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!

Yarndale 2015 (again!)

So, as I said yesterday Yarndale was a blast; a jolly happy day. And, that was that for another year. Until the next. No. No? Well, although I’d sensibly booked a Saturday ticket and my train tickets some weeks ahead, I woke early on the Sunday morning with a strong sense of ‘I have to go back’. This only increased as I scrolled through my Instagram feed and saw lots I hadn’t seen. No angora bunnies. No alpacas. Not enough yarn. And – oh my goodness – I’d come away with only one card, which is for someone’s birthday anyway. I’m not a huge shopper generally. I prefer to buy yarn for specific projects, but even by my standards this was pants.  As I was due to meet friends in Leeds for dinner, after they’d been to Yarndale, it seemed sensible to drive to Skipton this time and hope that I could park. Actually there was a marked difference on the Sunday; when I arrived there were plenty of spaces and much more room to move in the mart. This time I was focused, not so much chatting and more looking.
  This gorgeous make is called Like a Leaf on the Wind by Sharon Jane. It’s free on Ravelry, in case you want any inspiration for your Yarndale purchases or stash. It uses one skein of 4 ply (fingering weight) yarn and is definitely now on my long list of ‘things to make’.

  Ah! I found the rabbits. And had a stroke too.
  Isn’t this stunning? It’s by Jane Crowfoot.
    This is really for me because I’d love some, but you might fancy some gorgeous charcoal yarn in your life too?
  As I caught up with my friends from Leeds in the Knit and Knatter lounge, and Heather and I shared our yarn purchases, some sheep came trooping into the space! I think they’re going to be part of the puppet festival in Skipton, next month.
  Naturally they were followed by their sheep dog, who just would not stand still until I used my best “Stay! Stay dog! Stand still!” and s/he obeyed. Good dog!  And now faces to fall in love with…

  Just look at these two. This could be a Valentines Day card.  It felt a bit mean to swoon over the bunnies and alpacas, so I snapped this calm sheep and quietly thanked them all for giving us their wool.This one just blinked and sniffed the hay in an ‘you’re being embarrassing’ kind of way.  I sat outside in the warm sun admiring my shopping, after doing a final loop of the mart. By other people’s standards it’s not a huge pile of goodies, but plenty to make me smile, and keep me busy.

I’m so glad I went back for another day. Someone I overheard on Sunday said: “You need a day to peruse and a day to buy.” I need a day to chat and another day to see all I missed.

On Monday morning I sat up in bed knitting a few more rows of my second Hitchhker scarf, musing on all I’d seen and the wonderful people I’d met, already making plans for Yarndale 2016 (a hotel in Harrogate or Halifax or Skipton?) And then I headed off to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. And that was another good day.

Yarndale 2015

I came back from Yorkshire last night, after a fantastic 4 days there. I really love that part of the country! I’d booked a ticket to go to Yarndale on Saturday and felt really excited. I didn’t go last year but went to the first Yarndale 2013 and was interested to see how the festival might have developed.

When travelling to Skipton what really amused me was the sheer number of Cath Kidson bags on view on the train. There weren’t as many woolly items being worn as I see en route to the Knitting & Stitch Show every March; as we’re enjoying a late Summer at the moment. I love anything Cath Kidson and so loved seeing them all. There was such a party atmosphere on the Leeds – Skipton train, with everyone talking about crochet, knitting and yarny matters, that the conductor asked where everyone was off to? He said he was absolutely loving seeing people talking to each other, not staring at their phones!

  I caught one of the red double deckers from the station and this was the mandala hanging in the window. It was amusing to see people in town doing double takes as the bus passed by. I noticed a few taking photos of it too!

When I arrived at the auction mart at 1030 people were streaming in. There seemed to be many more exhibitors this year and it was more spaced out than in 2013, which was a good thing.
  Once again I went to Fiona of Marmalade Rose gorgeous stall, where she was showcasing her felted wool pictures. They are works of art. I bought one of her cards. She is so talented.
  Some of the fabulous bunting! I tried to spot the ones I’d made, but it’s a few years ago now and I’m not sure I’d recognise all of them. I’m pretty sure I saw one or two, but wouldn’t put a bet on it!
The stunning Flowers for Memories displays were a real WOW. Here are just two panels. They were sent from 22 countries according to Lucy. Incredible isn’t it?


  This is just a section of the auction mart, you can imagine how busy it became over the day. It was very good to go upstairs for a bird’s eye view of everything, and to take a few minutes out. There really were fantastic stalls; such a variety of goods on sale and really, really stunning displays. I don’t have any photos but keep an eye out for any of Eden Cottage Yarns since it was definitely one of the best. If not the best.

This year I’d decided I was not going to take any photos (ha ha, failed I think) so there aren’t masses of yarn porn pictures. I was too busy staring greedily at it all, and trying not to smoosh it too much. But if you look on Instagram and search for #Yarndale2015 you’ll see plenty to satisfy you.
  
  I chatted to people all day: said hello to bloggers I’ve long followed, fellow instagrammers, anyone who started to chat about yarn or craft related things and designers I admire. It was so good to finally meet Kat Goldin, though due to my rubbish sense of direction I kept passing her and Joanne Scrace‘s The Crochet Project stand; as I went around in circles, rather than up and down all the rows. By the end I must’ve looked like a deranged stalker.

Yarndale felt like one giant, fizzing, happy party. I loved it. But by mid-afternoon I felt completely overwhelmed and decided to head back to town, it had been great but I was ready for a quiet wander. I jumped off the Yarndale express in the town and spent a huge £1 on a wooden door wedge at the market. I explored some of the lovely little independent shops and then popped in to Cooper’s Cafe, on the way back to the train station, and headed upstairs to Lucy’s studio. I felt a bit of a stalker again (and heard another saying the same) but it didn’t stop me looking around and taking some photos to show you.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s take on this log cabin inspired blanket, the combination of colour possibilities is endless.

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So familiar from Lucy’s blog, it’s a treat to see them once again in ‘real life’.
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And there we are – my Yarndale experience. Or is it? Might there be more? Watch this space tomorrow…!

Wakefield Country Courtyard

The other day I met a friend for lunch and a walk in Salcey Forest, where I spotted these gorgeous primroses growing at the foot of a tree.

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She had to head back up the M1 after lunch and so I paid a return visit to Wakefield Country Courtyard. Another friend took me there a few years ago but the photos I took then were all dark and fuzzy. I enjoy having a wander again, but it’s small and so best visited if you happen to be in the direction of Towcester or the A5. I wouldn’t plan a day trip unless you want to combine it with a good yomp at Salcey Forest.

This blanket caught my eye in the ARTea Room and Gallery, I’m dithering about whether to add this kind of scallopy edge to my huge granny square blanket border. So far I’ve crocheted a few rows of treble clusters and I need to make a decision.

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My brain was whirling and I wondered if I might make some pretty applique bags, purses and notebook covers as sewing practice and gifts for family and friends….

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I need to try some applique after my first effort when my sewing machine was new.

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A relaxing pit-stop with a copy of Country Living and a cream tea. Naughty but nice! On the windowsill to my right were  wooden bowls, jewellery, toys and knick knacks for sale. There’s a lovely selection of art and craft things all around the cafe.

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I photographed the links at the end of the article on guerilla gardening to remind me to look up the sites, maybe you’d like to look as well?

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The Bead Scene and Vintage Stitch are in adjoining rooms in one of the buildings and apparently both offer workshops. There are such lovely haberdashery and crafty items for sale. I loved the colourful displays, lightness of this room and found the owner very friendly.

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The dresser, the baskets, the ribbon, the fabrics….

SWOON.

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Ah, this is the same brand of yarn I used to crochet my knitting needle roll a few days ago.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my little wander around some of Wakefield Country Courtyard. I love seeing others’ crafty trips out, please link to yours below if you’ve been anywhere nice lately.

Jewellery workshop

Last month a friend booked us both on a jewellery workshop with Stones of Isis in South London. She’d seen a Groupon offer for a beginners class for 3 hours at £22 each, it’s very good value and if that deal is still available I’d recommend you book if you can. We went to The Old Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey (spell check wants to change this to ‘spider monkey’ ha ha!) on Saturday. Gok Wan uses a studio there to photograph his collections apparently – there’s a random fact for you.
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I’ve never made any jewellery before, unless threading painted pasta on string counts?
You can see how my attempts improved, though there’s still a long way to go.

So, in a nutshell this is what the equipment’s called and how you make a rosary bracelet Oops, I realise I can’t name the equipment with confidence at all! I need to check the pdf that’s promised to all who attended the workshop.

20130922-161055.jpgIt’s fun, time flies and you realise how very slow you’ve been when you’re racing to complete the earrings by the end of the workshop. A slight downside is that your thumb and finger of your other hand throb by the end of the session, your dominant hand is holding the pliers and fares much better. I expect you toughen up after more sessions, or adjust your technique and this isn’t an issue as there’s no condition, as far as I know, called jeweller’s thumb…

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This is the work of the graphic designer who sat opposite, we both loved her colour choices, repeating pattern and neat work. She insisted she’s never made any jewellery before and we veered between envy at her talent and thinking she couldn’t be new to it at all because it looks so good. Her pearlyish beads on the floating bracelet inspired me to add two to the end of mine.

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Sandwiches, tea, biscuits and cake were provided but to be honest I think we were mostly all too busy to stop and eat much.
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Here are my finished items. As Bola and Mary, the teachers and owners, said you can spend a fortune in Accessorize on similar bracelets. I don’t wear necklaces but have a huge bowl of bracelets so making my own really appeals but I’ll probably need to arrange a follow-up crafting session with my friend Sarah who creates the most lovely jewellery, for a bit of a refresher.

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Next we crossed the river and went to north London to Islington. There’s no way you can really go there without a little visit to Loop. After my recent thoughts about Noro wool feeling too scratchy we discovered they make an absolutely gorgeous variegated cotton. I was soooo tempted to buy some but first need to finish my Rowan and Planet Penny cotton.
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I have a giftcard to spend at John Lewis sometime, plus I’m busy using my Black Sheep Wools haul so didn’t buy anything. It was hard not to buy a ball of each colour combo of that Noro cotton, but I stuffed my hands in my pockets.

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Lush yarn isn’t it? I believe you can just tell looking at these photos. Some is £20 and upwards for a skein, so I’d definitely need to feel more confident about my knitting before I bought enough for a garment.

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Seeing stacks of beautiful yarn is really like heroin for crocheters and knitters isn’t it? OR, is that just me?!

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?

Fibreworks, Oxford

Do you remember I blogged about the scrummy yarn shop Fibreworks, Chipping Norton back in March? Well now there’s a sister shop in Oxford. I went for a look-see last week, ended up chatting ten to the dozen with the lovely owner Natasha, stayed over an hour and ended up having tea with her.20130903-104516.jpg It was fascinating seeing all the different people who popped in during that time. You never knew who would come in next and what they would ask. I loved it!20130903-104524.jpg There was a woman who asked for a knitting starter book as she wanted to make something for her baby (v v cute.)20130903-104533.jpg A guy who works along the road who needed a yellow nose for a toy his g/f had made. I suggested felt which he bought. He also ended up buying a Creepy and Scary Creatures to Crochet type book. We were both saying how cool crochet is and how there are many male crocheters and knitters. Well, sort of there are I think?

A woman who wanted to donate wool she bought years ago to knit an item for her child, now an adult….

A foreign student who wasn’t sure how to cast off her scarf. She’s just learnt to knit and was making a beautiful double stranded scarf for her boyfriend. The combination of blue and white DK yarn with big needles worked soooo well.

What I loved was that some assumed it was my shop too. Maybe I’ve found an alternative career? After all a customer in John Lewis, Oxford Street in London did tell me last week that I should be working there and was a ‘natural’ when I answered his questions about ipads which the employee had failed to answer correctly. A craft shop with a teapot on the go all the time, and all sorts of people to chat to on a daily basis sounds pretty appealing. Not to mention the yarn, books and patterns.20130903-104547.jpg

Last week I met a friend for an evening in the pub. It’s been a little while since we met so there was plenty to catch up on. She was saying how she’s taking horse riding lessons and doesn’t find it easy, plus the instructors are pretty hard on you. She ended up crying one week. The guy she knows in the class pretended not to notice which was very tactful, but then the following week he ended up in tears too! Well! Can you guess what I’ve told her she must do? CRAFT. CREATE. RELAX. ACHIEVE with no tears. I suggested looking for crafty workshops to do together, or perhaps we could join a knitting group, not as an alternative to the horse riding, if she wants to carry on, but another more relaxing and confidence boosting option. Hey presto I just happened to hear about a few local knitting groups and we’re joining one on Wednesday. Knitting/crochet and alcohol. Perfect combination (ish) so I’m taking something super simple, otherwise I’ll be showing you a cobweb next time!20130903-104603.jpg

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It’s a really lovely shop isn’t it? If you’re near Oxford anytime then I suggest a visit. Here’s the website for info about workshops, classes, groups and opening times etc etc.

In progress: That cat needs sewing up. Still. I’m knitting the second sleeve of the garment. So soon you’ll have some pictures of actual craft I’ve been doing. It’s been happening, but I’ve just not taken many (any) photos lately.

Buying: I’ve finally chosen what to buy with my Blogger of the Month gift-card and placed my order this morning. I’ll show you the contents of the parcel when it arrives. Exciting!

CAL NEWS: The JAL of the CAL will be nearer the end of the month from my POV, but please go ahead if you’re itching to begin the massive blocking and joining fest. Can you believe it’s been a year since we started, I see my first post was actually a year ago today!

Guthrie & Ghani

After watching and loving The Great British Sewing Bee I’ve been planning to go to Lauren’s, one of the contestants, new sewing and haberdashery shop Guthrie and Ghani in Moseley, Birmingham.

On Saturday a friend and I met there and had a lovely wander around. Sadly we didn’t see Lauren, perhaps she was running a workshop upstairs or just taking some time out.

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I was quite restrained in my shopping though there were many lovely things to buy.

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We were really pleased to see the once monthly Moseley Farmers Market coincided with our visit.

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There was more crackling than shown, it never lasts long!

I dropped some pork out of my roll, my friend dropped some sausage out of hers and so between us we left a bit of a food trail as we wandered around the other stalls.

What did you do during the (bank holiday) weekend? :-)

Bunting for Yarndale

When Lucy asked for Granny bunting for Yarndale I was delighted because I’d already offered to contribute something towards the yarn walk that is planned for the route from Skipton station to the venue. It’s a great way to use up a stash of yarn and I had crinkly bags full of Let’s Get Crafting Knitting and Crochet magazine stuff. It squeaks as you use it. Yeuch. BUT it’s very pretty colours and is perfect for bunting since you won’t be wearing it, and wouldn’t never know how plastic it feels to the touch.

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I wanted a large pretty pottery bowl to hold my wool, or a wicker basket lined with beautiful material but sadly I own no such thing. Someone winces and pulls me away when I head towards wicker, or Tupperware or stationery. I’ve foiled  him with the latter two, but not the wicker so much. Then I remembered my herb bucket (bought last May bank holiday – I see) It’s been serving as a waste paper basket in The Little Room for ages.

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The colours are perfect, don’t you think?

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I hate waste so have bags of unused, half used balls and tiny scraps of yarn. I crocheted tons of middles with the teeny scraps while we watched Forest Gump the other night. I’d forgotten about the film’s great music, so really enjoyed watching it again. It’s sunny HURRAY! So there’s going to be some outdoor crochet happening too.

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I see my granny bunting has Lucy’s seal of approval as she’s left a lovely comment on my BrANd NEw The Little Room of Rachell Facebook page.

Thank you to Hannah of Not Your Average Crochet for my new media buttons! She’s such a whizz and now I’m all linked up.

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Yesterday we went to Cotswold Needlecraft at Evesham Country Park as I’d seen on the Mollie Makes blog that they were having a warehouse sale. It’s on till 2nd June and if you want to buy a pack of discounted yarn I’d recommend you go there sharpish. There’s a nice walk down to the river, a farm shop selling gorgeous produce and all sorts of lovely places to shop and browse.

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I couldn’t resist buying some more embroidery thread. I’ve never used metallic before.

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Please come and ‘like’ my Facebook Page and say hi :-) I’m hoping it will be a good place to chat and share links about craft events or anything inspiring.

Food & Fabric

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Today we had a magnificent lunch at The Crooked Billet, Newton Longville, Bucks. I was tempted to photograph all of our four courses but decided to restrain myself and just took the puds. But oh! the food, combined with speedy but unobtrusive service in an oldy woldy village pub. Gorgeous. I highly recommend you visit if you’re able.

I’d be wondering what it was you ate at this point, so if there’s anyone really nosy like me:

  • Pan Fried Scallops, Chimney Smoked Crispy Bacon, Deep Fried Shallots, Pea Puree
  • Duck Breast, Duck Sausage, Crisp Confit Duck Leg, Fried Duck Egg & Pan Fried Duck Liver, Spinach & Quince, Potatoes & Onions en Cocotte
  • Warm Carrot Cake, Orange & Carrot Puree, Butter Icing

Oh mama the food was good. The other three had completely different choices, so between us all we sampled a fair part of the menu.
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The text above the fire reads: ‘Wine is the visible proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.’ Amen to that.

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The fantastic cheese selection.  The one oozing all over the slate is a Corsican cheese, it was herby and delicious. That was the eater’s overall favourite from his choice of six.

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This hasn’t completely morphed into a food porn blog, so here’s the craft bit…

After lunch we waddled to our cars and popped to Threads and Patches in Fenny Stratford.  The Jammy Dodger was warned by one familiar with the shop that the guys might prefer to chill in a nearby canal side pub, but he came in and ended up talking about, what I call, boy-craft with the owner. It’s actually a good suggestion he made; if craft shops sold fly fishing materials they would see an increase in male shoppers.  Do you remember when he reused my yarn scraps? 

He’s caught 9 rainbow trout in the last week. Family and friends, plus one of the neighbours are very happy. The village shop-keeper has set up a bartering system with the JD:  a trout for a very good quality, expensive artisan loaf of sour dough. Suits me.

After watching all 4 episodes of The Great British Sewing Bee I’m resolved to refresh my dress-making skills. Just look at all this fabric, it’s a tiny taste of what T&P sell…

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I could see myself in a skirt made of the second fabric. Anyone fancy offering free sewing lessons in return for homemade cakes, scones or bread?!

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20130424-185248.jpgThere’s an upstairs room with a selection of yarn and haberdashery, plus a few light and airy rooms used for workshops. The above is for two bloggers with whom I’ve been exchanging some *!?*^&%$ type messages about a forthcoming ‘thing’. I can’t even bring myself to link to it because we might start a little rant on the comments form below! I also don’t want to alienate the p-p lovers amongst you. *Pressing lips tightly together*.

There’s also a small yarn shop in Fenny Stratford which I  naturally needed to dive into briefly. The JD waited outside to the amusement of the mechanic next door who shouted; “Your missus in the wool shop is she???!” He ought to set up a beer stand, he’d make a fortune!

How’s your week going? Talk to me.

The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show, London

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I’ve had a very good day. Very good indeed. I tried not to take hundreds of photos but did bear in mind that quite a few readers have said they are looking forward to hearing about the day.

On the tube journeys to Kensington Olympia I played a little game to guess who would be going to the knitting and stitch show. It wasn’t too hard. Do they have a: knitted/crocheted hat? Knitted/crocheted scarf? Handmade item(s) of clothing? Colourful bag? Flowery rucsac? Anything Cath Kidson? All were complete give-aways. I followed a couple of women for two parts of the journey and then bumped into them by the ribbon and button stall where we had a chat, as you do. I tend to chat to people wherever I am, whatever I’m doing and there were some very friendly people at the show.

In case you’re wondering; I wore my knitted lacy purple scarf, it’s warm but I also had a feeling it’s de rigueur at crafty events to wear something handmade. I was right. I saw a divine cabled top, really nice chunky wool, it just fit and suited the wearer so well. I had to stop myself from rushing up to ask for the yarn details, pattern and needle size. 019021

The lady in purple is Lara (mid cough, oops) the editor of Mollie Makes who was later running a VERY popular crochet flower workshop throughout the day. I tried to find a spare chair, but each time I passed they were all occupied, with spectators standing around too! I’m so glad crochet is so popular. When I said I really like MM Lara seemed genuinely delighted, she seems very sweet. 024Wow. Just wow! A lady and I joked that you’d have one very muscly arm from using these hooks!

025Perhaps knitting would give you an equally balanced upper arm workout?027This is where I made my resolution, yet again, to relearn to sew. Aren’t the fabrics beautiful?

028029The next two photos really, really made me want to visit the Mrs Moon shop which speaks volumes for the beautiful layout of the wools, patterns and samples. The women looked so elegant as well.

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Rowan Big Wool. Mmmmm I feel a snood or scarf coming on sometime, in a berry red or grey perhaps.033

The next two pictures were part of an area with a table of free-form crocheters who, I think, were making pieces to decorate costumes. There were some women in huge dresses, painted faces and high-high-high-up hair, or wigs, like the aristocrats during the French Revolution. The area was labelled The Garden of England Royal Museums Greenwich.The show is turning into a good way to check out new places and visit other exhibitions, rather like following a trail of bread crumbs.035039

I was forbidden to take a photograph of the felting and silk artist Yulia Badian in her Woodland Boudoir fetchingly dressed as a woodland fairy, but drinking a can of red bull. She was quite attention grabbing I can tell you.041042

Deebie Hall’s ‘Lady Spring

I’m always partial to willow art. 044

Sue Stratford’s The Knitting Hut was also one of my favourites. Just look at those chicken kits! Several were purchased as I browsed. I took a photo of her knitted meerkats but sadly it’s a fuzzy one.047

Just when I was beginning to flag I spotted a spare chair at The Knitter/Simply Knitting table, opposite the full to bursting MM crochet area. Half an hour knitting alongside friendly people felt equal to a session of meditation. I can’t describe how relaxed I felt after that pit-stop. I liked that you could take the whole ball of wool, needles and pattern away all for free.

Something funny happened during the session. Eight of us knitters sat around a circular table and I noticed that seven were ‘throwing’ the wool. The eighth was an older woman who knit sliding her hand up and along the needle. The rest not. One of the magazine editor demonstrators complimented the neatness of mine which led to discussing techniques and the feeling that persists which says I’m ‘not doing it right’. All agreed it’s an individual thing; there are many ways to accomplish the same end. All good, all rosy. I’m feeling pretty confident showing off my technique in public while hoards flow around the area, some taking photos of us (eek!) THEN a group of Grannies come along and make quite a deal of the throwing technique and actually take one woman’s knitting away to show her how to ‘do it properly.’

“Look, you wrap the wool round your fingers like this, see? You hold the needle under and do NOT take your hand off…blah blah.” The lady took it quite well but I’m just so glad it wasn’t me.

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This was my favourite quilt from the exhibition, it’s so country home in style.052

On the tube home I heard fragments of people’s conversation:

‘I spend my limit then I stop. Do you remember last year when I didn’t have enough money left for a cup of coffee?”

“He’s expecting me home later than this but will come to get us when I tell him what time the train gets in. Umm NO! I haven’t told him how much I’ve spent!”

“Next time I’m gonna take a wheelie bag to fill, and probably get right in people’s way.”

“Bugger! I’ve got me wool stuck in my zip aint I?!”

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I’m very pleased with my Clover crochet hook, bought from Jane Crowfoot. She’d sold out of 4mm but this was one that was lurking in an under the counter box. She did say she might be in trouble with her Mr for selling too many and not having enough for online customers, but they’ll just have to wait eh? Lucky me!

I’m off to drink a large glass of red wine, finish my bunting with my beautiful alpaca wool, or maybe unravel it to crochet something with my NEW HOOK!

Happy weekend everyone.

Knitty gritty

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20130304-110056.jpgAs you see The Fibreworks in Chipping Norton is crammed full of goodies. They offer a good selection of yarn and haberdashery as well as books and finished items to buy. Check out the workshops and knitting/crochet tuition, they have a lot going on all year round. You’ll get a friendly welcome and good advice as I found when I asked a few knitting questions recently.

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So, the knitty gritty now; I’ve knitted the four pieces of my cabled bag but before I sew them together (what’s the best stitch? mattress? Back?) I need some technical advice please. A woolly bag is no good without a fabric lining, but how to make one? I’m so unconfident about sewing these days. I haven’t done any since I made skirts etc at school and that was – ahem – quite a while ago! The bag is very small so isn’t going to be in daily use or anything, but it helped me  to learn how to do my first cables and I can’t see the point of making something that can’t be used.

Help please! (Any cheats tips received, always happy to mail it to someone who can do the finishing for me too ;-P)

While I’m asking for advice – can anyone suggest a new header photo, or theme to bear in mind which goes with the blog name that I can use? I need some inspiration. It’s definitely time to have a spruce up and take down the photo of my notice board, especially as I’m having  a surge of new followers this year.

What are you making during these early days of Spring. Knitting, crochet, sewing or….?

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?

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!!!

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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A PINK parcel!

So exciting to come home to a large PINK PARCEL!

I opened it in a rush and quickly photographed it in the placky bag as I had to be somewhere fast, but here is my new cotton stash! I’ve never bought any yarn in bulk and now look at me, with my yarnalicious rows of DK below and now 13 balls of cotton!

Penny’s blog – Planet Penny – is listed in links somewhere to the right of this page, click if you too would be interested in buying a pack. I obviously can’t vouch for the cotton, yet, but the delivery was super fast! ( I think I only paid for this on Saturday.)

I’ll show some pics of what I create with the super bundle of bright cotton as I go along….

Having a ‘stash’ (this does sound very American to me, but I can’t think what else works so well in one neat word!) does mean that you can try any pattern out there and then, rather than wait to buy a ball of something.

I also am a bit excited about this….

I didn’t even know this magazine existed. The shops I tend to go to for a rummage around amongst their craft magazines don’t stock Mollie Makes. I’m looking forward to a good look at it tonight.

Can you recommend any other crochet / crafty mags?