sending yarn in to the world

The last few weeks have been even busier than usual, as I’ve been spending my weekends putting together a lovely stash of hand dyed yarn for a special wholesale order.  It has involved this:

  • Days spent over the dye pots, stirring up a mixture of new and tried-and-true colours
  • Keeping fingers crossed for some sunshine so I can get the yarn dry in between the spring rain
  • Re-skeining every single skein so they all look nice and neat and show the different tones of colour
  • Putting together a new logo and printing out brand new label wrappers
  • Playing with all the new lovely skeins, holding them up, shuffling them around, putting them in to piles, seeing what looks good together, and basically just admiring all the colours and textures (tell me I’m not the only one who does that…)

Once I’d finished playing, I put all the skeins in to a box,

 

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took one last look before closing the lid….

travelknitter yarns

 

and then hopped on a bus, and handed them over to their new caretaker, Anna at Wild and Woolly.  And I couldn’t think of a better home for them to go to!

The sun was streaming in the window, so we sat down with a glass of homemade lemonade and just enjoyed being surrounded by yarn.  The window display was just perfect for the occasion, complete with knitted deck chair and skein sundaes:

 

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There’s something about spending time in such a gorgeous yarn shop with someone who’s so passionate about the craft that has really inspired me to (gasp!) actually find the time to knit again.

Anna will be stocking my BFL Supersock, Tanami 4ply (supersoft baby camel and silk) and a brand new yarn, White Gum 4ply (it’s a UK exclusive!)  I’ll tell you more about that one in the next post…

London’s newest yarn shop: Wild and Woolly

Many of you visited your local yarn shops last weekend, as May 3rd was the national Yarn Shop Day.  And for those of you in London, there’s a brand new shop to visit – Wild and Woolly.

I made my first visit to Wild and Woolly in Clapton (Hackney) a few weekends ago.  I’ve been following the blog, where the lovely owner Anna had been posting some work-in-progress photos of the renovations, so had an idea of what it looked like.  I can assure you, it really is rather fantastic!

 

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The front window is a perfect mix of great design and fabulous Victoriana:

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And the yarns really are rather fancy.  Anna is stocking a great range of yarns, both international and locally sourced.  There’s a mixture of commercially dyed skeins, natural coloured yarns, and hand dyed loveliness.  Everything is displayed beautifully, and I love her system of moveable apple crates.  Anna is very generous with her time, and she’s provided a table so there’s space to sit and knit for a while.

shop interior

The space is light and bright.  I always think that natural light is an absolute must for a yarn shop – I’m always holding up skeins of yarn to get a better sense of the colour, or peering in to a mirror to check if a colour is wearable against my skintone. Or is that just me?

 

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If you’re anywhere near London, I highly recommend you pop in for a visit.  The nearest train stations are Hackney Downs, Hackney Central, or Clapton (depending which route you take) or there are lots of bus routes in the area.  The shop is open every day except Mondays.

Oh, I haven’t even mentioned the best bit… there will be travelknitter yarns in stock very soon!  Very exciting!

 

rainy day Cornwall: Falmouth

The current horrendous UK weather has prompted this post.  The wind and rain reminds me of what we experienced last year on a little week away in Cornwall.  It was in March, which can have quite lovely spring weather, but last year it was the second coldest on record.  The seaside isn’t really my location of choice for a week of wind, hail, sleet and snow!  Trying to make the most of a holiday around all that weather was quite a challenge at times.

Anyway, we booked a lovely little apartment called Puffins in the middle of Falmouth.  If you’re looking for a modern apartment in a perfect location, then it completely fits the bill.  A fondness of puffins really is recommended though, as the decor is very puffin-focused, right down to puffin salt and pepper shakers.  But who doesn’t love puffins, right?

Our apartment had a great view however, with double height windows:

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Due to The Amazing Molly having a work emergency to tend do, I was left to my own devices for a couple of days.  My Plan A for the holiday had fallen in a heap, as there was no way in the world that I was going to do any coastal walks.  Plan B was then to come up with ways to spend time in Falmouth during crap weather.

Here are my recommendations, in no particular order:

Go to a pub with a bookshop!    This place was such an unexpected find.  The entrance to Beerwolf Books looks like an interesting old boozer…

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then you go up the staircase, to discover a lovely pub with a bookshop at the back.  Sheer genius.  Seriously, why doesn’t every town have one of these?  I could spend a lot of time somewhere like that.

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When there is a short respite from the rain and the howling winds, go for a little walk to the next town over, Penryn.  Stock up on supplies at the Bailey’s Country Store Farm Shop (I got a slice of fantastic egg and bacon pie to eat on the go, and I got some frozen homity pies to eat later.  Seriously, the only two places in the world I’ve ever found homity pies are Cornwall and Tasmania.  There’s a huge gap in the market, hint hint.  I could live on the potato-and-cheese goodness forever).

Then have a nice cup of tea and a bit of cake at Miss Peapod’s Cafe.  The focus is on local and organic food, and I managed to snaffle a comfy couch just when there was a rare patch of sunshine coming in.

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The cafe is part of Jubilee Wharf, a great multi-use eco-development in Penryn.  Jubilee Wharf is also home to various workshops, studios, alongside flats on the top floor.  I had a look around some lovely clothing and jewellery studios.

When you have some company again (The Amazing Molly eventually returned), stop by Dolly’s Tea Rooms for a delicious cocktail served in a teapot and teacups.  Tasty!  They’re also now hosting a knitting evening once a month, but I only discovered this a day too late to attend myself.

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On the topic of knitting, there’s a traditional “wool shop” in town, The Wool Basket.  I thought it would be just the place for something more on the novelty yarn end of the spectrum, and indeed it was, so I picked up something suitable for knitting an easter bunny.  Worked a treat, and the staff were very lovely actually,

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Falmouth actually has a great selection of little independent shops, with a good range of interesting, handmade products, as well as a good smattering of vintage furniture shops.  There are also lots of art galleries to spend time browsing in, but I didn’t take any photos of those to show you.

In a nutshell, Falmouth is a lovely little place, that somehow manages to combine Cornish fishing history with tourism and university students.  I’m sure it’s at its best in summer, but even in the depths of an unexpected winter, it’s a great spot.

north-east London yarn crawl

A few weeks ago I put together a little yarn crawl for my Walthamstow Knitters group.  Even though London doesn’t have anywhere near as many yarn shops as other major cities like NYC, we do actually have quite a few if you know where to look.  Some of my fellow group members hadn’t been to some of the shops around our fair city, so a yarn crawl was much needed!  For those not familiar with London, well, it’s a pretty big place and very spread out, so travelling all across the city isn’t recommended.  I decided to keep the yarn crawl focused on the general north-east bit.

Here’s a run-down of our day:

We started at London’s newest yarn shop (and our very own local), AbSTraCt.  It’s owned by the very creative Alessandra, and it’s right in the gorgeous Walthamstow village.  It’s the sort of place that you wouldn’t stumble across by accident, but you’d be very pleased if you did.

We somehow picked one of the hottest days of the hottest summer in years, so we started off by enjoying the sunshine with some pastries and a spot of tea.  Lovely way to start a day!

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The shop is brand-spanking new, and Alessandra has put a lot of work in renovating the space, stripping back walls and floorboards, and giving the place a great artistic feel.

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She’s stocking a range of yarns across all price points and fibres (including some travelknitter yarn, of course!  Can’t get more local than that!)

It was tempting to stop there all day, but once we’d made our purchases and scoffed all the tea, it was time to move on.

Next stop: Nest.

This has become one of London’s favourite yarn shops.  Again, it’s not a place that you would just come across in passing, as it’s tucked away in a row of shops in a residential area of Crouch End.  It’s well worth seeking out though.  They have a lovely range of yarns, haberdashery, tea and cake, and their window displays are always beautiful.

We were kindly supplied with a jug of iced water so we could relax while we mused over our purchases.

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I did come away with some lovely new buttons, of which my stash seriously rivals my yarn stash!

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We the jumped on a bus back to Finsbury Park, and after walking a few blocks we were at the Handweavers Gallery.  This is a great place, but slightly off the beaten track (and they really need to put an apostrophe in their name!).  As the name suggests, the focus isn’t on knitting, but they do have a good range of yarns, books, and gadgets for all fibre crafts.  And really, which knitter doesn’t get the urge to expand their repertoire of hobbies?  There is a large range of yarn designed for weaving, and it all looks so amazing:

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There’s plenty of fibre for spinning and felting too…

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A couple of us bought mini niddy-noddies, some of us bought fibre, and I had to stop myself from buying an armload of books!

We then carried on to Stoke Newington, to the lovely Knit With Attitude.  Shamefully, it was the first time I’d been in to the shop since it had moved premises; it’s now in a much bigger shop, co-located with Of Cabbages and Kings.  The arrangement has meant that both venues get a bigger shop, and it means that you can shop for yarn and lovely designer/maker gifts all at once!  They also run some great craft courses, which I’m very keen to sign up to.IMG_4623

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We then jumped on the train for a couple of stations to London Fields.  Our destination:  Fabrications and Broadway Market.  Unfortunately I was completely exhausted and overheating by then, so couldn’t face taking any pictures.  We were all pretty knackered, so had a quick mooch around and got something to eat.  I’d been keen to look for vintage buttons, but I couldn’t quite muster the energy.  One of my fellow yarn crawlers managed to spot a handknitted jumper on the market for the bargainous £5, so that was a great score.

All in all, it was a rather fabulous, yarny, fun, and exhausting day.  Bring on the next one!

If anyone would like a map of the yarn crawl, just let me know.  I’m thinking about putting together little route maps of yarn crawls around various cities, so it would be good to know if this would be something that people would use.

one crafty street

I was somewhat stranded in Sydney for a day or so (not a bad place to be stranded!) and found somewhere to stay right near King St, Newtown.  This was fortuitous for two reasons; firstly, because I love the area and it’s one of the few places in Sydney that I’m relatively familiar with, and secondly because since my last visit, two new yarn shops have opened up.  Hurrah!

Any prizes for guessing how I spent my day in Sydney?

My first stop was The Granny Square at the city end of King St (number 47).  It’s actually owned by Morris & Sons, but they’ve attempted to give the shop a discernible point of difference from their other locations.

It’s a small shop, nicely laid out, all white and bright with yarn displayed in cubbies.  Original features, polished floorboards, and a very cute cinema seat in the front window (but I wonder if it actually gets used?)

There are a few hand-dyed yarns but not as much as I was expecting.  They had a range of Sugar n’ Cream, lots of their own Empire line of  yarn, and some Noro.  Although it’s a nice little shop, there was nothing that jumped out at me to say, “Sydney souvenir yarn – buy me!” so I carried on my wanderings along King St.

The second yarny stop was  A Coffee and a Yarn at number 413, at the other end of the street.

It’s billed as a ‘knit cafe’, which is an idea that really appeals to me, and how many knitters don’t dream of opening a cafe/yarn shop?  Well, I was expecting a yarn shop/cafe combination, but there seems to be more emphasis on the cafe side of things, with yarn as a sideline.  (It’s sort of the reverse of somewhere like the gorgeous K1 Yarns in Edinburgh which is clearly a yarn store, but you can also get a nice pot of tea and a piece of cake).

The emphasis on the cafe rather than the knitting is highlighted by the website which lists a food and drink menu, but no details of what yarns are stocked.  I didn’t make notes, but from what I can recall they had stock such as  a few yarns from Dairing, Araucania Ranco in lovely rich colours, some Louisa Harding, and KnitPro needles.

As the shop has been open for a while now, I was surprised at the limited stock.  Even for the yarns that they had in, there didn’t seem to be much available in each colour.  My understanding is that they were hoping to focus on yarns with eco or fairtrade credentials, but it still seems to be a bit lacking.  Again, there was nothing there that I wanted to buy, so I settled down with a pot of tea, a slice of walnut and date loaf, and took the opportunity to do a spot of knitting.

After finishing up I wandered two doors down to one of my all-time favourite button stores, All Buttons Great and Small (that reminds me, I really need to compile a list of my international favourite button shops one day).

The shop was as lovely as I remembered it, but maybe it just wasn’t my day for shopping, because I came away empty-handed.  How on earth could that happen?  It’s probably got something to do with the size of my button stash already; with all the buttons that I already own something needs to be pretty special for me to be able to justify the purchase.

Whilst I didn’t come away with any crafty items from King St, I was very pleased to see two new yarny additions to my favourite Sydney street.  I’ll be interested in how they develop.

 

where there’s yarn

Where there’s yarn, there will be knitters.  Possibly in their hundreds!

On Saturday my favourite London yarn shop Loop moved from its cute little location in Cross St, to larger-but-still-very-cute premises in Camden Passage.  And there was quite a launch party to celebrate!

For those not familiar with London, Camden Passage is a lovely shopping lane in Islington, full of beautiful boutiques, antiques stores, and open air spaces where stall holders sell vintage clothing and jewellery on the market days.  A perfect location for a yarn store.

I arrived just before the 11am launch, and this was the queue ahead of me:

I think the other nearby shop owners and passers-by were wondering where the celebrity rock star was!  There’s just no holding back the crowds of knitters when there are yarny goodie bags up for grabs.

We spent a verrrry long time in the queue but were very well looked after with delicious brownies, and Pimms later on.

Inside, the shop is just as gorgeous as I’d expected.  Everything is beautifully laid out (Susan definitely has the touch), and there’s even an upstairs section where the heavier weight yarns are to be found.

I took a few pictures (below), but you’ll note that I didn’t get any photos of yarn; that’s because there were hundreds of knitters in the way!  Seriously, the crowd was phenomenal.

The lovely Fridica got some great photos of the store at a quieter moment which you can see on her blog here.

I’m looking forward to visiting again when things are quieter, taking time to rummage through the yarns and having a little moment’s relaxation in one of the armchairs.  Lovely!