Glamorous Jet-Set Knitting

February 8, 2010 at 1:23 am | Posted in You and your knitting | Leave a comment
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Worried about finding knitting opportunities while a mile-high? I turn my mind to creative ways of getting around airline security for lovely and sadly leaving S&B Londoner, MrsNeedles (we’ll miss you).

Chocks away, knitters!

Dear Aunty Gerty

I am about to leave these snow-bound shores for an (even snowier) life on the other side of the pond. It’s only a short sojourn you understand, at around four months, but the perils of packing for a journey such as this given the limits of modern air travel have put me into quite a quandary with two major questions.

Firstly, what sort of project would you choose as being appropriate for my initial journey, and secondly what level of knitting supplies would you consider taking with you for the longer term?

After all I need to consider any possible confusion by the powers that be at Heathrow between tools required to create fibre-filled joy and those required to create havoc and devastation, and even a slow knitter such as I will need more than one project for this kind of duration.

Yours in search of guidance,


My Dear Needles, what a pickle you have landed yourself in by leaving our lovely shores for distant lands.

Now, to address your first problem. In these cautious times, you need to find some way to disguise your knitting kit. After all, a shiny needle can be mistaken for a stiletto knife and a lovely set of interchangeable circulars for a deluxe garrotting kit by a short-sighted security man, and that ball of lovely merino, why, it’s rope for tying up the pilot.

No, you need to be more creative these days.

Your first point of disguise is when you book your flight. Emphasise to the booking staff that you are a high-class traveller and you have very specific dietary requirements. You can only eat Chinese food. With chopsticks.

Emphasise that they don’t need to worry about the chopsticks as you will provide your own. Write “Haha! These are knitting needles, you fools!” in Chinese on the ends of your best bamboo needles to complete the disguise.

Now to get your yarn on board. Knit your yarn into a lovely blanket before the flight. Nobody will suspect a thing as your classy air traveller likes to bring their own blanket.

When on board, take out your chopsticks and blanket and start knitting from the end of the blanket to create a lovely shawl to wrap around yourself as you step off your flight. A new knit and a disguise should you be on the run from Interpol.

As for taking knitting supplies, are you quite mad?! You will be in the home of Knit Picks and the brave. There is a wealth of supplies over there that you have no access to here so you should regard this as an opportunity to acquire lovely, lovely yarn.

This will also have the advantage of leaving more space in your luggage. Is that a Gerty-shaped hole I see in that bag?


Are You a Man or a Yarn Swift?

November 19, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Posted in Gertrude goings on, Love and knitting | Leave a comment
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Gerty goes all Sergeant Major

Domestic strife over turning unruly skeins into something more managable? I give the knitting world a few tips on turning your other half into the yarn swift of your dreams.

Dear Gerty

Is there an easy way to wind a hank/skein of laceweight yarn into a useable ball without a yarn swift? All I have to help me wind it is a man. I don’t have a useful ballwinder.

Help please. I need to know how to alleviate his boredom from holding the skein and how to stop the pain in my hands after winding for so long,
Your devoted fan
Confused Claire

Dear Confused Claire. What a predicament. With no swift to tame your skeins what you need to do is tame your man. So here are a few suggestions on how to ensure more winding and less whining.

Option one: Tell him it’s a Wii fit game. Simply attach a wire to part of the skein and watch the concentration on his face as he tries to get bonus points for avoiding tangles.

Option two: Got a spinning desk chair?  Use the skein to tie him to the chair and spin him round as you wind the ball. You get a useful body to hold the skein tight on the chair. He gets a nice fairground ride.

Option three: Tell him it’s some kind of cage fighting endurance training and scream “WHAT KIND OF A MUMMY’S BOY ARE YA??!?!?” and “YOU’LL NEVER GET TO THE END OF THIS SKEIN, YOU ‘ORRIBLE SPECIMEN OF A MAN!!!” in his face while he is holding it so he doesn’t flag.

Option four: Tell him your last boyfriend/his dad/that bloke from accounts at work who you smiled at when he met you from work once could hold it up for hours.

If all else fails, Confused, perhaps you could leave his laptop browser open on a couple of nice swifts on eBay. Christmas is acomin’ after all.

How to hide my stash?

October 11, 2009 at 11:42 pm | Posted in From the Ravelry stash, You and your knitting | 1 Comment
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Woodstock hadnt noticed a thing

Woodstock hadn't noticed a thing

This week I answer a question I know all of us yarn-junkies are twitching to know the answer to, from one of our dear Ravelites:

Dear Gerty,
How do I continue to feed my yarn habit and keep the ever-growing stash hidden from my boyfriend? I am running out of room for both in the flat. I really do want to keep both of them, but one day there will be an explosion from my vacuum bag packed yarn and we will both be lost in a knotty web forever.
Many thanks

Well Hippolyra, my dear, what are we going to do with you. Your yarn habit is taking over your humble abode and you are on the verge of causing a yarn-based apocalypse or, worse still, drowing the one you love in wool.

The solution is really very simple: the yarn-ball pet.

Here is what you do: pop out to the nearest pet shop and buy yourself a hamster cage, in the cage place a couple of balls of yarn. Voila, the yarn balls become beasts. Remember to carefully empty and refill their food and water dishes at intervals to keep up the charade. Chocolate-covered raisins make excellent fake pet poo.

As your stash grows so can your pet. After a trip to a yarn sale you may want to purchase a litter tray and catnip toy for the yarn-cat look, or grab a collar, lead and frisbee and place your stash in a basket by the fireside for the ultimate in convincing yarn hound.

If things get really out of hand there are stables that can be hired in which your yarn-horse can be housed.

You’re not buying more yarn, Hippolyra, you’re adding a four-legged friend to your household. Admittedly it won’t fetch, purr or run on its wheel but with enough work on your part you could house an entire yarn menagerie without your partner suspecting a thing, and with less cleaning up after than a real beast. Everyone is a winner.

Sunday stitching: right or wrong?

September 26, 2009 at 3:29 pm | Posted in Knitting morals | 1 Comment
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A lovely S&B Londoner has been kind enough to track down The Girl’s Own Paper and Woman’s Magazine from March 1927. Where Flora Kilckmann answers the needling question below. We passed the question along to our Gerty to see what she had to say on the matter.

My husband and I have had an argument about knitting on a Sunday.  Will you decide for us?  Is it right or wrong?
Confused, Clapham

Dear Confused

Oh dear! Sounds like you need to hang up your circular needles on a Sunday to maintain domestic bliss in the ‘Confused of Clapham’ household! Nothing’s better than an easy life, right?!

Alternatively, you could just tell him to stuff it. Maybe you should ask him whether sitting around watching (insert sport here) all day is allowed on a Sunday. See what justification he has for his leisure pursuits on the day of rest! We’re all entitled to a bit of down time!!

Love and snuggly stuff,

Auntie Gerty

The original from The Girls own paper and Woman’s Magazine.

Edited by Flora Kilckmann March 1927

We have had an Argument about Knitting on Sunday.  Will you Decide for us?  Is it Right or Wrong?

No one can decide foe another on this point.  It is a matter for the individual conscience to settle, and must entirely depend on circumstances.

There is no decree in the Bible against knitting on Sunday.  The Commandment to do no work on that day does not necessarily affect knitting, because knitting is not always work – it may be recreation (though I do not mean to imply that all recreations are desirable for the Sabbath; some most certainly are not !).

You need to go much further back than the question of actual knitting to solve this problem.  The day has gone past when good women considered it allowable to pin a piece of frilling in the neck of their best frock on Sunday, but sinful to tack it in with a needle !  We need to look to the spirit rather than the letter of God’s ordinance which requires us to give special observance to His day.

Sunday was instituted that we might have a period each week free from the constant demands of work, and thus have the opportunity to think about the Creator.  Also, it was given us as a day of rest and recuperation.

Now, one point for you to decide is this: Granted that knitting is not your daily work but merely a recreation, does it hinder your thoughts from turning towards heavenly things?  If so, it is undesirable.

Or does it help you to quiet mental concentration?  I know several spiritually-minded women who find that knitting is an aid to deep thinking.  It can be a purely mechanical process that promotes thinking, just as walking enables many people to work out an article or sermon, or a problem more easily than if they were sitting still.

In this way knitting differs from most other recreations; you cant play golf or tennis for instance, and be thinking about the deeper concerns of the soul.  Whereas with knitting you can.

We all need some special time when we can drop, for the moment, the things that appertain exclusively to this world, and send our thoughts in the direction of the world to come.  Nowadays it is difficult to find time to be quiet, and also very difficult to sit still and do nothings with one’s hands in one’s lap.  The nervous tension of the age makes it almost impossible for some women to sit still for ten consecutive minutes without movement of some kind.

When knitting helps to compose and calm a nervous temperament (as it often does), and promote quiet thought, then it is desirable.

Nevertheless, one must remember that actions which are not sinful in themselves may yet have a hurtful effect on others.  Should your knitting prove a stumbling blovk to someone else, or even a cause of irritation to those who hold other views, then it should be regarded as one of those things which are inexpedient.

This brings me back to my starting point: Each person must think out and decide this question herself on its individual merits.  Our Heavenly Father evidently wishes us to give as much time as we can, on Sundays, to worship and prayer, and quiet thought about spiritual things.  It is for us to try to carry out His wishes in whatever way we find most helpful to this end—provided it does not hinder another soul who is striving to live aright.

Images from

Introducing Ms Gertrude Woolsworthy

September 25, 2009 at 7:58 pm | Posted in Gertrude goings on | Leave a comment
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She’s more than a big ball of yarn!

Gertude and Lauren

Gertude and Lauren

You may have seen her hanging about in the shadows of Stitch and Bitch London meetings, calmly meting out advice on the dos and don’ts of knitting etiquette, patiently talking you through that pesky slip slip knit, or stealing bits of your battenburg when you’re not looking.  Well, now you can be officially introduced.

Knitting world meet S&B London’s newest Stitchette: Gertrude Woolsworthy. She’s more than a big ball of yarn!

We first met her back in May 2009, when she came to us as part of a huge donation of yarn. We were awe-struck by her…her…well, just her! She was huge! She was pink! She was a ball of yarn!

Gertrude and Emmy

Gertrude and Emmy

Since then, we’ve discovered she’s more than that. She’s a problem solver extraordinaire. She’s honest and to the point. She tells it like it is and doesn’t pull her punches. She can fix the most hideous tangle, slap you silly if you’re feeling stitching unsureness, and drink most of us under the table without a thread out of place. We couldn’t miss this opportunity to make her the newest Stitchette.

Gertrude and Marion

Gertrude and Marion

Every fortnight, in the Stitch and Bitch London newsletter, Gertrude will be answering your yarn-related questions as only she knows how in Ask Gertrude.

If you have any problems you need a solution to, drop her a line and Gertrude will do her best to answer them.

Ask Gertude. Go on.

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