Knitting with Kelley Deal at ATP

Suzie Blackman
Thursday, 17 December 2009
A knitter gets her Bags that Rock book signed by Kelley

A knitter gets her copy of Bags that Rock signed by Kelley

I’m not ashamed to admit that when I heard Kelley Deal of The Breeders was leading a knitting session at All Tomorrow’s Parties I was more excited about that than I was about any of the music or general festival fun. I’d heard that Kelley, famous for her rock n’ roll lifestyle, had swapped one type of needles for another and got into knitting as a way to pass the time on the tour bus. Earlier in 2009 she published her first knitting book, Bags That Rock: Knitting on the Road with Kelley Deal (also on Ravelry). She also sells scarves cleverly made from sections of felted jumpers – what a great idea! Clearly a very creative lady, as if we didn’t know that already.



Fittingly, we arrived at the knitting venue on the Saturday after watching The Breeders soundcheck. A good crowd of knitters gathered, with some curious but slightly fearful looking guys watching from the edges, as if to witness some kind of supernatural event. I was more than a bit starstruck when Kelley came and set her stuff down with my friend Lucie and I. She stayed and chatted with us for a while about the festival and knitting. At one point I was sat in-between Kelley and her sister Kim (Breeders/Pixies) which was fairly surreal! Kelley is super-friendly, has loads of energy and is generally fun to hang out with, so by the end it was pretty much like a regular Stitch n’ Bitch meeting with people teaching, admiring each-other’s work and chatting.

Knitted squares

My square

Kelley instructed us to make 5 inch squares to be sewn together to make scarves. Clearly an experienced knitter, Kelley managed to rustle up a few squares herself while wandering round chatting and generally organising things. By the end of the Saturday session there was a good, but very random selection of squares including a garter stitch one from me made from small scraps of leftover Mirasol Hacho and Louisa Harding Grace.

Following a big night on Saturday, getting up for Sunday’s session at midday was a bit of a challenge, but Lucie and I managed it, along with a couple more friends, Ruth and Cathay. Unsurprisingly, there weren’t quite as many knitters as the day before, but still a respectable 20 or 30 braved the hangover for round two. I’d come to ATP armed with a big bag of spare needles and leftover yarn, and I managed to find Ruth the pink Malabrigo Worsted I used for a hat I made her in 2008. For me, it’s remembering all the past projects that makes using up odds and ends enjoyable.


Lucie gets her knit on

I knocked together a couple more squares; a seed stitch one in my lumpy purple handspun (what else am I going to do with it?) and a garter rib one in chunky, green, hand-dyed.

Overnight Kelley had turned some of the squares into a finished scarf, complete with a little ‘Deal’ label. I was not only overjoyed that my garter square from the day before had made the first cut, but also blown away by how great the finished scarf looked. She’d used a mix of purples, greens and greys, from fine to chunky, in garter, seed stitch, ribbing and even crochet. Someone had even worked a big ‘K’ into their square. I’m gutted I don’t have a picture of the finished scarf, sadly I left my camera behind on the second day.

I came away from the session with loads of creative ideas, combing colours and stitches in ways I wouldn’t normally, and I’m inspired to turn the odds and ends in my stash into things that are unique and beautiful.

You can find a few more photos on my Ravelry project page.

The author

Suzie Blackman

The dyer, designer, photographer, creative technologist and maker-of-things behind It's a Stitch Up. She lives in East London in a home filled with colour, fluff and house plants.


  1. meemalee says:

    I’m so glad there were real knitters there – I felt like such a fraud with my crochet needle and tiny, pathetic square. I saw the scarf that she made overnight – so cool and I love her Saltwater font (did you know it’s free on her website and she made it herself?).

    Lovely write-up – and Kelley and Kim were unbelievably sweet ladies :)

    I’ve just ordered Bags that Rock for me and my friennd who was there with me!

  2. Raine says:

    Hi Suzie,

    I just came by to have a look at your blog after finding your pattern for the dream shrug which I have recently completed (the pattern is great by the way) and I just wanted to let you know I am the knitter getting my book signed!! Would you mind if I copied the photo to have as my profile pic??

    It was an amazing weekend and this is such a great write up. When I heard that Breeders were playing the 10 year ATP I was sure that Kelley would hold the knitting group again and she did which made the whole event even more exciting! I got the book after I met her at the previous Breeders ATP and I took it along just incase I got the chance to get it signed, she was so friendly I just had to ask and she was happy to do it!!

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