Tag Archives: shopping

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!

I may be building a yarn fort

Every winter, as the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, I find myself buying more yarn (and now fibre). I think that I’m just trying to surround myself with soft, squishy, brightly coloured stuff as a protection against the cold and dark and bleakness outside. Basically, I’m building a pillow fort out of yarn.

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This is the last couple of weeks’ acquisitions. And there is more on order. It’s mad, really, as I already have more yarn than I really know what to do with. And I’m not entirely sure it really helps, as the black dog seems to be slobbering all over me right now. One consequence of which is that I don’t feel I have anything interesting to say right now. It’s taken me over an hour to write these few words, and I’m not convinced there’s any point hitting publish because I can’t imagine anyone will want to read them.

Basically, SAD sucks. If anyone wants me, I’ll be hiding in my stash with my daylight lamp on.

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!

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!
Paddling

(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!

Purple and orange

It appears that my uniform this spring is a three-quarter-sleeve top, a summer skirt with opaque tights, and a shawl. Well, why not?

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Shawl – Isaura
Top – M&S
Skirt – vintage fair
Tights – M&S
Shoes – Clarks

I also managed some substantial updating of my summer wardrobe in the local charity shops at lunchtime; not one but two linen jackets and an Anokhi by East dress (which needs the original modesty panel replaced with something rather more modest, but is fine otherwise). This is probably just as well, given that I appear to have spent all my money on shoes, yarn and fabric…

Retail therapy

This week is turning out to be rather difficult for a variety of reasons (though most of them boil down to People). So perhaps it’s not surprising that when I popped into Darn It and Stitch at lunchtime for some ribbon I ended up wandering out with a skein of the new Vivacious 4-ply from Fyberspates (it may be more of a surprise that I managed to restrict myself to one skein!).

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And at one point in the afternoon I decided to take it out of the paper bag and sit it on my desk where I could pet it. Maybe I should have a permanent petting skein on the desk? Though that might make people think I was weird(er)…

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2012 in clothes

Roobeedoo has made some interesting review-of-the-year posts this week, looking at ready-to-wear clothing purchases and the clothes she’s sewn and knitted, and then reflecting more generally on how her handmade wardrobe fits in with the need to project a professional image. I’m not quite ready to do crafting review-of-the-year posts (I’m still hoping to sneak a few more finished objects in before January!) but given that I’ve finished work for the year and my outfit-blogging is pretty much workwear only this seemed like a good time to reflect on what I’ve worn.

Generally speaking, I think that I’ve got better at dressing for a middle-management role. A year ago I was still very much feeling my way having previously been in a job where I could wear whatever I liked; the outfits that worked were the ones that felt a bit too dull and conservative, while my attempts to continue to keep my clothes feeling fun resulted in my feeling too casual or too fussily dressed. I’ve made a Flickr set of outfits for the year; looking through it, there’s a mix of outfits that I think worked and ones that didn’t, but there are definitely fewer misses as the year goes on.

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First work outfit of the year

One of the reasons for the improvement is that I have thrown quite a lot of money at my wardrobe over the last twelve months. So many of my staples in my old job were charity-shop stalwarts or chunky handknits that just didn’t look smart enough in my new role. I’ve spent about £1,600 on clothes in 2012, which seems like an awful lot, though it averages to less than £150 a month and there are some big-ticket items in there – two pairs of Duo boots, just for starters, and my Doc Marten wellies and two Boden Rainyday macs (both on sale) which are definitely playing to my quirky side. Having realised quite early on that the dress-and-jacket combination was a good one, I bought two winter dresses last January and have bought another four and a jacket this autumn, and I also bought two linen summer dresses. The only summer jacket I bought was actually secondhand, and I bought some secondhand blouses which actually got a lot of wear, but I did buy four fine-gauge cotton cardigans. I bought two pairs of summer shoes, though neither was really quite smart enough (I have to say, this was a dreadful summer for shoes because it was almost impossible to find anything I liked the look of even without the question of comfort and fit). And I don’t think I bought any utter disasters, apart from the M&S tights which wouldn’t stay up; most of the things I’ve bought have had a lot of wear (except the fleece-lined Boden mac, which only arrived on Friday, but I have worn that three times already so I’m sure it’ll get as much wear this winter as the one I bought in April did over the summer) so it was probably worth spending the money (though grr that the mac is now considerably cheaper than it was a week ago, but on the other hand if I hadn’t bought it then it might have sold out and I wouldn’t have had it in time to wear over the Christmas break).

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Last work outfit of the year

I’m also starting to get a feel for what counts as quirky-but-still-professional and what just ends up looking a bit odd, at least in the context of my general style, and have come to the conclusion that interesting jewellery, handknitted shawls and wraps, bright tights and colourful prints, especially in co-ordinated outfits, are all perfectly good things to wear. Meanwhile, I think one of my resolutions for 2013 should be not to default to jeans, a t-shirt and a cardigan at the weekends but to actually wear and enjoy the clothes I can’t wear for work any more!