Tag Archives: days out

Great London Yarn Crawl 2014

It’s been a busy couple of weeks; having just got back from holiday, we went to spend a couple of days with my parents in Norfolk and then we’d only just got back from there when we were off again, this time down to London where we had tickets to see Kate Bush at the Hammersmith Apollo on Friday night (and she was just as incredible as all the reviews say – we were right at the back but it was still amazing) and then on Saturday morning I left T sleeping in our hotel room and headed off bright and early to my first stop on this year’s Great London Yarn Crawl.

As some of you may recall, I went on last year’s crawl and really enjoyed it. This year I signed up for the Bluefaced Leicester route, partly because I love BFL yarn but also because none of the four shops on that route were ones I’d been to before, and when I got to the meeting point (the lovely Owen’s Cafe in Muswell Hill) I was delighted to find several familiar faces from last year’s purple route who had done the same thing.

Our first stop was Fringe in Muswell Hill, a lovely craft and haberdashery shop with a nice range of yarns including Rowan, Debbie Bliss, MillaMia and possum yarn from New Zealand as well as needles, accessories, fabric, sewing patterns, notions, ready-made garments and handmade jewellery.

Fringe

They also had an exhibition of beautiful felted art by Cathy Needham. We had half an hour to browse, and I ended up buying a couple of balls of merino/possum blend yarn to make a new hat for T before we headed off to catch the bus to Crouch End for our next stop.

Nest is a shop I’ve wanted to visit for a long time; I was sorry to miss it in last year’s crawl so was very glad to get to this year.

Nest

It’s a lovely little shop, specialising in natural fibre yarns, as well as stocking lots of beads, some kits and some lovely handmade jewellery. I didn’t buy any yarn here but I did buy a wooden feather pendant, which seemed like a perfect memento of the whole weekend as there was a feather theme to the Kate Bush show too.

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We had somehow managed to get to Nest early so we had time for a spot of knitting and chatting on the sofas at the back of the shop.

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From Next, we walked into Crouch End where we had lunch before catching a bus to Seven Sisters and then a train to Cambridge Heath to visit Prick Your Finger in Bethnal Green.

Prick Your Finger

Prick Your Finger is part yarn shop, part artist’s studio, run by Rachael Matthews (who was wearing amazing Arts and Crafts print Doc Marten shoes). The yarn she sells is all British and includes John Arbon, Excelana, West Yorkshire Spinners, Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shopa and Jamieson’s of Shetland, as well as some lovely hand-dyed yarns. There was also this rather charming rhino in a woolly jumper:

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I hadn’t been planning to buy much yarn on the crawl, because the stash is reaching ridiculous proportions, but the wall of John Arbon’s Knit By Numbers merino DK, and particularly the six different shades of purple, was just too much for me.

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Yes, I ended up with one of each. I’m not sure whether to knit a large shawl/small blanket or to be more ambitious and try to make a gradient-shaded jumper or tunic.

From Prick Your Finger we headed to our last stop of the day, newcomer to the London yarn scene Wild and Woolly. Because we were running a bit late at this point we ended up getting there just after the next group, who were running early, so the shop was pretty packed, but the owner was smiley and friendly and there was tea and delicious cake.

Wild and Woolly

I loved the yarnbombed bicycle in the window, and there was also a knitted vegetable garden.

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I bought two skeins of sock yarn from a new-to-me UK indie dyer, travelknitter.

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The colours are beautiful together so I suspect the yarn will become a two-coloured shawl.

And then, at last, we headed to King’s Cross for the afterparty, organised by Pom Pom Quarterly. Unlike last year’s party, this time there was plenty of room and it was nice to sit down with a refreshing pint of lime and soda and knit and say hello to friends who’d been on other routes. I even won one of the door prizes, though as fate would have it I ended up winning copies of both of Kathleen‘s Silver Screen Knits books which she’d generously donated as a prize, and given that I already have signed copies in any case I offered them to the other members of my team and ended up giving them to Helen from Curious Handmade who said she’d use them for a giveaway. Hopefully this will introduce someone new to the books!

I ended up rushing off as soon as the final raffle prize had been drawn, as by this point I was tired and just wanted to get home and was hoping I could make the 1918 train (I didn’t, mostly because I had underestimated just how long it takes to get from the concourse at King’s Cross to the Circle Line platform, and then I’d just missed a train and there wasn’t another for seven minutes so I arrived at Paddington with only three minutes to spare and actually, that isn’t long enough to get from the underground to the platforms). I’m sorry I couldn’t stay longer to chat, as I know there were people who were on other teams I’d have liked to speak to but didn’t have the chance. Still, it was a brilliant day out again, and many thanks to Allison and Rachel for organising it. I’m looking forward to next year already!

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Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside

This weekend I headed down to Brighton for Unwind Brighton, a new yarn festival organised by Dani Sunshine of Lioness Arts. I was a little bit wary about this, given that my mental state hasn’t been great recently and there seemed to have been so much buzz about the festival online that I thought it might end up being really crowded, but I needn’t have worried as it felt surprisingly relaxed, and the marketplace was set out with a wide enough aisle that even though individual stalls were often crowded it was never hard to make my way around.

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It wasn’t a huge marketplace – certainly nothing like the scale of something like Woolfest or Unravel – but I thought there was a nice range of stalls, all selling lovely stuff.

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I was particularly taken with Yarn Garden‘s stall, which had a grass-green carpet and all the yarn laid out in seed trays.

I managed to spend all my yarn budget and then visited the cashpoint a second time to buy even more. These are my initial purchases, photographed as I was trying to convince myself not to get more cash out:

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There was a great programme of workshops as well, but as I’d only made the final decision to attend two weeks ago everything that really appealled to me had sold out, and I didn’t want to spend £50 on a workshop that I wasn’t really interested in, so I gave that a miss. I did attend an interesting talk on colour theory by Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia; she discussed primary, secondary and tertiary colours and explained about hue and tone and saturation, and gave some helpful tips on selecting colours to knit with and knitting with variegated yarns. It did leave me, once again, trying to work out whether according to seasonal colour analysis I’m an autumn or a winter. (None of the tests ever make any sense to me: do your veins look blue or green under your skin? Well, mine look kind of turquoise and I’m not sure if that counts as blue or green. Do you look better in white or cream? I hate how I look in either. Do silver or gold suit you better? I have some silver jewellery, don’t like gold, but prefer brightly coloured beads to either.) Not that I think it really matters; I generally like how I look in pretty much any strong colour and dislike how I look in pale and pastel colours, and if I happen to pick an outfit that makes me look less than stellar it’s not as if anyone gets hurt by that, is it?

Of course, despite the bulging bag of yarn, I don’t go to yarn festivals for the shopping so much as for the socialising, and Unwind was brilliant for that. Wandering around the marketplace in the morning I bumped into so many people I knew, including some I was meeting in person for the first time (and who recognised me from the blog, which was just as well as I’d completely forgotten to bring a Ravelry namebadge, despite having about half a dozen scattered round the house!), and then at lunchtime I went to the podcaster meetup where I got to catch up with the lovely Louise from Caithness Craft Collective and say hello to A Playful Day, both of whom I’d met before, as well as getting to meet Martine and Charles from iMake, Jo from Shinybees and Nic from Yarns From The Plain for the first time. I was very pleased to find that they are all just as lovely in real life as they sound on their podcasts, and I managed not to be too star-struck at them.

From left to right: Jo Shinybees, Charles, Martine, A Playful Day, Rachel from The Good Yarn Guide (which I don’t listen to because it’s a video podcast and I normally listen to podcasts while travelling), Helen from Curious Handmade, Louise, Nic, and some more video podcasters: KnitRunDig (whose name I didn’t catch), and CeCe and Damaris from Geeky Girls Knit.

It was also a lovely surprise to meet Kris, who regularly comments on the blog, and who had brought Louise a bottle of Canadian whisky to try.

All in all, Unwind was a fantastic day out and if Dani decides to make it an annual thing I’d love to go again next year. It may be my favourite yarny event, because the location meant that not only did I get to have a wonderful day of yarn and friends, but I was at the SEASIDE!

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We’d decided to stay in Worthing rather than in Brighton itself, which I think was the right decision; Brighton seemed lovely, but very busy and achingly trendy, and we are quiet and middle-aged and don’t like crowds. Worthing had reasonable restaurants (we had Indian on Friday night and Thai on Saturday) which weren’t too crowded or too noisy, and we got a room in the Travelodge there which was comfortable if basic and a lot cheaper and quieter than hotels in Brighton would have been. And best of all, when I got back to Worthing at about six o’clock yesterday evening and decided to go for a walk on the beach, I practically had it to myself.

The tide was a long way out, but that was all to the good, as the bit above the tideline was all shingle, whereas further out there was sand and I took my shoes off and walked barefoot out to the edge of the water so I could paddle. You can’t beat sand beneath your feet and the sound of the waves and a salty sea breeze as a way to relax!

The Great Scottish Tapestry

While I was in Glasgow last month I took a trip over to Paisley to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland at Paisley Thread Mill. (I have delayed writing this post for so long that the Paisley exhibition has now finished, but the tapestry will be at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh over the summer and at New Lanark in October and November, and if you have a chance to see it you really should go.)

The tapestry (which isn’t actually a tapestry, because tapestries are woven and this is embroidered, but then again so is the Bayueux Tapestry) consists of 160 panels which were embroidered by groups of volunteers around Scotland, depicting scenes from the history of the country from the Ice Age to the present day. I couldn’t hope to photograph half of it, but I did take pictures of some of my favourite details.

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I love this squirrel’s bright eye and bushy tail!

This panel celebrates Scotland’s involvement with India (although not the delight that is the haggis pakora) and I loved the colours.

The peacock represents the peacock-tail of Paisley designs, on a panel commemorating the mills of Paisley (including the one where I saw the tapestry).

I can’t resist a puffin! This one was on the Shetland panel.

And penguins are almost as good. Not a native Scottish bird, but this panel is about Shackleton.

And finally, I was just amazed at the detail of the embroidered sock on the Fair Isle panel – the way the outside looks like knitting and the inside looks like the inside of stranded colourwork is just incredible.

Rainbow hat

The rainbow hat I made last weekend is now blocked and has its pompom sewn on.

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I love it, it’s such a fun hat and the pompom makes me smile.

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I wore it yesterday when I went to Unravel for the day, but sadly it was far too warm inside the hall to wear a woolly hat. Luckily I was still wearing a handknitted cardigan (my Cria, which got a lot of compliments) and a shawl, so my credentials as a knitter were never in any doubt. I had a lovely day catching up with friends I haven’t seen for ages, and even though it was so busy it was sometimes quite difficult to get at the stalls I seem to have managed to spend all the money I took with me without too much trouble!

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I was also very impressed with the signage that had been put up along the road from the station to Farnham Maltings where the event was held!

Sheep sign

Given that I was out all day yesterday, it’s not that surprising that I don’t have much crafting to talk about. I am knitting more walking socks, which I took with me yesterday and made good progress on; today I finally started the final clue of the Ysolda mystery shawl, and also spun a bit more of the batt from the Hilltop Cloud learn to spin kit. It’s coming out much finer than I’ve managed to spin before, though I’m always getting quite enough twist into it. I’m pleased with my progress, though.

Yarn crawl

Yesterday I went to London for the Great London Yarn Crawl (kind of like a pub crawl but with yarn shops instead of pubs – far more civilised and much more appropriate for those of us who don’t drink alcohol).

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There were five routes, and I had picked the purple route (what a surprise!). Each group visited four shops during the day, travelling between them by Underground, bus and train; there was probably as much time spent travelling, knitting and chatting as there was shopping, but the other knitters in the group were lovely and great company and it was fun to see the surprised looks of other people at the sight of a group of thirteen women all knitting on public transport. I completely failed to take any photos during the day, but there are lots on the flickr group for the day, including several of our group from Katheleen.

Unsurprisingly, I did manage to buy quite a lot of things.

Yarn crawl haul

We started the day at Loop, which was the only shop I’d been to before, where I couldn’t resist some Madeline Tosh Tosh Merino Light:

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From Loop, we headed up to Finsbury Park and the Handweavers Studio, where I went a bit mad over the little sample bags of different kinds of fibre they had.

Fluff!

Well, everyone says that when you’re first learning to spin you should try as many different fibres as possible! I even got a tiny bag of qiviut, which is very soft but does remind me rather of the lint that we empty out of the vacuum cleaner, and I also bought a niddy-noddy to make it easier to skein yarn after I’ve spun it.

We then took a rather circuitous route (south to Green Park then about the same distance north in a slightly more westerly direction) to West Hampstead where we stopped for some lunch before visiting the Village Haberdashery, a lovely little shop as much devoted to sewing as knitting, where I bought the new Colette Patterns Zinnia skirt pattern. And then, finally, we caught the Thameslink train to Herne Hill and visited Sharp Works. I was flagging a bit by this point, but still managed to buy a skein of Manos del Uruguay Alegria sock yarn for T (never let it be said I go on yarny days out and don’t think of him!).

Manos Alegria

(I also had another present for T when I met up with him in the evening; a finished pair of Earl Greys from the stripy Sparkleduck yarn I bought for him at Woolfest:

Stripy socks

I was knitting on these on the train down and the various bits of public transport, finally kitchenering the toes and weaving in the ends on the Jubilee Line to West Hampstead.)

At the end of the day we all headed back to Waterloo for the “afterparty” in the upstairs room of a pub. For me, this was the only (comparatively) low point of the day; I was physically tired and had also reached the limit of my capacity to socialise with people and even if I didn’t find pubs difficult places to be anyway what I really needed was some quiet time by myself, and it turned out that the room was really not big enough for all the people trying to squeeze into it and the bar was very small and had a long queue and I really couldn’t be bothered to stand around waiting for my turn so I could buy a lime and soda, and with hindsight I should just have skipped it completely and found a quietish corner of a cafe to sit down with a cup of tea until it was time to go and meet T. But that’s really just me, and nothing at all to do with the organisation of the day, which was terrific, and I will definitely try to go along again next year, time and budget allowing!

Monday blues

I went to Fibre East on Saturday, which was lovely – I saw lots of friends and got to squish lots of pretty yarn, and didn’t even spend that much money. It was very hot, which was a definitely improvement on last year’s show when everyone was ankle-deep in mud. Really, the only trouble is that now I’m sad that it’s over, and I won’t see my friends again for ages, and I’ve spent most of the day feeling like I was struggling not to burst into tears. Especially when I popped out for some fresh air at lunchtime and ended up with soaking wet feet.

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(I was inspired to wear this dress today after seeing a friend wearing the same one on Saturday, though it’s not like it isn’t a favourite anyway. I’ve had the cardigan for years – it was a present from my parents – though I think it may only be the second time I’ve worn that!)

What I did on my holidays

We spent the last week in Cumbria.

I finished my Mixalot socks:

Mixalot

(I also finished my Bigger on the Inside, though it still needs blocking, and knitted enough of my Lady Heather that it feels as though the end is in sight.)

T did jigsaws, including one based on a popular and long-running radio series.

Ambridge jigsaw

We walked from St Bee’s to Whitehaven over the cliffs.

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We didn’t see any puffins, but there were lots of gulls and guillemots perching on the cliffs.

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I even got to paddle!
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(We also managed to get rather sunburnt.)

And I went to Woolfest, where there were sheep and goats and alpacas and angora bunnies.

Jacobs sheep

And lots of gorgeous yarn and fibre and other craft-related things, some of which came home with me.

Woolfest haul

And, most importantly, I got to spend yesterday with friends I haven’t seen in person for far too long. I know that lots of people are a bit sceptical about internet friendships and see them as in some way lesser than friendships made offline, but while I have been burnt a couple of times I have been burnt just as badly by “real-life friends” who turned out not to be quite as much of friends as I thought they were, and for me being able to talk to people through various online services and get advice and support or just distraction and pictures of cute animals when I’ve needed them has been incredibly valuable; I don’t think it would be exaggerating to say that on occasion it really has been a lifeline. But however wonderful it is to have such fabulous people living inside my computer, it’s even more wonderful to get to spend time with them in person and I hope it won’t be too long until the next time!