Christmas time

My friend and I had a super Christmas meet up at Cliveden on Saturday, it was our third annual Christmas walk there and probably the most wintery. Can you see how we walked into the fog in the Long Garden? 

Each year there’s a trail to follow and this year it was pantomime theme. Last year it was based around The Twelve Days of Christmas, but these have not beaten the first year when we had to find bunches of carrots, left for Rudolph, hanging from trees and bushes. I can’t even say why as that year it was pretty basic, but it made us laugh a lot (apart from when I grew petulant that an enthusiastic 3 year old, running ahead of us, kept finding the carrots before we could!) 

We walked a good 5 miles in all, so it seems my physio’s brutal vigorous sports massages on my sore knee and my conscientious daily stretches are having a positive effect, after weeks of pain and boring inactivity. Walking through fog is weird; by the end we were decidedly damp haired and rosy cheeked for lunch in the Orangery. 

 

On Sunday we went with Mum to find Christmas trees, she found one she wanted immediately and hared off to buy it, before anyone else took a liking to it. We didn’t have the same love at first sight with any, so will try again another day. I’ve stuck to family tradition of only decorating a week at most, before Christmas Eve. To be fair this was the same for pretty much everyone here when I was growing up, until people started copying the American thing of decorating early, as many seem to after Thanksgiving. Are you American? Is that a relatively new tradition?  If Christmas lasted the whole of December I’d be truly sick of it by 25th, and the size of the shepherds hut above. This way we enjoy the anticipation and it’s not overkill. I have to say that as I write this I am so looking forward to making mulled wine, brandy butter and mince pies! Did someone mention Twiglets? Cadbury Roses?!

How are your plans coming along? Are you a month long celebrator, or less?

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.

This and That

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This new Siri is not nearly is sexy sounding as the old guy (yes, we have male voiced Siri) plus his sense of humour sucks! (‘Sucks’ – too much Glee while crocheting. I need to watch something that’s going to increase my vocabulary, not the opposite?!) If you dictate a stupid question, you get a stupid answer – but this was important stuff.

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This genuinely made me cringe and yelp a bit when I saw it the other day. Urgh, the thought of dog lick is foul. Cats are fine though…

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Ah yes, I totally agree.

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Everywhere I go I seem to end up stumbling into ‘Christmas rooms’ and this was one of the biggest and the best. It was so lovely I was singing along to Let It Snow and realised there were at least half of a dozen others joining in too.
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There’s a thingy on the left which you can just see, where you can put you head up into after crawling under half the table top scene. It’s for children really I suppose and I wasn’t brave enough to have a go, but how cute to see the trains going past your nose and Santa flying past. Can you spot him?
Funnily as I’ve been looking at this as a large sized pic on my iPad, I’ve noticed a few things are leaning or have fallen down. The ice skater makes sense, maybe the couple of cool kids leaning against the rink is a deliberate move, but I’m not sure about the other thing.
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Winter’s definitely on the way when you see sprout sticks appearing in the farm shops. Roast chicken with roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts and carrots, homemade stuffing with steaming hot gravy over will be happening on Sunday.

I’m going to crochet the border and darn the ends of my ripple over the weekend. The end is in sight!

There are thousands of blogs out there but I’ve realised you can only really connect with a certain number. When one becomes inactive, especially if you’ve followed them for years, you naturally begin wondering if the person is okay. When I started mine I connected with quite a number of people who were also new to blogging. We’ve been in touch for nearly three years now, but lately I’ve realised quite a few of these are only posting sporadically, or have stopped completely. I’m wondering if there is maybe a natural end to a blog? People get busy and interested in doing different things. I know I’m not posting much at the moment; but how many photos of the same ripple blanket do people want to see anyway? Have you also noticed your favourites dropping off?

More importantly: what are you going to be eating at the weekend? I do love details like this.

Happy weekend everyone.

“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?

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…

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.

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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Preety.20130424-185225.jpgThe spotty section.20130424-185232.jpg20130424-185219.jpg

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.

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.

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.

Are you going?

K&S show Olympia

To The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show  which is this week 14th-17th March at London’s Olympia?

I’ll be there on Saturday and can’t wait since it’s years since I went to a big crafty type of exhibition event. Maybe we’ll see each there? :-)

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….?

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

>A wander around a new craft superstore20120816-160103.jpg

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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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Red White & Blue

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (60 years! What a woman!) and London 2012 Olympic Games are rushing towards us now. Currently the torch is travelling around the country, being passed from hand to hand. This morning I’ve heard that it’s in Wiltshire, and was being carried part of the way by a woman who has raised a lot of money for charity. It’s really good that non-celebs/sports-people are having a turn and are honoured for their service to the community or whose talents are recognised.

For the past while I’ve been taking a few of these types of pictures…

This is a road in Oxford in case you’re wondering.

And, the next one made me smile!

Creative display methods reflecting the times eh?

So the shops are getting well on board, selling anything and everything red, white and blue. With a fair few Jubilee biscuit tins etc. Good for them! I like to see it.

On another track, I walked (a 3.3m round trip – loving Endomondo sports tracker!) to a library on Monday and discovered they have a host of craft books on all sorts of the topics including: quilting, patchwork, jewellery, knitting, cake decorating….and crochet…a reallllly good selection of crochet books. So I grabbed five randomly and took them outside to sit in the sun (yes! we have sun now…hurrah!!!!!) in the quite beautiful library garden. Next time I go maybe I’ll take some photos, it’s full of clever planting, with benches placed at intervals in the quiet corners behind plants, trees and sculptures. The benches are painted a lovely blue, you can see the colour behind the books in the photos, which really works with the setting.

The Dudes book has some very nice jumpers in it with a variety of sizes. I ‘might’ have a try at something wearable later in the year. And no; I’m not ‘a dude’ but I did like the look of the solid, chunky clothes unlike lots of crocheted items for women which are often all holey and not really flattering to actually wear. Unless you’re a willowy model IMHO. The male models are pretty yummy too in this book – some of them – so that’s definitely a recommmeded ‘book to browse’ from me!

I made some notes on which patterns I liked in the books as I went, so I can go back and borrow a few at some point. There are even more to go and peruse some other time too.

Thanks to blogger Jill from Nice Piece of Work for commenting on my charity shop book at the weekend. She prompted me have a look for craft books when I was returning a novel (Lost Lady -Willa Cather, recommended read particularly if you like classic American fiction.)

I’m off to walk around the grounds of a Palace now, will post some pics soon.

Enjoy the sun, if you have some wherever you are. :-D

Foiled by dtr…

I didn’t exactly plan to but yesterday I ended up wandering somewhere I hadn’t been for quite a while, after tootling along in my little car glancing at lush green fields and daffodils opening on the roadside verges. When I got to a quaint market town about 15 miles from here I made a beeline for the posh yarn shop, but got distracted by a kind of ‘everything you could want and plenty you don’t need’ shop. This is where lots of items are priced at £1-1.99 and you get lured in by the cheap, cheap prices then end up spending at least £10.00.

That might have been me….

BUT in my defence I have been wanting to make this scarf from the Cute and Easy Crochet book (see link in the sidebar) and it’s rapidly becoming Spring. So obviously I need to crochet it quickly, and for that I need yarn. (Still surpressing a shudder, but again I can’t in all honesty call it wool. It’s 100% man/woman made…)

I think it will be lovely in pink. Debbie Bliss Como isn’t made anymore and this pink marble chunky is 200g for £4.99. Of course I didn’t plan to end up in the market town or the ‘everything you could want and plenty you don’t need’ shop or buying yarn. So wasn’t sure how much the pattern called for. I bought two just in case, you understand?

Umm and also a ball of this….

…for an Easter thingy or two I’m planning to make.

Last night when I tried to start the scarf I found that Como is/was obviously even chunkier than chunky; so had to work out doubling the initial chain and pattern as it should have been about 10″ wide and mine was 5″!

The next pit-fall was dtr, what’s hard about trebles?

Nothing. I can confidently say.

But double trebles are a nightmare!

I had thought I’d progressed to intermediate, rather than a beginner crocheter – but oh my goodness those double trebly things have finished me off!

The 2yo thingy ended up all twirly around the hook; that’s when I could get 2 yos without one slipping off altogether!

I have asked about this dtr thingy on Ravelry and see I’ve helpfully been given some links to online videos.

Watch this space for progress…..

Aren’t these violas lovely? Such happy little faces when I return home. There are tulips coming up in amongst them and they were a complete surprise.  I’m waiting to see what colour they are, when they open.

Have a nice evening/day/ now I’m off to see The Woman in Black at the cinema with friends. The book scared me, the play scared me, maybe I’ll be brave for the film?!

:-)