Since then they’ve been busy. They made an appearance at our Stitched Science event last summer and now they’re going to be on the big screen! Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
The lovely folks at the Craft Club (the Craft Council’s initiative to get more people passing on the love of craft) got in touch to ask if we had any inspiring handmade bits to star in their brand new crafty film. Of course we did! Your Stitched Selves were possibly the most inspiring project we have ever done.
So we piled all 255 of you into a taxi and off we went to Craft Council Towers. Most of you were well behaved. Most of you…
The Stitched Selves spent the afternoon with the folks at Crush Creative making movie magic. Here are a few sneak peeks…
A whole lotta Stitched Selves wait nervously for their moment
Ready for your close up?
Pile of posing purly people
So where can you see this fibre-filled film? Well you’re lucky enough to be invited to the premiere at Stratford East Picturehouse, East London.
(We can’t guarantee all the Stitched Selves will be featured in the film. After all there are 255 of you! But if yours didn’t make the final cut there’ll be more Stitched Self mayhem in future. So keep an eye on Stitch London to see what they get up to.)
It’s official. 2012 will be the year of the Stitch! This year Stitch London plans to cram as much stitching in as possible and we’re starting as we mean to go on with our fantabulous GIANT NEW YEAR NEWBIES STITCH UP!
3rd January 2012 Time: From 6pm Venue: The Royal Festival Hall
South Bank Centre
Every year we gather as many stitchers as we can at our second home, London’s Royal Festival Hall, to get our public stitch on in style. Each year we see around 200 proud crafty people gather.
Stitch London Stitch Up's can sometimes be seen from space
Celebrate Stitch London’s 6th Birthday!
This year we’re turning 6 years old! To celebrate we’ll have some spot prizes which will be given out randomly throughout the evening. Woo hoo!
Pass on the Knitting Love
STITCH LONDON NEEDS YOU! For our New Year Stitch Up we invite anyone new to knitting or new to the group to come along. We offer free lessons in knitting basics for learners, which is where is splendiferous Stitch Sages come in. If you know how to knit and think you know enough to pass it on (it’s really very easy), then please join our Stitch Sage team. You only need to teach for about half an hour and then keep an eye on your learner’s in case they get a bit lost while they practice.
We really really need new Stitch Sages to pass on the woolly love, so if you want to volunteer in the New Year please drop us an email at stitchsage@stitchLDN.com with the subject “I want to help wrangle the woolly Godzilla”.
Fancy learning to get your knit on? The New Year Stitch Up is your chance to learn to knit for free!
You can bring your own yarn and needles, but Stitch London will be offering Whodunnknit How to Knit Kits in three flavours Sheep ‘n’ Aliens, Floating Flutterguys and Stitched Squid (each perfect for beginners), as well as Whodunnknit Stitched Self Mini Me Knitting Kits for those who know how to knit already.
The Whodunnknit Knitting kit includes:
An exclusive Stitch London skyline drawstring bag to keep your projects in
A set of bamboo knitting needles
A set of 4 Stitch London knitting badges
2x 25g balls of brightly coloured yarn
A ultra-cute pair of ‘snips’ scissors
A tapestry needle for weaving in your ends
An 8-page Stitch London How to Knit booklet
Everything you need to make the Whodunnknit pattern of your choice (choose from Sheep and Martians, Floating Flutterguys, a Finger-fighting Stitched Squid or a Stitched Self Mini Me) along with the Whodunnknit knitting pattern
How do I order a Whodunnknit knitting kit?
Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how many kits you would like and which pattern you would like with it. Each kit costs £14.
Want to learn crochet instead?
The lovely Tofty Makes will be offering How to Crochet Kits with full instructions in the fabulous full-colour booklet. See more about her How to Crochet Kits and the cute amigurmi creature you can make over at Tofty Makes.
Anyone and everyone is welcome. We’re multi-craft, multi-cultural and we love craft as much as you do. All you need to do is turn up, pull up a chair and start stitching. If you crochet, cross stitch, spin, embroider or do any other kind of craft you’re more than welcome to join us.
For those who wish to learn to knit you need to sign up when you arrive (look for the New Stitcher Sign Up Sheet) from 6pm. Teaching will begin at 6.30 once most of our Stitch Sages have arrived.
What does it cost?
It’s all totally free! Woo hoo!
Join us on the night! If you can’t make it you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook, where we’ll be posting pictures on the night.
This Christmas some marvellous Stitch Stuff will be on sale at the brilliant Duckie Christmas Market at London’s Barbican Centre. Woo hoo!
Stitch London proudly presents the woolly might of Stitch London’s creator, Whodunnknit, teaming up with the fabulous Emma ‘The Fastener’ Toft of Tofty Makes to sell a whole load of Stitchy Stuff to the brilliant Duckie Christmas Market at London’s Barbican Centre.
What’s Duckie Christmas Market when it’s at home? Duckie Christmas Market will transform the Barbican Centre foyers into an indie gift market showcasing cult crafters, artisans, designers, hawkers, butches, bakers and candlestick makers. It’s a kooky, ultra-fun pop up market and it’s totally free!
What are we selling? Beginner knitting kits (including branded Stitch London needles, mini yarn-cutting snips, a how to knit booklet, yarn and other essential bits); beginnner crochet kits (including how to crochet booklet and other essential bits); gorgeous handmade buttons and button-based accessories; over 20 different Stitch London badges; graffiti knitting postcards, greetings cards and prints; Stitch fridge magnets; Stitch London books, and loads more.
We’ll have a something special for all members of Stitch London who come along on the 21st. Just say the codewords “Woolly Godzilla”.
When is it? We’ll be there on these dates:
2pm to 9.30pm on Sunday 18th December
6pm till 9.30pm on December 20th, 21st and 22nd
6pm till 9.30pm after Christmas on December 29th and 30th
On December 21st we have an exclusive Stitch London Stitch Up area at the market so come along for our last Stitch Up of the year!
Where is it? It’s at London’s Barbican. More info on the venue here.
What else is going on? Duckie promises workshops, pop-up performances and seasonal bonhomie. It’s going to be fun with a capital F, we tell you!
AGH! I can’t make it! Can I buy Stitch London stuff online?!?!?! The Stitch London shop will be opening in the New Year but Stitch London beginnner knitting kits and Tofty Makes beginner crochet kits will be available at the New Year Newbie Fest on January 3rd 2012. Email mailto:buystuff@stitchLDN.com to order yours. Go on.
You can also support Stitch London by buying the Stitch London book (with free pigeon knitting kit) or the Knit the City graffiti knitting book. Cool, no?
Why on earth would you teach people to knit for free?
At Stitch London we’ve been teaching people to knit for free since 2006. Our volunteer Stitch Sages (and earlier Stitchettes) have taught hundred of knitters during this time, and all for the love of the knit and the occassional bit of cake. We’re often asked why people offer their free time to keep Stitch London alive. So we thought we’d let our Stitch Sages explain why they love knitting and why they love passing the love of the knit on.
We hope to encourage you to teach others, either with Stitch London or wherever you are.
Giving makes life lovely
Learning to knit is more than just looping a bit of string onto a couple of sticks. In the cases of our Stitch Sage volunteers passing on the love of the knit has built bridges, grown confidence and in sometimes literally changed lives.
If you’ve always been tempted to try out teaching the knit but aren’t too sure, then here’s hoping the stories of these Stitch London Stitch Sages will inspire you.
Taking Stitch Saging overseas
Jenny Willett has taught over 20 people Stitch London meetings since she began Stitch Sage volunteering. Those first little learner loops have helped her go on to some amazing things…
“I volunteered as a Stitch Sage because I enjoy teaching and encouraging others that they can master knitting. It’s really rewarding to enable others to have a sense of achievement and watch their confidence grow.
Stitch LDN has inspired me to volunteer elsewhere, like in Thailand, where I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to organise and run a two-day intensive workshop for almost 30 Burmese refugees. I taught them to knit from scratch, read knitting patterns, signed them up to Ravelry and helped them to access the skills and online resources to teach themselves and make money from their work, as well as make hats to stay warm in the cold mountains and make gifts for friends and family.
I also organised a workshop for 11 girls aged 9-17 at COSA, a refuge for girls who had been victims of sex trafficking. The girls built their confidence and started to teach each other, forming closer bonds through learning to knit. I’m happy to say they’ve kept knitting since.
The best moments of being a Stitch Sage are when I feel I am part of a community that gives back, appreciates each other’s skills and enjoy being creative together. I really believe that crafts and the confidence they foster in people can play a valuable role in repairing damaged self-esteem, building bridges through the alienation caused by sitting in front of a computer all day, to begining to repair some of the damage from the serious trauma some of my students have been through.
Without Stitch LDN and the teaching experience I gained here I never would have had the confidence and experience to pass my skills on to so many who will benefit from them.”
That ‘lightbulb moment’
Penny Stephens is a Stitch Sage and a freelance journalist/editor in the voluntary sector.
“I’ve taught about five people to knit at Stitch London, I think, and I hope they’ve carried on knitting after our meetings. I always wonder.
My granny taught me to knit when I was about seven or eight and I knitted pretty much constantly for about 25 years. Then other things got in the way and I didn’t take it up again until my father was diagnosed with cancer eight years ago. I couldn’t concentrate on reading or anything else, so I went out and bought some wool and needles and started knitting again. I found it a really soothing activity and it really helped me through the next 15 months and stay relatively sane. I’ve never gone back to knitting the complicated lace and aran patterns I used to do, but I’ve probably become a bit more creative in what and how I knit.
I’m happy to pass knitting skills on because it is such a joy to see something grow from nothing and turn into something snuggly to wear or beautiful to look at. I know it’s a struggle for some people at first – waving two sticks around with tangly yarn wound around them isn’t the most natural activity in the world – but when you see that light bulb moment when knitting finally clicks it’s really worthwhile.”
Keeping calm and carrying yarn
Heather Brown has taught a few people to knit when she’s found the time but is keen to teach more and puts why she teaches very simply.
“I have only taught a few people so far, so I don’t have a great tale to tell, but it’s a fantastic thing to be able to share. When things are rubbish at work, knitting is one of the things that calms me down and keeps me going.”
Joining an inspiring creative community and unexpected hugs
Bronagh Miskelly (aka Lapurplepenguin on twitter and Ravelry) began teaching at Stitch London almost as soon as she joined. In her day job she edits a magazine and website for social workers but some days she says she would rather just knit.
“I’ve been a regular at Stitch London for a few months but started volunteering to teach quite quickly so have taught a lot recently, even groups of four who have come along together. I’ve also taught other people over my many years of knitting.
Being a volunteer teacher is about passing on a skill that I really value. I love knitting for many reasons:
the range of beautiful materials I can work with
the delight at a project growing; in my case this is often lace where there is something really special as a cloud of delicate fabric sprouts from my needles
the beautiful and individual items I can create that are personal to me or others
the relaxing and therapeutic effects
the fact that it brings me into a community of creative and interesting people who want to share their passions and knowledge
I teach because I want other people to have access to those great experiences and to show that by learning a few techniques a beginner can start to create something that is real – scarf, an iPod cover, a mini sheep. And because I love the joy on a beginner’s face when they achieve an inch or two of “actual knitting”.
It’s hard to pick out a best moment because so often people are excited and wave their knitting like a flag in excitement, but I have been hugged by a returning learner because they’d knitted a gift for a family member since I’d first helped them.”
Making the world a warmer place and commuter space-making
Amy Shannon has taught almost every teaching session she’s been at, including our workshop at Prince Charle’s Garden Party last summer, and helps out with newsletter duties to pass on the Stitch London love too.
“I’d been taught to knit by several kind and well-intentioned people throughout my childhood, but I didn’t start knitting in earnest until the over-fed slump that falls between Christmas and New Year when there was nothing decent on the telly about 2 years ago. I asked my sister to show me how to purl (that had always been my sticking point previously), and I still didn’t get it…until she explained that it was just a knit stitch done back-to-front. Something in my head clicked and I could suddenly see the difference in the way the stitches lay, patterns made sense, the textures of the fibres came alive and my head buzzed with possibilities … only problem was I was still a terrible knitter.
Salvation came in the form of a request from my husband – he wanted a Dr Who scarf – not an authentic Tom Baker one, but something he could wrap around his neck at least 3 times and still have a generous tail. This coincided with a new person who started taking my usual bus to work, a chap with incredible expanding knees that would start off neatly pressed together on his own seat, but would gradually encroach on his neighbours seat until he was sat in a ten-past-ten pose. There was only one solution – I got myself some 14” steel needles, a big bag of assorted yarns and I got knitting. Mr Knees soon ceased to be a problem, my husband got a scarf, I got a new hobby, had a chance to practice until I became not-too-bad, and developed a new form of self-defence.
So what inspired me to become a Stitch Sage? Well, 7 people attempted to teach me to knit, and only one succeeded – it would be bad karma to let their collective efforts go to waste. We all learn in different ways, and what seems logical to one learner may sound utterly insane to another, and I’m more than happy to share my “pretzels and chain mail” interpretation of knitting/martial arts with other off-centre thinkers to learn, and for the amusement of everyone else.
I’d like to make the world a warmer, more patient place, and by knitting I hope I can.”
Retired but stitching up a storm
It’s probably safe to say that Linda Laidlaw has taught more people to knit at Stitch London than any other member. She’s even been known to start teaching early because she just can’t wait.
“I knit every day and what would life be without knitting? Not as good as it is now. I always have some knitting with me, because if you have to spend time waiting for things the time is not wasted.
At Stitch London I have met many people and made good friends. I feel rewarded and wanted, and not just a retired person.
There are people out there who really enjoy learning, though some take longer than others to learn. The joy when they get it is great.
Since starting to teach at Stitch London, I have also recently been teaching for free with a Bangladeshi community in my local area who are grasping it well. None of them have ever knitted before. We have shared cakes and savoury snacks and they appreciated us for giving our time and knowledge. I have taught schoolchildren and many adults, men and women. Even my grandson, age 7, is coming along a treat with his wonky scarf.”
Good memories, a connection to the past and seeing past knitting differences
Clare Tovey has been part of our Stitch Sage team over the last year but has been knitting for quite some time.
“Firstly, I still remember my own excitement the Christmas I opened a parcel to find a lovely cardboard basket containing tiny balls of wool, and pair of gold coloured, 4 year-old Clare-sized knitting needles! I was very keen to learn how to knit, and my Mum taught me the basics – cast on, knit, purl, and cast off, as she had been taught them – not by her own mother, but by a kind American lady on a ferry from the UK to Denmark. More of this later.
Secondly, passing on needlecraft skills and tools is very important to me: the photograph shows my Stitch Sage badges; one of my original gold knitting needles; a pair of green plastic knitting needles that belonged to my Mother (which my Dad had commissioned me to buy on her behalf together with some pink yarn for a baby jacket, when my sister arrived prematurely, and my Mother wanted something to do in hospital); the scissors, silver thimble and very worn red leather case given to me by my Granny (who was a trained tailor) when I was about 8 years old; and a pair of Victorian tatting shuttles which I think belonged to my Great-grandmother. Unfortunately, the knowledge of how to use them was not passed on, so I am planning to learn to use them this year.
Finally, in teaching people to knit, I have learnt that the style of knitting does not really matter, just the the joy of developing skills in making a fabric out of a system of loops! The kind American lady taught my Mother to knit continental style, which she then in turn taught me, which was great, except that my class teacher at junior school thoroughly disapproved of my not knitting English style, and made my life miserable in knitting classes over this.
In fact, I held back from teaching people to knit at Stitch London for sometime because of this teacher’s attitude, and making me feel I was doing something wrong in knitting the way I do. Lauren O’Farrell encouraged me though, and the folks I have taught have been very appreciative, as well, which is very rewarding to see.”
Curing cancer, changing lives and taking over the world
I (Lauren O’Farrell) have been teaching for free and running Stitch London mostly for free (except for occassional advertising funds) for five years. I now run Stitch London as a full-time business on my own, with the teaching help of over 70 signed up Stitch Sage volunteers. This is why I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for five years, and why I’ll continue to do it and encourage everyone to pass the love of the knit on too:
“To me being a Stitch Sage (and running Stitch London) is about offering people who may not be able to afford it or are not sure and don’t want to commit, a taster of a skill I love and have seen change lives. I’m not sure I would have learned if I’d had to pay for official lessons to begin with but I am so glad I was taught by my friends.
Knitting is like holding a magic paintbrush to me. With my needles I can make anything from Godzillas to graffiti. If I can start someone off on that woolly road without asking for anything back, other than that they give it their best, then that’s something to be proud of.
Knitting pulled me through three hard years of cancer treatment (pic above is of me and S&B London co-founder Laura Parkinson, back in the days when we started the group and my hair was growing back at last), and the knitting community that has sprung up around Stitch is one of the most supportive, generous and downright hilarious groups of people I have ever been a part of.
What knitting has given me is a whole new life. Passing that possibility on to a newbie knitter for the love of it, just because I want to and not for any other reason, is a humbling and freeing thing to be able to do. I feel like I’m giving back a bit of the huge amount that has been given to me and offering them a way into one of the best communities I know.
And if it doesn’t change their life like it has mine then at least it’ll keep them in socks. Warm feet are very important too.”
Awwwww. Now I want to teach!
Teaching someone to knit is really easy. Don’t worry about teaching them bad habits or doing something formal. Just get in there and show them how. Everyone ends up knitting a little differently anyway.
Whether you teach a couple of friends, volunteer at Stitch London (we’re always looking for teachers so please volunteer) or go out into the world and teach people in need, do teach. It’s fun, free and gives you a warm fuzzy feeling that could be passed on and on.
Stitch London hit the main hall of London’s Natural History Museum on 27 August in an attempt to bring a shoal of stitched squid to life.
Amongst the dinosaur bones, stuffed beasts and birds, and fine fossils the stitched squid storm raged.
We witnessed the safe capture of the Stitched Sealife Six.
A sorry Stitched Squid and apologetic Osedax
The contrite Coelacanth
The sealed in Slender Snipe Eel
The very shamefaced Viper Fish
The attritional Oarfish
We were awed by the presence of the Godfather of Stitched Sealife: the Giant Stitched Squid (squidius knittius giganticus plasticus) who was brought to life by Deadly Knitshade from 160 knitted plastic carrier bags.
He'll make you an ten tentacled offer you can't refuse
Squidius Knittius Giganticus Plasticus
There were a whole lot of you squid stitchers too. Squid wrestling was rife but fortunately no serious injuries were had.
Squid stitchers lurk behind the beast
Stitch a Squid queue. It was madness!
Finger-fighting squid instruction
Ladies, start your squid stitching
Knitting a squid-catching net
Proud squid stitcher
Making squid friends large and small
A squid challenger
A fearless giant squid wrestler
Giant Squid vs Dinosaur. Who will win?!?!
Huge tentacled hugs to all 23 of our Stitch Sages who helped pass on the stitched squid skills, Laura Babb who took some some cracking photos you can see here, and the Natural History Museum for allowing us to wreck stitched sealife chaos in their lovely museum.
If you want to knit a tiny Finger-fighting Stitched Squid of your own you can buy the pattern here. Be warned. If you challenge one to a wrestle broken fingers have been known to happen.
The Prince of Wales is joining forces with musicians, comedians, environmental experts and some of Britain’s best known companies to create a unique festival in the heart of London. He’s opening up his own gardens at Clarence House, together with his neighbours’ gardens at Lancaster House and Marlborough House and inviting everyone to join in.
Celebrities saving the future will include Vivienne Westwood, Jools Holland, Rolf Harris, Hugh Denis, Marcus Brigstocke, Emma Watson, Clive Anderson, John Snow and loads of others.
Stitch London workshops:
WEDNESDAY 8 September – STITCH A SQUARE SHEEP
Join Stitch London on a mission to stitch a herd of handmade sheep from reclaimed yarn and abandoned second-hand stashes. Stitch your sheep from a single knitted square and second-hand fabrics which have been donated to us by John Smedley, one of Britain’s oldest knitwear companies, to give a whole new life to woeful wools.
Take your handsome herbivore home with you or add him to the Handmade Herd art installation to help prove that knitting is more than just scratchy socks, dull doilies and oversized sweaters.
TUESDAY 14 September – PLASTIC BAG BUGS AND BLANKETS
Learn to turn your waste plastic bags into picnic-perfect waterproof blankets and whirling wind-dancing butterflies and bugs with our ‘plarn’ workshop.
We’ll teach you to turn a simple plastic carrier bag into yarn to knit with. The ‘plarn’ can be turned to practical uses by creating a square-by-square multicoloured waterproof picnic blanket, or get buggy with butterflies and bugs that make perfect garden wind dancers.
Taking those first steps into the world of craft can be mighty scary. Do not fear newbies! Help is only a click away. We give you the 10 best places on the web to learn to knit and crochet!
Giant needle grouches?
1. You Tube
Nope, it’s not all kids trying to be Johnny Knoxville and undertaking absurdly dangerous stunts on their skateboards. Nor is it only a place to watch top politicians cock up in an unimaginable way over and over again. You Tube is a knitting tutorial goldmine. Just do a Google search for videos and you’ll see what we mean. Or you can just search the word knit in You Tube’s own search engine… It truly is a godsend!!
Too many categories to mention on this one, but it gives you step-by-step instructions on how to make many basic patterns, linking to other articles where necessary. And because it’s a wiki, you can help by contributing and editing articles.
Techniques with Theresa is the feature you need to look out for. Here, you can learn the basics, plus how to fix mistakes, how to pick up stitches and how to graft stitches. Clear instructions and photographs to illustrate the techniques.
WIP gone horribly wrong?
For detailed, well illustrated step-by-step guides, try About.com. It is a bit advertisement-heavy, but well worth looking at. They too have crochet pages.
Every one who wields the sticks and string loves a bit of Knitty. Not only do they shove pattern fabulousness in your face for free, they also have a list of standard knitting abbreviations. Most useful.
Ravelry is where knitting lives online. In the simplest terms it is Facebook for knitters. To anyone who is a Ravelry member it’s soooo much more. Organise your stash and needles, find free patterns, join groups, ask real knitters for help, see how other people got on with the patterns you’re about the try out. The list is endless. We’ve also got our own home on there at the Stitch and London message board. Join us. We have virtual cake.
Newbies and oldbies (ok so you’re not really old and we do like your lovely familiar faces) join us for our first Stitch of 2010. We take over the Royal Festival Hall for our biggest meeting of the year.
It’s also our 4th birthday so we’ll be giving away a few presents too. We have two one-year subscriptions to The Knitter magazine and a very lovely How to Knit book from Usbourne.
Who wouldn’t love to hang out with cuddly faced alpacas and knit in the surrounding green of the English countryside? Course you would! Well now you can.
Purl Alpaca Designs would like to invite you to one of their Knitting Workshops on their farm near Cambridge. Dates are 24th of October, 3rd November and 14th November.
You can hang out with the beasts by getting up close and personal with the original fibre providers, enjoy warm welcoming coffee and home-made biscuits at Scotland Farm, and get knitting with a unique Purl Alpacas design and benefit from one to one tuition from the designer.
Talks, chat, good company and home-cooked lunch are all included along with a Purl Alpacas knitting pack.
Price: £95 per person.
Time: 11am to 4pm
Knitting pack with 5 balls of wool
Biscuits, tea and coffee
Alpaca tour and talks (from people, the alpacas can’t talk)
Scotland Farm is just outside Cambridge, very close to the A428 at Dry Drayton. Ample car parking available and full directions provided on booking.