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26th Feb 2010
Stitchin', Bitchin' and knitting for garter stitch glory
... WIN! It's a Stitch Up Yarn and Patterns ... Ravelympics madness ... Charity knittingness ...
 EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Andy Holden on his knitted Pyramid Piece ... Gertrude helps you get GRRRRR! ... 

Why oh why oh why is it still so cold greetings to you

We hope this newsletter finds you well, nursing your stitching sprains, doing your victory knitting dance of "WOO HOO! I finished!", or frantically knitting like an absolute loony as the Ravelympics draws to a close this Sunday.

S&B London learners: Free knitting lessons will take place twice a month at S&B London meetings. Check for the Learners Lesson icon next to the meeting title.
Please note: Knitting lessons are free but please remember your teachers are volunteers and give them a thank you at the end of the night for giving up their time. Thank-you cake and booze offers are also very much appreciated.


Going for garter stitch gold: Check out the highlights, injuries and time outs from this year's Ravelympics so far.

Olympic efforts in knitted art: We bag an exclusive interview with artist Andy Holden on his knitted Pyramid Piece art at Tate Britain.

WIN! Fight it out for lovely yarn and free patterns: Win one of five It's a Stitch Up hat patterns or one of two grand prizes of hand-dyed yarn. Fight! Fight! Fight!

Gold medal giving: Go all golden hearted with some warm and fuzzy charity projects.

Wrestle with Gertrude: Witness Gerty take on all comers from trend-knitters to sour-faced old school stitchers who don't want to share.
Feel like passing on the knitting love? Volunteer as a Stitch Sage and teach at a meeting. You get a lovely exclusive Stitch Sage badge too. See here for more info.

You packed out the Royal Festival Hall last week. Some lucky S&B Londoners got to appear in a documentary. Filmed to accompany the release of Paul Weller's new album, Wake Up The Nation, they chatted to the camera about all kinds of serious subjects. We would like to remind them to remember us when they become shiny and famous!

Knitting to our heart's content we also faced with minor adversity. S&B Londoners, already aware that the road to getting the world to 'submit to the knit' is long, came to realise that the road can also bring fleece-wearing obstacles with disapproving faces that may make a gurning man cry. However we're a focused and strong people and our knittered spirits were not downtrodden. We vow to start training an army of knitcadets to combat those to whom knitting, laughing and eating cake in public may be offensive by having one hell of a fabulous knit every week.

At The Camel and Artichoke you bravely battled the lighting to knit in near darkness. Lucky for all we went all wartime with candles and squinting at our stitched.
We also greatly admired Ponddrop's wonderful Sylvi coat and some impressive emergency steeking from The Purple Purler.

Stitch and show off your Ravelympics projects

Details of the next meeting:
You've knit faster than the Japanese bobsleigh team and you've made it over the finish line. Come and relive the glory and the pain! Show off your work over a pint or two, or maybe even sixteen.
From 6pm
Venue: The New Moon
88 Gracechurch Street

Map Website Nearest Tube: Bank, Liverpool Street, Monument

Stitch and we won't tell if you eat something you gave up for Lent

Details of the meeting after that:
Get your stitch on and sample the delights on offer at S&B London favourite, EV Delicatessen. Go on, have some chocolate cake ...  we won't tell if you don't.
TUESDAY 9th March
From 6pm
EV Delicatessen
The Arches
97-99 Isabella Street
London SE1 8DD

Map Website Nearest Tube: Southwark, Waterloo

Stitch and looks like we made it (10 more days and it's British SUMMER time!!!)

Details of the meeting after that:
THURSDAY 18th March
From 6pm
Venue: The Royal Festival Hall (Level 2)
Address: South Bank Centre
Belvedere Road

Map Website Nearest Tube: Waterloo, Embankment

Stitch and Striving for Stitching Glory

The Winter Olympics began on the Saturday, 13 February 2010 at 2:00 am, and while people across the globe were oooohing and ahhhing at Vancouver getting its Winter Olympics on, there were a smattering of jittery stitchers raring to cast on for glory.

Ravelry's Ravelympic event has seen a woolly wildfire of panic and purling sweep through Team S&B London. We're giving you a glimpse of  some of the medal-winning knits and some choice team chatter from the locker room; an insight on the stories, the struggles and the stitching injuries.

"I noticed I made a HUGE mistake so had to do a bit of a bodged repair job!"

"I had a terrible moment initially when I thought I’d twisted the thing. It’s these springy, curly circs!"

"I planned to cast on this morning but realized that my yarn wasn’t wound. Rookie mistake."

"As it’s white, I can only knit at home (if I took it on the bus it’d be grey. And they say you can’t dye acrylic…)"

"Hag hand update: 4/10"

"Two projects frogged already."

Grrrrrrrr! Delay in project cos stupid woman sat next to me on bus. Without asking she grabs my knitting so she could have a closer look and pulls half the bloody stitches off!"
"Can I report what’s probably our first injury? While slicing spuds for saute potatoes my right thumb had an unfortunate encounter with the mandolin. Ouch."
"I shall keep going, like Eddie the Eagle, with blind optimism and false confidence."
"Late starting my knitting again today due to another domestic crisis: broken laptop and malfunctioning Wii (must keep troops occupied in order to knit…). Hope this is not a sign of some devilish, karmic meddling"

"I had to cut FIVE knots out of one skein, and two from the other. In the spirit of international sporting comraderie, I decided all those little balls made it a perfect time to learn the Russian join. :)"

"I need to retain some shred of sanity …"
"So far I have knitted 10 little chickens. I am bored already."

"I have some Finding Nemo and Mr Bump plasters if you need them."

"Bother bother bother (substitute your own swear words beginning with ‘b’ and ending in ‘er’ if you prefer… I did!)"

"Do you think I have been the victim of of a voodoo doll dpn attack?"

"Due to an abnormally high acrylic count reading during the yarnoffs TheFibreFlinger has been disqualified from Ravelympics 2010. He will be put on merino wool rest and will be waited on by drooling alpacas before he will be allowed to compete."

"I still haven’t started…"

"Possibly enter it as a child's scarf if it’s a bit short!"

"My fingers are making weird clicks so might need a pit stop."

"It should be 'Love it, or frogg it'."
"I foresee lots of stitch markers in my near future…"

"I am done! Yay medal for me! *dances happily around podium*"

"I have knit just enough to make myself an Abe Lincoln style fake beard."

"Finished off my supershrug that’s been sat in my must-finish pile for over 18 months."

"I’ve got really bad hag hand."

"Let me tell you, this alpaca that I am using does not enjoy being frogged!"

"Have a sore finger to show for it all, some bemused co-workers and am now wondering what else I can squeeze in before the closing ceremony."
"I finished my cup cake. It’s actually the second one because the first was just too scary to photograph - the kind of cake that makes you want to go running in the other direction……"

"Disaster! That is all!"

"The frogging took just as long as the hat itself!"

"*Snoopy dancing* Had my first ever podium moment!"

"*Bows gracefully to the audience and flourishes the finished shawl* (in lieu of draping national flag over shoulders)."

There are still a fair few Ravthletes knitting like loonies. It ain't over till Sunday For live highlights you can keep your eagle eyes on the finish line on Ravelry.

If you missed out on the knitting madness and now long to take part you can start pondering what you'll stitch for 2012.


COMPETITION: Stitch and hats off to ya! by The Purple Purler

Still feeling competitive. Good, because it's competition time again, and it's S&B London regular Suzie Blackman, of It's a Stitch Up, who's providing the prizes.

A budding designer and Stitch Sage, Suzie is giving away five copies of her frankly fabulous new pattern, the Aduki hat. She's also offering two prizes of special hand-dyed yarn to go with the pattern, which she has dyed especially for you... (cue Kylie and Jason!)

Aduki is a slouchy titfer using two contrasting colourways designed to brighten the greyest of winter days, and boy aren't they grey right now!!! It's an easy knit, suitable for anyone familiar with knit and purl. So no excuses, peeps!

Two winners will receive a grand prize of the pattern and a hat's worth of beautiful hand-dyed wool and bamboo blend yarn – one hank in a gorgeous turquoise and the other in a rich red wine. Three runners-up will receive a free PDF pattern via email.

If you're not one of the lucky winners, you buy can the pattern for £2.50 as a PDF download from the designer's website or from Ravelry.

All you need to do is answer the question. We'll throw your answers into the ethereal land of Faery where our magic, mischievous name-picking purling pixies will steal (read  as choose!) the names of five winners.

Which of these is NOT a Winter Olympic sport:
a. Short track speed skating
b. Super Giant Slalom
c. The Ultra Fast Knit combined with the Stuff Cake In Your Mouth Every Third Row

Drop us an email at with:
  • The subject line "I'd take secret knitting enhancers in order to WIN!"
  • 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 8th March at 10am. The 5 winners will be picked from all correct entries, and notified by email within 48 hours. 

Please note: Offering to make us eternally young and beautiful will not help you win Suzie's pattern and yarn. Just pick your answer, email us and we'll let the purling pixies loose. Good luck!
Competition rules: 1. One entry per person. 2. Competition ends Monday 8th March 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 can be collected from us or will be posted to the winners.

Stitch and Stitched Suffering for Your Art by Deadly Knitshade

Knitting can be a bit gruelling at times. For some just getting to the casting off of a particularly nightmare jumper is a bit of a relief. Really though, once you laid eyes Artist Andy Holden's art installation Pyramid Piece you may never whine about endless rows again.

As a sticky-fingered urchin Andy stole a rock from the Great Pyramid of Cheops, Giza because he wanted to take a little bit of the awe at seeing the ancient structures home with him. Years later the stone grew heavy in his possession as he felt the guilt of nicking a piece of history.

What to do? Return it and then come home and knit a replica of said piece 1000 times bigger than the original stolen stone to get across to people the ancient awe he felt, and maybe suffer a little for his stealing in the making.

Two broken knitting machines and a huge amount of hands-on hard work later and the piece is complete.

I put some knitting flavoured questions to Andy and asked him to explain his the woolly wonder that is the Pyramid Piece and Return of the Pyramid Piece.

"It's done with a Brother Chunky knitting machine, forcing 12-14 yarns through at one time. To work on this scale it was really the only option.  We were constantly battling with knots and bending needles. The machines were constantly jamming and we broke two of them.

However it was in the end the best way to get the strata effect. Constantly changing the yarns that were being fed in, one person altering the yarns and another dragging the machine back and forth.

It took as long in the end as if we had done it by hand I think, but the process was more physical, closer to sculpting."

How much yarn did you use?
"I don't know, I should have counted the empty cones.  Thousands of miles. A lot, 55 square meters."

Andy came to the project with "fond memories of a knitted caveman that my Grandma made".
Has knitting the piece changed your attitude towards knitting?

"I was aware of Stitch and Bitch, and that attitudes to craft, and knitting in particular, had changed somewhat since I received my knitted cave-man.

Many of my projects seem to throw me in at the deep end of a field that I perviously don't know much about. I then attack the subject with an amateur enthusiasm, learning as much as I can on the way. I try not to judge these things.

I enjoyed wandering around the isles of BSK's (Bedford Society of Knitters) warehouse trying to find the colours I wanted.

I like the way art can wade out of it's depth, embrace an area and try and think about it in new terms."

Did you feel a bit of disquiet thinking knitters might come along and judge the quality of your knitting?

"For me its imperfections are part of it. It's an interpretation of a stone, enlarged many times; an attempt to communicate my feeling towards the rock in an absurd way.  

The sculpture is also just part of the work - the video of me climbing the Pyramid to return the stone to the original spot from which I had taken it, and the anecdote, are all part of the work. The narrative and the sculpture rely on each other.  

I enjoy the details in the colour of the knitting, and the form, but for something so unknown when it was begun I'm happy with the way it turned out."

Did you find that the knitting became meditative eventually? Many of us would say that we knit to relax.

"It was never meditative, constantly wrestling with the machine, breaking several of them, and up against a deadline, not even sure if it would work, or look any good as a sculpture. 
In a way I was more interested in the outcome ~ depicting the small fragment as a large knitted mass that looms over you ~ trying to capture the way the rock seemed to me as a kid.  

I wanted to see what it would be like to encounter a knitted object on that scale, as the knitted object is normally, due to the time involved, something that fits in the hand.  I have always been interested in hand-made knitted toys, and the way they escape the normal commercial transaction, their curious status as semi-representational."

Are you, like most knitters, obsessed by cake too now? Many of us suspect the two are mysteriously linked.

"Not really.  I quit smoking around that time and biscuits had been factored in as a substitute.  Art remains my only obsession."

What happens to the piece after the exhibtion? Aren’t you terrified the whole thing will be eaten by giant moths? I’m not sure the Tate Britain has very good anti-moth precautions.
"Mice in the studio were more of a problem, they nest in the wool and foam.  The moths would have to be really quite large to have an impact."

Will you ever knit again or do you have twinges of horror when you pass by knitwear in the shops now?
"No more than previously. Enough time has passed and I'm even thinking about another knitted piece.  I'm my own worst enemy."

I asked Andy a ton of knitting, mummy's curse and arty craft-based questions. You can see the full interview here on our blog.

The free Art Now: Andy Holden Pyramid Piece and Return of the Pyramid Piece exhibition is open 9 January - 10 April 2010 at Tate Britain, London.

Go and see it. I did. It's a wonder to behold but may make your joints ache in stitching sympathy when you see all that knitting.
Stitch and knitting a little love by The Fastener

It's a few months since we made our resolutions and whether or not it was one on your list, we've found some ways to stitch a little charity love and help some very worthwhile causes.

Wrap up a kiddie
 is a project that we've heard about through some of our European fellow S&Bers over in Zurich. They are asking anyone who can knit or sew to make and donate scarves, hats and mittens to help little ones, from as young as two years old, fight off old jack frost.  The great thing about the project is that there are no deadlines, so you can really knit to your heart's desire.

The very lovely Bekki has also started a project with St Mungos, to knit and donate woollen items to keep homeless people warm over winter. They're creating a store of hats, scarves and gloves to give to those greatest in need. They're also looking to for people to create individual gifts of jumpers and other items and need your help to do it.

A draw will be organised for anybody who donates and you can win yarn-related goodies.  Find out more about this wonderful woolly project by clicking here
.  (You'll have to sign in to Ravelry to view it) 

And, last but certainly not least, P/hop have more patterns to help Medecins Sans Frontieres. Their latest patterns, sold for a donation of your choice, are the fabulous Dido Shawl and Scarf and the fantastic Stained-glass Window Socks. You can pick up a lovely pattern and do some good.

Knitting and charity? Makes for a warm fuzzy feeling all over. Have some cake to celebrate.

Ask Gertrude: Can a gentle soul ever be an ultra-cool knitter?
This week, an apprehensive non-knitter questions our Gerty about whether she will ever be one of the band of super-cool knitters on the street.

Dear Auntie Gerty

Someone has offered to teach me how to knit. As I’m in my mid-30s and not terribly fit or aggressive, I’m not sure I’m up to ‘yarn storming’ and ‘stitching and bitching’. Should I leave knitting to the bright young things, or do you think it’s worth learning even at this late stage (maybe it would add to my ‘street cred’)?

Hope you can help

Gentle Jen, Junction Road

My dearest gentle one,

I don't know where you get the idea that knitters need to be aggressive or fit.  Why, the best exercise one can get is to lift a piece of lovely battenburg to your lips with one hand, and a nice gin and tonic with the other hand for balance.  And sitting down with a good knit is a great restorative, which can take away any aggression in your soul.  Why, if I had hands to knit with, I would be a fluffy ball of serenity.

Now, I understand that you may wish to be more aggressive.  Here I can help you, as your old Aunty Gerty can invoke good rage with some simple hypnosis. We'll turn you from nervous non-knitter into something with hideous rage. Just look into the buttons ...

One, two, three and you're under.

I want you to imagine yourself a generally irate individual who believes knitting should be done in the home and not enjoyed in groups at well-lit public venues.

You take a trip into town to visit the Royal Festival Hall. Look around you. There is a large group. They are having a good time.

You are not having a good time. Your polyester bootcuts are chafing and your packed lunch is sadly warm.

Yet they are smiling and laughing. Feel the rage! Feel it burning!

here is knitting in public. Feel the rage at the injustice! Feel the froth at the corners of your mouth!

Look more closely. Some of them are clearly young and some are older and some are older still. And yet they're mingling happily. And some are new to knitting! Why is no one telling them off for making a spectacle of themselves? Why should they show their knitting in public when it is a private matter? Feel the rage! Feel it!

And look! Why are they not drinking cocktails like a recent misguided newpaper article says they should be? Why are they drinking tea and cider there rather than sitting in the pub like the paper said? Why aren't they chic Sex and the City types that the newspaper writes about?! You feel confused. You feel the rage welling up! Can you feel your pulse raging?

There's a man over there! What on earth does he think he's doing? A man! Knitting! Among women!

It's disgusting! Feel the rage! Feel it burn!
Smooth down your fleece, approach them haughtily and
tell them all to go away and have some shame! Growl! Show your anger!

One two three, and you're back in the room.

You now know pointless rage. The path to aggressiveness is yours. But of course, unchannelled and pointless rage is a bad thing. So your next step is to find yourself a grrrr-ru.

Pack up a small bag and book yourself an Easyjet flight to darkest Tibet. Travel to the hills and raise your yarny flag.  One of the secret clan of ninja knitters will come and blindfold you to take you to their training camp, where they will teach you many things

You will learn that all knitting kind must live in harmony with each other and with non-knitters alike. You will also learn how to use your DPNs as mini javelins and your circular needle as a garotte should the need arise for you to fight injustice. You will learn to channel your anger into furious speedy knitting to turn out garments at an impressive rate.

Once you have done this, you can go and learn to knit with pride having faced the pointless rage and won.

However, this will not add to your street cred or make you cool.  Why do you want to be cold, anyway? When you could knit lovely things to keep you warm.

Take Madonna as an example of how knitting will not add to your street cred.  Ever one to chase the trends, Maddy took up knitting. She knitted obsessively so that she would be taken serioiusly as a super-cool proper knitter. But look: she gained no street cred, only hag hands. 

And my dear old friend Jimmy Hill. Tired of his one-dimensional career as a TV sports pundit, he took up knitting. He also adopted a mock-Jamaican accent, to show he was down with the kids. Did it do him any good? No, those pesky journalists just talk about Russell Crowe knitting backwards. And Jimmy's bosses wanted a quiet word about his new presenting voice. 

In all honesty, Gentle Jen, knitting will not increase or diminish your street cred, or make people look at you as being a different person. You will be the same person as before, only with excellent needle wrangling skills to impress your fellow knitters, who are the only people who really count.

It's worth learning because it's a creative, inspirational and fun thing to do. It's also a lovely, welcoming and thought-provoking community to be a part of. Your age doesn't change that at all.

And if you follow all my advice you'll have an excellent armoury of stealth weapons and the power to kill from a great distance with a DPN. So it's all win really.

See this question and others that didn’t make the newsletter on Gerty’s blog.
Needled by knitty nightmares? Can only a giant pink ball of wisdom help? Email her at

We're all run out now. So as we drop exhausted into a sweaty pile of yarn and worn-out needles in a corner, you can rush back to get finishing projects of your own. If you miss a sprinkle of that S&B London sparkle before the next newsletter you can always stalk us virtually on Twitter or chat about knitting (or anything else you want to untangle) on our Ravelry message board.
If you haven't done enough Olympic-style stuff you can still join our Race for Life team too.

If you want to cross our palms with knitted silver you find online, beckon us to your venues, or just whisper stitched nothing at us then drop us a line at

Go for the burrrrrrrrn, S&B Londoners

The S&B London Stitchettes x



Edited and sewn together with words by Deadly Knitshade
Technical wizardry by The Bluestocking Stitcher
Dates and news by The Fibre Flinger 
Ask Gertrude by Gertrude Woolsworthy
Other stories by The Fastener and The Purple Purler

submit to the,knit

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