The main part of the day was rockin'. I managed to get down to the Royal Horticultural Halls at about 10:45 for an 11am start. When I got there, the queue went around a side and a half of the block. By the time the doors opened, the queue had doubled. There were so many knitters, merrily knitting away despite the miserable weather. Just as the queue started moving the heavens opened, and I realized that I had left out my umbrella in my urge to have more space for yarn in my bag. Oops! Fortunately we all got in quite quickly, and there were plenty of convenient trees and overhangs to stand under. It didn't really start pouring until after we got inside.
After being presented with a programme and some iKnit badges the vast flock of knitters finally made it into the main hall. Since, in addition to my umbrella, I forgot my camera, you'll just have to imagine it! There were 4 long rows of stalls, plus more stalls on three sides of this enormous hall. The 4th side had a raised seating area where all of the workshops took place. Directly in front of the raised area was a catwalk where the vintage knits fashion show took place. Off to one side next to some of the stalls was a mini-theatre where there was some improv comedy stuff going on (I didn't see it, I just walked past).
The best part for me was realizing that I finally knew what I was doing. Last year, I'd been knitting for a while but hadn't done much other than working from my collection of magazines in the privacy of my own home. I hadn't really discovered Ravelry, and I wasn't participating much in the knitting group at work. Not this time! This time I spotted a shawl across a crowded room and raced over to confirm with its owner whether it was Kauni Effektgarn. (It was.) I had people come up and fondle my shawl, including one lovely lady who was also making a Swallowtail out of Posh Eva 2-ply. I gave advice on how much laceweight one needed to make a shawl. I commiserated over how expensive baby alpaca is, and pondered whether one could really justify spending one's lunch money on roving. (Not really, but fun to think about.) I was able to go from booth to booth and enjoy looking at the pretty things, but choose not to buy them because they weren't things I'd enjoy knitting.
There were so many people just having a good time, and it was a lovely atmosphere. There weren't thousands all fighting over the best sock yarn, and the stalls were spaced far enough apart that it wasn't claustrophobic. There were loads of tables and chairs set up all over the hall so that knitters could actually sit down, eat a snack and do some knitting. I saw ladies winding yarn together. I saw babies. I saw proto-babies. I saw spinners and angora rabbits and knitted doughnuts. And I remembered to take snacks and drinks with me this time, so I didn't have a mid-afternoon panic attack and dizzy spell. (That was oh-so-fun at Ally Pally last year. Not.)
So many happy knitters in one place was a marvel. It was like the world's best knit night at a local yarn store, only with more yarn and not ending too soon.