It was 7pm on a Tuesday and Drink Shop Do was teeming with people, mostly softcore hipsters in twos and threes, each little group sat at a rickety table with cocktails and cake. The back room – which is also occasionally used as a temporary tattoo parlour, a vintage hair and make-up salon and a Lego robot-building workshop – is a small space bedecked with ugly ornaments, even uglier lampshades and an enormous disco ball suspended from the domed ceiling. Framed screen prints lined the walls and tinny speakers alternate between Taylor Swift and the contents of whatever NOW CD came out in 2002.
I had arrived to take part in a knitting masterclass run by Riannon and Cara of I Make Knots, which promised in just two hours to have me wearing a snuggly hand-knitted snood. (Hand-knitted by me, that is. Not Riannon or Cara, who could each probably whip one up in 15 minutes flat. Their fingers flew through their wool, chunky needles clacking against each other like a pair of teeny, tiny wooden soldiers ineffectually clashing swords.) Two hours seemed like a bit of a stretch, especially considering I am not the craftiest of people, possessing little to no natural odd-jobbing ability. Nevertheless, I was game to learn something new, especially when it promised a slightly warmer neck on the way home.
I was given a tote bag and a pair of surprisingly thick needles, each about as wide as my big toe. For wool, I chose a bright cerulean blue from the pile, a fluffy, technicolour cloud of ruby red, charcoal, khaki and soft, dusty pink. I Make Knots is one of the only UK partners of Manuosh, fine fibre merchants of New York, and each ball was a squishy boulder of premium-quality, pudgy yarn.
And then we were off, except that I wasn’t, because it turns out I am breathtakingly crap at knitting. It took me three goes to ‘cast on’ – that’s setting up your first row of stitches – because I kept forgetting the (really very basic) casting-on stitch. I got it right the second time, but then had to undo all my good work again when I realised I’d knitted too tightly and couldn’t get my big bastard needles through the loops.
But, but, but… when I’d done my first row and my fingers had learned the moves, it was actually quite therapeutic. I can understand why they encourage people in prison to get on the craft-wagon (or, at least, I assume they do. Adrian Mole was once given an embroidered toothbrush holder made by one of his prison guard aunt’s inmates, so I imagine it’s a nation-wide scheme. In any case, I reckon an hour or two quietly purling away would be enough to assuage even the most murderous of thoughts.)
By the end (it was three hours, not two), I was the proud owner of one snood, a bit wonky on one side because I’d accidentally used the wrong end of the wool for a few minutes, and a bit too long, and a bit odd-looking because I’d accidentally started knitting inside out – God knows how – a third-way through, but still, a 100% hand-knitted original by me. With some, uh, unexpected design details.
You get to take your needles home, so I’m popping over to John Lewis this afternoon to buy some more chunky wool. I reckon all my mates will be clamouring for a woolly Gibson special once they see my creation, and it’s only two months until Christmas…
I Make Knots workshops cost £35pp including all materials.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.