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26th March 2010
Stitchin', Bitchin' and Going a bit green
... Win an Eco-Friendly Knits book ... Easter event: The Great Goat Race  ... Gerty goes garishly green  ...

Slighty itchy recycled beardy greetings to you

 We hope this newsletter finds you well, ready to grasp your recyclables by the appropriate appendage and turn them into something much knittier and feeling good about going green with your grater.

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 arrive before 8pm. A wise Stitch Sage once said "The early learner catches the free lesson. The late learner must suffer unending shame of their own making and possibly the horror of running out of cake." So it is written.

Purling with plarn: You can win one of five shiny green copies of Eco-Friendly Knits: Using Recycled Plastic Bags by the fabulous Emily Blades.
Go Goat Go! Knit yourself a goatee while you cheer on the goats at this year's Goat Race.

Wear your flag with pride: The shiny new Knit on the Net is out too. Fall a bit in love with their Flag jacket pattern. We did. There's a new Knitty too. Don't look at the short shorts for too long. The model's expressions tend to disturb.
Stitch and Badge: Brand new shiny S&B London badges are available at every meeting for a shiny £1 each. All proceeds go to keeping S&B London alive. See our whole badge range here.
Race for Life: Our Race for Life bagged a mention in the newest Designer Knitting (was Vogue Knitting) magazine. Are you on the S&B London team yet? Join us now. Go on.
Feel like passing on the knitting love? If you fancy having a go at teaching someone to knit volunteer as a Stitch Sage and teach at a meeting. You get a warm fuzzy feeling and a lovely exclusive Stitch Sage badge too. See here for more info.

At The Royal Festival Hall we battled our way through scores of children to our cozy corner of the second floor. Teaching spread like wildfire as we were overwhelmed by newbies wanting to get their knit on. First stitches and plenty of 'oo look what i made' was had. A huge thanks to those who continue to help us teach and hello to all you learners.  

On Tuesday at Leon, we ate our way through the fabulous food from, drank the fabulous freshly squeezed lemonade and we even managed to get a few stitches completed. To be fair the eating comes first when we're at Leon. It's just so yummy.

Stitch and Please no more April fools jokes

Details of the next meeting:
You've heard all the April fools jokes you can possibly take all day.  Why not join us for some good old stitching and maybe even a cheeky drink at our friendly local - The Stamford Arms? Go on. It's cosy, it's quiet and it's free.

We'll also be bringing along so samples of eccentric East London handspun yarn from Family Handspun for you to get your grubby mitts on. Kooky but cool.
Thursday April 1st
Time: From 6pm
Venue: Stamford Arms
62 Stamford Street
Map Nearest Tube: Southwark, Waterloo, Blackfriars

Stitch with a dash of lime

Details of the meeting after that:
Needles? Check.  Yarn? Check.  What are you waiting for then? Come on down to The Camel and Artichoke and join in the stitching and merriment. We promise that the camels with behave. Can't say the same for the artichokes though.
Tuesday 6th April
Time: From 6pm
Venue: The Camel and Artichoke
121 Lower Marsh

Map Nearest Tube: Lambeth North, Waterloo

Stitch and swimming in seas of stitching learners

Details of the meeting after that:

Wednesday 14th April
Time: From 6pm
Venue: The Royal Festival Hall (Level 2)
Address: South Bank Centre
Belvedere Road
Map Website Nearest Tube: Waterloo, Embankment

 COMPETITION: Stitch and it is that easy being green
by The Purple Purler

*sighs* So you've just been to the supermarket and you forgot to take your own carrier bags, so now you've got a heap of potentially planet-killing plastic bags that are going to sit on the already-huge pile of bags that you always intend to take to the supermarket next time...but you forget and come home with more plastic nauseum.

But those plastic bags are potentially very fabulous 'plarn'. Raveller and all-round creative, Emily Blades shows us how to make all kinds of accessories, from earrings to handbags, using this recycled gem of a resource in her new book
Eco-Friendly Knits using Recycled Plastic Bags published by Search Press. And she's kindly offered us 5 copies to give away to you lovely S&B Londoners.

All you need to do is send us the correct answer to the question below and we'll ask the woolly Wombles to take time out from their busy recycling schedules to pick 5 winners from the rusty bucket they found on Wimbledon Common.

What is 'plarn' made of?
a. A pile of plastic bags
b. The bones of Plantagenet Kings
c. The plucked plumage of plague-ridden pigeons

Drop us an email at with:
  • The subject line "I'm going to kick global warming's ass with my plarn shopping bag!"
  • Answer A, B or C
  • Your full name, email address, and contact phone number (if you have one)
The deadline for the competition is Monday 5th April at 10am. The 5 winners will be picked from all correct entries, and notified by email within 48 hours. 

Please note: Offering the Stitchettes anything sweet or alcoholic will not help you win his book. Just pick your answer, email us and let the the Wombles do what they gotta do! Good luck!
Competition rules: 1. One entry per person. 2. Competition ends Monday 5th April 2010 at 10am. 4. Winners will be drawn from all correct answers, and notified within 48 hours via email. 5. If winners don’t reply with addresses within two weeks of closing date then new winners will be chosen. 5. No cash alternatives. 6. Prizes will be posted to the winners.


Stitch and we're gonna need a bigger goat  by Deadly Knitshade

Every year spectators gather by the course to watch Oxford vs Cambridge in the big race. Sometimes Oxford wins, sometimes Cambridge wins, sometimes either oxford or Cambridge get tempted off the track by a particularly tasty-looking woolly beard. Bring on The Oxford and Cambridge Goat Race!

Last year may of you got down to the Spitalfields City Farm for the first ever Oxford and Cambridge Goat Race. The inaugural Goat Race saw the pygmy goat wonder, Cambridge, storm home to victory in front of a roaring crowd of over 400 people. Some of those people were wearing knitted beards. You know who you are. They raised nearly £1000 for the farm.

Goatee Knitting Race – Fancy yourself a speedy stitcher? Pah! Show us your stitching stuff while under the steely goat eyes of the fierce competitors! You haven't really speed knit until you're up to your ankles in mud while being stared at by goats. This year The Goatee Knitting Race challenge is thrown down. The race kicks off at 3.30 and the longest beard, after a tense five minutes of furious fibre flinging, is declared the winner.

Place your bets with the official Goat Race bookie and sweepstake, dance in your wellies to the DJ and buy goat-themed treats from the markets stalls.

Join The Oxford vs Cambridge Goat Race Facebook group for the latest news, including their Goat of the Day (some of them cute, some of them goatishly dressed a hipsters...).

SATURDAY 3rd April (Easter Sunday)
Time: 2.30pm - 5.30pm
(Goatee Knitting Race at 3.30pm. Goat Race at 4.30pm)
Spitalfields City Farm and then Secret East London Location
Buxton Street
London E1 5AR

Map Website Nearest Tube: Bethnal Green, Whitechapel
Dress code: Strictly black tie, rowing lycra, boat club jackets and ties, or goat

All proceeds from the day go to Spitalfields City Farm. A place where chunky beasts live in harmony with the concrete city around them. If it wasn't for beasts like these and green goat-riddled havens like these then children would think all yarn was delivered by the yarn fairy.
Support your local goats in their sporting endeavours and take your knitting by the horns.
Ask Gertrude: Going Green with Your Garter Stitch
This week, an environmentally concerned reader risks Gerty's acrylic rage with a query about ecologically sound knitting.

Dear Gerty

I have recently taken up knitting so that I can add to the ways in which I can make my own clothing in the eventuality of the eventual breakdown of society and manufacturing.  With my sewing needle and my knitting needles I will be well prepared.

My question is this.  I try to leave as little impact on the world as possible in what I do. I grow my own vegetables, I recycle and I reuse whereever possible.  I am now having some concerns about my new hobby. I would like to use tools and yarn that are as natural, ecologically sound and non-exploitative as possible.  Could you point me in the right direction, Gerty?

Sending you some home-brewed gin in anticipation
Briony, Brentford

Dearest Briony.  I can quite see your concerns.  I think you need to look at this from two angles - your tools and your yarn. 

Let us look at your tools.  I gather your tool will be knitting needles.  Now, you have several options with needles.  You will probably have dismissed plastic as being too man-made.  And I suspect that you will have dismissed metal in favour of sustainable resources such as wooden needles?  Have you?  Well, let me tell you about the poor little children who have to sand down those needles for you. Do you want them to suffer.  To my eyes, you have two options here. 

You could acquire the needle collection of another knitter.  The most effective way will be to spend time around someone else who has also recently started, but has more needles than you. Make them doubt their own knittingness. Maybe drop a few stitches for them when they go to get a cup of tea or go to the loo. Ask them whether knitting is really the right hobby for them.  As your friend casts her needles aside in despair, sweep them up into your own knitting bag as your own, safe in the knowledge that no additional needles needed to be made to supply your needs.

Your second option is to make your own needles. I recommend stealing used chopsticks from the bins of cheap sushi restaurants or whittling down twigs with your teeth. For finer needles, you could try using spare spokes from bike wheels, but be sure not to take too many out or your bike may become unstable.

Now for your yarn.  The most biodegradable option, if you want to make fashion garments is to knit with food.  Spaghetti will make a fine loose-knit vest and you can make great bags from strawberry laces.  The results you get from cheese strings aren't so great though - too short and thick unless you pull the strings apart. If you want to replicate the finest mohair, then you can attempt to spin candy floss into gossamer weight yarn.  Once you have become tired of your clothes, you simply eat them. Not the sweaty armpit bits, though. Especially if you don't use deodorant.  One has to have some standards in one's food.

For something more durable, your most ethical option is to make your own.  I have heard people speak of this plarn business, but it's awfully squeaky and gives you boils.  No, you need to look at things you can spin.

I have heard tales of spinning pet hair.  Frankly, your hamster will mock you if you try to brush it for its hair. Do you want to be mocked by a hamster?  Better to stick to larger animals with longer hair, like horses and lions.  And goldfish scales make fantastic sequins to embellish your knits.

But you say that animal hair exploits animals?  Well, human hair is your best option.  Excellent sources of human hair within your own home are your hairbrush, the plughole and your hoover.  You have no hoover? Slattern!  If you cannot gather sufficient hair by yourself, then you can supplement it by visiting your local gym showers at the end of the evening, hanging around hairdressers' bins and occasional use of scissors on other passengers on the bus.  You see, there is absolutely no need to make your yarn from plastic!

Now, about that gin.

See this question and others that didn’t make the newsletter on Gerty’s blog.
Do you have a dastardly darned dilemma that only a woolly wonder can solve? Email her at

We've gone all green. We're off to try and wash some of it off. In the meantime we're always available to tweet incessantly at on Twitter, you can invite us to purchase Farmville Chicken on Facebook, and there's the Ravelry message board for wasting time at work when quite frankly you should be working.
If you dig up knitting treasure tell us All finds are rewarded with virtual cake.

Get out there and get your green on, S&B Londoners
The Stitchettes x



Edited and sewn together with words by Deadly Knitshade
Technical wizardry by The Bluestocking Stitcher
Dates and news by The Fastener
Ask Gertrude by Gertrude Woolsworthy

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