Tag Archives: days out

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).

Yarn crawl

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:

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(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!

Sock it to ‘em

A few weeks ago, I mused on whether or not I could wear leggings and Mary Jane shoes with handknitted socks without ending up looking slightly mad, and everyone here assured me that it would be perfectly fine, particularly if I was meeting knitters. Given that the weather remains a bit on the chilly side for shoes and bare feet and I have really had more than enough of boots and that I was off to the Purlescence open day where I would be surrounded by knitters I decided to give it a try.

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Shawl – Brandywine
Cardigan – Cinnamon Girl
Top – Uniqlo
Skirt – Next
Leggings – M&S
Socks – Vellamo
Shoes – Greenshoes

I think it worked, and I’m particularly pleased with the way the Fair Isle bands on the feet of the socks just show above the tops of the shoes.

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The Purlescence open day was good too, and I managed to get the three small skeins of Voluptuous I wanted to go with my two large ones for a Chickadee. It was lucky that I had arranged to go with a friend, though, as that meant that when I got in my car (which I think I last drove in early March) and it didn’t start* we could change plans so she came and picked me up rather than vice versa as we’d planned and I still got to go!

*A flat battery is always a possibility when I don’t use my car at all in the week and only do so occasionally at the weekends, and I suspect the fact that for a lot of the last couple of months leaving the house at weekends at all was more than I was capable of hasn’t really helped matters.

Fair Isle weekend

I haven’t had a chance to do any sewing this weekend, as I’ve spent most of the two days at a Fair Isle workshop run by Susan Crawford at Darn It and Stitch. I’d signed up like a shot when this was announced, as I’ve been wanting to improve my Fair Isle skills and having taken a finishing class with Susan a few years ago I knew that she was a really good teacher and I was likely to get a lot out of the workshop.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Inevitably, there was a wide range of skill levels between the nine of us who’d signed up; some people were completely unfamiliar with working in the round, and while there was another continental knitter there I was the only person already familiar with both continental and English-style knitting, which gave me an advantage when it came to working two-handed. (Talking to the others there, I have come to the conclusion that I’m just an experimental sort of a knitter; some people are happy to find a way of doing things and stick to it, whereas my reaction to hearing about a different method is to think that I’ll give that a try, in case it turns out to be better than the one I was using. Which is how I started off as a standard English-style knitter and am currently a continental combination knitter.)

We spent the first day talking about how to hold the yarn, casting on and working a flat swatch (which I found interesting, as I’m not sure I would have dared to attempt colourwork with purl rows before!) and then choosing main and peerie patterns and working out colour selections for the larger sample we were working on today. (I took the opportunity to use up some of my sock yarn leftovers!)

Fair isle sample - 11am

At 11am today I had a little bit of ribbing; by 4pm I’d knitted this much:

Fair isle sample - 4pm

The course also covered steeking, although there wasn’t quite time for everyone to try it (I haven’t steeked mine yet, as I want to finish the second repeat of my peerie pattern and make it symmetrical first) so Susan demonstrated on one person’s swatch:

Susan demonstrating steeking

I suspect I won’t get round to steeking my sample until next weekend, but I think I’ll be able to remember until I get to put it into practice!

I really enjoyed having the chance to play with colours. I love colour, and someone actually told me last week that I was the most colourful person they knew, but Fair Isle is colourful even by my standards, and I was a bit worried that my combination of yellowy-orange, bright blue, bright pink and pale pink would end up looking like an explosion in a paint factory, even with a dark grey to tone it down. I needn’t have worried, I really liked the way it looks!

Fair Isle sample

Now I really want to try a proper Fair Isle project, though I don’t know what and I really do have enough things on the needles for now!

Yesterday’s news

I didn’t post yesterday, because I went to London again. This time it was for work (I was attending a conference on tax) although I also managed to fit in coffee with one friend at Paddington before she started work and I headed on to the conference, lunch with another friend who works in the same building the conference was held in, and a trip to Loop and Ray Stitch afterwards where I met up with two more friends and had a chat with a third who was working in Loop. It ended up feeling like a bit of a holiday, but it was also a rather long day (I left the house at 6am and didn’t get home until after 9pm) and even though I had managed to nip outside and take a photo of my outfit at quarter to six in the morning I really didn’t feel like posting when I got home.

I had spent quite a while planning out what I was going to wear. It was a work thing, so I wanted to look smart, but it was also London, so needed to be comfortable. And as I was meeting knitters there obviously had to be something handknitted in there. (Someone did helpfully point out on Twitter that she thought ‘smart, comfy and includes handknits’ pretty much described all my work outfits, but this had to be more so on every count.) Also, the forecast suggested that it was going to be warm and I didn’t want to end up sweltering or having to negotiate packed Tubes carrying armfuls of discarded layers.

Obviously, in the end I just went for the three-quarter-sleeves, opaque tights and shawl formula that’s been working so well for me lately.

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Shawl – Citron
Dress – Mary Portas
Tights – M&S
Shoes – Arche

I am now considerably closer to feeling that these shoes really were worth the money, because they stood up wonderfully to a day in London. My feet were sore by the end of the day, but that was only to be expected after a day that involved a lot of standing and walking; the shoes didn’t rub, didn’t fall off and felt soft and cushioned and comfortable, but unlike most of the other shoes I have that I might choose to wear to London they also looked smart and professional and not clumpy and more casual. Now as long as they don’t end up wearing out ridiculously quickly I think I may have found my perfect brand of shoes, price or no price!

What I wore to London in the end

I did try shoes over socks and leggings, but wasn’t keen on how it looked. The main problem was really that the only shoes I have that fit over handknitted socks are red, and the socks I wore today are the same bright pink as my skirt, and really didn’t work with the shoes. And I couldn’t be bothered to try to find a pair of socks that worked with the shoes and the skirt, so I wore boots instead. It wasn’t really that warm, though it was gloriously sunny, so that was fine; ankle boots might have been better but as there are only about two weeks of every year when ankle boots are a better option than either knee-high boots or shoes I don’t own any.

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Shawl – Juliana
Shawl pin – Purlescence
Top – Dorothy Perkins
Skirt – made from a Clothkits kit
Leggings – eBay
Boots – Duo

Anyway, I had a lovely day out and got lots of knitting done – I have now finished the lace section of my Bigger On The Inside shawl and am on the final pattern repeat of the foot of the second Betula sock. And we went to Liberty where I got to stroke the fabric and dream of the day when I’m good enough at sewing to feel able to try to make something out of fabric that costs £22 a metre…