Stitch & Bitch weren't the only knitting collaborative out and about flaunting their needles in public on Saturday. Oh no. Knitters from I-Knit London were knitty treasure hunting. Our roving reporter reports back:
Kick-off started at 11 am, with the teams leaving in batches til 12.30. I Knit had helpfully laid out a good selection of brownies which put the teams in a properly competitive spirit, or at least made us eager to finish quickly and get back before all the brownies were gone.
We were issued with a list of 61 questions plus bonus points, a balloon, pen, a map of the area and a 4-hour time limit. The route took us from Waterloo, along Southbank, around Embankment, through at least one pub, across Leicester Square to Whitehall and then, with the clock ticking down, around Leake Street and back to base where there were sandwiches and cakes waiting.
There was also an extra prize up for grabs by the team that managed to knit the longest scarf along the way, leading to at least one member per team battling through the crowds at Trafalgar Square while speed-knitting. Londoners are normally fairly indifferent about knitting in public (it's our finely honed commuter-blindness), but knitting while walking does get a few more looks than usual while making people a little more interested in helping you with some of the tasks on the list.
The best part about this kind of thing is that you walk across areas of London you don't normally visit as well as familiar stomping ground. Trying to find Star Wars crossover graffiti or decipher anagrams can lead you round the back of a place you know well into a patch you've never seen before. And all the while trying to keep a beady eye out for rival teams to avoid leading them to the answers. Attempts at being subtle were made slightly harder by having to keep knitting as you walked, and keep hold of a helium balloon.
Knowledge of the area was a definite advantage, although not always - too many shortcuts and you could miss vital clues. It's also slightly reassuring that mobile phones, even those with internet access, weren't actually that much help in finding the answers. Maybe parts of London are just too obscure for Google?
There are plans for a second round next year, which should give anyone keen on a go enough time to practice knit-walking, learn the area and come up with a good knitting related and appropriately punny team name.
By Jenny Meyer