EYF purchases

It’s been great seeing so many posts about all the goodies that people purchased at Edinburgh Yarn Festival.  Obviously I wasn’t there for the purpose of shopping, but I did manage to find time to pick up a couple of things.

lovely purchases

Interestingly, both of the items I purchased were planned in advance, and both were from vendors who were handily placed in the aisle opposite from me.  These goodies were clearly meant to be mine!

Lost Threads jar

First up, my big purchase:  this gorgeous hand-etched jar.  I love it!  I bought it from Grace of Beyond Measure, and it’s made by Andy of Vinegar & Brown Paper.  I’ve bought a couple of Andy’s pieces in the past, after I met him a few years ago at the Folksy Summer School.  Anyway I’d had my eye on the Lost Threads jar in Grace’s shop for quite a while, and once I discovered that Beyond Measure was going to be at EYF, the decision was made.  (Seriously, every single thing that Grace stocks is gorgeous: beautiful things for folks who make.  She also makes really lovely things and makes me wish I could sew.)

Since then I’ve had a great time rummaging through my house looking for scraps of yarn to store in the jar.  I can assure you, I have no shortage!  I find it really hard to throw away the ends of yarn that I love, so I’m pleased to now be able to put it to good decorative use.

 

Woollenflower Bag

My other lovely purchase was this pouch from Julie of Woollenflower.   I’d seen this particular bag online in her shop, but it had sold out before I got my hands on it.  I spoke to her about it at Unravel, and finally got one EYF.  Hurrah!  It’s made from a vintage woollen fabric with a great rusty-red check – just my colours.  And even better, the fabric comes via my friend Anna Maltz (aka Sweaterspotter).  How cool is that?

I love how my two purchases keep reminding me of the amazing weekend at EYF and the brilliant people I met there.

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knit nation

I know it’s been a bit quiet over here, but there’s actually been a lot going on behind the scenes.

Last week I joined the thousands of knitters who descended upon Imperial College in London for the fabulous (and hopefully the first of many?) Knit Nation.  I made only the briefest appearance there, as I was moving house that weekend (that’s a story in itself).  I made it across town for the Thursday night marketplace ‘preview’, which was the first chance for people to hit the stalls for some serious yarn shopping.

Not wanting to queue, I arrived 15 minutes after the opening time and, like everyone else, went straight for the Wollmeise stand.  Oh my word!  I think the best word to describe it: intense.  The intensity was not only the hundreds of knitters grabbing at armfuls of yarn, but also the intensity of the yarn colours. By the time I’d got there, the laceweight had all been snaffled, but there was sock yarn galore.  Once the crowd thinned a bit, I managed to get a photo of one section of the stand:

It’s bright, huh?

People were going mad for this stuff.  I had quite a few skeins that I was keen on, and spent a very long time trying to decide on which red to get.  I’m very particular about my reds! After much deliberation, I proudly came home with (only) three skeins of Ruby Thursday:

Of course, the colour is more vivid than the photo shows, and a tiny bit bluer, but you can get a sense of the lovely, subtle, variegation.

My only other purchase on the day was some beautiful glass buttons from Nichols Buttons.  I’d wanted some for ages, and Dixie was so helpful, that it seemed like the right day to finally buy some.  They’re black with a slight backlight of aubergine, and I gave up trying to get a decent photograph of them!  They have the most stunning organic quality to them; I can see myself re-using them on different cardigans for years to come.

Congratulations to the fabulous organisers, and here’s hoping for another Knit Nation next year.

LYS update

Well, it’s barely stopped raining for weeks, so no knitterly photos to post.  This seems like a good opportunity for a spot of tidying up, and so I updated the list of international / local yarn stores.

Sadly, there are two closures here in London.  Firstly, Socktopus.  Alice moved her Socktopus store a couple of months ago to combine with Stash in Putney.  Then yesterday it was announced that Stash itself is now closing down.  Sad news, especially for those in West London.  I believe that Alice will now be moving her attentions away from retail and focusing on other ventures such as the brilliant Knit Nation event, to be held in July 2010.

Knit Nation will comprise three full days of workshops and shopping; what more could a knitter want in a weekend?  Booking for the classes opened at 6am this morning (and yes I was awake to sign up) so while places are still available, I’d recommend you check out what’s on offer.

Another update to the London LYS list is the Handweaver’s Studio.  They’ve just moved to shiny new premises which I checked out over the weekend when I took part in a very fun dyeing workshop.  Definitely a store worth checking out, and if you’re not a weaver, the place is guaranteed to inspire you to take up a new fibre art.

travelknitter’s guide to Edinburgh

I had such a wonderful time in Edinburgh last week for my mini-holiday, and the city really is as wonderful as everyone says.  I actually spent some time peering at the lettings listings in estate agents, dreaming of renting a flat with massive ceilings, living a new life in a city that’s completely accessible on foot.  And then I remembered that I don’t want to leave London just yet, so I ditched my relocation plans.  But I’ll be back for another visit!

Of course, there was knitting.  The four-and-a-half hour train journey from London gave me a good knitting opportunity, but there was more when I arrived:

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McAree Brothers.  I’ve had fantastic service from their online store, so I thought it was only right that I visit their bricks and mortar shop.  Lots of very dependable yarns piled high, from the likes of Rowan, Sirdar etc, and a wall brimming with every type of knitting notion you could think of.  Oh, and the store was on the same street as my B&B – how handy was that?

Next knitting stop was the lovely K1 Yarns.  Actually, I went there twice; once to buy yarn, and then I went back for the Thursday night knit-in (um, and to buy more yarn!)  Sarah and the knitting regulars gave me a very warm welcome and helped me feel right at home.  (Secretly I was quite glad that Ysolda is currently travelling in the US, as I’m sure I would have been all awe-struck and shy like I was when I saw her last year in London).

The store fronts on to a very well-known street in the old town, so there were tourists streaming past, with several stopping to take photos.  Apparently a group of knitters equals a tourist spectacle!

This was the perfect place for some souvenir yarn shopping, so I snapped up some Fyberspates yarn (sock and laceweight) in K1 exclusive colourways.

Fyberspates K1 yarn

There was actually lots more to my week than knitting, but it did rain rather alot, so getting photos was tricky!  Here are a few snaps of my week wandering the streets of Edinburgh:

Scottish hardiness: don't let a spot of rain spoil your picnic!

Scottish hardiness: don't let a spot of rain spoil your picnic!

perfect saturday

The sun has finally come out here in London (for now) and I spent a fantastic Saturday afternoon this weekend with Woollystuff enjoying it.  The afternoon had all the elements of perfection:

A trip to Broadway Market, one of my absolute favourite markets in London (not that I’ve been to them all, but I’m working my way through the list!).  Every stall is fantastic, filled with local produce and hand crafted goodness – no sign of imported tat here.  After an initial mooch around the market, we sat in the park, scoffing yummy spinach borek, and working on our knitting.  I’ve just about finished the front of my vintage top, so hopefully photos won’t be too far away.

After lunch it was back to the market for dessert:

I bought the most delicious rum & raisin fudge from this stall.  It should come with a health warning, it was so delicious.  I’ll definitely be back for more.

We had a rummage through Fabrications, but I managed to come away without any additional purchases.  I was very excited to see however that they are now stocking the fabulous Hungry Girls’ Cookbook.  Melbourne handmade goods are taking over the world!

The afternoon then finished with a glass of white wine in the sunshine.  How often do such perfect Saturdays come along?

travelknitter’s guide to tokyo

Phew!  I can’t believe how long it took me to put this post together; it seems like my trip to Tokyo was such a long time ago.  Anyway, here’s a snapshot of a few crafty highlights from my trip, and I hope you find it useful in heading off on your own Tokyo adventures!

Loft

This was my first crafty stop as I wandered around Ikebukuro, getting my bearings.  Loft is part of the massive department store Seibu, on the eastern side of Ikebukuro station.  I went straight up to the massive stationery section, which was well-stocked, nicely laid out, and great fun to rummage through.  I didn’t buy anything as it was my first stop in Tokyo, and I wanted to see what else was around.  I regret that now, as they had really nice things that I didn’t see anywhere else.  It’s on my list for next time.

Website (in Japanese): www.loft.co.jp

Tokyu Hands

One of the must-do shopping highlights for anyone in Tokyo has to be Tokyu Hands, and I made my way to the branch in Ikebukuro (I also made a quick visit to the Shinjuku store a few days later).  The by-line for Tokyu Hands is ‘Creative Life Store’ and it really has pretty much anything creative or home-wise you could want, spread across seven floors.  I knew that I had to have a plan of attack for this one.

I started out on the top floor (8F) where you’ll find Nekobukuro – “Cat’s House”.  I’d read about this on various other blogs, but didn’t know anyone who’d actually been in.  It’s set up for apartment-bound city dwellers to have the chance to play with the 20 or so resident cats, and at the entrance I spotted named photographs of all the feline residents inside.  Cute!  I sheepishly paid my 600 Yen and wandered inside.  It’s set up with a large play area, but with sections divided off like rooms in a house – not sure if the cats appreciated the distinction though.

After marvelling at the way in which the cats managed not to claw the streams of visitors all day, I ventured downstairs.  I spent most of my time on 6F stocking up on stationery (my friends will all be getting Japanese birthday cards this year!), although I think I preferred the range at Loft.  I worked my way down the levels, wishing that I had a Tokyo apartment so I could furnish it will all the gorgeous homewares.  I stopped at Kitchenware (3F) with the intention of buying some bento boxes but after 20 minutes or so the selection overwhelmed me and I didn’t buy any at all.  But realistically, I think it would take more than cute packaging to encourage me to make a packed lunch anyway.

How to get there:

There are stores in Ikebukuro, Shibuya and Shinjuku, but only Ikebukuro has the cats!  To get to the Ikebukuro branch, exit Ikebukuro station and just follow the signs for Sunshine City – it’s right next door.  It’s well sign-posted.

Website (in Japanese): http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/index.htm

Avril

This is the home of the wonderful Habu yarns, known as Avril in Japan. Before heading in, I’d recommend checking out the Habu website to make a shortlist of yarns you’d like to check out, as it can all get a bit overwhelming once you’re in the store to figure out what all the yarns are, and what to do with them.  I found the staff to be helpful, and with a few words and a bit of hand waving I was all set.  I was hoping to get some Kusaki Zome, but they only had a small amount left in the colour I wanted, and not enough for the project I had in mind.  As consolation, I picked up some Tsumugi Silk in two colours (projects still to be identified):

How to get there:

I was expecting it to be quite difficult to find, but didn’t have a problem at all.  The nearest station is Kichijoji, and a return ticket from central Tokyo cost ab0ut 580 Yen I think.  Kichijoji station isn’t particularly big, so I don’t think it matters too much which exit you take (I think I took the Park Exit and had no problems).  As you come out of the station, have a look for the big Parco department store, which will be diagonally to your left.  Head in that direction, and across the intersection you will see the entrance to the Nakamichi shopping street:

Follow the street for about five minutes, and on your left you will see the sign for Avril…

and then there is a knitted/felted sign leading you to the door!

The Avril website has a map, but I found the store pretty straight-forward to find.

According to various other bloggers, another amazing craft store, Yuzawaya is right above Kichijoji station, but somehow I managed to not find it.

On the way back from Avril I popped in to the Parco store, and wandered up to the Zakka/Children’s floor, and found a whole heap of cuteness!  Again, I stocked up on some more stationery, as well as these cute fabric buttons:

Ladybirds always make me smile!

Okadaya

I spent quite a ridiculous amount of time in Okadaya, which is a large store covering just about every craft need you can think of.  Again, my plan was to start on the top floor and work my way down from there – it seemed to work for me.  The top floor was dedicated purely to craft books, with knitting well represented.  I didn’t find anything new that I hadn’t seen before, but I came away with a couple that I’d been interested in for a while, so I was happy with that.  It definitely had the best range of craft books I’d seen in Tokyo.

ISBN 9784579109258

ISBN 9784579109258

I worked my way down each of the levels in turn, buying something on almost every floor!  They had a good range of buttons, so I snapped up a couple of different styles (no photos though, as they’re black).  I somehow missed the yarn floor, but discovered that some of the floors have a separate section off to the left, so I had to revisit each floor to see what I’d missed out on!  (The yarn is on 5F).  There was an OK section of yarn, lots of Annie Blatt and Japanese Brands.  There wasn’t anything I particularly wanted, although was surprised to see Daiketo yarn made from Tasmanian Merino.  Having grown up in Tassie  I would have been thrilled to buy Tassie merino locally, but Tasmania is well-renowned for exporting all its best produce to Japan.

Okadaya really does have stock to pretty much cover whatever craft you’re in to, whether that’s knitting, sewing, needle felting, beading, or anything else really.  I’d highly recommend a trip, but be prepared to while away a lot of time!

Website (in Japanese): www.okadaya.co.jp

How to get there:

It took me a while to find, but needn’t be a mission at all.  Take the East exit from Shinjuku station.  From the station exit, take the street that’s furthest to your left; it will run alongside the train tracks.  Keep your eyes out along the right hand side, as Okadaya is only a few buildings along.  You’ll spot a small sign in an alcove; take the lift up to the top and away you go!  What I didn’t realise though is that Okadaya actually has two buildings, and the second building has all the fabrics.  I did actually spot it on the way out (it’s along a little side street) but I thought it was just a small section at ground level, so didn’t stay long.  Ooops.  Turns out there are several floors!  Again, another one on the list for next time.

more cute Japanese stationery...

Tomato/Fabric Town

I made the trip to Nippori to hit the famed fabric store Tomato, on what is known as Fabric Street in Fabric Town (yes, it is named such for the benefit of tourists, I’m sure).  Despite all my online research, I didn’t realise that pretty much all the shops in the street are closed on Sunday!  I found Tomato easily enough, but upon discovering it was closed, was too disheartened to take any photos.  What a waste on my last day in Tokyo!

How to get there:

Luckily, fabric street (Nippori Chuo Dori) is easy to find, and I’ll definitely be heading back on my next trip.  Catch the JR Yamanote Line to Nippori.

Upon leaving the station (take the North exit and then the East exit) you’ll find yourself in front of a taxi rank.  There will be two streets to your right; one directly to the right and one heading diagonally.  Take the street on the diagonal.  You will see lots of signs and banners on the way, with various proclamations such as ‘Nippori fabric street’ and so on, so you’ll know you’re in the right place.

Daiso


Daiso is the pick of Tokyo’s 100 Yen stores (Japan’s much better version of UK pound stores, or Australian Two Dollar shops). I went to another 100 Yen store in Tokyo, but it didn’t have anything too interesting, whereas Daiso has so many wonderful things, all at a bargain price.  Initially I wasn’t sure if everything really is priced at 100 Yen, but it turns out they are, so some items are a bigger bargain than others.  Normally I avoid buying cheap made-in-China tat, but somehow it seems OK to do it in Japan!  I was conscious of not getting too carried away, but ended up coming away with a dozen items, ranging from a coffee mug to sewing supplies, stationery, and strange Japanese sweets.

I arrived before opening time on Sunday (10am) and actually joined a queue for it to open!  I think everyone else was just after an umbrella though, as it had started raining.  I also managed to leave my wallet on the front bench of the store, and had a mad panic half an hour later when I discovered it missing.  On the verge of tears, I did a mad dash back to the store. I can’t believe that someone had handed it in – credit cards and my last few Yen all intact.  I nearly hugged the staff member who retrieved it for me. I love Japan.

How to get there:

This one’s easy.  Go to Harajuku station, and just follow the crowds!  This will be especially the case on a Sunday, when Tokyo’s young people like to dress up and parade their cutting-edge fashions in Harajuku.  Exit the station and directly across the road follow the throngs of people down Harajuku St.  Daiso is a few doors along on the left hand side.

More shopping guides:

If you’re planning a crafty shopping trip to Tokyo yourself, here are two of my favourite Tokyo guides to check out:

  • Asking for Trouble’s lovely Tokyo Shopping Guide.  This has an emphasis on fabrics, stationery, and lots of kawaii loveliness.  I bought a copy of her pocket-sized guide to take with me, and it was a great source of information.

new year knitting

I’m not one for making new year’s resolutions (I’m not sure whether that’s from laziness or a healthy dose of realism) but this year, when it comes to knitting, I have at least begun as I mean to continue.

Last week I hit the shops with Woolystuff and made the knitters’ pilgrimage to the famous sales of John Lewis and Liberty.  I wasn’t expecting to buy much yarn, but came away with quite a stash – enough for three cardis, plus a few skeins of cashmere.

To celebrate our yarn goodies, we wandered around Soho and enjoyed some goodies of another kind:

What a brilliant day all round – a good friend, yarn sales, and Italian pastries.  Perfect.

Anyway, I was determined that my new yarn wasn’t just going to sit there, so on new year’s day I turned two skeins of the cashmere in to this:

Pattern: Crofter’s Cowl, by Gudrun Johnston.

Yarn: RYC Cashmere Tweed, two skeins.  I could have made it a bit longer, but cashmere is precious stuff!

I spent the entire day knitting and ended up with cramp in my right hand, but I really wanted it finished!  I think part of my need to knit a super-fast project was so that I could convince myself that I’m actually using this new yarn, and not just adding to the stash.  (For future reference though I think I should stop knitting things that are so difficult to photograph.  This cowl is the most tricky combination of dark colour and poor stitch definition!)

The cowl also worked out to be the perfect form of procrastination to avoid my uni assignments, but that’s another issue.