I’ve said many things to my other half in pubs over the years, and sometimes, thanks to the consumption of alcohol, the things I say don’t make sense. On Tuesday I met up with my partner and one of our friends in the Chequers. I’d only been with them for a couple of minutes and had hardly touched the pint of Hophead that was sitting on the table in front of me, so what I saw and what I said couldn’t be blamed on the beer. “Why do you have knitting” I asked him, I was entirely convinced that my eyes were playing tricks on me. But sure enough he was holding a green knitted square. Ed explained that he had arrived in the pub early and started talking to another customer on the next table. The lady in question was a member of the East London Purly Kings and Queens Knitting Group. They were having a meet up in the Chequers that evening. Ed had offered to unpick a test piece of knitting to keep himself occupied whilst waiting for me and our friend to arrive. I gave the unpicking a go, but being totally useless at untying knots I soon handed it back and we watched him unravel the wool as we chatted with the knitting group.
Since the Chequers re-opened and then re-opened again, it’s true to say that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the pub. If I make a small diversion down the high street it’s on my way home. During my many visits I’ve seen one or two things that have caught my interest or struck me as unusual. I once saw someone chain a unicycle up outside before popping in for a pint, and a few weeks ago there was a dog in the beer garden wearing red and green bike lights on its harness. The lights help its owner find the dog when they are out for a walk. In comparison to flashing dogs and unicycles, people knitting in the pub seems pretty ordinary, but the knitters really grabbed my attention. One of the group was drop spinning, a technique that would have been just as familiar in the seventeenth Century when the first Chequers opened as it is to the knitters of today. We watched as the raw wool fibres were teased out and spun in to yarn. There is something really fascinating about watching people make things, especially if they are using a skill you don’t have.
When Ed had finished his unpicking task we wound the wool in to a ball and handed it back to the knitters so it could be re-used. Task completed we got another drink and started chatting about our friends up coming holiday. A few minutes later one of the group, the one Ed had been speaking to earlier, came over and gave each of us a knitted figure to say thanks for helping to unwind the test piece. Being given the woolly hat wearing figures made from wine bottle corks really did make for the perfect end to a great night out in our local pub. If you would like to know more about the East London Purly Kings and Queens you can find them on facebook. They meet each month and if Tuesday is anything to go by they are a really friendly bunch.