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Knitting the Diamond Jubilee

6 June 2012

Well! Some of you may know that there was a celebration here this weekend – the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, who has been on the throne of England for 60 years. Here in England, that meant a four-day weekend and several events in London, including an enormous floating pageant of celebration, a pop concert, and more traditional ceremonies as well. There also were street parties and local celebrations across Britain and Wales.

Harcourt Arms Jubilee Sign

A sign for one of Jericho’s festive gatherings, at The Harcourt Arms. We still don’t know what the “beards not essential” note at the bottom means; we suspect an in joke among the pub’s regulars.

I haven’t been able to find absolute confirmation that Queen Elizabeth II is a knitter, but I suspect she is. We know that Queen Victoria was a knitter, and that the Queen Mother organized knitting circles to make socks for soldiers during World War II. Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose participated in these as they did many war efforts, although sadly we don’t have a photo of Elizabeth knitting as we do of her changing a tire on an ambulance.

Jericho Street Party

Set-up for the Jericho Street Party. Bunting! Signs! A very long table!

What we do know is that knitters all over the country have adopted The Queen as one of their own. As was also the case during the Royal Wedding last year, knitters leapt into action to celebrate the monarchy:

  • Mysterious yarn-bombers spent three months preparing festive displays on a pier and a set of public toilets (?!?) in the North-East of England. The knit items in the display included bunting, Beefeaters, corgis, a pot of tea, and teacups with Elizabeth II’s insignia on them. This is the second instance of yarn-bombing on Saltburn Pier, and the BBC investigates in a hard-hitting video. One man protests, “I know nothing at all about knitting!” to which the reporter responds, “It’ll be better for you in the end if you own up.”
  • Meanwhile, in the privacy of her own home, a Cardiff woman knit a two-foot royal carriage (and the Queen and Prince Philip, and horses…) to honor the monarch.
  • Not to be outdone, a woman in Southampton spent four months knitting a replica of the Diamond Jubilee Boat Pageant. Even more incredible, the article says that she made it out of “bits of spare wool she had lying around her house.” What a stash!
  • 60 people in the Milton Keynes area knit the world’s largest flag (British, of course) to celebrate the Jubilee. It’s made up of 6156 individual squares sewn together (talk about a nightmare finishing project) knit from 280 balls of acrylic yarn (so the flag would be washable?). Confirmation from the Guinness Book of World Records is pending, but in the meantime someone called Stephen from HCS Crafts in Stony Stratford received a cake from the mayor of Milton Keynes. Stephen, you deserve more than just a cake. Someone get that man some cashmere.

My own Jubilee weekend considerably tamer than that of either The Queen or the dedicated knitters who hono(u)red her. I had some 18th century poetry work to do, and I am getting enormous, so we stuck near home and attended the festivities around here.

Knitting at Diamond Jubilee Party

Here’s me, knitting at the Rickety Press party. You can see that I have, well, swollen a bit.

Our local gastropub, The Rickety Press, had a street party (with jazz quartet, no less) on Monday, so we popped over there for my favo(u)rite pregnancy treat (their burger). You’ll see that I indulged in some knitting in public while we waited for our food. We also walked through the street fair in our neighborhood,ย Jericho. Vendors! Face Painting! Cream Teas and Bingo at the Church! A Live Band! It reminded us of Del Ray‘s First Thursdays. Except that there was also an unexplained group of people dressed as pirates. Alexandria, time to add some pirates!

I did watch the Thames pageant on television; it was pretty darn impressive, with a thousand boats parading down London’s great waterway to hono(u)r The Queen. Largest floating pageant in 350 years, we’re told. Plus, I could knit while watching. I’m making some nifty little baby hats for our baby and others; baby hats, it turns out, are like potato chips. You can’t make just one. Also, they’re great for the little bits of yarn you have in your stash (you know, if you aren’t going to use them for a reproduction of a boat pageant).

Fabulous knitter Alissa (who introduced me to Dynamo Sophie) came to Oxford with her family on Tuesday. They brought us amazing gifts – a hand-me-down stroller, a baby sleeping bag, and best of all their company. Alissa is working on a vest made out of the yarn that I sent her last summer during the stash giveaway – with luck, she’ll share us pictures of the finished product! I stupidly forgot to take any photos of her visit, so you’ll have to take my word for it that she was here.

So! Wherever you live, did you get in on the Jubilee action, or did you avoid it?

If you want to make your own knitted Queen Elizabeth II, there are instructions for knitting her in Carol Meldrum’s book Knitted Icons and Fiona Goble’s Knit Your Own Royal Wedding.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Alissa permalink
    6 June 2012 4:09 pm

    Great to see you Kathleen! Sorry I didn’t take a picture either. Hope to see you again soon!

    • Kathleen permalink*
      6 June 2012 4:15 pm

      That would be great! It was so fun to see you.

  2. Jennifer R. permalink
    6 June 2012 4:17 pm

    I have not been following the Jubilee festivities (other than occasional blog posts & news highlights from US broadcast stations), I have been doing quite a bit of knitting for babies. It is SO TRUE that baby hats are “like potato chips”! They are such a quick knit, and let’s face it…they are so stinking cute!!!
    Your baby bump is completely ADORABLE!

    • Kathleen permalink*
      6 June 2012 4:21 pm

      Aw, shucks – thanks! I feel just enormous. Sometimes when I look in the mirror I have the same reaction as when I see a familiar actor in a fat suit for a role. Oh dear…

      • Jennifer R. permalink
        6 June 2012 4:29 pm

        I couldn’t help but to LOL! I’m sorry you’re feeling that way…pregnancy definitely makes you feel as though someone else has taken control of your body.

      • Kathleen permalink*
        6 June 2012 4:31 pm

        Definitely! Feel free to laugh; I’m laughing myself. And now tell us your favorite baby hat patterns!

  3. 6 June 2012 5:00 pm

    Google ‘princess elizabeth knitting picture’ and go to the images results – there are a couple of photos there of the Queen knitting when she was still Princess Elizabeth. And you’re looking great – not too long to go now right? I’m jealous, as I looked like a human blimp!

  4. 7 June 2012 2:27 am

    Oh, this post made me so happy! Yes, we’ve been following the Jubilee here in our corner of San Diego, though I fell asleep instead of watching the concert last night (my brother-in-law DVR’d it for me–does that count?). I am in awe of the woman who made the reproduction of the boat pageant. I do, however, knit a lot of baby hats, so I agree on that point. You are not huge, you are pregnant. There is a difference, so hush. I can still see that you have a neck.

  5. Deanne Corcoran permalink
    7 June 2012 11:06 am

    Girl, you are far from “HUGE”. Trust me, I KNOW huge. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You look awesome. LOVED all the jubilee stuff. We watched a lot of it. Awesome stuff. Made me appreciate the monarch! Which I have never clearly understood… Cool.

    • Kathleen permalink*
      7 June 2012 12:16 pm

      Hi, Deanne! People, Deanne is about my height and had triplets about 5 years ago – so she knows of what she speaks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. gt4936 permalink
    7 June 2012 12:01 pm

    No Jubilee action here in SoCal. I did celebrate a day at the beach Sunday. I just wanted to say that picture of you is great, really nice. I’m sure you thought so also putting it up on the world wide web and all, just thought I would confirm for you. How much longer till you meet your little bundle face to face?

    • gt4936 permalink
      7 June 2012 12:04 pm

      I just saw the comment that said onky a month to go. Sorry …. Silly me. Well yeay and I hope it doesn’t drag too much. Time does seem to slow down sometimes.

  7. Kae permalink
    8 June 2012 3:00 pm

    Ahhh…….Kathleen, That Pub poster says that the Queen will be present! Might I suggest that the word ‘queen’ is a euphemism for a type of male; given that, ‘beards’ (i.e. fag hags) are not necessary.
    In any case, God save the Queen!

    • Kathleen permalink*
      11 June 2012 7:05 am

      Now, see, I considered that, but this is our local (not very edgy) pub, and the other sign they put up said, “Beards are In. Get Yours Ready.” Hmm….

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