Bye bye Wool Week

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Wool Week is nearly over. As anticipated, I spent much of it knitting, talking about knitting and lusting after other people’s knitting.

Much of this indulgence went on in a couple of visits to the Oxford Street branch of John Lewis, which has been playing host to five days of knitting workshops. What a wonderful event! But woefully under-advertised by the store. Their beautiful and entertaining ‘live knitting’ window would have surely attracted many extra customers both into the haberdashery department and the rest of the store if displayed up front. Instead, it was relegated to the far side of the building, where few but staff on their fag break got to see it.

Ah well, at least I can show you here.

Tuesday

I bounded up the escalators with great zeal and camera/ knitting needles at the ready; slightly nonplussed to discover, on my arrival at the haberdashery department, a distinct lack of Wool Week activity. Shop assistant not sure where it is. Am I in the right store? I wonder on way back down to the information point on ground floor.

Directed up to first – through shoe section and into ladieswear, round to the right – and eventually find the woolly haven. It’s an admittedly intimate spot, squeezed between clothes rails; browsers step over balls of wool and beanbags, knitters make friends fast as they rub elbows on squashy sofas. I meet today’s knitting gurus – Norwegian duo Arne and Carlos  – and get to work on Magnus Mouse. Having expected a variation on the beginners staple garter stitch square, I’m pleased to discover Arne and Carlos’ mouse cuts an elegant, elongated figure, knitted in the round on double-ended needles. After nearly two hours I am still working up Magnus’ ankle and am well into a continental style (left-handed) vs English (right-handed) knitting debate with Arne, Carlos and accomplished Canadian crafter Natalie Selles. Time to go, unfortunately, but will return – soon.

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Thursday

I return on Thursday night, armed with a better camera and greater resolve to use it. Meet the designer of tonight’s workshop and pattern, Sarah Hatton, who kindly demonstrates her extremely efficient underarm knitting technique. Her design for Rowan’s workshop this evening cleverly comes in garter, stocking stitch and cable options for all knitting levels. DSC_4874

DSC_4877DSC_4876DSC_4880There was some awesome cable needle accessorizing on the part of fellow knitter/ blogger, Snowfox of I am Snowfox.

Look, look!

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We wrap up the evening snapping away at the Toft Alpaca team in their glass tank of yarn. I leave with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Goodbye Wool Week! Until next time..

next week: Wool Week

Somehow, knitting season has taken me by surprise all over again.

You might say that the wool has been pulled over my eyes (if you were a desperate blogger after any opportunity to throw in cheap and cheesy cliches to appear effortlessly silver-fingered; not a writer feeling laboured and awkward, spending an inordinate amount of time nose-deep in the thesaurus).

Nevertheless, I’m pretty taken aback to discover Wool Week (14th – 20th October) is here again. It seems like only last week that the beautiful Wool House was on display at Somerset House, but, in fact it’s been a full six months.

© 2013 Campaign For Wool

This time, the Campaign for Wool team have hooked up with John Lewis to host a week of FREE knitting classes. Each of the six classes is run by a different supplier, ranging from Christmas jumpers with Sue Stratford to snoods with Rowan (full timetable below). You can either secure a place in the morning or afternoon sessions, or drop in anytime in-between. There’s lots more info here on the Campaign for Wool website.

Wool House III + Tom of Holland

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My last few pictures from Wool House (sigh!).

More sheep, some wool couture and a darning session with the very delightful and diligent Tom of Holland. Holey socks, darning thread and mushrooms at the ready, he showed a flock of wool enthusiasts the power of darning. There was much lamentation and sympathy over the destructive capacity of clothes moths, but not enough to dampen spirits, darn it!

Inspired, I’m determined to a) fill my wardrobe with sprigs of lavender against the winged wool nemeses and b) scour local charity shops for a darning mushroom of my own.

wool12wool13wool14wool16Goodbye Wool House! Until next time…(there will be a next time yes?)wool11wool17

Wool House II

After quite a busy week I’ve finally got round to uploading my pictures from a second visit to the Wool House, last Friday. I’ll try to be better in future, I promise.

The rooms of Wool House were put together by different artists and designers, with a bedroom, lounge and nursery, amongst others.

These were my two favourites, Natural Room by Josephine Ryan and Nursery by Donna Wilson. I liked the first for its fairytale-like sinister edge (Little Red Riding Hood’s Grandma’s woodland cottage), the second for it’s soporific dreaminess (the designer’s alternative to adding brandy to the baby’s bottle) and both for their all-encompassing warmth and imaginative design. Walking into them practically felt like being hugged by the fleecy walls.

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Wool House

woolhouseYesterday I chanced across the ‘Wool House’ at Somerset House. The week-long exhibition and series of events set up by the Campaign for Wool is dedicated to all things wooly. During my brief visit I had a spinning lesson with Sheila from Dovecot Studios and bumped into a familiar face from The Handweavers Studio. I’m going back this morning for more, armed with a camera. I’m just so sad to have missed the sheep parade!

The exhibition finishes this Sunday, 24th March. Go to the Wool House‘s or Somerset House‘s website for more details. Catch it before it goes!