London Calling

For the last few days I’ve been in London Town for (non-writing) work – but I’ve also managed to squeeze in some woolly shenanigans! In less than 24 hours I knitted a pussy hat to wear at an anti-Trump demo, went to find the woolsack in the House of Lords, and held an impromptu knit-‘n’-natter with an old friend, who picked up a pair of needles after almost twenty years of abstinence.

1.Pink Protest Pussy Hat

pinkhattrumpI knitted a pink pussy hat in 24 hours ahead of the anti-Trump protest in London on Monday (pictured left). Arriving in London late on Sunday afternoon, I rushed straight to the wonder that is Loop in Islington, arriving 5 minutes before closing, and leaving with a lovel squishy bundle of Debbie Bliss ‘Roma’ in hot pink. Settling myself in the pub, I cast on, using 5mm needles – the only pair I had to hand! Debbie recommends a 12mm gauge so the going was tough, but I really wanted to make a hat to wear at the demo and this was the best I could do!

After dinner with a friend we sat down for a good catch up, and I brought out the hat. ‘Can I have a go?’ she asked, and before long was wielding the pins with aplomb. She’s learned to knit at school but hadn’t touched it since; she’s now a civil servant so unable to protest outside Parliament, so in contributing to the hat she was able to make a small stand of her own.

I ended up knitting on the Embankment with twenty minutes to go before the protest kicked off, and finishing the hat off using a paperclip as a makeshift embroidery needle. It’s not the most beautiful hat I ever made, but it allowed me to protest peacefully with pride!

2. Parliamentary Archives

img_20170220_124439_614I was visiting Parliament on the trail of the woolsack, the huge wool-stuffed seat in the House of Lords. I’d never been to the Parliamentary Archives before, and spent a great day leafing through bills, photographs, and letters to uncover the history of this emblem of the wool trade at the very heart of our country’s governance.

Entering Parliament is like taking a flight. Belts and shoes off, bags stripped of laptop and phone, pockets emptied. Through the scanner we go – I think of my knitting needles and hold my breath – and we’re free to continue inside. I get to the Great Hall and am met by a smiling security woman, who walks me through gates and yards and buildings. It’s a busy day she tells me – three lobbies and a demonstration, the Brexit bill in the House of Lords, a visit from US congressmen and women. I keep quiet about the needles and half-finished pussy hat in my bag.

The Parliamentary Archives are beautiful: the room is lined with wood panels and rows of red seats, everything named in gold. There’s free tea and coffee, and a sitting room for researchers to make themselves comfortable. A bespectacled man sits  behind a desk, presiding over the room like a butcher in his black apron with the Houses of Parliament picked out in gold on the front over a smart shirt and waistcoat. The hours flew by as I opened great big boxes and huge scrapbooks of letters going back to 1860. I’ve got a lot of notes to wade through and cross-reference before I can write more about what I found, but I’ll keep you posted!

Want to knit a protest hat yourself?

The pattern is available for free here: https://www.pussyhatproject.com/

I have also written about the power of knitting and female protest here: https://thisgoldenfleece.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/knit-an…

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