Sunday, October 12, 2008

The annual trip to Ally Pally

This time I did it all differently.

My usual routine:

Go on Thursday and/or Saturday
Order the catalogue in advance and plan a campaign of stalls to hit
Arrive before the show opens and queue to get in
Work through the main hall from A to P first, then hit the side halls and exhibitions mid-afternoon
Stop fleetingly to bolt down a sandwich and struggle to find anywhere to sit
Leave around 4.30 -5pm and wait ages for the courtesy bus
Can't resist buying too much, and have a nightmare getting home in the rush hour

This time

I went on Friday - which definitely seemed quieter. It never reached the point where you could not physically move, and I could generally get to the stands I wanted to reach.

Due to lack of advance planning this year, I bought the catalogue on the door, and didn't have time to mark it up. I decided to just wander through and only look up a few specific stands I already knew I wanted to visit.

Just couldn't get up and out early enough, and arrived about quarter to eleven. This had the advantage of not having to queue on the door.

Although I did spend the first hour in the main hall (the Colinette stand is temptingly near the entrance), I then went to look at the exhibitions and went through the side halls. I appreciated the exhibitions much more, as I wasn't yet tired and footsore!

I stopped for lunch properly, and ate a hot meal in the Palm Court. I found a seat, and even found two new companions, and chatted to them for a while after I'd finished eating to let lunch digest before hitting the trail again.

I did make purchases but they were mostly exquisite single skeins of yarn or pattern booklets, rather than huge sweater projects, so the long schlep home was manageable. My shoulders didn't ache the following day, and that's a reliable indicator. I paid cash for everything, and thought of my stash when deliberating whether to buy.

I left late, just before the exhibition closed. Surprisingly, the queue for the courtesy bus was shorter than when I've left earlier. I also missed the worst of the rush hour.

Net result: This was definitely less tiring, and I also managed to spend less! As the journey is a round trip of 4 hours, and I can't do anything about that, the most effective way to improve the trip was to choose the relatively less crowded Friday. Yes, some of the top bargains had sold, but really, there were plenty of things left!

Usually, Ally Pally is my one and only chance to see a lot of vendors and visit a knitting show. This year I've been to both Wonderwool Wales and the Iknit day, so the pressure was off, and I'd already seen a lot at those events.

The loot:

stash 625

stash 620

stash 622

Service resumed

Contrary to appearances on this blog, there has been knitting action around here. I've just been too busy or exhausted to blog about it.

First up, my sister's vest is up, and she has pronounced herself satisfied. I hope she gets lots of wear out of it.

sister vest 2

Although a simple enough knit, this item required a lot of finishing with armbands, buttonbands and seams. I think this would have joined the pile of UFOs if my sister hadn't been so persistent in pushing me to finish it. Hmm, maybe I need to get her to 'adopt' a project at a time, and push me to finish it.

I used my butterfly clips to hold the eges together for seaming, and found this worked really well. I also tried an invisible sewn bind off technique from IK, but it was very slow and quite fiddly, so I reverted back to a regular bind off.
sister vest 1

Next, I've cast on for the moonstone cardigan using the Manos silk blend I picked up at the iknit London day. I started out using Addis, but found it a bit difficult to pick up the unplied yarn without splitting, so have switched to Knitpicks options needles.

The pattern has a slightly unusual construction. The lace edging is knit first, all in one piece. The back and sides are then split and knit separately to the top. I've finished the back, and am halfway through the left side.

moonstone 1

As it gets colder, I am wondering whether 3/4 sleeves are really a good idea, as I know they will restrict the usefulness of the cardigan. On the other hand, I don't have enough yarn for full length sleeves, and am concerned that adding them may unbalance the pattern, as the body is also slightly cropped.

Finally, I made up the big knit rug. It was surprisingly quick, and the result is wonderfully squishy. So much so, that my husband is now hankering after one for himself.

big rug 003