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5th July 2010
Stitch and Summertime (and the stitchin' is easy)
... FREE knitted chromosome pattern ... Cuddly clangers and stitched sheep ... Gerty gets crafty...
... Join in Craftivism near you ...
Soggy summer-shower greetings to you
We hope this newsletter finds you well, relaxing after the sporting excitement of the past few weeks with some lightweight summer stitching and watching the garden soak up the rain, with a nice cooling glass of something gin related.

Stitch London learners: Free knitting lessons will take place twice a month from 6.30 at Stitch 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.
Special notice: Stitch London will not be holding any Learner meetings in August due to Stitch Sage annual holiday (our lovely volunteers need a summer break). Look out for meetings in September. You're always welcome to come along and knit with us but no learner teaching will take place.

Help Us teach by becoming a Stitch Sage

 Knitty nostalgia: Take a trip down TV memory lane with a chance to create some cuddly characters from your childhood days.
We are all made of yarn: Build a human, one tiny chromosome at a time, with our tale of how a little bit of knitty genetic engineering was done for the Science Museum and a free pattern.
Say something with your craft: A look at three Craftivism projects that need your help.
Gerty gets scrappy: Watch as Gerty helps an avid knitter overcome her husband's resentment of the knit with a bit of paper-based distraction.

Stitch London meetings:
For more information on each venue click on 'More info' to go to our Venues page
Time: From 6pm 
Venue: Stamford Arms
62 Stamford Street

 SE1 9LX
 Map More info
MONDAY 26 July

Time: From 6pm
Venue: EV Bakery, Delicatessen and Organic Shop
The Arches 97-99
Isabella Street


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

Map More info

Stitch and Creating a Clanger 

Saggy cloth cats and hand-knitted creatures from space were a big part of the childhood of most of us stitchers, with the likes of Bagpuss and The Clangers keeping us company through the glowing box we call the TV as we grew up.

The Toy Tales exhibition recently opened at London’s Cartoon Museum. The free exhibition invites you to meet a family of handmade Clangers, Bagpuss’s understudy, Basil Brush and many other crafted television creatures. It’s an inspiring look at a time when creators such as Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate stitched together magical stories, with knitting and sewing bringing their ideas to life.

The exhibition covers present day too with Sean the knitting sheep Danger Mouse and Peppa Pig trotting across our screens. There's original artwork from many of the TV gems too.

If you can’t make it along to the museum I’ve tracked down some classic Kids TV patterns to bring a little nostalgia to your knitting:

Knit your own Clanger – The real Clangers were hand-knitted by Peter Firmin’s wife and you can hand-knit your very own from Major to Tiny size. Talk via a swanee whistle while you knit for added authenticity.

 Bagpuss socks – There is no free pattern for the most important, the most beautiful, the most magical saggy old cloth cat in the whole wide world anywhere but you can have saggy old cloth cat feet at least.

Shaun the Sheep Knit* and Crochet – Make a whole herd of Shauns and reenact episodes of One Man and His Dog.

Crochet Snoopy – Hook him together then Snoopy dance in celebration of your beagle-making skills.

 Knit Haisuli from the Moomins – Knit the hairy, stinky ball of fur from Moomin Valley. Go on.
Knit Oscar the Grouch and Crochet Yip Yip Alien – Muppet love on your needles and some Henson for your hook. 
You'll be lording it up over your tiny bug-eyed knitted and hooked creations in no time.

*Pattern on Raverly. Sorry non-Ravelers.

  Stitch and a little bit of genetic engi-knitting by Bluestocking Stitcher

Those of you who went along to see your stitched selves at the Science Museum may also have spotted some more knitting in the museum. Up on the first floor of the Wellcome Wing, there are a pair of knitted chromosomes, which are part of the display on ageing in the Who Am I? Gallery. This is the story of how we made them.

First there was the idea. Back in March, Katie, one of the gallery curators working on a brand new gallery in the Science Museum, contacted Stitch London (our knitty reputation precedes us) with an idea she wanted to include in a display about ageing. She wanted to use knitted chromosomes to demonstrate (science bit coming up) the way in which the telomeres, which protect the end of the chromosomes, degrade as the chromosome ages.

So Stitch London met with Katie to discuss what she needed. She showed up some pictures of chromosomes. From these we discussed options about textured yarn and stitches to show the rough texture of the chromosome surface and also how to portray the telomeres. 

Development of a prototype and the pattern for the two chromosomes fell to the Bluestocking Stitcher (well, you've got to live you to your name, haven't you?) and a small model of the chromosome was made. It demonstrated the construction that would be used, showed banding that matched human chromosome number one. It also offered a set of different options to show the new and aged telomeres. A sampler of textural stitches was also made to show how the bumpy texture of the chromosome could be depicted. 

Katie decided that she wanted the final chromosome to be made of stocking stitch, so as not to detract from the banding of the chromosomes. She went with the option of using plain telomeres rather than striped for the shiny new telomere, and we suggested using duplicate stitch to show the degradation of the telomere, rather than the original idea of lots of dropped stitches and cutting the knitted telomeres to make it fray. 

Now for the materials – although you may have expected a commission from a museum to be made out of fabulous wools, we chose some extremely cheap acrylic yarn. Why? Well, museums are prone to many factors that cause exhibits to decay and need conservation. Natural fibres like wool and cotton are particularly susceptible, whereas bargain basement acrylic will survive nuclear war along with the cockroaches.

The pattern was developed by documenting the structure of the prototype and scaling it up. We decided that the ends of all the legs should match, so started the pattern in the middle (the centromere) with a provisional cast on. This was increased rapidly before splitting the body in half to make two short stubby legs. Then the provisional cast on was undone and the same process was followed to create two longer, but equally sturdy legs.

The biggest challenge was scaling up from the prototype and maintaining the banding pattern – there was a lot of maths around the gauge swatch to get it to the required 25 cm size.  Well, the
biggest challenge apart from getting the pipe cleaners that strengthen the shape into the legs.

To make the chromosomes, the Bluestocking Stitcher and Deadly Knitshade split the load by making one each from the same pattern so that they would match up – and here's the end result in the museum with its Stitch London label. The chromosomes will remain in the exhibit as a permanent part until the apocalypse (or at least for a very long time).

Fancy whipping up a chromosome of your very own? The pattern is now available completely free of charge on Ravelry.

Stitch and Craftivism to get your sticks into by Deadly Knitshade

Where ever you are in the world there's always a way to drag your crafty stitching out into the world and do something with it.

We've picked out three stitchy projects you can join to dabble in a little Craftivism if you dare:

Desconocida Unknown Ukjent – Free workshop on July 24th at Pallant House Gallery, using embroidery to highlight the plight of the countless women who have disappeared on the Mexico USA border.

The Salon Bench Project is being knit at various places throughout the UK as part of an exhibit to reflect the different ways craft has been valued as a powerful force for social, political and personal change over the past 150 years.

Oak Hill Cancer Memorial Scarf – A 1,700-foot pink hand-knitted scarf grows as a memorial for people lost to cancer. You can join from anywhere in the world.

Keep a beady eye on Crafty Crafty for more invites to help people find voices and for all manner of crafty madness.

  Ask Gertrude: ARRRGHH! My Knitting has been banned!

This week, Gerty comes to the aid of a knitter whose husband was foolish enough to ban her knitting.

Dear Gertie
I am sending you some gin.  Perhaps this is an age old question, 
perhaps Eve asked the snake when Adam became so unreasonable, after 
the snake had shown her how to knit.  The question is this; my 
husband doesn't understand my knitting.  In fact he has banned me from
taking it with me on our holidays.  (WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO ALL 
DAY??) He has been the beneficiary of my knitting to whit - one 
intarsia jumper with a picture of him on it,  which was supposed to 
appease him, but he gets annoyed by the constant ‘clack clack clack’ and
me not listening to him go on and on about some boring old work
problem or household issue or witty story in which he is the hero 
while i am trying to count my stitches.  How can i get him to see that it is him who is being unreasonable, and not me?  And if I fail, what, 
if anything, can replace knitting?   Don't say crochet because we both 
know that would be a lie.
Thank you,  Rebecca of Sarth West London

Oh my Dear Rebecca,

Firstly and before we get down to the knitty gritty, thanks very much for the gin.  My needle-armed mates had to pick me out of the gutter yesterday afternoon. Much appreciated.
Right now onto the heart of the matter:
How on earth have you let this get this far?  I mean really, quite frankly I’m ashamed for the knitting community at large. And, you even knitted a heartfelt jumper with his image emblazoned across it.  What more could a man want?  There is one thing for it I’m afraid – find yourself a new man who isn’t scared of the woolly world.

A little harsh?  OK, even I’ll admit that that isn’t always possible, and perhaps he comes in useful in the non-knitting world. So onto plan B.

One option is to wrap the ends of your needles with cotton wool and sellotape.  Yes, it’ll be hard to knit but it’ll also be easier as you won’t have to listen to him whining all day long about the noise.

Another is to hide your latest project and whip it out when he doesn’t notice – for example when he goes to get his latest heroic picture of himself to show you.  When he looks your way, stuff the evidence up your jumper.  He may think you’ve piled on a few pounds, but it’ll give him something else to think about other than the offending knitting. You can even take this a little bit further by accessorising with a fresh baby knit and some banana and gherkin kebabs if you wish.

My last word of advice comes in the form of a new craft.  May I suggest scrapbooking?  By taking on more or your ‘crappy crafty stuff’ (not my words –it's what he's thinking and what Mr Woolsworthy always calls it) into the house, your place will be full to the brim of paper, rulers, scissors and glue.  Before you know it, he’ll be welcoming back that old ‘clack clack’ sound you used to make.

Good luck on this one Sarah. It's an age old question and one even I find hard to take on.  Let the knitting force be with you.

Aunty Gerty

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

Are you a stressed stitcher? Can only a gin-addled fuzzball help?
Email her at

That's all for now. We're off to stage a woolly Clanger versus Charlie Mouse death match to fill the sporty void that the end of the World Cup and Wimbledon has left in our lives and pick up all those stitches we dropped during the finals.  Until we see you again, you can talk to us on Twitter, find us on Facebook and muse over our message board
Don't get suncream on your cashmere, Stitch Londoners
The Stitchettes x


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Edited and sewn together with words by The Bluestocking Stitcher
Technical wizardry by Deadly Knitshade
Meeting stuff by the Fibre Flinger
Articles by Bluestocking Stitcher, Deadly Knitshade, The Fastener and Gertrude Woolsworthy  

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