Tuesday, 20 April 2010

My Day Out

I had a day out yesterday, something that I haven't done for a while. And somewhat unusually for me it was planned.

I tend not to plan days out because something invariably crops up which puts an end to it. Yesterday I got my chores done reasonably early and set off for the bus stop and my day out. A few minutes wait for the bus that I wanted was a pleasure rather than a pain, because the sun was shining and the air was warm.

The first stop on my travels was at Pizza Hut on The Strand. A buffet lunch would see me stoked up for the day and the activity ahead. After lunch a leisurely walk across the road to the bus stop for a bus to take me to Waterloo. I wasn't in any hurry so I looked in shop windows as I walked past and dodged the tourists more intent in looking at their maps than with looking out for other pedestrians.

One of the things that is likely to happen when you are walking around this part of London is that you will see somebody famous. Sometimes it will be a politician, on other occasions it will be a well-known actor on their way to whichever theatre they are performing in. Yesterday's celebrity was spotted as he made a swift entrance into the Adelphi Theatre, possibly to buy tickets for the play that is there at the moment. The reason that I can make this suggestion is because the celebrity was not an actor. So who did I spot? One of the great rock guitarists of all time and astrophysicist, Brian May.

After my little bit of celebrity spotting I got to the bus stop and then it was off to Waterloo to visit I Knit, the wonderful wool shop that I first visited a few weeks ago. I had a look round and then settled on two hanks of sock yarn from Cherry Tree Hill, one of my favourite American yarn companies. These hand-dyed yarns come in a wonderful range of colourways and both that I had chosen are a riot of colours. The first is called Peacock and is a mixture of the colours that you might expect to see on a peacock when it is displaying at its best. The second is called African Grey, presumably after a parrot, and is a combination of grey, brown, orange and purple.

I had gone armed with some sock patterns which I had printed from the Internet before I left home. I had selected four patterns as likely contenders to be knitted and having decided which patterns I would knit with each of these yarns I decided to look for the needles necessary for the patterns. I like to knit socks on double-pointed needles but there can be problems with metal needles dropping out of the knitting when there are only a few stitches left on the needle. For this reason, I had decided to invest in some wooden needles which would mean that this would not be a problem.

While I was looking for needles in the sizes needed for the patterns that I had chosen to work, I saw that I Knit had some square needles in stock in the size that I needed for one of the patterns. Now square needles may sound a bit strange but I had heard of their existence a couple of years ago and had been intrigued by the idea. They are more expensive than standard metal needles but having tried them I am now a convert.

Knitting with these needles has been a real joy. I found that I have no problems from my arthritic fingers, even though the needles have a very small diameter, and they seem to facilitate more even working. No matter how hard you try to knit evenly, you can usually discern a difference in the appearance of the stitches in different rows and sometimes even in the same row. This doesn't seem to be the case with the square needles and I am now considering buying more and making them the mainstay of my needle collection.

Anyway, having selected the wool that I wanted and found the needles for the two patterns that I had decided to knit, I paid for my purchases and sat down on the lovely old sofa that is a feature of the shop. You are actually encouraged to sit and knit in the shop and I was going to do just that. But before I could start knitting I had to convert the wool from a hank into a ball. Much of the wool that I buy these days comes in this format because I tend to buy wool from small independent companies who hand-dye their yarns. As I have to do this on my own when I am at home, I didn't hesitate to sit down with a hank across my knees and start to wind it into a ball.

The female shop assistant was having her lunch break at the time and was also sat on the sofa doing some knitting. She asked whether I wanted to use the ball winder that they have set up in the shop, or if she could hold it over her hands for me, but I said that I was used to doing it by myself and just got on with the job. So the African Grey was wound into a ball and once done I started work on a pair of socks using my new square needles. The knitting progressed well and it was lovely to sit and knit and chat with both the shop assistant and the various customers who came to browse while I was there.

A little later, I decided to have another look around the shop and rather naughtily bought myself another hank of sock yarn, this time from a different American company. It is a lovely mix of greens and is absolutely perfect for a pair of lacy socks that I want to knit. It was at this point that I decided to avail myself of the ball winder and shuttle (the frame that you put the hank on for winding into a ball) to translate my two remaining hanks into balls that would be ready for use. I have to admit that this was a lot quicker, and easier, than my usual method and I think that I will do this in future when I buy yarn in this shop.

As 6pm approached, I said goodbye to the lovely lady in the shop and set off for the venue of Stitch London's meeting. I knew from looking at a map that it might be difficult to find the location, and so it was. I knew that it was up past the Young Vic and was situated in a side street, but as I could not see anywhere with the name of the road that I was looking for, I began to wonder if I was going to have a wasted trip. However, at that moment I saw someone walking along the street with a small bag in her hand from which a pair of knitting needles could be seen protruding. Without further ado, I decided to follow her and just a minute or two later found myself outside EV Delicatessen which was where Stitch London were meeting.

I spent two hours with a lovely group of ladies and we sat knitting and chatting with the opportunity to indulge in a little food or drink (alcoholic or otherwise) if we felt the need. There were about 30 knitters arranged at tables and the group that I was with comprised three seasoned members and three of us who were at our first meeting. We chatted about what we were knitting and what sort of things that we liked to knit. While all were fairly experienced knitters, it seemed that I was probably the most experienced and adventurous being the only one knitting socks, and who was experienced at knitting lace.

I enjoyed my day out, and the opportunity to sit and chat with other knitters. Next week Stitch London are meeting at another of their regular haunts, the Royal Festival Hall. I may well venture out to this meeting, but I am also looking to see if there is a group that meets a bit nearer to home.


steph said...

Oh My!

There'll be no stopping you now.

So happy for you.

I hope your psychotherapy went well today too.

Sleep well tonight.

Susie said...

Glad you met a nice group who share an interest.

If you need some comapny in london, i'm located not far from the end of a tube line so it makes it pretty easy for me to get into london.

Karita said...

This was such a lovely post to read! :)