Liz’s Hen Do

Mikal, doing some knitting amidst our afternoon tea!

I immensely enjoyed organising Liz’s Hen Do. I have never been to a Hen Do before, so I was slightly unsure as to what would be de rigueur. The Internet cafe where I worked in my early twenties was frequently assailed on weekend nights by drunken women in fluorescent pink tutus purporting to be engaging in this rite of passage, but I was sure this was not what Liz meant when she asked me to arrange her special day. My instructions were clear and simple: “must involve tea, must involve cake, must involve some kind of crafty fun, and must – under absolutely no circumstances – involve cheesy Hen Do crap.”

Right then.

We assembled at The Jam Factory – a fabulous cafe in Oxford in what used to be Frank Cooper’s Marmalade factory. Once caffeinated, we enacted a Yankee Gift Swap – rules here – to which everyone had bought gifts themed along the ideas of something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue*. We also gave Liz the knitted bridal bunting which had been coordinated sneakily behind the scenes over previous weeks and to which many fabulous knitters generously contributed. The bunting contains some of Brenda’s very first handspun yarn; embellishments left over from Judith’s Wedding Dress; i-cord made using Gabrielle’s wonderful i-cord mill; (mine just kept snarffing the yarn) and embellishments and triangles from myself, Judith, Gabrielle, Emmylou, Ruth D, Ruth V, Mel from Scotland, Gemma, Jenny, Mikal, Carla, and Mel from Reading. It was wonderful when triangles began appearing in the post, and I got more and more excited as the wee stack of flaglets began to build up in my bedroom, ready for assemblage! I have been the recipient of group knitting love in the past, and it is to my mind one of the best things about belonging to a knitting group. Although I am a staunch advocate of one’s right to knit selfishly, there are times when it is right to make something together for one of your number before or after a big life event.

Liz opening the bundle of group-effort Bridal Bunting!

From here on the general idea was to head to Fyberspates’ dye studio for an intensive and wonderful afternoon of handpainting yarn. I had made scones and tea brack and ginger-biscuit sheep for this occasion, and all the hens clubbed together to provide champagne for making heartfelt toasts and inspiring wild colourations of yarns. I had amazing fun in Jen’s studio, and she was wonderful at joining in with the girly spirit of the Hen Do fun; helping us to attain the colourways we desired; and being relaxed and generous re: the carnage that 9 excited knitters can wreak in a place where wool and coloured solutions coexist.

Kirsty and Liz handpainting their yarn

Jen steaming our dyed yarn

I will say more about the dyeing of the yarn in another post, but for now I wanted to say many congratulations to Liz, and to let you all know that the pattern for the knitted bunting can now be downloaded here should you or your knitting buddies desire to recreate Bridal Bunting (or other kinds of bunting!) for any celebrations you have planned. I would really recommend investing in an i-cord mill and reading this brilliant article about how to use it if you are planning on making a large string of bunting, as otherwise you will be hand-knitting i-cord for many days! It is worth stringing the flaglets on i-cord as all the ends from the flaglets can be easily and neatly woven into the i-cord, and only a couple of stitches will secure each one on the cord. The bunting is also a great stashbuster.

Thank you Liz for asking me to organise your Hen Do; it was loads of fun and I’m glad you enjoyed it! Hurrah for girlfriends, tea and knitting, for collective knitting projects, for sharing the love and for the fun that is DYEING YARN!

*I felt that as long as a certain quality of gift-creation was attained, then this would not constitute “cheesy Hen Do crap.”

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