Long-time readers of the blog will know about Towersey, a folk festival I’ve been going to for years. Located in Oxfordshire, this wonderful festival started in 1965, and each year gets bigger and better. I have always loved the vendors around the place, from handwoven jumpers to circus school, raku demonstrations to workshops for all types of musicians. It has long been my ambition to exhibit in the Craft Fair. This year, my wish has come true!
Plutonium Muffins at Towersey
I am currently based in the Plutonium Muffins stall in the Towersey Craft Fair, selling fibre and teaching people how to spin! I have so far taught three people the craft, got a lot of people interested in the process of wool preparation, talked about sheep for hours, and got sore feet from standing up drop-spindling or drum-carding all day!
I’ve also spent much of the last month designing cross stitch patterns, which are available this weekend. Some of them are adaptations of some open-source emoji designs, while others are my own original drawings converted into needlework. I particularly love my dinosaurs, which I sewed into a wall-hanging that I now can’t get enough of! You can get the patterns for these guys from Etsy here. Kits will be available as soon as I’m back from the festival.
As much as I am enjoying being at Towersey listening to some of my favourite music while engaging with people, today has also been really inspirational in terms of figuring out which direction I want PM to go for the next few months. I am really passionate about education and passing on skills – many of my friends have been taught to knit and spin by yours truly, and I believe that sharing knowledge is one of the best gifts one can give. I’ve been trying so many different crafts over the last few years, and I still find it amazing how sitting with other people can challenge, excite and inspire you while creating together.
I’ve met so many lovely people today and had plenty of good ideas. As a result, I have been Making Plans while sitting around the campfire eating curry and rice, drinking and ale and chatting about how the day has gone. Whether or not any of these will ever go ahead remains to be seen…but for now, I’m having a great time doing my favourite things together – crafting while talking about craft!
If you happen to be going to Towersey Village Festival this weekend, you’ll find me in the craft tent, giving lessons, selling my own fibre, Spin City UK fibre, and a variety of earrings and bits and bobs from Janet the Colourful Crafter. All of the things I have on the stand will be available on Etsy when I get back to London. If you just can’t wait, don’t forget to check out my cross stitch patterns!
Don’t forget to enter the Spin City giveaway, which will run until the end of Tuesday the 1st of September. You could win over £30 worth of goodies!
It’s time to announce the Spin City UK giveaway that I’ve been sitting on for a couple of months! When I helped out on the Spin City UK stand at iKnit Fandango, I came away with some goodies for myself as well as a couple of things to share with Plutonium Muffins fans. Get ready to get excited…
Spin City UK
Run by the gorgeous Louise, this amazing company celebrates the sparkly, colourful, whimsy, textured (insert a whole thesaurus’ worth of adjectives here) nature of fibre in the most unapologetically fabulous way! Louise studied textile design at uni in London, got into spinning and never looked back. Every time I meet up with her, she has got into a new craft – the latest is weaving, a fact demonstrated by this photo that she recently posted on Instagram.
Living in the wilderness that is the outskirts of Cambridge, Louise creates the most beautiful range of fibre batts, roving, handspun yarns, dye kits, dyed yarns and dyed fibres – not to mention her handmade drop spindles.
Using her own special talent for colour and flair, flowers from her garden and the countryside around her are picked and pressed, then inserted into resin whorls and assembled into the drop spindles. With a liking for glitter, sugar sprinkles, the vintage and the sentimental, flowers are often combined with pictures from old magazines, stickers, random bits and pieces that Louise takes a shine to, as well as left out altogether to create, for example, a spindle with a favourite photograph inside. Here’s a selection of some of my favourite products, fibre and spindles included.
Louise herself is super stylish, with an amazing range of vintage dresses that suit her down to the ground. It is so inspiring to meet someone doing so well for herself at the green age of 26. (I’m allowed to say that because I’m 26 too, hehe.) Almost as awesome is the pink spinning wheel that she uses…
I’m not the only one who thinks Louise’s work is fabulous, either. Kristen of Voolenvine Yarns is a fan of her spindles, as is Sara of Crafts from the Cwtch, and a number of other people – just check out the reviews on Etsy to see how happy people are with these gorgeous items.
With that bit of background out of the way, on to the good stuff.
Spin City UK giveaway
Up for grabs from Louise is a one-of-a-kind spindle, as well as a batt of luxury fibre in colours chosen by the maker to match the colouring on the whorl of the drop spindle. I can’t find a batt similar to this in the shop at the moment to give you a better idea of fibre content and colours. This photo was taken in our lounge with slightly poor lighting, and the actual fibre is slightly less yellowy than this. I will be sad when someone wins it and gets to take it off my hands, as it has been adorning the mantelpiece for the last two months while I sort myself out and get ready to part with it!
To enter the giveaway, please head over to Etsy and leave a comment on this blog post, telling me what your favourite product in Louise’s shop is, and why. Up to three bonus entries can be gained by sharing this post on social media and letting me know you have done so in another comment on the post.
The giveaway is open worldwide, and will close on Tuesday the 1st of September, 2015. In order to be eligible for the prize, you must leave a way for me to contact you; email preferred. If I do not hear back from the winner by the 14th of September, 2015, I will redraw for a new winner.
I know you’re wondering why I’m excited about a suitcase sale…this is nothing like a sale for luggage, but something altogether more exciting! On our first day in Brisbane, John and I caught the City Cat into the town centre. The first thing we walked into was a huge square crowded with stalls selling all the most exotic fruit available in the Australian winter. I bought a huge mandarin, and was very happy.
I had no idea what that square would bring me the next time I walked past it.
The day before we left Brisbane, we went back to the square. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the sight, which made no kind of sense when we first saw it. There were hundreds of people sitting on the ground with piles of clothes around them, and hundreds more people walking around and talking to them. Walking through, it quickly became obvious that the city of Brisbane turns this huge space into a rummage sale on Sundays!
The basic premise is that you turn up with a suitcase full of stuff to sell, set yourself up on the ground and have a bit of a party! The atmosphere was almost carnival-like, there was music playing, the sun was shining, and it seemed to me the most incredible use of space that I’ve seen! You could just see it in Trafalgar Square on a sunny Sunday; forget pigeons and tourists milling around…
There were so many people there selling things. On the whole, they sold secondhand clothes and other thrift-shop type items. However, with my nose for craft and the handmade, I managed to find a few people who were selling objects of interest to me. These scarves were just $10, and the simplicity of the display was brilliant.
I also found Yasmina’s Designs. Her handmade creations were whimsical and delightful, and I couldn’t resist buying myself a little mushroom necklace! I decided to call him Magic Mike (I wonder why), and was more than a little thrilled with him.
As well as her jewellery, Yasmin makes sock monkeys, mobiles, hairbands and other little fabric delights. One of our friends bought a little monkey, who was rather sweet and sturdily built! (I did examine him and loved the seams. They were something special.)
We spent about 10 minutes perusing stalls on this square, and I came away feeling incredibly inspired. My mum does something similar to this in Modbury, Devon, called the Barrow Market – traders rock up on a Saturday morning with their wheelbarrows, and sell things ranging from fresh milk to handmade fabric items. I will find a way to incorporate these ideas into my future plans!
I would love to know about any similar events happening around you, wherever you happen to be. If you have ever heard of or attended anything like this, please let me know.
PS Things are quiet around here because I’m working on some new cross stitch designs to launch at Towersey Festival in a couple of weeks…
You’ve seen my fibre haul – now for the cross stitch I bought while in the Southern Hemisphere! The photos for this post are neither beautiful nor well put together. I’ve been using the “X-Stitch” app on my iPad and phone, and these are the photos I took for the journal entries in there. However, I have lost my will to take nice pictures, and have decided not to set up my home photography studio in order to show these off, so you’ll have to make do with these…sorry for that!
An Australia Map in Cross Stitch, and other things
While we were in Sydney, I went to Morris & Sons, as I’ve already said a number of times…
My birthday present from our Aussie buddies included not only beautiful yarns, but a couple of bookmark kits. These were both based on Australian animals (in another life I was a veterinarian, I swear) and I have already completed the koala, as you saw the other day. The second is a pelican, which I am really excited to start as it will be my first foray into stitching on linen! When I was in Brighton with Yarn in the City, I bought tons of linen off-cuts to try stitching on…watch this space!
I also found some beautiful cross stitch kits that I fell in love with and decided I must have. The first is a huge map of Australia in shades of brown, with the states and small pictures of representative Australian things in it. It is beautiful, and caught my eye from where it was hanging on the wall in the shop. It is nearly half a metre squared, and will make an incredible souvenir of our trip – when I can get round to stitching it!
The second one that caught my eye was, of course, the lorikeets! These guys are watching over our lounge with pride. I love ’em.
New Zealand Cross Stitch
I managed to hold off buying any more kits until we got to New Zealand. The Stitching Post in Arrowtown was my downfall! I’d been seeing a lot about blackwork on various YouTube channels, and found a small bookmark that I thought would be a good introduction to the technique. With my pelican and koala bookmarks still fresh, I think it may be a while until I complete these…but not too long!
There was also a really cute set of houses on ‘vintage blue’ Aida fabric. Whatever that means, I loved the picture and I thought it would be a sweet thing to have framed in a hallway…so that found its way to the UK too.
That was it for my cross stitch purchases – a small list on ‘paper’, but if I have finished all of these in the next five years, I will be surprised…
This marks the end of the stash/haul from Down Under. Fear not, though, there are still shop reviews and other things to come, and no doubt these projects will feature for some time.
Part One of my fibre haul can be found here – I recommend you read that first, as this is the second part! After Melbourne we flew to New Zealand, where I was super inspired by the lakes and ocean – particularly Milford Sound, which John took me to on a long day trip. It was beautiful, and if you ever go to New Zealand, I recommend you visit this Sound!
New Zealand Stash
I was really excited about New Zealand in terms of the possibilities! John booked up a trip to a sheep farm up in the mountains of Queenstown so we could go on a cool ship, as well as see some sheep-shearing (another post on that to come soon…) It was pretty cool, we saw sheep-dogs at work and saw the sheep-shearing. I was super keen to buy raw fleece from the farm…only to discover they didn’t sell any of the fibre, nor yarn! I was rather disappointed by that.
Luckily, a gift shop in Queenstown came through, and I got some yarn to knit a hat for Baby Ollie!
We went to Arrowtown for breakfast with John’s sister and her family, and I discovered The Stitching Post. Can I say paradise? Not only was the shop incredibly well-stocked and beautiful, but it also had a huge fire in the fireplace, which was so welcome as it was so cold there was snow everywhere!
The first yarn that caught my eye was Mithril. This yarn is amazing. It is from the Stansborough Grey, a newly recognised breed of sheep of which there is only one flock in the world. The fibre was used in all of the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit films, and has also been used in some of the latest Narnia films. Read all about it on the website I’ve linked to. I knew I had to buy some – I couldn’t afford any more than I did buy, and it’s not enough for a full project, so I’ll have to use it with something else…but I’m in love with it.
It’s not actually that soft…but it is from one of my favourite movie series, so I can’t complain.
I also wanted some sock yarn, which I got. It came with a super cute hat pattern that I will enjoy making – it’s all about baby knitting at the moment…
I looked for roving in New Zealand and found it hard to find any in the places I went to!! So I picked up a pack of hiking fibre, which is designed to go in hiking boots to create a good environment for your feeties while you’re hiking. It won’t make the best yarn, but it’s OK nonetheless.
Back in Auckland, I went to Masco Wools, which is right in the main shopping centre in the city. I’d been looking really hard for possum yarn while I was in New Zealand – and I found it here. The variety was fantastic, and I wanted to dig my fingers into all of it. However, money money money…so I bought two balls that will probably go into a small set of accessories.
I also got two huge skeins of a hand-dyed yarn inspired by the ocean, as I found the ocean such a source of inspiration and joy over this trip. I plan to put this into a cardigan of some description.
Presents from Melanie
While I was in New Zealand, Melanie went to the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo with another friend. She was super lovely and bought me some fibre, as well as a small accessory that I will show off in another post.
One of the braids is a sparkly pinky purple-y greeny blend of fibres that is super soft and reminds me so much of her favourite colours! I enjoy sitting cuddling with this one (for short periods of time only so that it doesn’t felt…) and need to come up with a plan for it before I start spinning it so I can plan the weight of the yarn.
The second braid is a hand-dyed merino that is coloured with indigo. This is so, so different to any merino I’ve experienced before. It seems to be much softer and warm. I know that sounds strange, but the only merino I have in my stash is white roving that feels so over-processed. It’s less inspiring because it’s white, but that could be solved by dyeing…it just feels so much lovelier!
That is it for my Antipodean fibre stash! I tried not to get too much from any one place, as I already have so, so much, but I have the hugest pile of awesome that I keep looking at and can’t wait to start working with. As much as I love all of this fibre, I am very aware of the environmental cost of bringing it over to the UK, so I won’t go search out Australian and New Zealand fibre that I can buy here. I’d rather go on holiday again and bring back another suitcase of yarn that would be filled with shoes if I were another type of person!
I also got a lot of cross stitch patterns and kits, as well as some fabric and equipment…I spent all the money my parents gave me, and John bought me more than I could ever wish to receive, and as well as the gifts that Melanie and our friends made me, I feel so blessed to be able to celebrate such an incredible trip with such a ridiculously OTT haul. I’m a lucky girl.
It’s time to talk about fibre. This post was supposed to come yesterday, but it has taken me what feels like forever to take photos and edit all of them so that I can show them off! I was then going to put them into a slideshow to make this post shorter, but then I figured that if I’m going to go to the effort of showing them off, I’d better do it properly!
The stash photo has had everyone commenting that there are a lot of greens and blue. I am in love with the ocean after our trip, and you can definitely see that inspiration here!
I didn’t buy any fibre in Brisbane, so that’s a short story! The one shop I was recommended to go to has closed down due to long-term illness, but with so many memories to take away from the wedding and wildlife places we visited, I’m OK with the lack of yarny things.
Fibre in Sydney
With three days in Sydney, I didn’t have that much time to search out places to buy fibre. We were mainly in the centre of town, and with Morris & Sons the main stop for knitters, I felt a bit conflicted. I knew there was a Morris & Sons in Melbourne that I would be visiting with Melanie, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go in there. There was also a place called Australian Alpaca Barn in the Rocks (the ‘old town’ of Sydney where the convicts were all placed) that I was really keen to go check out.
Then, my birthday rolled round, and John asked me what I wanted to do. I had three requirements: whales, yarn and cake. Mum and dad had given me some money for the holiday and I needed yarn. John found me a cafe next to Morris & Sons where I got my favourite breakfast (scrambled eggs!), and we met our newly-wed friends. I was taken into Morris & Sons with the new bride, and she told me she was buying me yarn!
John then took me on a boat; we were taken 6 miles out of Sydney and saw six humpback whales, including two breeches and getting surrounded by them – they even swam under the boat! I felt super inspired. As soon as we got back to dry land, we went back to Morris & Sons, and John sat and waited for me to shop my heart out to the tune of my whale-inspired ideas.
The last stop was the Australian Alpaca Barn, where I fell in love with a project sample and bought the yarn and pattern required for it.
I managed to fit my fibre buying into about two hours while we were in Sydney! I felt pretty chuffed with that.
Fibre Mecca in Melbourne
We met up with Melanie in Melbourne. She travelled from her home near Buffalo River to be with us, and took me on a trip to see the pretty fibre-y things in the city! We went back to Morris & Sons, where I saw a beautiful scarf that I knew I just had to make for John. I bought the yarn required for that, and was very good as I refused to buy anything else. Good gal Corrie!
Melanie then took me to the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria, just outside the city centre. I wanted to get a spindle, and she knew just the place to do it! This shop was absolutely amazing! I took a few photos, but I will do a separate post on that another time – just know that it was beautiful, and I really struggled to stick to my budget…
I fell in love with a few of the fibre packs they had available, and I really wanted to buy a full fleece. With customs going into New Zealand, this wouldn’t have been possible, so I had to content myself with some pre-dyed and blended packs.
The spindle is made of Norfolk Pine, a hardwood from a tiny island between New Zealand and Australia (guess what it’s called…Norfolk Island, ha). It has a set of silver-plated fittings, and is absolutely gorgeous. It doesn’t necessarily spin fantastically well until the fibre has built up on the shaft, as the whorl is a little light, but as a souvenir spindle I couldn’t really ask for more!
I do have more stash (we aren’t even halfway yet), but I will leave it at this for now as this post will have over 2,000 words if I publish the current post…
I spent all the money my parents gave me, and John bought me more than I could ever wish to receive, and as well as the gifts that Melanie and our friends made me, I feel so blessed to be able to celebrate such an incredible trip with such a ridiculously OTT haul. I’m a lucky girl.
I’m so excited to start knitting and spinning some of this stuff, and I can’t wait to show you! Come back next time for more stashy goodness.
Cross Stitch. I’m majorly into cross stitch again. This trend did not start in Australia, but just before – and it has become a bit of a competitor to knitting! I always find that I tend more to cross stitch over the British summer, and even though it was winter Down Under, that didn’t stop me.
Finished Cross Stitch Projects
The day before we left, John bought me a couple of kits to do on the train, as I only had my sock knitting with me. The socks were on metal needles, and I didn’t fancy my chances trying to get them through security. I’ve never had a problem getting knitting through security before, but I’ve only ever taken wooden needles. Now was not the time to start experimenting.
Before I get too excited about this project, I have sad news to share. After travelling from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast to Sydney to Melbourne, the finished object got misplaced and we don’t actually know what happened to it. Despite my best intentions, therefore, I can’t actually show you a photo of it, as I never took one…
Anyway, this was my plane project. The pattern is a DMC one that I got from Hobbycraft, and I chose it because, well, sheep! Before you ask how I got sewing needles on if not metal knitting needles, well, they just didn’t seem to pick up on them at all. I went through airport security too many times to count, sometimes putting just my project bag into the X-ray machines without anything to create ‘noise’ so the needle was harder to pick out on the scan…nothing.
I modified the chart to put the bride and groom’s names and the date of the wedding, and was really pleased with the end result! The day I finished stitching it, however, I got food poisoning, and didn’t finish it off properly. It wasn’t washed, ironed or framed, and I was going to have to leave it with the newly-weds to finish…
(The big secret is that I’m kind of relieved it got lost. I get to do another one now, and finish it properly too. The chart was fun, and it’s no skin off my nose to spend another few hours on it. It’ll be a good way to relive the memories!)
These aren’t exactly cross stitch, but they were finished for the wedding. I absolutely loved making them, and have a new design to put on my craft stall in August! They’re hessian and an evenweave fabric with lace and ribbon, and stuffed with odds and ends from knitting projects.
They served their purpose well during the wedding!
It was my birthday while we were in Australia, and the newly-weds bought me a couple of cross stitch kits, as well as some yarn, as a present! Aren’t I lucky? I now have a love affair with koalas, after John and I held a lad called Maximillian at the Lonely Pine Koala Sanctuary.
You know what nobody tells you about holding koalas? They smell. Terrible. It’s all the essential oils from the Eucalyptus that they eat, and they excrete it and get it all over you. So gross. We were at Australia Zoo the one day and walked past an apparently empty tree. I stopped cos I could smell something – lo and behold, there was a koala in the tree!
I have finished stitching the bookmark, and just washed it. When it is dry, I will back it with interfacing and that will be that.
Bunny and Can’t Resist
These are those mini kits that you can buy in Hobbycraft. I bought them years ago, when I still had Archie (ohhhhh my poor boy) and reeeeally wanted a cat, and stuck them in my pencil case to work on in odd five minute stints.
I’m not sure what I’ll do with them…maybe make a scissor minder!
On our last day in Sydney, John and I went to Coogee Beach and had lunch together (that’s where the photo of the koala bookmark kit and the pint comes from). While John was away from the table, I had two visitors!
They hung out with me on the table for about ten minutes – I have a video where one of them eats salt, and the other tries to drink John’s beer! It was so special, and I wanted to remember the moment somehow…
“I come from a Land Down Under” is a line in the song that was our anthem to the holiday, along with the other Brits that made the trip for the wedding. I edited the pattern (which is a DMC one) to put the phrase in!
I finished this on the plane home, and absolutely adore it.
That’s it for holiday FO’s! I have a few WIPs to talk about, and am still trying to sort out my stash…it is huge both in terms of yarn and cross stitch! Hurrah.
I’ve had a chance to sit down and look at what finished objects actually made it out of my hands while I was in Australia and New Zealand. I’m super pleased with my productivity while I was away, and although I still have to update my Ravelry project pages and figure out how to keep track of cross stitch projects, I wanted to blog first!
I’ll do this in two parts because I got a little wordy…as always.
Finished Objects – Knitting
I didn’t knit as much as I thought I would while I was away, but I did finish two projects.
I missed the deadline for the end of the #hapalong with Knit British, but I worked on Kelpie by Jared Flood, and completed it on July 10th. This was knitted in Rowan Fine Art yarn in two colours that I just do not have the current information on me for (eek). I wasn’t thrilled with it when I had finished the cast off.
The lovely Melanie (who made my hat as a birthday present) sewed in all the ends, then helped me to block Kelpie while we were together in Melbourne. John was very confused when we kept talking about the kelpie on the bed, until we got home and he realised what we were up to! As soon as it was blocked and dried, I fell in love with it. It grew a lot, the mistakes that I made basically vanished, and the colours seemed to pop.
I went to a lesson at Wild and Woolly with Renée Callahan in March, and knitted up a two colour cable cowl; the pattern is Saguaro designed by Renee! This was knitalong that a number of people participated in, including the lovely Allison of Yarn in the City. I appear to have never posted a photo of this…
The pattern is a cowl and hat set, and although I had the yarn for the hat, I didn’t think I was actually going to do it. When I was packing for our trip to Oz, I saw it sitting in a project bag with the needles and pattern, so I grabbed it and popped it in my bag for the flying.
I started on the 1st of July and finished it on the 10th while sitting in a pub(!), and wore it without blocking it for a few days. It did not fit. At all. While blocking Kelpie, I popped the Saguaro Hat in too, and was much happier with it. It grew loads, the stitches evened out and it became a great hat for me!
I already knew this, but blocking solves everything.
We went to New Zealand to meet John’s new nephew, as well as spend some time with his sister and brother in law. It was absolutely fantastic being with them! I loved seeing Ollie, he was adorable, and it has been over two years since we saw his parents, so it was lovely to catch up.
We spent some time in Queenstown, and it was very, very cold – snowing, in fact! Ollie didn’t have a warm enough hat, so I bought some Cleckheaton 10 ply yarn (equivalent of DK) from a gift shop in Queenstown, and knitted him up a hat.
I didn’t follow any pattern, and deliberately made it a little big so he could grow into it. Unfortunately, Mach 1 had 2×2 ribbing, which I didn’t think anything of while making it. It turns out that this is far too elastic and tight for a little baby…so I frogged it and started again.
The second hat was completed in Milford Sound – I’m not sure if he will ever wear it as the sizing seems to be a little funky and I wasn’t convinced it fit him particularly well…I had fun anyway, and got two hats for the price of one. Good value yarn!
That was it for knitting. I worked on one pre-existing project and cast one on…you’ll have to wait for more news on those.
I’m so pleased to be back! Tonks has been charming me with her silly behaviour, our flat feels like home, and I’m enjoying having Fully Functioning Internet again. I’m even pleased to be running again (don’t tell anyone I said that). How was your July?
I come from a Land Down Under! We got back on Monday, and appear to have missed the British summer… Although it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, I had a fantastic time meeting up with old friends, making some new friends, meeting some knitting friends who I only know off Ravelry, attending a wedding, holding a koala, seeing humpback whales up close and personal, and so many more experiences of a lifetime that I will talk about in the coming months.
We travelled from London to Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast to Sydney to Melbourne to Auckland to Queenstown to Auckland to Melbourne to London. And breath! I did a lot of crafting on all of the flights and during our travels, and I also ate a lot! I didn’t do a lot of running, and put on far too many kilos to talk about actual numbers…
After being away for exactly a month, flying over 25,000 miles, buying a lot of souvenir yarn/fibre, and missing my cat terribly, I am finding it quite tough to get back into the swing of things in England.
Blogging about Down Under…
I’ve been trying to figure out how to kick-start my blogging again, and I had originally planned to do a photo-update of the trip. However, my computer is having a hissy fit trying to download all my photos from my phone, not to mention I’ve had terrible problems with my email services, and our living situation has changed a bit. What a thing to come back to! I’ve been sorting out stuff and can’t face actually processing that number of photos and writing the update.
The photos I’ve put in this post are all from my Instagram feed!
Instead, here is a list of some of the things I did that I intend to blog about. If you have any preference as to what comes first, shout out! Otherwise, sit back and enjoy what August will bring you on Plutonium Muffins.
I’m sure I’ll think of a few more, but that seems plenty to be getting on with for now! Here’s a little clue of what our soundtrack to the trip was. Try get it out of your head once it’s in there…
I had intended to blog while I was in Australia and New Zealand, but had trouble getting online. I have so much respect for our Antipodean friends in their engagement with the knitting, fibre and online community – especially podcasts and videos. I will be back Down Under one day, you mark my words!
Saturday found me in Brighton with a group of Yarn in the City fans, for the Brighton Knit and Make Social! This was a mini-crawl to Brighton, with a few shops, some good knitting time and some great cake involved…
This weekend has been something of a Yarn in the City bonanza, as a group of us also ran the Nike Women’s 10km in Victoria Park! I got a personal best, was rewarded with a glass of champagne and two new tote bags (because you can never have enough, right?), and John took me out for a tasty good lunch to celebrate. See you at the next one?!
Brighton Knit and Make Social
We all met at Brighton Train Station early in the morning and caused a ruckus on the concourse with knitting, shopping trolleys and a desperate need for coffee, amongst excited chatting. I was thrilled to meet some lovely new people, and also enjoyed seeing some old friends that I had not expected to see. After waiting for the last few trains to arrive, we set off on our quest with joy.
Brighton Sewing Centre
The first stop was the Brighton Sewing Centre, a lovely little fabric shop. With some of the brightest and most fun fabrics I’ve seen, as well as an amazing selection of machine and equipment, this shop was something of a revelation. There were boxes of buttons, reams of ribbons, row upon row of lovely prints, and I was sorely tempted to blow my budget without blinking an eye in here.
A demonstration of an electronic embroidery sewing machine meant that all of us (around twenty) wanted to have our names embroidered so we could enter a competition. I’m loving my little strip of fabric, which I am supposed to be sending off to enter the comp….the jury is out on whether or not I will do that!
I managed to be fairly restrained, and apart from buying some sewing machine maintenance bits and pieces (at an incredibly reasonable price), the only unnecessary purchase here was a meagre £2 worth of beautiful pink shell buttons.
There followed a quick walk through the streets of Brighton, squeezing between vintage jewellery sellers, sheepskin rugs, coffee shops, buskers, other visitors, and we arrived at Ditto Fabrics. Another fabric store, this also had an amazing selection of different fabrics. They were less whimsical than in the previous shop, but no less amazing because of it.
I spent my time in this shop pawing through the selection of off-cuts, emerging triumphantly with three lengths of linen that I intend to use for embroidery. The amount of time that I spent elbow-deep in fabric is indicated by the fact that I only took two photos…and not particularly informative ones at that!
The rest of the group had a fab time here, with Alli buying a ridiculous amount of awesome fabric that I will not describe as it will go towards her outfit for this years Great London Yarn Crawl, so you’ll have to wait until then to see it! Linda of Kettle Yarn Co also went slightly mad (in the best possible way), and we left her to it clutching bolts of fabric to herself while we wandered off for some lunch and knitting.
Some brief backstory here; the night before was John’s leaving drinks, and I had consumed rather more than my fair share of beer. As a result, energy and appetite were low. When lunch was suggested, I was initially going to stop and have a cup of tea, then wait for my stomach to settle…and then I walked past Cloud 9 bakery.
I don’t think anyone is surprised that I bought this for my lunch. It was vanilla flavour, supercharged with sugar, and totally, totally delicious. Of course, it was also ridiculously rich and left me feeling that I had preferred my hangover to this particularly substance abuse, but cake.
We ate in the park outside the Royal Pavilion, which was absolutely beautiful, although there were a lot of seagulls trying to have a go at our food. We then sat for about three hours knitting (boy did I get a lot done…). Then it was off to…
Brighton’s hub for the knitting and crochet community, YAK (short for yarn and knitting) is run by the lovely Kate. I have so, so much respect for what she has achieved. The shop opened in January 2015, and as well as having some rather exciting sounding parties of the launch type, also has an A-list of guests and teachers visiting from time to time.
I won’t go on about the yarn stocked too much as the website is excellent – here are some photos though!
Once we had all had some time to peruse the shelves, Alli and Rachel announced the door prizes. These were sponsored by Erika Knight, Lioness Arts, The Uncommon Thread and Yellow Bear Wares, and won by a bunch of very deserving people. Danni, Ce and Claire of the last three sponsors respectively were all in attendance, and Claire had her Yellow Bear Wares wares set up for us to have a paw through.
I ended up buying two skeins of Life in the Long Grass sock yarn in the bramble and atlantic moss colourways. I intend to weave these, and am looking forward to showing them off when they’ve been turned into something beautiful. I had a lot of fun choosing the colours – I feel in love with bramble and spent a long time picking the solid colour to go with it. Suggestions ranged from lemon yellow to bright pink…I can’t wait to see how it comes out.
I had a great time, and can’t wait for the next YitC event. We had amazing goody bags sponsored by Fripperies & Bibelots, Soak and Porpoise Knits Designs (Rachel), and a great bunch of people in Brighton. YitC do a knit night in Clapham Junction on Wednesdays from 7 pm, which is great fun (although it takes me a ridiculous amount of time to get there) and I recommend anyone looking for a new knit night in London gives it a go.
Here’s a quick heads up – the Great London Yarn Crawl tickets go on sale on the 1st of July, and sell out quick. You can sign up to their newsletter to find out when they’re on sale, check out the website.