TLDR: a review of this year's KCG AGM and some thoughts on the funeral of the Queen.
Well, it was a long wait to attend my first KCG convention, but it was definitely worth it. The Guild of Machine Knitters merged with the KCG before their convention in 2019, but too late for many of us to be able to attend I think as it was mostly sold out (I ended up leading a class in machine knitting). Luckily for me that year was at Warwick uni, so I didn't need to find accomodation. We were to convene in Leeds in 2020 and had to cancel our hotel bookings when COVID started to close everything down, and last year everything was done online for the same reason.
I spent the morning packing what felt like the kitchen sink into the car - in reality, one knitting machine, one stand, a box of patterns and machine parts to donate, a big bag of garments. I think I might sell the Toyota stand on, the legs are in exactly the wrong place for the Brother clamp positions - we nearly ended up with the machine in our laps at one point! A few items I've popped onto the UK KM sales group on Facebook (which ended up not being taken out of the boot). I also packed several projects to knit on or sew up, correspondance to catch up on, the laptop, a toolbox, the DSLR which I ended up not using and my suitcase of course. Phew! I left immediately after a quick lunch and got to the venue in good time. I do need to start ignoring Mrs Garmin, the smallest amount of slower traffic and she has a tizzy and advises me to leave at the next exit, very often quite some way from the destination. The M1 was fine traffic-wise for a Friday, I wasn't in any hurry!
The convention was at the Hayes Conference Centre, which was a large country house converted into a fairly extensive conference campus. It was a German POW camp at one point, and someone commented that perhaps they were still the same beds? They were a little firm but fine by me - I was surprised there wasn't a tv in my room, but then again I had the laptop and no time nor need for tv anyway! I never sleep well in strange places for the first few nights, so holidays are always fun but exhausting and short weekends even more so. Dunno why I thought I'd need things to do, apart from knitting a few more rows on the purple poncho, I spent most of my time catching up with friends old and new.
We all got a little goody bag containing a skein of beautiful yarn from Knit McIntosh, the proprietor James giving us a moving and passionate talk about his past issues with mental health and how knitting and colours brought him out of it on the Saturday, alongside some interesting medical information from his partner Dr Thomas Ernst FRCP. They were lovely chaps and were both wearing very lovely coloured sweaters, I never got a chance to ask what colourways as they left straight after their talk to go home, but they were gorgeous raspberry and burgundy respectively. There was also a hardback notebook to launch the KCG's new branding (the website is next apparently). We started with a lovely welcome talk and most of us got to examine the Gladys Jeskin sampler, a strip of 899 handknit samples which is so long we only managed to unwind it across four rows of the room before we had to start winding it back - it's kept on a garden hose reel and the Guild have been examining and cataloguing it based on her notes.
I won't go into a blow by blow account of the weekend because I'm not the best witness - I was assisting Alison teaching machine knitting for both workshop slots, so I can't comment on the other workshops. Suffice to say I wish I could have temporarily cloned myself for the weekend, because they all sound amazing - 3D granny squares, tunisian crochet, cables, latvian mittens, shetland lace knitting, visible mending (we taught a tuck lace scarf using mohair, more on that later) were just day one, beginner's crochet, double filet crochet, crochet mandalas, fearless steeks, lace knitting for beginners, how to teach a craft (we taught hand manipulated techniques on the machine) were day two. My sneaky plan is to create enough machine knitters so that one day I get to attend as a punter, not a tutor! Hey, I can dream eh?
We also had a talk by Lorna Hamilton-Brown MBE, the creator of amazing magazine covers with fine gauge machine knitted intarsia - 3 rows a day for months! What patience! The closing talk was by Professor Sandy Black who did a lovely slideshow based on her new book, Classic Knits of the 80s. I do wish the days of colour would come back, we need some cheerfulness in the world right now!
Our first class went quite well - at least two students came away with mohair tuck lace scarves, and because we weren't sure about the end needle selection setting, they both got a slightly different scarf because the pattern was worked over a group of 5 needles and a single one, which would be treated as an end needle if end needle selection was activated. Some weren't quite so lucky as the mohair snapped. I think they got the idea, and the goody bag yarn would be perfect for this with more time and less pressure. The hand-manipulation class went ok but there was more to get through than we had time for. Well, there are so many techniques you COULD teach for that class, that could be a week on its own really, which is why I love machine knitting so much.
The venue was good, the food was good (but I learnt to snaffle dessert early after missing out on chocolate orange cake) but the wonderful company and the amazing show and tells (some of which later went on to be displayed in one of the rooms) were my highlight I think. Lots of money was raised by the yarn amnesty (I resisted!) and there were lots of lovely raffle prizes, though I didn't win anything. Someone brought an entire shop's worth of crochet tools and books, so I did pick up three books on tunisian crochet (the Annie's Crochet / Annie's Attic range) because it's a technique I'd like to explore more.
It was so lovely talking to fellow knitters after such a long time apart, and there were so many inspiring garments on display. I was quite sorry to pack up and go really, I'm sure I could happily have enjoyed a few more days in the company of such creative people. Well done to all at the Guild for a well organised event. I've uploaded my pictures here, hope you enjoy them!
Today has been more subdued, as we have been watching the funeral and committal services for her late majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I'll admit I was grateful for an unexpected extra day to decompress after the weekend, and during some of the procession bits between the two services, I did have a bit of a sort out of the craft room looking for some Designaknit notes. I didn't find them, but I did establish a bit more order in there than before and found lots of things I'd forgotten I'd acquired. The weather in London and Windsor appeared clement on the tv, it's turned cold and damp here since lunchtime. I got a bit tearful, watching the coffin sinking slowly in St George's chapel. I'm glad the royals get a private burial afterwards - all of the public events must be very wearing on them at this sad time. Most of us just get 45 minutes at a church, then 20 minutes at the crematorium, and the latter feels somewhat of a production line.
Next week's job is to start tackling all the knitting stuff stored in the attic, and to get rid of things or sell them on to someone who will use them.
Current mood: inspired yet subdued