The Knitted River, on display at The Alexander Palace Knitting and Stitching Show.

This weekend I went to the giant knitting show which is affectionately known as Ally Pally. This is the second time I’d gone and there’s nothing like it for feeling totally out of your demographic. It’s all older women, and there’s something about all that yarn that makes them aggressive and single minded. You can put to rest any ideas of polite grans. These women have survived wars and scarcity, or like to think they have. And you’re not going to get between them and their yarn, cause you’re a young ‘un. The strange thing is it’s not a fire sale. There are very few deals to be had. Most things are actually marked up for the show, and can easily be found via the web or ebay. It’s best to just browse and be inspired– though I did pick up a couple of bargains.

But I go thinking I’m going to see all these women wearing their hand knit creations, or knitting in public– kind of a communial knitting experience. Ally Pally is not that. A kind older woman saw Alice and I knitting and she said, “It’s so nice to see young people knitting.” You know, I’m THIRTY-EIGHT. I guess I should be flattered but it’s all rather matronizing. As the day went on things began to happily thin out and Liza and I were able to check out the Colinette booth in a more civilized manner. We actually got to discuss yarn and projects with other knitters, which is kind of why you go to a knitting show.

Colinette had made “marshmallow” just for the show– a cushy, smooshy thick and thin wool, loftier and chunkier than Point 5. I can’t wait to get it on the needles. I’m going to make a scarf for myself out of the velvet leaf, and a top-down bolero for Liza out of the velvet bilbery.

Colinette Marshmallow– 100g for a fiver! Not bad at all.

An interlac bag made of carrier bags by the By the Knitting and Crochet Guild of Leighton Buzzard.

This was an impressive meditation on waste and reuse. After helping Edie with the carrier bag canopy project, I know how hard it is to work with carrier bags– the skill and hard-headedness of this project moved me. It’s also beautiful.

I was most impressed seeing the Knitted River in person. I had seen pictures of the march to end water poverty, snaking the river through the streets of Westminster, and I was blown away.


It is a metaphor for communal action, and a poetic visual argument. (By the time I got to knitting a square for this, there were thousands more than they had asked for– volunteers sewed up the 100,000 squares.)

I wish more of the stalls at Ally Pally had things like this featured instead of just wares for sale.


Liza in the Waterlily Tanke, originally uploaded by velvetdahlia.

I just finished this for Liza to take to France. It’s a pattern from Interweave knits– in Colinette’s Giotto– the pharoah colorway.

I didn’t block it.  Maybe I should have.  When will I learn to stripe Colinette?  It doesn’t look as striped on as it does in this picture.

I knit this vest from the Waterlily Top pattern by Katy Ryan in Interweave Knits, Summer 2006. It is a beautiful pattern that is very flattering. It’s knit in the round and there’s only seaming at the shoulders. I am in the process of taking out that seam to shorten the armholes, as the top has lengthened as I’ve worn it, which is pretty typical of ribbon yarn things anyway.

I used Colinette Giotto in the leaf green colorway. Colinette is very affordable in the UK– half the price or less than what it would be in America. I really feel like I’m getting away with something when I knit with the stuff.

vest back

decorative yarn overs in the back–

colinette giotto

These are hanks of giotto in the pharoah colorway. My friend Liza chose it– I’m going to knit her one of these vests.