Archive for April, 2012

So I’ve made it to Hay-on-Wye. I arrived yesterday afternoon, after a pleasant drive down, enlivened by my satnav deciding that instead of driving straight down the A49 to Hereford then turning right, which I’ve done before I just needed the odd reminder for, we’d turn right just after Church Stretton and go via the scenic, albeit slightly shorter, route.

It was a pleasant drive, and it didn’t start raining until I was nearly here, but there was an awful lot of water about, both in very swollen rivers and on fields. This is one I managed to stop and photograph.


I’m staying in a B&B, I was supposed to be in their self-contained flat for the week, but there was a mix up with the booking, and I’ve had a couple of nights in the actual B&B, with an evening meal thrown in to compensate. Which is all very well, but the wind and rain were howling and beating on my window all night, so I’ve been awake since before six, and I had to make polite conversation at breakfast, which really isn’t my thing. Thankfully I move into the flat tomorrow and I can be as lazy and scruffy as I want.

But back to this morning. Once I’d finished being polite, I steeled myself to head into the deluge, and set out for Builth Wells and Wonderwool. It’s about half an hour’s drive from here, through country roads, following the River Wye, which was also impressively full. Thankfully at the showground there was a minibus to ferry us from the car park to the halls (a good five minutes walk as I remember from last time, and we would have been very wet!)


I took some photos inside – it’s hard to get a general view, as the stalls are quite spaced out, which is a nice contrast to Woolfest! Apparently it was quieter today, probably partly because it was the second day, but mostly because of the terrible weather. Not only was it very wet and windy, it was freezing as well – my car said it was 3 degrees on the way there and 5 on the way back, and I’m sure it was at least that cold in the halls. Warned by Saturday’s attendees, I’d abandoned the carefully-chosen-to-show-off-as-many-handknits-as-possible outfit, and piled on the few warm clothes I’d brought with me (it’s not been cold at home!) but I was still freezing.


I was jealous of their woolly coats!


And theirs. These two were very cute.


I was pleased to find Brimstone buttons there – I bought a few cards of their lovely vintage buttons at Woolfest a couple of years ago, and they’ve come in very handy, so I invested in a few more.


FeltStudioUK had a lovely stand as usual, but I managed to resist, I have far too much fibre in my stash at the moment. I’d allowed myself one braid, but I’d already bought it by this point!


I did stop to admire some of Daniella’s amazing handspun though. One day I’ll be able to spin like that.


There were lots of stalls with amazing handcrafted things, but sadly they were (rightly!) out of my price range.




There were some amazing things on the Sasha Kagan stall, but there’s no way I’ll ever have the patience to do all that intarsia. Not ever.



There were lots of stalls I would have liked to have looked at in more detail, but after an hour I was so cold I’d really lost interest in almost everything. I was determined not to turn tail and run straight away, having come so far, and I managed to stay till half past two, but it was hard work – my hands were freezing, and my head wasn’t much better. I thought longingly of my Sheep Heid, safe in the B&B! But who’d have thought I’d need in inside at the end of April? I only brought it in case I went for a walk.


But despite the cold, I did manage to sneak in a few purchases. Well, it was inevitably really. And it would have been rude not to support the poor sellers, who couldn’t even walk round to keep warm – there were an awful lot of sample shawls and hats being worn, sometimes all at once…

So, what did I get? Apologies for the photos, it was gloomy when I got back, and I couldn’t get close enough to the window in my bedroom here.


First up is the aforementioned buttons – I got all these for £24, which seems like a bargain to me. They’re all vintage shell buttons, so should go with most things. The trouble with coloured buttons is that unless you buy them first and then buy yarn or fabric to go with them, the chances are they’ll never match anything, but these are more amenable.


I didn’t go too mad on the yarn/fibre – there’s two skeins of alpaca/super kid mohair from Bluefaced which seemed too good to miss at £6 per skein, then some Shetland fibre in colours which just caught my eye. Next is a skein of merino/tencel in greys, greens and lilacs which isn’t a combination I’d usually go for, but is very pretty. And lastly, a mixed twist of different fancy yarns from Oliver Twists, with a skein of fine silk – I’m thinking of using the fancy yarns for the warp of a woven scarf, interspersed with some silk, and then a silk weft.


I was nearly done when I spotted that Thread Yarn had masses of cones of DK cotton on top of their stall, in all colours of the rainbow, for £5 per 500g cone, so I bought these six for yet more crochet. The colours are pretty bad here, there’s two terracottas, two greens, a pale yellow and a cream, which should go with my living room.


And last but not least, a pretty poppy corsage from the Feltmakers’ stall.

So that was Wonderwool. I’m sure it will go down in memories as ‘do you remember that really cold year’ – hopefully next year will be warmer! Tomorrow I’m heading into Hereford, I’ll try and take some photos, but there may be a bit of rain between the camera and the subject. Just possibly.

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Holiday sewing

I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned that I’m going on holiday next week – I’m off to Hay-on-Wye (home of many bookshops, book collecting being my Other Hobby) and on Sunday I’m going to Wonderwool, which is conveniently held fairly close by. I’ve been once before, three years ago, so I know what to expect, and I’m really looking forward to it! In my head I’m thinking that I probably won’t buy much, as I don’t actually need anything, but I know that this is unlikely to actually happen!

But going away means that I needed a cover for my new toy, which came on the first day of release and I’ve been loving ever since – my new i p a d (spaces to try and deter spammers!)


I bought some lovely new Tanya Whelan fabric from Grace and Jacob a couple of weeks ago, in two different colourways, and I’ve been thinking ever since about how to make the cover. I wanted it to be padded, and I had thoughts of trying to stiffen it too, to protect the screen, but I couldn’t quite work out how to do that without making it a very complicated project, so in the end I’ve run up a simple sleeve and will carry on thinking…


I took a few photos as I went along, not enough for a proper tutorial, but enough to give a general idea what I did.


I cut three 11” x 9” rectangles in the contrast fabric, one in the main (green) fabric, and a 14” x 9” rectangle in green for the front pocket. Then I cut two 11” x 9” pieces of iron on wadding, and one piece 7” x 9”, and ironed the two bigger ones onto one green and one white rectangle, and the smaller one onto half of the pocket piece, folding it over the top. Then I put the pocket on top of the front piece, sewed down the middle, then sandwiched all three pieces together to make the padded outside of the cover.


I trimmed the seams to 1/4” and mitred the corners. Then I sewed the lining, leaving a turning gap in the bottom, and sewed the whole lot together round the top, catching a loop of elastic in as I went.


Then I turned it right side out, sewed up the hole in the lining, and found a button, and voila!


A nice padded cover for my new toy.


The pocket will hold my phone and headphones and usb connector.


As ever Mollie supervised. But failed to point out that I’d cut the pieces about half an inch too short – if I was doing it again I’d make the pieces 11.5” x 9”.


This is a close up of the pretty fabric – it has birdhouses! The green’s actually come out very washed out on these photos, it’s lovely and bright in real life.

Whilst I had the machine and my various sewing bits and bobs out, I decided to run up a quick tote bag – I made one a few years ago, and it’s been very useful, but it’s looking the worse for wear now. I bought a load of fabric from Fabrics Galore at the Knitting and Stitching Show a couple of years ago, so I dug in and found some with apples on, with a beige canvas for contrast and straps.


No progress photos this time – its’ just one piece of fabric folded in half and sewn with concealed seams for the main part of the bag, with mitred corners at the bottom, then a strip of canvas twice as wide as the finished depth for the top – I sewed it into a loop, attached it to the top of the bag, folded it in half and folded a hem on the inside, then top stitched round on the outside, so there are no raw edges inside the bag.


Then I made some handles and sewed them onto the outside of the bag.


They’re not perfect – I couldn’t be bothered trying to turn them inside out, so I just folded the strips of fabric in half, ironed the edges in, and topstitched round the whole lot. It’ll do!

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Remember the crochet throw I picked up again a couple of weeks ago? The one where it had taken me nearly two years to do 30 squares? Well, going round and round the edge of 25 of those squares proved much easier, not to mention more addictive, and it’s finished in just a fortnight!


I did have a enough yarn for a few more rounds, but I’d run out of the white, and I really wanted it at the edge, to match the white round the central flowers, so I just did a round of double (UK) crochet and it seemed to finish it off okay.


It was a bit uneven and wouldn’t like quite flat before I blocked it, partly at least due to the fact that the squares in the middle were much more solid than the edging, so I blocked it by giving it a quick soak in the sink, then rinsing and spinning in the machine, and then pinning it out using blocking wires. I put wires round the central section first, pulling it out as much as I could, then put more round the outside and pulling till it laid flat.


It’s blocked out to about 1.1m square, but it seems bigger somehow. It weighs 770g, and I used Creative Yarns mercerised cotton – one 100g ball of each colour, and three of the white. The central squares are from the Summer Garden pattern from Attic24, but I’m calling mine Spring Garden, because it looks spring-like – much more so than the miserable weather outside!

Now I just need to decide where to put it – on the sofa as above, or possibly on the Poang chair in the conservatory


Or on the basket chair in the conservatory


I think Mollie’s going for this option


She had a good look at it


Then sat down for a wash, doing that thing cats do where they leave their back leg in the air.


She’s my gorgeous girl and she knows it.

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Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I often mention my favourite shop in York, the lovely Grace and Jacob. Long time readers may even remember that I’ve posted about the shop a couple of times before, the last time being in August 2010, but things have come a long way since then! For a start, Fiona’s moved the shop into a space twice as big, next door to the old shop, but fronting onto Walmgate – this is the front of the shop, the door is still on the passage into Barleycorn Yard.


And the stock range has increased dramatically – the inside is like a tardis, but with beautiful things wherever you look!



This is in the first room you go into, with lots of gorgeous fabrics, patterns, feltmaking kits and yarn.


Then you go into the front room, which is just amazing.


This is my favourite feature of the shop – the building used to be a pub, and this was the original dresser with the holes intact where the beer was pumped. Or something.


Next to it is the window where off-sales took place – locals used to come with a jug which was filled with ale for a small fee. Now it has much prettier things, including Knitpros. And the dresser has a large selection of coloured merino fibre, as well as a huge range of crafty tools and notions, which make me want to start many new hobbies, it’s very hard to restrain myself!



Fiona is also a very talented hand-dyer, producing beautiful yarn and fibre (including the fibre I used for the socks I finished a couple of weeks ago).



And there is a great range of fabrics, with more arriving all the time – I took these photos a week or so ago, then when I went in this morning, more loveliness had arrived –


If you’re planning a visit to York this summer, I’d definitely recommend a visit to Grace and Jacob – it’s down Walmgate, so a little off the beaten track, but it’s less than five minutes walk from the main shopping street, just go down Fossgate, over the bridge over the River Foss, and keep going – you pass a couple of interesting bookshops on your way too, if you fancy a browse, as well as other slightly more quirky shops than you find in the city centre.

There’s also a popular spinning group twice a month, on the first and third Thursdays of the month, from 6-9pm – details are in the Grace and Jacob Ravelry group (which also has opening times and contact details). All are welcome, and Fiona’s happy to teach people to use a spindle.


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