Posted on Thursday, November 1 2012 at 9am
Juliet Bernard finds out what happens when you fill a train carriage with knitters, yarn and needles, and set them a very specific goal during Wool Week 2012.
When the invitation came from Love Wool UK and the Campaign for Wool to join a bunch of other knitters on a train to Edinburgh on 17 October for a knitting event, I was hugely excited. The actual event really exceeded my expectations.
The company was genial and very interesting, including students, bloggers, magazines, designers and knitting glitterati together with representatives from sponsors Rowan and the Campaign for Wool. The First Class lounge at Kings Cross was buzzing. Even the head of security at Kings Cross – a crocheter – joined us. We took over a whole carriage of the Edinburgh train!
Once we were armed with a cup of tea, Marie Wallin from Rowan told us what we would be knitting – 10 squares each on the way up to Edinburgh, which would be added to a union flag featuring each of Rowan’s British Sheep Breed yarns; DK Boucle and chunky.
I am quite a fast knitter so I volunteered to take on some DK bramble stitch squares. As we travelled up the country we were joined by John Thorley, Chairman of the Campaign for Wool, wearing a smashing wool suit. It was quite an honour for us to have him to take the time to be with us during such a busy week – his enthusiasm for what we were doing made me knit twice as fast.
He was followed by two very knowledgeable gentlemen from the British Wool Marketing Board with their sheep, Celia, (not a real one!).
As we neared Northumberland, Malcolm Corbett, the chairman of the British Wool Marketing Board and a sheep farmer himself, came on board with a very impressive shepherd’s crook. As he leaned against it he explained that due to the global recession, wool prices have started to fall again, so the Campaign for Wool is more important to farmers now than ever.
The highlight for me though was arriving in Newcastle. Jane Cooper from the Woolsack had promised to meet us with some of her home made elderflower cordial, and there she was running up the platform in a stunning knitted jacket. It was so lovely to see her and her tweeting throughout the journey really kept us going!
On day two of our adventure we ate our breakfast on the fifth floor of our hotel, the Apex International, looking straight across at Edinburgh Castle bathed in sunlight.
Two of our intrepid crew had discovered the yarn shop K1 just around the corner and had persuaded the owner, Cathy, to open early so we could all visit. K1 is a lovely shop with a very inviting selection of yarns. I loved the buttons and the Scappa Scottish wool, which I couldn’t resist.
Once back on the train we had a job to do, adding nearly 300 squares to the flag. The ingenuity of the design and the organisation required to make sure we were sewing all the squares together in the right order were awe inspiring especially when you look at the schematic, shown to the left!
Despite differences in tension rectangles were sewn into strips and strips were attached to each other. At one point I found myself with Marie Wallin, Martin Storey, Lisa Richardson and Tracey Whittington all working on the same section and manoeuvring around each other as best we could. We had been sewing for four hours and the distance to Kings Cross could now be measured in minutes.
As we approached Potters Bar the last stitch was put into the flag and huge cheer went up. I could not have been prouder of our achievement than when we all held up the flag at Kings Cross, London, for a photocall. It measured 2mx3m and weighed in at around 51/2 kg. I can't imagine how the Campaign for Wool will top this event next year but I for one will be ready to support them every step of the way!