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23 April 2010
Stitch and a Knit at the Museum
... WIN Camden Crawl Tickets ... EXCLUSIVE EVENT at the Hunterian Museum  ... 
... Inside Kensington's Enchanted Palace ...  The V&A Knitting Vaults ... Gerty goes Retro

 Dusty glass-encased greetings to you

We hope this newsletter finds you well, stroking your chins at the wonders of the world about you and charging up your hooks and needles as you join us on our tour of all that is crafty and museum-flavoured. Please form a crocodile so no one goes missing and join us as we wander into the archives...

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.

Get Stitched Up at the Hunterian – You're invited to an exclusive stitching event at one of the city's most kooky, creepy and fabulous museums.
WIN Camden Crawl tickets – You have two chance to win Camden Crawl tickets for the whole weekend! Woo hoo!
Crafting chromosomes – Stitch London are knitting an exclusive piece for London's Science Museum and you're the first to know about it.

V&A does knitting – A tour around the V&A's knitting vault.

Gerty sneers at retro stitching – Our woolly Agony Aunt Gertrude Woolsworthy takes on  inherited pattern stashes
Spectacular Stitching Museum stuff – Stitch London are thrilled to annouce a project with the Natural History Museum coming this summer. Watch this space for more news...

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.

Stitch London meetings:
For more information on each venue click on 'More info' to go to our Venues page.
THURSDAY 29 April 

Time: From 6pm
Venue: The New Moon
Ledenhall Market
88 Gracechurch Street



Time: From 6pm
Venue: Crusting Pipe
27 The Market
Covent Garden

Map More info

Time: From 6pm
Venue: Hunterian Museum
Royal College of Surgeons of England
35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields
EXCLUSIVE EVENT: All Stitched Up at the Hunterian Museum by The Fibre Flinger

If truth be stranger than fiction then forget about the book and the movie and get ready for a whole new level of crazy. This Night at the Museum is the real deal.

Friday 14 May 2010 sees The Hunterian Museum open its doors after hours to bring you ‘All Stitched Up!’ - a special evening of handicrafts devoted to the art of the stitch in all its forms.

You may remember the The Hunterian Museum from the stitchingly spooky Halloween Stitch London meeting. The museum displays John Hunter's vast collection of human and animal specimens pickled in lovely glass jars.

 The lovely museum staff have organised a craft extravaganza that goes by the name of All Stitched Up.
You can:
  • Knit next to a skeleton of Kurt the Elephant
  • Try your hand at spinning next to Susie the skeleton with rickets
  • Get weaving and sewn card-making amongst jars of body bits
  • Try out real-life proper Grey’s Anatomy-type basic surgical suturing with the surgeons

Doors to the event are open from 6pm to 10pm

Warning: This event is open to all members of the public and it is gonna be packed out. Be sure to get there early so you can get signed up to all the activities you want.

And bring lots of chocolate cake. We have been told it is what the specimens demand to be fed.

Culture 24 organises the annual weekend of museums opening up their doors after dark. This year the event runs from Friday 14 May to Sunday 16 May. Find further Museums at Night 2010 events here.


The Camden Crawl is one of London's most creative and slightly crazed festival weekends. Spread over over one and a half miles Camden Crawlers can sample new talent for over 30 hours across more than 40 venues. It's Camdeny, it's musicy and it's going to rock.

Stitch London have snagged two pairs of Camden Crawl Weekend Tickets (worth £122.60 a pair) to give away for Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd May 2010

Who's playing? You can see a full line up of artists here.
What is there to do? There is so much going on. Including Stitch London's free Graffiti Yarnstorming workshop and other crafty stuff too. See the full daytime line up here.

How do I enter? All you need to do for each entry is:
  1. Stitch a skull with our easy free pattern (or find a pattern of your own) Any skull. Any size. Any type of stitching.
  2. Send it in by Friday 30th April. It must arrive by the 30th.
  3. Or bring your skulls to our meeting on the 29th April
  4. Make sure we have your phone number to contact you if you win
Where do I send it? Find our address here.
How big does each skull need to be? Any size above 6cm
Can I crochet? You can. Free pattern online here.
Can I cut one out of felt and sew on it? Yes. Do whatever you like. Just send us one skull for each entry.
How do I know if I have won? Winners will be contacted on Friday afternoon after 2pm. Tickets can be collected on the day at The Pirate Castle in Camden from 10am.

Every single skull you send counts as one entry

That means if you want to stitch 50 skulls for more chances to win then you can

Competition rules: 1. One entry per skull sent. 2. Competition ends Friday 30th April 2010 at 2pm. 4. Winners will be drawn from all entries, and notified by phone. 5. If winners don’t reply with two hours new winners will be chosen. 5. No cash alternatives. 6. Prizes can be collected from the Pirate Castle on the day.

 Stitch and the Vaults of the V&A by the Purple Purler

Could the V&A possibly be the best museum in the world...ever?
I certainly think it is. And here is just one reason why: the knitting collection.

Now that probably doesn't come as a surprise, considering we're a knitting group and this article is about to feature in a knitting newsletter... Sorry for being predictable ;-)

So what has caught our eye deep in the vaults of the V&A?*

Well, these can now be found in my Ravelry queue: a pair of 16th-century Spanish silk and silver gilt thread gloves. Yes, they are knitted. Don't believe us? Check this out.

Teamed with this gobsmackingly gorgeous jacket I will be a true vision of Renaissance magnificence (read as slighly overdressed/too many patterns/oh my god my eyes but still, the pieces are bloomin' gorgeous!)

Would it be too much to add these hose? With this petticoat? And jumper? And this hat?

Yes...yes it would. Just STOP!!! Let's move on...

Okay. Other truly beautiful pieces include this early-nineteenth century silk and bead purse, this pin cushion and this gown. *swoons*

Can we have jobs, please?

But the V&A knitting pages aren't only filled with historical pieces. Vintage 1940s knitting patternsknitting patterns for children; knitting designers discuss their approaches to knitting; you can learn about regional knitting in the UK; and you can share your own knitting
are available to download for free (I'm making a balaclava with the ear holes!!) and there's a feature on

*Stitch London would like to point out that sadly we have not really seen the vaults/repositories of the V&A so can't really claim to have seen anything...but if someone out there has the power, we're well up for it!

Stitch and the Stuff You're Made Of by Deadly Knitshade

To go along with our Stitch Yourself project that we're running with the Science Museum (in which you get the chance to make a tiny stitched version of you to be displayed in the Museum) we're also working on a special project for the Who Am I? gallery.

If you missed it you can find out more about the Stitch Yourself project here.

A bit stuck on how to make you YOU? Wander over to Ravelry to discuss it.

Stitchette Bluestocking Stitcher and I are attempting to knit a pair of chromosomes which will be part of the permanent Who Am I? display.

Each chromosome will feature a telomere at each end, showing how the ends of our DNA slowly break down causing is to age.
Stitch Londoners will get the very first look at the project in this newsletter very soon.
The marriage of stitching and science continues...

Stitch and Spinning Spells by The Bluestocking Stitcher

Last Friday, our lovely Fastener has a significant birthday, so the Stitchettes decided to take her for a lovely day out.  We had such a fantastic time that we wanted to tell you all about it so that you can do the same (visit the exhibition, that is, not take The Fastener out, although you could always make her an offer).

Our destination was Kensington Palace.  Formerly mostly known as a shrine to the eternal stream of mourners for poor Dead Diana and royalty obsessed tourists (and, to be frank, a little staid and dull), the palace as was is closed for renovation work and, in the interim, has been converted to the Enchanted Palace.  And it is amazing.
The transformation is a collaboration between the Historic Royal Palaces and Wildworks. with individual rooms created by designers and groups including Vivienne Westwood, Echo Morgan, Stephen Jones and the one which gave us a real crafty surprise, Stitches in Time (but more about that later).

As you arrive, you're presented with a treasure map and fragments of clues about the identities of seven princesses associated with the palace.  Their lives are told as fairy tales (of the Perrault rather than the Disney variety) around you as ghosts dance across the ceiling and figures in grey chase the disembodied voices of children and quiz parents about whether their babies in prams are actually feral children.  It's a little bit sinister, it's a little bit interactive, it's a little bit steampunk (yes, we know it's becoming a bit of a cliche, but until Next do a Steampunk collection in their catalogue, it's still cool, OK), it's a little bit incredible.  It's absolutely the best thing they could have done with the space.

The treasure hunt takes you through several rooms of intricately crafted artworks.  Our highlights included a dress made of origami cranes in flight, abstract metal sculptures casting ghostly silhouettes on a wall, the tiny, tiny boots of young princesses (part of the HRP collection) and a cabinet of artworks by lesser known independent artists.  But, imagine our delight to walk into the room of the Seat of Power.  First we spotted a sewn mural on the wall.  Then we spotted the throne.  A knitted throne that you can sit on.  We did, of course, know that knitters rule, but here's the evidence in the form of a woolly Seat of Power.  This work was created by Stitches in Time Fabricworks Production group, who co-ordinated a collaborative project involving schools, elder groups and voluntary organisations and no picture we can give you here does it justice.

So, go and wander through the story.  Then, sit in the knitted Seat of Power and make a wish.  Go on. 

Ask Gertrude: Inspiration for Inherited Items

This week Gerty comes to the aid of a reader drowning in donated patterns and knitting.

Dear Auntie Gerty

My dear old Auntie Beryl has just found out that I have taken up knitting.  She's a kind-hearted soul, but doesn't have the most up-to-date sense of style or the best taste in clothes.  She volunteers a few days a week in our local Save the Kittens charity shop and has taken to bringing home old knitting patterns and yarn that people bring into the shop.  I have had a selection of patterns for horrible headgear from her - for some reason she thinks balaclavas are brilliant! And she wants to know why I haven't made any!

The latest thing she has brought me is a partially completed blanket, which she has said she would love to see me complete.  Oh my God, you should see it.  The yarn is an explosion of eyelash and glittery lurex.  There's, quite frankly, a deranged mind at work with the stitches they have come up with.  The pattern would not look out of place in the museum of kitschy stitches.  Every time I go round to tea, she asks what I've done with it.  What can I do, Gerty?  I don't want to hurt her feelings, but it is so ugly it's beginning to give me nightmares. 

Help me save a lovely lady's feelings
Worried Wendy, Wandsworth

PS, I've enclosed some pictures to show you the full horror.

My Dear Wendy, are you suggesting that aunties do not have impeccable taste? Are you? HOW DARE YOU!!  The blanket is surely a work of true beauty.

OK, now I have looked at the blanket pictures. And, admittedly, burnt orange, puce, khaki and lime green is an unusual selection of colours to use within a single square.  But there are a myriad uses for such a blanket.  I shall offer you three options that will make Auntie Beryl glow with pride.

Your first options is to use some of the squares to create a high fashion garment.  See that crochet dress that the Blanchett woman wore to a film premiere a while ago.  You could do the same for a knitted skirt.  Convert the pattern for the blanket into a wraparound skirt.  Your next step is to start hanging around trendy celebrity bars, telling people that you just ripped it out of Peaches Geldof's sweaty little hands in an exclusive boutique in Shoreditch and that the waiting list for the skirt is already very long.  Eager celebrities will be desperate to wear your skirt to fabulous parties, and you can show Auntie Beryl pictures of the skirt falling out of nightclubs and into taxis.  She will be so proud.

Your next option is charity.  Now, it would be simple to offer the entire blanket to charity.  But, have you not been asked to take part in endless charity blanket knitting campaigns? Would you not rather spend your time knitting something a little bit more interesting than a square?  Take your blanket apart square by square.  Use the squares whenever anyone asks you to contribute to a charity blanket.  You will look like the most generous person in your knitting group and will never need to knit another boring square ever again.  When they ask you to sew up the blanket, adopt a sad-eyed expression and mutter something about wrist strain from knitting all those squares.

Your third option is to become one of those dreadful yarnstorming types.  Feel like you lack the inspiration or inclination to make anything for yarnstorming?  Who needs inspiration when you can cover a building in a small blanket in the name of art?  Take Auntie Beryl past the building and point it out to her.  She will be proud of her creative relative.

Now for that headgear.  Admittedly, that second world war earless balaclava may look a little bizarre to you.  But, just think of it's potential! I see two potential sets of wearers, who have previously been left out of the opportunity for woolly winter snugness and complete head coverage.  The first is to offer the hat to the costume department on Eastenders to give to Pat Butcher, the wearer of large earrings.  Do we ever see Pat wearing a nice snug woolly hat in winter! No! She would have to hide her earring collection!  She will be left out of woolly winter warmth no longer! And your hat will be on the telly! 

Your second option for the earless balaclava is to offer them to those young things who wear those very large headphones.  Traditional hats either drown out their music or leave them exposed to the elements.  Now this is no longer the case! They can enjoy their large headphone music while avoiding the chilly air.

As for the colourful balaclava, GIVE IT TO ME! Gerty wants to be on Lucha Libre! I will bounce on them all and steal their burritos!

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

Would you like Gerty to pound your problems into submission? Email her at

We're closing the doors for now. We've made sure none of you are hiding in the loos hoping to steal something priceless too. If you miss us you're welcome to stalk us daily on Twitter and spill your brains on our message board. We're on Facebook too. We're everywhere! It's a bit scary...
See you in the depths of the dusty archives, Stitch Londoners
The Stitchettes x


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

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