a knitter’s trip to Berlin

Last weekend was the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.  I have vague memories of watching the news as a kid and seeing the wall come down, but unfortunately I was still in primary school so my knowledge at the time was limited.   However ever since then I’ve had a keen interest in Berlin, and have wanted to go there for years.   I had even started planning a trip a couple of years ago, and have the travel guide on my bookshelf to prove it.  For some reason, I didn’t go.

So when my last birthday rolled around, the Amazing Molly knew it would be the perfect place to go for my birthday weekend.

I knew I’d love the city.  I just didn’t expect to love it quite so much.

Love love love.

autumn in Berlin

 

It just seems to have a mixture of everything I love in a city: that great clash of history and youthful energy, amazing creativity, lots of street food, incredible markets, and a public transport system that includes trams.  What’s not to love?

We were only there for a weekend, but I’d desperately love to go back for longer (and I have no doubt that I will).  Here is a bit of an overview of some of my favourite bits.

Whenever  I travel anywhere I do my research beforehand and try to find the best local yarn shops.  Unfortunately that’s a bit tricky for a weekend in Berlin, as pretty much everything is shut on a Sunday, and yarns shops tend to close early on a Saturday as well!  That’s a helpful bit of info I wish I’d known before I went.

So here’s a list of  yarn shops in Berlin, largely for my own reference for future visits:

  • Die Woll-Lust  Mittenwalder Str 49, Kreuzberg (open M-F 11am -7pm; Sat 11-5pm)
  • Boucle  Nassauische Str 11-12, Wilmersdorf (open M-F 11am – 7pm; Sat 10-3pm)
  • Fadeninsel Oranienstr 23, Kreuzberg (open M-F 10am-6pm; Sat 10am-4pm)
  • Handmade Berlin Monbijouplatz 9 (open M-F 12-7; Sat 12-5).

Handmade Berlin also do coffee, apparently.

 

Handmade Berlin

 

In between trekking across town to peer in windows of closed yarn shops, we found some lovely little vintage markets dotted around.  There was one (can’t remember the location!) that was full of beautiful mid-century furniture.  I love the way that there would be tiny little stalls that would specialise in just one item, like milking stools or vintage sewing boxes.

 

vintage sewing boxes

No trip to Berlin could be complete without spending some time getting to grips with some of the history of the wall.  Although much of it is now gone, there are sections that are still intact, including some that ironically now have to be protected themselves.

We went to this section of the wall, known as the “death strip” as so many people tried to make the crossing through “no man’s land” between the two walls.

Berlin wall marker

 

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It’s so powerful to see the tracks marked out where people built tunnels to try to escape, now delineated through freshly mown grass.

Right nearby is the amazing Mauerpark Flea Market, which I believe is quite a Sunday institution.   It is definitely one of the biggest markets I’ve ever been to!  Every time we turned a corner, we would think “ah, this must be the end!” only to be faced with yet more stalls ahead of us.

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Vintage buttons: my favourite rummage.

vintage buttons

It has an amazing array of general jumble, furniture, clothes, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.  I could have happily bought enough vintage furniture to fill a whole house, but had to be more restrained.

We quite happily had a rummage through tubs of these and came home with a carry bag of knobs for a fraction of the price at Anthropologie:

 

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There are still market stalls selling pieces of “the wall”, but bear in mind that it is now estimated to have been sold three or four times over by now!

The market completely wore us out, but over to the side of the park is an open-air auditorium where street performers ply their trade to huge audiences.  It was amazing.  We originally just went to have a sit down for a while before doing more sight-seeing, but the performers were so good that we spent the rest of the afternoon there, and gave up  on the rest of the sight-seeing that we’d planned.

Next time, next time.

(PS  If you like Trippen shoes, I found the factory outlet store at Kopenicker Str 187-188, Kreuzberg.  Nearest U-bahn Schlesisches Tor.  Keep it a secret until I get to go back again).

in the village: Walthamstow Summer Garden Party

It’s amazing how many people in London don’t even know that Walthamstow has a village.  Well it does, and it’s lovely!  Cute, quirky, independent shops, an ancient house, and a great sense of community.  I think I’ll save the detail for another post, but this is just to say that on Sunday I’ll be having a little travelknitter yarn stall at the Walthamstow Village Garden Party (well, if I ever get rid of this cough, but that’s another matter).

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Fingers crossed for good weather, and make mine a Pimm’s!

spitalfields market

I had so much fun at the Spitalfields Market a couple of weeks ago.  It was one of those cold, grey London days when being undercover at a market is just the right thing.

I got to meet lots of new people, and particularly exciting was meeting ravellers “in real life” for the first time.  It’s always amazing to make face to face contact with people you’ve interacted with on the internet.

One of my favourite aspects of doing a market stall is getting to know the other stallholders.  I love learning about the stories behind their products and hearing about their experiences.  As usual, my stallholder neighbours commented on how “dedicated” knitters seem to be (I think that was a polite way to say yarn-obsessed) and I couldn’t really disagree.  I completely love the knitting community and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I also had lots of friends pop down (which was great not only for company, but also to give me the chance to get some lunch!) but my only regret was that I didn’t get a chance to go shopping at the other stalls myself.  We were part of the 70 stalls designated for the We Make London designer-makers, so there was no shortage of creative goodness to check out.

One of my friends came along and helped to ensure that my displays were all nicely colour co-ordinated…

I had plans for doing a giant Etsy shop update after the market, but I got the sudden news that my landlord wants her flat back, so I’m currently doing a mad dash trying to put my life in to boxes.  I’ll be moving house next weekend, so there will be new stock in the shop once I’m unpacked.  I’m moving to a very creative part of London, opposite another knitter, so there should be lots of knitterly things coming up!

we’re making London

Last Saturday, two creative friends and I went to the Old Spitalfields Market for a bit of a nosey around.  Traditionally, Spitalfields is known for its Sunday markets, but over the past year there has been an increasing focus on craft and hand-made design on the  Saturday market.  In particular, We Make London are hosting a designated area of the market over a number of dates during October, November and December.  This means that along with the usual mix of goodies such as clothing, vintage items, and delicious food, there will be an area of 50-70 set aside for artists, crafters, and designers.  So much creativity under one roof!

We Make London have also been busy putting together a book to showcase some of the amazing creative talent in London, called Inspired:London, A Guide to Handmade London.  The book is divided in to geographic areas, so you can find out about the creative talent in your own neighbourhood.

I was quite happily flicking through the sample printup of the book, when it became apparent that Julie was in fact featured in the book herself!  Can’t believe she kept that quiet.

Oh, I haven’t yet mentioned the real reason were were at the market that day:  I’ve booked a stall for myself! I’ll be flogging my wares selling my yarn there on Saturday November 10th from 11am to 5pm.  At the moment I’m excited and terrified in equal measure, so all friendly visitors will be warmly welcomed!

to market, to market

It may be rather quiet over here on this blog, but there’s lots going on behind the scenes.  Not much in the way of knitting, granted, but rather more in the way of dyeing.

I’m about to slip in to a dyeing frenzy, as I’ll be having another stall at the Spitalfields City Farm Sheep and Wool Fayre, on Sunday May 20th.

I just hope this rain stops sometime soon so I can get the yarn dry!

Spread the word, and if you’re in London, please stop by to say hello.

spitalfields sheep and wool fayre

What an incredible day!

I’d been struck with a heavy dose of panic the night before and was very close to not going to the fayre at all.  I mean, where do I get these crazy ideas from?  Then the train lines conspired against me with their engineering work, and it seemed that I really never would get there.  After fighting buses and trains, all the while carrying all my yarn and stall supplies in my trusty backpack, I arrived at Spitalfields City Farm Sheep and Wool Fayre.

As soon as I met my fellow stall-holders, I knew I was in for a fun day.

On one side of me was the wonderful tillyflop – her knitterly themed cards were a hit, although I think her son was somewhat surprised that people other than mum knew what the knitting abbreviations meant!  I couldn’t pass up one of her fantastic red ‘interactive’ teatowels; the interactiveness doesn’t relate to actually drying up, but rather to highlighting what you’d rather be doing instead:

To my left was Tess’s stall focusing on felted crafts.  She and her husband are such lovely lovely people with lots of felted goodies, and some particularly eye-catching hats!  Their squooshy felted sheep brooches were especially popular.  Tess was even doing some felting at the stall as a demo; perhaps I should have brought my niddy-noddy to do some re-skeining?

A couple of stalls to the left was Lauren of the Lollipop Stop, selling cute little pouches.  I already have numerous knitting bags but Lauren had this one in a sweet red robin print, so it had to come home with me:

I wasn’t the only yarnie there of course.  Further along was Martina of Yarn to Knit with a great display set up, and if you fancy some yarns in super-sheeny bamboo or tencel blends, you really won’t find anything lovelier.

As for my own stall, I can’t believe how much fun I had!

I’ve never met so many fantastic people in one afternoon.  Every single person who came past was friendly and chatty and interested in wool, and I got to hear about so many people’s crafty pursuits.   I got such great feedback on my yarns, and actually sold most of what I had brought.  Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by for a chat and to stroke the yarns!

I didn’t get much of a chance to wander the fayre taking photos, but Anna did a great roundup with pictures here, and for an aural treat, A Playful Day has a great podcast of the day here, including an interview with me.  It’s quite a strange experience hearing my voice over the internet – I’m sure  I wouldn’t have recognised myself.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be replenishing my yarn supplies and gradually stocking my little etsy shop.  I had so much fun as a stallholder though, I’ll definitely be planning some more market days.

a suitcase of yarn

I may not have knit a thing for several weeks, but that’s because I’ve been busy with other yarn things… dyeing up this lot!

It’s a suitcase o’ yarn!

Coming back from holiday last month I got all motivated and inspired, and I decided it was finally time to do something about my yarn dyeing plans.  Plus, spring time suddenly arrived with a bang, so it’s perfect timing to get skeins of yarn outside on the line to dry in the warm air.

I’m having a little travelknitter market stall at the Spitalfields Sheep and Wool Fayre at the Spitalfields City Farm on Sunday May 15th.  I’m probably about half-way prepared (still a few kilos left to dye) so I’m making good use of our endless bank holidays this month.  At this point I’m not sure if I’m more excited or terrified, but at the very least it will be fun I’m sure.  What’s not to love about an afternoon dedicated to everything sheepy?

If you’re in London on the 15th, please stop by to say hello!