This year my Knit Nation didn't start in South Kensington but in just off Hatton Garden more usually associated for me with jewellery school days.
The area is also home to Médecins Sans Frontières and the p/hop fundraising project. As my employer allows me two volunteering days each year, I was using one to help p/hop co-ordinator Clare Storry (aka GingerKnits) get ready for two days running a stand at Knit Nation.
P/hop is all about persuading folks to donate to MSF in exchange for knitting patterns donated by some very talent designers. So preparing for an event means checking display samples, and lots of counting, stapling and printing patterns, before packing it all up to transport to the show. For me it also provided to an opportunity to see the MSF office in action and hear the reports coming in from those tackling malnutrition in Somalia.
Then it was off to Imperial College to deliver the p/hop goods, as well as a yarn stand for the Yarn Yard stall and in my case a version of the South Kensington shawl (which I recently test knit) to OneHandKnits so she could wear it on the stand with the Bothered Owl.
Having these jobs to do and offering to help out vendors I knew, meant I was inside the market place when it opened, so was able to witness the now traditional Wollmeise stampede and visit some of my favourite yarn dyers. With lovely but quite modest results:
The turquoise is Sweet Clement Besotted, the grey is Yarn Yard Crannog, the champagne is Natural Dye Studio Dazzled Sock and the cone some very interesting linen and steel yarn from Habu.
But mainly it was lovely to chat to a whole bunch of lovely peeps who I usually only speak to online.
On Saturday it was up early to attend a class on Vintage Fit and Finishing from Susan Crawford of A Stitch in Time fame. This proved marvelously educational with tips on adjusting knits to fit, advice on key measurements - we all now know where our waists are - and putting garments together. For me, the most fascinating thing was the realisation that in the past women thought of knitted garments in the same way as dressmaking and learning about the weight-bearing structural importance of seams.
The class was so interesting that it over-ran but I soon had to depart for my next activity - the podcast picnic. Sadly the monsoon conditions forced this into a hallway but it was still lovely to meet up with iMake Guernsey and HoxtonHandmade of Electric Sheep fame.
A quick chat (some recorded) and a bag of crisps later, it was time to man the p/hop stand which was under siege from lunching knitters. This year p/hop was in the Tea Salon area, just opposite the food queue. A fantastic position, especially on a rainy day, because pretty much anyone needing a snack or a sit down saw our tempting range of patterns. From newby knitters to established designers and magazine editors we had a constant stream of visitors most of whom became fans of the latest addition to the p/hop selection - Ros Clarke's cricket tea cosy which formed the centrepiece of the stall.
But a whole range of patterns were popular and I so enjoyed chatting to knitters and finding the right pattern for them (I hope) and even on occasion answering queries from those who had cast-on there and then.
It was great to meet so many people and talk knitting all day. I hope everyone else had as much fun as me.