it was the rabbit that brought it home to me. It was sitting in a cage reciting that poem by Pam Ayres, and when I saw it, I thought ‘Funny. Bunny at a wool festival. Definitely not a sheep. It’s a bunny.’ Then I realised it was a very fluffy bunny and attached to a stand selling angora yarn.
I was in a tent full of people selling woolly things, in fact. Yarn, patterns, blankets, amusing stuffed toys that were mainly sheep, knitting needles. . . Of course you can get a lot of this sort of stuff in John Lewis’s but what’s different at an event like this one, Fibre East, is that the yarn on sale is being sold by people who know what breed of sheep it came from to say nothing of the name of the bunny. The yarns are as far from the acrylic stuff Woolworths (remember them?) used to sell as an actual banana is from a foam banana chew. They come in myriad colours (though there seems to be a tendency towards blue/turquoise/purple) and every texture and weight you could imagine. You can even watch people spinning them. This looks remarkably easy though I bet it’s not.
What was I doing there? Well I CAN knit you know, though the thought of attempting some of the things on display would have made me take a deep breath and start finding excuses. It was very clear that the hundreds of knitters milling around were Keen. Very Keen. Experts. Which I aint. No, I was volunteering for p/hop. If you haven’t heard of p/hop, don’t worry I will explain. Or you can follow the link if you’d rather not get involved in my explanations. It’s a fundraiser, p/hop and the name is short for pennies per hours of pleasure. It raises money for Medecins Sans Frontieres. MSF then spend the money on health care in countries where health care is thin on the ground. Or non-existent.
How p/hop gets people to donate is very simple. Clever people who can design knitting patterns design and donate them to p/hop which then puts them online or, for wool fairs, prints them out. People who knit (and that’s everybody who matters of course. In the world) come along, pick a pattern they like the look of, make a donation and carry the pattern off to knit it.
So what I was doing Sunday afternoon was explaining this to people, showing them the samples, explaining that the samples were not for sale, encouraging them to start knitting Rudolf the Reindeers NOW since Christmas is round the corner (I should have been a used car salesman) and letting them try on the mitts. As Clare (my boss for the day, that’s her in the photo with Rachel, the other deputy) explained, people go to a fair like this, fall for a skein of yarn, buy it, and then want to make it into something. That’s where p/hop’s patterns come in. Of course, it works the other way on too. They fall for one of the gorgeous patterns and then go looking for something to make it with.
The most popular patterns at the moment are these ones, the Trinity shawlette and the Cranford mitts. Not for beginners, but if you are a beginner or a bit rusty you could do one of these and work your way up to a shawl.
Yes, this blog is a blatant attempt to get you to donate money to p/hop. So off you go via this link here and choose yourself a pattern and put some money in the cyber piggybank. If you don’t know how to knit, have a look at this, and get started. Or join Ravelry. Or both. Everyone starts somewhere.
Go on then!