whip up that Union Jack cardie and wear your flag with pride. You can also throw Eurovision song lyrics in 140 character bites at us live on Twitter and stamp about on the Ravelry message board in a pair of Abba-style platforms.

If need to let us know about the joyous stitching gold you have struck then drop us a line via email at

Douze points to you all, Stitch Londoners
The Stitchettes x


Edited and sewn together with words and pictures by Deadly Knitshade
Dates and venues by The Fastener
Articles by Deadly Knitshade, The Bluestocking Stitcher, The Purple Purler, The Fibre Flinger and Gertrude Woolsworthy

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