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Posts Tagged ‘yarn shops’

So, my last stop on my trip back from Hay-on-Wye. I was heading for my parents’ house, north of Manchester, and decided that it would be much out of my way to go via Llandrindod Wells and Welshpool instead of going straight up the A49.

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It’s a very pleasant drive up the A483, with frequent views like this one. I stopped briefly in Welshpool for lunchtime, but my real destination was at the other end of the Welshpool and and Llanfair Railway – the Colinette shop!

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I’ve been once before, so I was prepared, but even so the riot of colour inside was amazing! They’re only open on occasional Saturdays, but luckily this was one of them, and I had the place to myself apart from the very pleasant chap working there. Who endeared himself to me by offering me a cup of tea the minute I walked in – that was very welcome!

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I wandered round for ages – I could have bought lots, but I didn’t have any real projects in mind. I love their yarns, but I’m wary of using them for garments these days, having had several bad experiences with colours changing between skeins and pooling, even when striping two skeins as recommended.

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I was very tempted to buy the yarn for another Ab Fab throw (the wavy one on the left) but I couldn’t decide which colourway to go for, so I’m going to have a look at finished ones on Ravelry before I make a final decision.

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The trouble with somewhere like this is that you really need to be able to just pop in when you’ve got a project in mind – the website is okay, but no real substitute, and even Bobbins in Whitby doesn’t have nearly the full range of colours. I’m very jealous of Katie, of HilltopCloud, who lives just up the road. And very kindly invited me to drop in for a cuppa when I tweeted that I was on my way to Colinette, but sadly I didn’t have time as I had to be at my parents’ in time for tea (it was my Dad’s birthday). Next time I’m down that way I’ll take you up on the offer if it still stands, Katie!

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So, what did I buy?

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I’ve had my eye on one of these squiggly scarves for a while, but the kits they sell online are mohair and cotton, and I wanted to splash out on mohair and silk. I’m glad I waited, as it’s much easier to choose colours if they’re all in front of you. I ummed and ahhed for ages, before deciding on these colours.

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But the pattern as written needs two skeins of mohair and three of silk, and whilst there were three silk skeins out, there was only one mohair. The helpful chap spent ages going and getting more and trying to match it, but all the others in that colourway had bits of green in them (and were all different from each other!) So in the end I decided to just buy the one mohair skein and two silk ones, and make a narrower scarf. That made it cheaper too!

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The only other thing I bought was a skein of Jitterbug in an experimental colourway, from the bargain room for £4. Unfortunately my camera’s no good at photographing teal greeny-blues or purples, so both of the yarn photos are a bit off colour.

The door to the room where they dye the yarn was ajar, so I stuck my head round and had a quick peak. I’d love to see it all working!

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And a last burst of colour.

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Right, that’s me about caught up I think, stand by for posts either from or about Anglesey (depending on internet connections there).

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And some more photos! Sorry if I’m boring anyone, this is the last lot from this trip, honest. There is another yarn shop if you scroll down far enough ;)

On the Thursday the sky was almost blue in places (which it hadn’t been all week), so I looked at a map, spotted Abergavenny, and pointed the car in that direction. En route I spotted an interesting looking tower, so I stopped to investigate and found that it belonged to Tretower Castle and Court.

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It’s owned by CADW, the Welsh version of English Heritage, and is only semi-furnished – just the kitchens and great hall have been set up to give an idea how they would have looked. There’s also a copy of their licence to host weddings, which may be why they’ve concentrated on those rooms!

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After that the rooms are empty, which is interesting in itself, as you can see all the construction details. There was no one about apart from the girl in the entrance hut, so I could wander completely at my leisure without being disturbed. P1020988

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This would have been divided into four rooms originally, probably bed chambers and suites. Some of the windows (which look out onto the covered walkway) still have sliding shutters to close them – there’s no glass though, it must have been chilly on winter nights. It was cold enough on an early May afternoon!

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It’s a pity the weather wasn’t better, I’m sure that sitting on that bench in the enclosed courtyard in the sun would have been idyllic.

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Next to the Court is the original home of the family, the castle. I walked across a very wet field in very unsuitable shoes to get there – I’d paid to get in and I was going to see it all! But there’s not a lot left, just a central tower with bits of curtain wall – it seems to have been hacked about quite a lot over the years as the needs of the family changed, before they abandoned it altogether for the house next door.

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The water in the field gives an idea of just how wet it was!

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The back of the court. The different styles of windows show that this was improved over the years too.

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In the grounds was a tree with huge bunches of mistletoe growing in it, I hadn’t quite realised that it does actually grow on the tree – it wasn’t rooted in the ground at all, just growing into the branches. I did sort of know, but I’d never been close enough to see it for myself before.

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Anyway, I finally made it to Abergavenny, slightly muddy but I ploughed on anyway, on the grounds that I was unlikely to meet anyone I knew! The main street reminded me very much of Bangor in North Wales, but the people in the shops were generally much friendlier – it’s a long time since I’ve been to a town where I’ve consciously noticed how friendly everyone was. They all kept telling me how much better the town looks when it’s not raining (as it was by that point) and I believe them – one day I’ll go back and have another look at it.

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I did manage to find a lovely little yarn shop, called The Wool Croft. I’d definitely recommend a visit if you’re in the area – it’s not been open long, but it’s well stocked, with the usual suspects as well as some more unusual things. There were two ladies sitting and knitting and chatting, and a customer was getting lots of help choosing colours for a fair isle jumper. I mooched about for a while, but again had to resist the yarns.

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What I couldn’t resist was a kit to make a wicker basket – I saw Kirstie Allsopp making a willow tray on her last series and I’ve been fancying having a go ever since, I’m sure that if she can do it I can! So I was fascinated to see kits to make four or five different sorts of baskets, and chose an apple basket one, partly because it has different colours of willow, and partly because it looks like a good shape to keep knitting projects in…

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It was raining properly by this time, so I went back to the car via the second hand bookshop, which was also owned by a lovely lady. I drove there and back through the Brecon Beacons, but sadly this was typical of my view for much of the journey.

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Next day I stayed in Hay again, but wandered round the edges instead of looking at bookshops. Just behind where I was staying, in Cusop, is St Mary’s Church.

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A typical little country church,

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with a completely unexpected (and stunning) stained glass window behind the altar.

I had a poke around the graveyard as usual, and was pleased to find this Polish airman in the midst of the Lloyds and Morgans and Joneses.

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I spent some time trying to work out how the people in the graves could be connected – there were a lot of family groups. I was also intrigued by this headstone with holes in it.

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Next I went into town, to have a look at the main church in Hay-on-Wye.

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Again it’s a very typical church outside, although the semi-circular apse isn’t quite so common, but inside was a surprise.

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More like a chapel than a church, although I have seen some London churches in a similar style. Sadly they were getting ready for a funeral, so I couldn’t stay, and I wandered round outside instead.

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The churchyard at the front of the church is fairly typical, but round the back is a different story – it’s completely overgrown, and slopes down to the river. It’s not that old either, the graves date to the mid 1800s.

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I don’t seem to have taken a photo of the most overgrown bits, but there are some impressive tombs round there.

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And some interesting gravestones.

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You can walk down to the river from the church, past this cute bench being held up by bears.

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This is the little stream which flows past the church, just before it joins the River Wye.

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That afternoon I drove out to have another look at something I remembered from my first trip to Hay, an old railway bridge on the road that leads to the toll bridge. There’s a track through a field under the bridge, the water under the bridge is just a large rain puddle.

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The old railway line seems to be used as a track, but presumably the bridge isn’t strong enough to bear a car, as it veers down into the dip and up again – it’s just that there’s a small lake in the way at the moment!

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Apparently you can walk along the old railway line, one day when it’s not so soggy I’d like to do that. There are some sunnier photos and more information on this page.

Next day, with sod’s law working well, I woke up to the first real sunshine I’d seen all week, and it was the day I left!

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But this the view from my window – the field was usually full of sheep and lambs, who were very entertaining. If a little rowdy at times!

I drove back via the scenic route, to make a special stop, but more of that in another post. Well done if you’ve stuck with me this long!

I’ll leave you with this sign, outside the Cinema bookshop, which amused and worried me (the small writing at the top says ‘please enquire at reception – just pop up the stairs and in the door then…).

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I was in Manchester at the weekend, to visit my new niece, Holly, who arrived safe and sound on Monday, she’s very wee at 6lb exactly, but she’s got a healthy pair of lungs on her! Once she sorts out her days and her nights and learns to sleep in her cot she’ll be fine. Well, she’s fine already, it’s her poor parents who are suffering. Her big sister (21 month old Daisy) doesn’t seem very interested so far – she did try to feed her by shoving a plastic spoon in her face, but when she was dissuaded she lost interest.

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So that was Friday, and on Saturday I headed into Manchester town centre. I grew up nearby, and used to know it well, but I don’t get in very often these days, and every time something has changed. The most interesting (to me)change since last time I was there was the opening of Manchester’s only yarn shop, Purl City Yarns, and I wandered through the Northern Quarter (which is trying to reinvent itself as the arty quarter, but is still rather run down really) until I found the road it’s on.

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It didn’t look particularly promising, but there is was, right at the end.

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And inside it’s lovely!

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There’s a good selection of the usual suspects, plus some more unusual yarns (including a lot of very reasonably priced Drops yarns, Blacker Yarns, Fyberspates, and Manos), all nicely laid out with plenty of space to browse.

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And all with this gorgeous chappie watching over things from the stairs –

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I was going to be good and only buy a bottle of Euclan (Mine’s nearly empty and nowhere sells it round here), but I did succumb to some Drops Karisma to make a Chickadee cardigan – I need a cream for the background to the yoke, but they were out of stock. I’ve got some yarn which I think will do, but if it’s too different I’ll get a ball online somewhere. The birds are going to be the deep pink colour, and the edging to the yoke is the grey.

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The staff in the shop were lovely, and after a few minutes I suddenly realised that I knew one of them, Audrey, who came to our knitting group in York a few years ago when she was in the area. It was nice to catch up with her, and as I was leaving she suggested that I visit Fred Aldous, which I’d never heard of, and would have walked past as it looks like an art shop from the outside. It’s in an amazing building (which is very typical of Manchester).

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The ground floor is mostly arty things, but there’s an enormous basement –

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Which includes a very nice haberdashery section, I can see me visiting again now I know it’s there.

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It was reasonably priced too, and I picked up a selection of bits and bobs, including four concealed zips for £1.09 each – I bought one at Duttons a few days earlier, and it was much more than that.

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When I’d finished there I had a wander round the area, looking at the old buildings.

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I did pop into Akabhan Fabrics, but it was busy and confusing – they have lots of remnants, but they’re priced per kilo with no obvious way to weigh them to find out how much they’ll cost, so I decided that I didn’t really need anything anyway and came away.

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This lovely deco building looks very sad these days, there’s even weeds growing out of the roof :(

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This is the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, I had lunch there (very average, I wouldn’t really recommend it) and had a bit of a wander round, but sadly I’m not really in the market for hand-crafted things at the moment, my money won’t stretch that far with the Harrogate show and Christmas coming up, so I meandered off again.

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Just up the road is the old wholesale fish market, which is just a facade these days – there’s a new block of flats and a garden inside now.

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I love the friezes above the gates.

Whilst I was having lunch I remembered that I’d seen a programme on TV a while ago from the textile gallery at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, so I hopped on a tram to Deansgate/Castlegate station, wandered around a bit due to the complete lack of signage from the station to the museum, then wandered round the steam hall due to the complete lack of signage at the museum itself (a bit of theme going on here, there were also very few staff around to ask), and eventually found the part I was looking for.

P1010515The whole centre section of the gallery is set up with the various machines used in the Lancashire cotton mills to change raw cotton into woven fabric, and twice a day there’s a demonstration, I caught the 3pm one. My family tree includes many cotton spinners and weavers, so I was particularly interested.

Above are the carding machines, which produce a sliver of cotton (after various stages, I can’t remember the exact details, apologies if I get anything wrong!)

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Six slivers are then combined into one, and this is repeated twice more to make sure that all the fibres are aligned.

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The slivers are then lightly spun twice to make them thinner.

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Before they’re spun into singles on the spinning mule. Sadly for a spinner, this wasn’t working on Saturday, but I have seen one in action before, at Trefriw Woollen Mill in North Wales – if you’re interested, there’s a video of it working on my blog post about it.

Lastly the singles are woven into calico cloth, but for some reason I seem to have forgotten to take a photo of the loom. Oops.

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Other interesting exhibits included this ribbon loom, which makes labels for clothes etc.

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Stamps for finished cloth.

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Arkwright’s water frame and carding engine – some of the first powered textile machines.

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And a sock knitting machine, which you could make go by pressing a button.

There’s a lot more to see as well, I’d definitely recommend a visit to anyone interested in the history of textiles, especially cotton – and it’s free to go in, which is always a plus. The museum also has halls with engines of various sorts, and a aviation hall, so plenty for menfolk who may not be so interested in spinning to do too! I’m going to go back another time and look at the railway parts of the museum (it’s in the old Liverpool Road Station, terminus of the first purpose built passenger and goods railway in the world), but that’s a post for another day…)

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Moving on from the museum, I was entertained by this juxtaposition of old and new – the old sheds the museum is housed in, and the new tower block, which looks very unstable, but stays up somehow!

I then spotted a sign for ‘Spinningfields’, and just had to follow it, but sadly it’s a new shopping and business centre, with not a sign of a spinning wheel (okay, I wasn’t really expecting spinning shops, but it would have been nice!)

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There was a branch of AllSaints though, with their trademark window display. It’s not easy to see in the photo above, but the whole window is full of old sewing machines.

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Including one very much like mine, I was pleased to see.

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I slowly made my way back to Victoria to catch the tram back to my parents, it was busier as I got to the more popular bits, but the buildings are still impressive, including the Barton Arcade.

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The monstrosity which is the Arndale Centre lives on though.

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So there you are, well done if you’ve stuck with me this long – I was going to do two separate posts, but once I’d started I just seemed to keep going… Come back tomorrow to see my new cowl :)

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