Yarn shopping 

My wave blanket was meant to be a stashbuster, to use up various balls and half balls which were mainly leftovers from my first Spice of Life blanket. I had no particular plan for it, I thought it would end up with the charity Knit for Peace, but while we were away last week I read of an acquaintance’s tragic loss. Her father’s death was really sudden and the family are in pieces. I also found out that she is pregnant, the baby’s due in a few months. I really wanted to do something to reach out to her, rather than just leave a comment on her Facebook profile. So, I sent her a message asking if she’d like me to finish this blanket for her baby, a girl. This is part of her lovely, typically eloquent, reply:

‘I would be honoured to have your beautiful blanket- I think X would adore this and it will no doubt bring some brightness to us.

Thank-you so so so much xxxx’

So of course I can’t just add in any other leftover colours. I don’t think I would have been able to anyway; as I like this combination so much. These are the best reasons for breaking my do not buy any yarn rule. Now I’ll go back to only buying for specific projects, as usual. I just seemed to make blanket after blanket for several years, each with wildly differing colour schemes, as you can maybe tell from my Garter Stitch Blanket.

I’m so delighted to be making this for someone I know. It’s just not the same when you don’t know where it will end up, although I will continue sending items to Knit for Peace. 

I’ve just realised I photographed the wool I bought for my Cottage Garden CAL 5 years ago in the very same park, actually it’s probably almost in the same spot. And look who commented and liked the post – there are several lovelies who I’m in touch with and who still comment now. 


I don’t know why, but I just wanted to show you my new bag from the National Trust shop at Trengwainton, Cornwall. I really liked the blue zip thingys and strap, and the splash of orangey-red on the back. I can’t resist a new bag! 

What have you bought lately?

Yarn Shop Day 

Yarn shop day was a quiet affair at Masons. It seems they didn’t organise or publicise it until the end of the week, which is a shame for them, however for me and my friend it was a lovely afternoon. She had never been before, despite hearing about it for ages. Masons has its own brand of charm. Until recently you would have seen laundry baskets bursting full of discounted and end of the range balls, all along the edges of the shop. A few friends had told me they’ve had a big sort out in there and to be honest I was a bit worried. But there was no need; it’s still basically the same. It’s old fashioned and, most importantly, is still jam-packed with the good stuff. I’ve loved it for ages (see, I blogged about it in 2012. 2012?! How can it have been sooo long ago? Time whizzes.) It’s warm, cosy and the staff are always usually up for a good natter. Suits me down to the ground!

I took the fifth photo looking towards the front of the shop when there was a lull, and some customers had just left. The staff member said she was happy to pose, while her colleague is out of sight hiding behind the fabric racks! (I would have done exactly the same!) The shop’s crochet group and tutor were in the room behind me, busily working together to sew motifs into a blanket.

I finally got to meet Phil of The Twisted Yarn, after dipping in and out of her blog for a long time now. We both took part in the blog hop to promote Edward’s Imaginarium last September, so it was very good to put a face to the name. We’ve swapped details and hope to have a crafty meet up soon. The poor crochet group had the three of us standing over them chatting for ages while they quietly sewed!

Was I restrained? Or did I give into yarn buying temptation? I was actually an angel and bought just one ball. My friend was much more supportive of the business, but not her bank balance, so I don’t feel too guilty! This is a little PR for the business too isn’t it? (VISIT Masons!)

I’m in my happy place

When my friend Gill messages me to find out where I am in London, sometimes I’ll just reply: “I’m in my happy place.” Then she knows where to come and find me immediately. I really enjoy a good mooch around the haberdashery department of John Lewis, Oxford Street, London. I’m often not the only one spending time waiting for a friend, or just having a really really good look around. I think the staff are used to it as well, they’re very laid-back. 

It’s not a huge area, but is full of really, really good quality wool (there’s not a huge amount of acrylic yarn going on here.) I have to admit my spending is mostly confined to a few balls of this and that. I’ve never had a major splurge; probably because I’m always going out and about from there and don’t want to carry a big bag of wool around with me. Plus I haven’t won the lottery yet…

This time I really fell in love with Martin Storey’s Folk Cowl. I actually started gathering some of the Rowan tweed DK I’d need but realised at £7:95 per ball it was going to be a really expensive little make. Drat! I think I’d neeed to find an alternative brand, though the Rowan colours are absolutely perfect. 

Do you think I can try that thing radio DJs do when it’s something like National Pie Week and they throw out masses of hints about wanting to try some? In result they get sent freebies to the radio station… Yes? Anyone want me to test knit this Folk Cowl pattern with these Rowan colours? Do you want my address? I’m really happy to do it for you, that’s the kind of lady I am.

I’m planning to blog every day in May, this is day two and I’m only slightly regretting my decision!

So, what happened to the trout?

Whenever I’ve mentioned rainbow trout from time to time, Cathy of NanaCathydotcom has basically said “Mmmmm.” I’ve always kept this in mind, should we ever pass within a decent distance of each other. The funny thing is that three weeks ago we did, in a market town in Wiltshire, though we didn’t know it at the time.

As we are currently in the same county I emailed Cathy and suggested we meet in Scarborough for coffee and Operation Trout.  You know when someone rings you and you find yourself instantly thinking “Oh, I like the sound of her!” Well that was exactly it.

We met at the top of the multi-storey car park, probably looking slightly suspicious as we transferred a wrapped parcel from one cold bag into another, then we all went to Bonnets cafe for coffee and a good chat. It was fun to recognise Mr E’s hand knitted jumper, this must be  is a nerdy blogger thing.

After a bit the guys went off to do their own thing and we headed to the market to peruse the button stall and to Boyes, a local chain of department stores. I’ve always got my dishcloth cotton from Boyes, they also sell quite a good choice of wool blends and acrylics. It’s not top end yarn, but there’s always a ball or two you fancy...

IMG_5160I need the Walnut for the motif blanket and the Claret is just gorgeous, the shade is deeper and yummier than it looks here. The cotton is a present.

Later the Mister and I had a good walk along the beach, then bought a dozen crevettes from the quayside fishmongers to take home for dinner. And that was another good day.

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Ummm I’ve *cough cough* bought some more yarn from the Bridlington Boyes today, with the last of my lottery winnings. It’s for a hat for my friend. I might as well just show you now and then we can all go back to pretending I’m still on a yarn diet.

“I’ll just pop in for my free pom-pom maker”

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Yeah right…impossible isn’t it?!

There’s a sale on fat quarter packs -they’re half price so this felt like a good buy for £6.50 as the fabric is 100% cotton and has a good thread count. It’s so much easier, and nicer, to sew with good quality fabric. I really wanted a new skein of lime green thread, it’s the colour I’m drawn to at the moment, and the sequins are to spruce up the following.

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I discovered great charity shop treasure on Saturday, when browsing my local shops with a friend. I’ve been looking out for a basket, for crochet and knitting storage, in regular shops for ages. I just couldn’t find one which was lined, which would stop any wooly stuff snagging. This is fully lined with an internal drawstring bag which extends the same height again of the basket. The drawstring will keep everything clean and intact during holidays.

I think I’ve seen this bag in M&S in the past. The silicone packet was still inside and the lining was spotless. I doubt it’s been used much. The only issue was scuffed and scratched sequins, which might have happened while it was hanging on a hook, or in a wardrobe. They spoilt the overall look so I snipped them off – a very satisfying task. I was hoping for red, blue or green replacements, but gold will be fine.
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The bag was £3.50. The free Clover pom-pom maker (leaflet from Mollie Makes mag) from Hobbycraft cost me £8.39 for the visit! Not an expensive shopping spree really.

Have you found any bargains lately? Claimed your free pom-pom maker?

Not quite 10 Random Things

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Oooh I thought when I saw this shepherd’s hut a while back. I parked and walked back to have a peer at it. Actually it’s only got that tiny little window so wouldn’t be a great craft hideaway, which is probably a good thing as in a nanosecond I was already planning where to park it in the back garden and musing about taking it to the seaside. Mad. And no, that’s not expensive at all. Is it? Ha!
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I went to a food and craft fair a few weeks ago with a friend. We were a bit disappointed to find the craft part was really just a few tables with jewellery, homemade cards, decoupage kits although one had these rather lovely vintage fabric owl cushions and things. The food part was redundant as we’d already eaten mystery sausage baps at mine before leaving. Mystery for her as I made her guess the flavours as I chose them from my super local butchers (homemade meaty sausages. Yum) This time they were pork, celery and Stilton. She liked them too.

Tiny confession: The food wasn’t 100% redundant as I bought homemade fudge and I think my friend chose pick ‘n mix. I can’t be sure as my eyes were firmly fixed on my slices of fudge.

We each bought raffle tickets to support the local cause and later she had a call to say there was an arty raffle prize on the way! Lucky duck…not really as it turned out to be an Usborne book on Modern Art, for children. I’m going to give it to my nieces.

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Six rainbow trout freshly caught in a Wiltshire lake. One bartered for cider at the local shop, one to a neighbour, two smoked to be eaten as potted trout or just as they are with salad. Yum. I bought a Fladen home smoker so the fisherman’s experimenting with whisky, hickory and applewood smoking chips. I like the whisky (cask) chips best so far. The other fishes are in the freezer getting in my way as they are solid slightly curled forms so hinder neatly stacking tubs. (Before you leave ‘Urgh’ comments on my behalf about finding trout in the sink, I don’t mind at all. I vacate the kitchen, after opening the window and door then let the cleaning begin. The only issue last Autumn was the windows being left open during the first home smoker test. The house stank of hickory smoke!)
A few days ago the shopkeeper gave us a leg of pork as another thank you for the (unbartered) trout he’s had over the last few years, and the neighbour bought some German Friendship Cake batter around. I love this type of thing!

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My Bondaweb finally arrived so I could have a second go at applique. The blue bird was my first go, then I adjusted the stitch and felt happier with the other, though went a bit off track on his head.
This bag is all ready to applique. I fixed the petals on with Bondaweb, at the same time as I prepared the birdie tea towels, but it doesn’t entirely like the canvas. They’re pinned as well now; just in case I find petals on the floor. I might applique them by hand, it depends how I find the thickness of the canvas. The fabric is from a pack of fat quarters I bought from Amazon. It turns out not to be a good idea to buy fabric online, unless it’s a brand you know. It’s very thin.

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Here’s my unplanned and unexpected find from yesterday. We were mooching around a smallish and not particularly lovely little town we once lived for a year. It was a stick a pin in a map at a halfway point kind of decision then, and it worked. There are so many charity shops now. The vintage style flowers caught my eye, then the 100% cotton label. I bought it purely for the fabric. How about a flowery tote bag for the Summer? It’s thin enough to sew with my little machine, thick enough for shopping or carrying books. It cost £2.95!
I’ve spent several years reading blogs where someone’s visited their local op, thift or charity shop and picked up a real find. Well I think this is mine!

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This morning’s crochet for a few minutes. It’s the final edging row, I’m halfway around and then another blanket bites the dust!
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The tomato plants getting some sun toughening up outside, jogging on the spot and doing crunches (whatever they are?!) before they go into grow bags. Hopefully we’ll have bowlfuls of red Gardener’s Delight cherry tomatoes and some yellow Golden Sunrise. I need a really good crop as I’m competing with a friend this year. Greenhouses are for sissy tomatoes!!!!

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I hope you’ve had a restful Sunday too. If you plan to post your own 10ish Random Things please leave a comment or link below, I’d like to read yours.

The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show 2014, London

I can’t believe it’s that time again already! Last year I had such a good time at the show that I just had to go back again.
When I was thinking about the show I decided my iPhone would stay firmly in my bag, and I’d just wander without taking photos. Then I saw the skeins of wool and knew that you’d enjoy seeing some pics again. So here goes, prepare yourself for much loveliness. I really enjoyed this feast of colour.

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I missed Mr X Stitch again. One day I will catch up with him to say hello!
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I was really tempted to do this and hung about the table for a little while watching a few women stitch, but time was ticking and I wanted a good look around before my sewing workshop. It was £5 to have a go at this embroidery kit. The flower design was printed on the fabric, then a piece of gauzy material is placed on top which you stitch through. What a lovely prettifying technique!
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The quilts are always a wow. There are women who are available to chat about the techniques which have been used. I noticed they wear gloves so they can show people the backs of quilts and handle them without leaving marks. I like this level of respect and care.
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I spent some time in the Wilderness! It was the same last year; I got intensely itchy fingers to craft after the profusion of colour, texture and sheer inspiration. I hadn’t taken any crochet and there were 40 minutes before the workshop, so I joined a table and started to crochet a strip to add to the chains to gradually decorate the area. A textile artist who goes to festivals and teaches knitting was running the project, along with an intern or two from Toft.
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I chatted a novice knitter from Leighton Buzzard who told me about the forthcoming Canal Festival she and her knitting group from Nutmeg Needlecrafts will be involved in. They have a canal boat which is to be yarn bombed and are currently searching for squid patterns. Excellent! I love this kind of thing.
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That plastic crochet hook was the worst I’ve ever used. I looked such a beginner struggling with all its bendyness that someone asked if I was just learning to crochet. It took every ounce of self-control not to say about Simply Crochet. You can imagine!  It was a relief to switch to what seemed like super-long knitting needles, after my recent circular knitting.

The grandmas who came on a coach trip from Stratford Upon Avon looked sidelong at me as I started knitting, but without comment. You do, I do; we all love to watch people knit and note how they hold the needles and wrap the yarn. And the loud Essex ladies (I’m sure they were knitting bunting with me last year) settled down to knit alongside us too. I do enjoy social crafting and meeting new people.
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I like to do my own thing, so rather than knit a tiny row and turn, turn, turn I went for a longer row for my chain. It’s smaller than others but the lovely intern from Toft said she always likes different and going against the grain. Hurrah! So do I.
Here she is crocheting mine to join it above the yellow.
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Time to sew! Last year I hadn’t signed up to any of the workshops and because I went at the weekend they were fully booked. As I’d got a half-price ticket to the show (from an Amazon Local deal following a quick Google for discounted tickets) I felt I could definitely sign up for one. It’s funny how we justify our treats, isn’t it?
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Janome seems to be the machine of choice for sewing classes and workshops.
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I was the only one who took off their boot/shoe. Ah well. Like Patch who commented last post about this, we are also a shoes-off house and so I’m not wearing them when I sew anyway. I do take slippers off though too. I just think I can feel the pedal and control it better.
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This sew a mini storage basket hour-long workshop was for any level of sewer. Ho-hum. I’m not sure how a complete beginner would have managed. It was fast and furious with experienced sewers racing far ahead of us less speedy ones, so the next step (or two steps ahead) were demonstrated before we were ready to take it in. My slower timing wasn’t helped by the fact I hadn’t realised there were pins so I had to take my first bit of spotty fabric off the interfacing and resew a section as it was skew-whiff. Still, I was pleased that I re-threaded an unfamiliar machine without an issue. I also used interfacing for the first time (the experienced “I’ve been sewing since I was 10”) helpful lady next to me said mine was much thicker than hers which maybe didn’t help. I’m not sure I could have put the teeny dressmaking pins through it and the fabric, let alone taken them out.
It’s a fun way to make a storage basket and very ingenious. I want to make another. However I will NOT be using the same materials. The hessian frays and moves around. You can see where it’s not sewn properly on the bottom left. But I liked the shaping where we sewed the corners so they flare it at the bottom and the basket sits flat. I can’t remember the term. Oh, we also ‘nested’ our seams. That’s another new thing.
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Here’s mine. It’s not bad for the speed of the making. During the sewing I had a text from Someone asking if I was having fun.
‘Wasn’t when you text. Was furiously sewing a storage basket, argggh never sewing hessian again!’
‘Bet you never thought you’d write that sentence. :-)’

That is very true. All in all it was fun, albeit slightly stressful. When the tutor Sandra Togher, from the Bowery Gallery in Leeds, said “You have five minutes left” I thought of the stress experienced by the GBSB contestants, with the cameras and pressure of competiton etc! But I’ve learnt some new skills which I can practice and refine. Good value for £10, don’t you think?
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Here is my neighbour’s basket. Perfect isn’t it? She’s so good that she altered the way you sew the top and so hers is much neater than anyone’s. The interesting thing was that when Sandra asked if she sews professionally the answer was no; she works with her husband selling cars, doing the accounts, but it’s been a long term dream to teach people to sew. She really should do it. I’d go to a class.
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I stood and watched a machine patchwork demo, and then bought a few sweets from Henleys of Gloucester as a post-hessian stress treat. Any excuse for liquorice comforts.
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I also went back to the Wilderness to check on the chains. Rather than the lone chain there were now a jolly collection hanging from the stand. Can you see mine?
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At 430pm it was so much quieter, I reckon the coach parties had left. I enjoyed another mooch around both halls and did some shopping. The show is huge and there’s something for everyone. Cats Protection were there again (I don’t really get why, is it that crafters are often cat lovers? Mad knitting women with cats? I do know one or two, or six of those actually…) Interestingly there were arthritis relief and massage stands too. That’s the shape of the things to come, maybe.
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The fabrics are what were making me swoon. I loved them last year but wasn’t sewing. This time I just had to buy a few half metres and some fat quarters. Yippee!
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Here are my buys. I keep being attracted to chicken fabrics, this is my second lot.

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There were a few amusing events on the tube home, but I’ve waffled enough now. If you’re near enough to London why don’t you go to the last day of the show tomorrow? It’s a lovely day out, and even if you go alone people are so friendly and chatty that you won’t be silent for long at all. You can play my shopping bag weebles game too (you remember? Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down?) At the end of the day you’re constantly bumping into, or swinging around and hitting, each other’s bags; bouncing off their packs of yarn and fabric. It’s funny and all good natured.

Are there similar shows where you live? Have you been to one and if so, what makes you swoon?

A very crafty Christmas

Between Christmas and New Year I inevitably find I drift around in a bit of a haze. Driving merrily along to go through a village on my way to sale shopping I came across this…

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20131227-153512.jpgI just forgot we’ve had a little a lot of rain this week. After taking these photos of what are usually fields I turned my car around and went another way as the road was blocked with flood water. If it does carry on as predicted the water on either side of the roads will not be contained within the fields and water meadows. I’m not thinking about how much water surrounds us.

I have obviously been a very good girl this year…

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Aren’t these the best kind of presents? So much to be busy with into the New Year, so much inspiration. I was also lucky to be given a Hobbycraft voucher and bought the fabric in their sale. A metre for £5 was too good to miss especially as the material feels pretty good quality. In fact I’m thinking I might get ahead and sew some gift bags for Christmas 2014! After finding bargain packs of 10 cards, 3 for £1, I’m having a forward thinking day. (I know, I know, I’m making you cringe right?!)

What was your favourite present? Have you been given crafty Christmas gifts too? I’d love to see what you’ve been given if you want to post a picture somewhere and put a link in the comments below.

Time to curl up and catch up with more Christmas tv and film now. Lebkuchen, chocolate and glass of port anyone? Don’t judge me.

It’s a beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

I always feel excited about Christmas at some point in November but then sadly the excessive adverts, relentless songs and push turn me off until about this point every December. As a family we never put the tree up early, I don’t think most people did really. Decorating from the 1st of December seems a relatively new practice. The only thing we’ve always done was open an Advent calendar, or burn a little of an Advent candle each day. I do start buying presents and planning the who, what, where and how in November but then the rest waits till about the 18th/20th onwards. So….this weekend it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!
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Oxford Christmas market – traditional Bratwurst, Onion Bhajis and Mulled Wine?! There is a pretty good selection of stalls though, some very decent offerings. I have to admit that the Onion Bhajis were tasty!

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The Town Crier doing his thing admirably.

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My little cottage (fuzzy photos as it was raining!)

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Do you like my cosy fire? Pretty tree? Comfy chair?

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Perfect place to crochet isn’t it?

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Oh alright, busted! But isn’t it sweet?

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I’d love to buy a defunct red telephone box one day. I’d set it up as a free book exchange.

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Guess why we were at this plant nursery today?

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Yes…We went to buy Christmas trees but all got distracted by FREE hot chocolate! I wish I’d taken my marshmallows. HC & MM is my tiptop Winter treat.

It’s the Strictly final tonight. I’ve submitted my five online votes for the first round of the final, and now have to wait half an hour to see who goes through and wins. It’s been brilliant viewing this year – just perfect sparkly Winter TV.

How are you doing?

I could spend hours here

Recently we stumbled across the kind of higgeldy piggeldy secondhand bookshop which seems to be a dying breed. As you enter there is a long wide corridor lined on both sides with shelves and shelves of contemporary fiction. If you were fond of a particular author it would probably be possible to read their entire work as there are so many books.
Towards the back of the shop there is a warren of rooms full of different genres of books and also an impressive collection of maps. There are stacks of books on the floor, boxes of books, shelves full and the occasional chair or stool where you can perch to browse. I absolutely love this shop and wish they were still to be found in every town like they used to be.

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This is an under the stairs alcove, full of Bibles and works of theology. Can you see the outer pages of the book to the right upon which the huge family Bible rests? That has two separate inscriptions to twin boys on the occasion of their 11th birthday from their ‘dear Mother.’ It’s dated 1879. These inscriptions gave me goosebumps. It’s only £5. I have little interest in the actual book, but felt sorely tempted to save it from being a prop on the bookshelf.

Another pocket sized Bible is inscribed to Florrie from her school and is dated 1934. I also wanted to save that too…
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Dictionary corner

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My favourite area (with bells on) is full of cookery books. This is really where I had to be dragged away by the arm when time was ticking and we needed to leave.

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I had to take a photo of this sign, what a brilliant name. Even better – behind me was a Farm Shop which is crammed full of fresh breads, meats, cakes and cheeses.

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Oooh and it was a special day with extra stalls outside, Somebody tasted some turkey, I had a warm cheese scone and then we went inside to work our way along the cheese counter testing every free sample. That was rounded off with lots of tastes of local beer.

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Hmmm what shall I buy? As my adapted Butterkist popcorn chant goes “Lardy cake, lardy cake rah, rah, rah!” Which would you have chosen…?

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I’ve lit our new Advent candle tonight and I don’t mind at all that I need to catch up on nine days burning – it’s making a lovely cosy warming glow. Perhaps mulled wine is called for too? It IS Christmas, sort of…

Knitted dishcloth, button nerdiness & anticipation

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I’m wondering really if I need to start seeking out a dishcloth/washcloth anonymous group soon, because I still seem to be held in the grip of an obsession.

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Last night I sat and knitted my way through a Strictly and Gilmore Girls intending to finish another washcloth (in the softest bamboo cotton, not dishcloth string like the one above!) and because I couldn’t seem to stop have ended up with the makings of a scarf. It looks just like the type we used in Brownies and Guides. This morning I’ve held it up and wondered if I should undo half but I might carry on for the fun of it and decide at the end. I’ll post my version of the pattern whatever it becomes.

Really feeling I need to write a blanket apology about the awful photos you’ll see from now until Spring. I’m a clicker not a photographer – that’s obvious – and the blankety grey skies with terrible light levels are not helping at all, sorry.

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We stopped here recently and ate a delicious lunch, then wandered around the full to the brim Most Marvellous shop where I bought bags of colour coordinated buttons. I’m going to look out for a big jar – I have so many different little tins and jars of buttons. I guess they’re more colour coded sorted separately, but I do fancy having a big jar full to the brim on the windowsill in the little room. It will provide a handy distraction to stare at when I’m meant to be doing more sensible stuff on the PC!

On Sunday I’ve been invited to a rather exciting event. I can take a plus 1 and asked a couple of crafty friends if they wanted to accompany me. The first is booked on a card making workshop, the second is attending a book-binding course on Sundays. I love my friends! This did make me grin, my busy creative friends.

As the invitation helpfully stated that the +1 could be friend or family or someone from the blogging community I had a little think about who and had a brainwave. She replied within minutes sounding very excited about finally meeting after a few years of internet contact, and about the thing, which frankly is quite exciting!

To be continued….. ;-)

This and that in London

Last weekend in London I found myself taking rather random photos but thought I’d share them with you anyway. I don’t have any of the poncho as it’s still a work in progress. One rectangle is finished, the other is probably halfway through. I don’t knit for long periods with 8mm needles as it’s too much for my little hands!
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I saw these beauties in Liberty of London, one of my favourite shops in the city, and had to add it to a mental wishlist of things to own one day. Imagine opening such a pretty case which is full to the brim with bright ribbons, threads, wool and cotton? I really can. If I visualize it maybe I can make it happen!
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I had a good play with this nifty sewing box, I really like the clever design. I’m always drawn to storage and boxes in particular. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told to “Step away from the tupperware, wicker, tins, jars, cubes – we’ve got enough already!”

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20131010-110530.jpgTa-dah!!!

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This book is so cute, but after my exploits with the cat who’s still in pieces, waiting to be sewn up then sold for charity by a nice friend, I’m not realistic about the dolls ending up 3D…

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And well, the John Lewis Food Hall is full of Halloween at the moment. I couldn’t stop grinning at these (terrified?) skeleton Gingerbread Men, what a funny idea.
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All the orange and black is very eye-catching.

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Screme eggs! Ha ha! Tempted though I was by the thought of the delicious green goo in the middle, I resisted since the long weekend was to be full of birthday meals…

20131010-110726.jpgRegents Street on Saturday, it was lovely and warm but not a blue sky. Sunday was a different matter – you might have thought we’d been transported back to July. So many were wearing t-shirts and sandals, it was gorgeous. We ate lunch outside and basked in the rays, making the most of it since we’re probably due another 8 month Winter. If we could always have a wonderful Summer like we’ve had I would happily put up with a long Winter.

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We ended the weekend with a look around Selfridges. Here’s the man himself made out of jelly beans. I was amused to see some are missing – proving that if it’s edible people will eat it!
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MMmmmm aren’t these lovely. (We resisted.)

I haven’t included all the photos I took of full on ____________________ displays in JL and Selfridges. Let’s get Halloween out of the way first please…!

This week has included cooking chilli, homemade soup, jars of apple & sage jelly to go with Winter roasts, (would anyone like some cooking apples? It’s been a bumper harvest and the apples are HuGe) snuggling down in bed reading Naked by David Sedaris and lots of washing hanging about the house. Welcome to the new season.

As I’m mostly in a knitty frame of mind in the evenings, and occasionally picking up my crochet hook to do more of the hot pink scarf, I haven’t begun with joining my 200 Blocks CAL squares together, or even thinking about them too hard if I’m honest. I don’t mind the thought of doing it at all since I’ll be using crochet to join, but my mind is full of other things. I’ve been in touch with the CAL keeners and they’re all fine with their own joining matters, or pausing like me. One day you’ll see all the blocks laid out and be reading of my planning and dithering for a cottage garden something but just not yet. :-D

What are you up to at the moment? I love hearing from you, as always.

The best kind of delivery

First thing this morning the parcel of yarn which I ordered with my Black Sheep Wools Blogger of the Month gift card arrived. This is, as I’m sure you know, one of the best kinds of parcels.

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You start to imagine all the things you’re going to make…

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You’re so impatient to dive in hands first and have a good rummage in the bags, but if you’re a blogging monkey you’re on go-slow while you grab your camera…
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Ordering new brands of yarn online is rather a gamble as you just don’t know whether you’ll like the feel, or if the shade will be as quite represented on the website. I’m really happy with all my choices.

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I try to be canny shopper and so chose yarns that were all on sale to get as many as I could for the value of my gift card. I did very well. Thank you Black Sheep Wools! I’m still really pleased about the award and the generosity of the gift card.

They are all wool blends and various weights: 4 ply, dk and chunky. I chose two patterns first and bought specific yarns for the items. The colour mix of the Trentino drew me, I’m not sure what I’ll make with this yet.

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The pinky yarn above will be the first time I’ve crocheted with 4 ply. I’ve only ever used baby cashmerino thickness, dk, chunky and aran only once – as you’ll know from my recent washcloth post.

All three thankfully feel nice and soft. It’s always a gamble with wool, though less so with blends. I know it’s probably not cool to say this, but I really don’t like the feel of Noro. Granted it comes in spectacular colours but the crocheted and knitted garments I’ve felt are way too scratchy to consider wearing next to my skin. Natasha in Fibreworks, Oxford said it does become softer with washing, but I’m still not convinced enough to spend time crocheting or knitting with it and then not wanting to wear the item. Have you used Noro? What do you reckon?

It kind of surprises me that there are so many self confessed ‘wool snobs’ around. Surely it depends what you’re making? There are different horses for different courses aren’t there? A beautiful baby cashmerino baby jumper might be a very lovely present, but if it’s to be only washed by hand with a special wool wash and dried flat, then one in Stylecraft might be more appreciated for its throw it-in-the-washing-machine-peg-on-the-line qualities.

I have a post in the pipeline showing what I’ve been making recently, but the exciting delivery eclipsed that so I’ll show you another day, soon. It’s cool this afternoon, we’ve done a very swift 3 mile walk, had a substantial lunch and now the sofa, chunky yarn and 6mm needles are calling. Loudly!

What are you making at the mo? Have you bought anything exciting yarnwise?

Slightly fuzzy photos of many treasures

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Snapped with my iphone which never takes great photos when the light levels are low; but I really like the colour combination of this crocheted blanket.

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I remember reading the same edition of Heidi when I was little, it was given to me by a relative who had kept her copy from when she was a young girl.

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There are crocheted, knitted and embroidered items dotted around, you never know what you’ll find.

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Treasure trove!
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So delicate and pretty

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And home to start crocheting string bag v.II. I’ve been pinning things for ages but just this week really, finally, understood how useful Pinterest can be after finding an assortment of string bags with links to FREE patterns.

This was my first trip out since getting ill. It was on Thursday and I was more than ready to leave the house, feeling fairly confident that all would be well. It was, apart from getting caught in a rain shower and slowly (quickly) turning into a drowned rat clothed in a jeans and a light Summer top. Then I passed someone I haven’t seen for fifteen years but the moment wasn’t right to call out a hello, with looking half drowned still and standing in pouring rain. Oops!

I was meant to be at Lucy’s Attic 24 open studio day today, but then for various reasons we had to cancel our weekend in Yorkshire. Ever have a few weeks where events you’ve really looked forward to don’t happen, as if on a roll of blah?

I shall cloak myself with optimism, put my happy (ier) face on and set out to find something cheering this morning. If it’s worth sharing I shall report back later. Wish me luck!

What are your plans today? I hope you have a good day.

Wool Money

There are those who are completely anti-gambling, others who’d never place a bet because they wouldn’t know the first way to go about it, and many who wouldn’t bother because they never win anything; even a church raffle. And then there are two who tend to place a small bet on the same sporting event once a year, namely The Grand National last Saturday.

One of these picks horses based purely on their names (food & drink themed this time.) The other chose their two horses partly for their name, but also checking details such as odds and track record.

One of the four lost its rider quite early on and the others came FIRST, SECOND & THIRD…..!

So now I’m able to resume the CAL with a lovely new supply of wool. :-D

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Lazy Sunday, happy Sunday

What a lovely Sunday, eating Thai food then browsing for spices, exotic drinks and foods at the Asian Supermarket next door. Then home for a bit of cosy crochet and to read my new Mollie Makes mag. It’s -1 degrees here today, with some snow covering the hills after the snow-storm yesterday. It’s hard to believe we had brown grass in the garden from the dry, warm start to Spring this time last year! (Isn’t it funny how every blogger will, at some point, mention their local weather wherever in the world they are; I always thought this was a purely British obsessive topic of conversation.)

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There’s been much rain and snow that there’s even flooding in parts of the city now.

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I think most are staying warm at home as this is usually a buzzing restaurant.

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Mum has asked me to crochet her a scarf. I like the circularity of this as I grew up wearing and using home-made knitted, crocheted and sewed scarves, hats, mittens, gloves, cardies, jumpers, dresses, gym bags for my plimsolls and much more.

I chose shell pattern 2 from the Vogue Crochet Stitchionary I won in a giveaway last year. 

I trebled the stitch count and hey presto it’s just right for a scarf. The scalloped sides are really pretty, I like the pattern a lot.

I’m using Lang’s Tosca Light which is 55% new wool with 45% acrylic, a really warm and soft mixture. I can vouch for this yarn as I used it to knit myself a lacy purple scarf a couple of years ago, and wear all the time. I also knit a green one for my sister-in-law which she loves. I’m using  a 4mm hook, though think a 3.5mm would also work nicely.

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I hope you’ve had a lovely Sunday too.

A long weekend

A long weekend away, the other week, in Lincolnshire meant that we were able to do the seaside hat-trick: Skegness, Mablethorpe and (very rainy and blustery so no photos) Cleethorpes.

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There was something so forlorn and run-down about Skegness which is basically shut for the winter that I wished I’d taken the posh big camera to capture more. I really like books like Roundabouts of Great Britain and Goats in Trees and….I can’t find it but it’s a series of books of photos you often see in gallery and museum bookshops. They are called something like Unseen Britain, The other side of England or similar though I can’t find them on Amazon. Anyway, isn’t a rundown seaside town in the winter wonderful for these type of photographs?

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I was chatting to the owner of M&G Designs in Louth with my cousin wondering how they clean the water slide in the Spring, and apparently children are sent down with sponges attached to their bottoms. Ingenious. ;-0

M&G Designs is definitely worth a visit if you’re anywhere near Louth. It’s owned by a husband and wife and is crammed with needlework, knitting, crochet and many crafty treasures. I found it hard not to spend all my pocket money in one go!

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A few doors along is Chilli Peppers a delightful cook shop with pretty home-wares in a further room at the back of the shop. The new owner is the former Saturday Girl who decided to buy the business, with the help of her parents, when the owner put it up for sale last Autumn. I love this story!

A lovely bonus of visiting Chilli Pepper is that you’re offered a cup of Nespresso coffee to drink while you browse. This friendly welcome is what marks independent shops from chains. When was the last time you went to Cargo and were given a cup of coffee and had a friendly chat?

I’d thoroughly recommend a visit to Louth, go on a Saturday and stroll around the small market, go to Millie May’s for lunch (Bacon, brie and cranberry panini yum!) pop into the charity shop with rows and rows of books upstairs, Serendipity which is a home-ware and gift shop and many, many more independent shops. Unlike most English towns now you don’t see the same chain shops everywhere, it’s so refreshing. Louth is also an attractive looking market town. I didn’t take photos – too busy shopping and chatting! In the evening go for a big curry accompanied by lots of Indian lager, or another option as there’s a fair range of restaurants.

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We love a good walk at Mablethorpe and admired the beach huts from the Bathing Beauties Festival (see the gin and tonic hut which is my fave?) Next we always go and play in the arcades. You too could win teddy brooches, a hUgE emerald (yes, I have a jewel….sort of) and lots of tickets for prizes like we did.20130219-111413.jpg20130219-111403.jpg

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On the way home we saw a little snow! Leading up to the weekend there had been so many severe weather warnings I admit I wondered if we were wise to visit. In the end the little snow that fell didn’t settle at all. We drove across the county to Lincoln on the way to the M1 and saw only a bare sprinkling on the Lincolnshire wolds. The most was in Northants as far as we could see, but still nowhere near the amount predicted. Jolly good!

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Inspired by my cousin reminding me about my round and round Granny ‘square’ Yorkshire blanket I came home to do something about my odd and ends of Stylecraft. I started this while watching tv (one eye on the hook and stitch and the other on the prog anyway.) After I saw this photo I undid it all and the odds and ends are back in a stash. Asymmetric just looks a mess!

I’m back to working on the jewel baby blanket again. What are you making this week?

All the fun of the fair

All the Fun of the Fair is a delightful little haberdashery and yarn store on Carnaby street, Soho. It’s great to discover somewhere new in central London. Friendly, chatty service and lots of pretty things to look at, what’s not to like?

Naughty wool shopping

Tuesday: I’m a terrible shopper, a classic browser who can spend hours in shops looking, touching and picking things up, even restacking and neatening displays, but I’m not actually any good at buying most of the time. Often when I go clothes shoppping I return home with multi-packs of socks. At least now they’re stripey or spotty colourful socks; not the terminal black packs I always, always bought during my non-craft decade.

This afternoon I deliberately left my yarn shopping at Mason’s till the last ten minutes before the shop closed so I would be forced to make a decision under serious time pressure. Well technically it was that, and leaving home late due to the fact that I wanted to finish last month’s Mollie Makes in the bath before moving on to the new issue. The first of my year’s birthday subscription plopped onto the doormat this morning. Ya-hoo! I know I’m very easily pleased: Mollie Makes, a hook and some socks and I’m happy.

There is a LOT more wool/yarn than this, plus fabrics and haberdashery (and two more shops in the town) but I still take very surreptitious photos in shops. It is a tad embarrassing but I thought some of you might want to see what the shop looks like since I know they send international orders.

So what I’m leading up to is that I’ve bought yarn. Better than that I’ve bought wool, proper grown up sophisticated posh wool, Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino. If it’s good enough for the Queen of Crochet Blogs (you know….) then it’s more than good enough for me. I’ve really only ever crocheted with 100% acrylic. I am a fan of the Stylecraft Special DK but seriously wanted to try something different.

It is pricey but it’s gorgeous. I adore the range of colours. I want to put it on my face and leave it there it’s so soft. I also think it’s going to produce a nice sized block for my CAL though unlike serious, sensible crocheters I haven’t been swatching. My approach is to crochet and accept whatever block appears. I’m definitely not working out yarn quantities ahead either, yikes that could end up being scary given I’ve spent lots of pennies. “Look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves” I’m choosing to think about the pennies and not the pounds in this case.

I’ve chosen a starter range of colours for my initial blocks that are inspired by my memories of our cottage garden style flower beds which were in my childhood garden here in England. I remember red-hot pokers, lupins and delphiniams, plus marigolds, little flowers called pinks, moon-daisies and iris and….

I might add some light pink and maybe a splash of yellow, but I know that I want oranges, purples, some deep dark and bright colours. So that’s everything I suppose, but no neutrals.

I’ve started putting a Cottage Garden board together on Pinterest if you need any pretty pictures to look at for inspiration. It’s a work in progress as I’m still finding my way round the site.

Thursday: I could say I’ve done a swatch, deciding to make a sample and be a sensible crocheter, or I could say I couldn’t wait and I crocheted the first two blocks. (More about that later.) Either way I’ve made a decision about the yarn I’m going to use….

…Any ideas for what I can make with softer than clouds DB baby cashmerino?

DoNT sAy a BlaNKet!!!

Crafty treats & birthday presents

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20120816-160121.jpg> This is a little different but each to their own! It’s probably more comfortable than being carried in a little handbag…20120816-160134.jpg> A few treats 20120816-160141.jpg> A surprise in the post. But this was a disappointment for the one who collected it from the post office and thought he’d won a fishing reel in a competition! The look was priceless when it turned out to be a subscriber gift from Mollie Makes magazine.  So, I get the magazine for a year of birthday present that keeps on giving, and the Amy Butler fabric! Win, win.

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>Stopping to admire my doorstep20120816-160318.jpg> Greek salad for lunch, not craft or a birthday present but a very tasty meal sitting in the sun listening the Best of David Bowie…..Let’s Dance! We could be Heroes….Little China Girl…..Fashion!….Ashes to Ashes…..20120816-160326.jpg> Trying out one of last week’s birthday pressies – my new slow cooker. I had to use pliers to turn the knob round on my last one and like this red model very much. I’m cooking Malaysian beef and aubergine curry for dinner (smelling good!)

The recipe’s from Ultimate Slow Cooker by Sara Lewis if you fancy trying it.20120816-160332.jpg

iknit London

iknit London

iknit on Lower Marsh street, Waterloo, London is one of my favourite yarn shops to pop into when I’m in the area. Come out of Waterloo underground station onto Waterloo road, turn right and walk along to the cheap bookshop on the corner. They sell a huge variety of books, including a nice shelf-full of craft books. Then walk along to iknit on Lower Marsh street for a browse, knit/crochet and shop. I recommend The Camel and Artichoke pub afterwards. It’s just 2 minutes along the street. Buy a drink, order something to eat (recommend: the steak & onion baguette, chilli/cheese nachos/The Big Ben burger – if very hungry!) and go upstairs to hopefully bagsie one of the ultra comfy squashy leather sofas. Browse the Bookcrossing.com bookshelf for a free book or two. All this will keep you happy for an hour or two or…..

Pros: iknit London sell a large selection of wool/yarn in a variety of prices, brands and types. There are some sample pieces knitted up to give you an idea of the texture, thickness and general project inspiration.

Apart from wool/yarn there is an extensive library of books to browse and buy, a rack of knitting and crochet magazines, haberdashery and little gifts, including cards and toys.

iknit London offer classes and have regular knitting group meetings, although I haven’t attended any….yet. They are licensed to serve alcohol so i imagine some of the gatherings get fairly jolly!

You are welcome to take your current project into the shop and work on it while resting on the sofa for a while.

Cons: Be prepared to share the sofa with a very small dog, the kind you might see a celeb carry around in a handbag!

Drink Shop Do

Drink Shop Do, London

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Pros:: (sorry I snigger a little as there’s a sex shop downstairs) Sweets in old fashioned jars available per quarter, cards, stationery, Rowan wool (ya hoo I can legitimately use wool) tiered plates to buy, a teeny bit of crochet on display, candles on cafe tables upstairs, fresh flowers, random tables and chairs, fab homemade cakes including yummy looking battenburg.

Cons: Apart from eclectic ‘craft’ classes/activities -look up the programme on their site- this isn’t really a craft shop. If you’re looking for serious yarn choices or haberdashery items go elsewhere.
Cooler than cool reception from staff, it is London I guess but smiles cost nothing. I’d accept a fake one!
Expect to wait to be served in the cafe, busy or not. I’ve heard this and now have first-hand experience.

Off to Liberty now while dodging raindrops.

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Sunday shopping

Tea, coffee & sugar?

Buttons, threads & ribbons!

One new sewing box?

Three new sewing boxes actually!

Sunny day today hey? ;-p

Well…you can never have too many owls, or too many tins in my opinion…

Download this free really useful guide if you are into making the occasional amigurumi crocheted toy (link to Stacey’s website fresh Stitches in my sidebar.)

Guess what I’m making…?