London Trip

So my husband and I did this honeymoon do-over (let’s not talk about the first one, which was full of sickness and tropical storms) in August. Yes, that is over two months ago. My life has been crazy busy.

London was fantastic. We did so much in the nine days we were there, but could definitely have spent more time.

Not only did I most definitely find a knitting store:

from whence I got some lovely English yarn.

(it’s called Bowland DK by Eden Cottage Yarns. I fell in love with the colour. I also picked up a shawl pin, plus they gave me the bag for free!)

but I also chronicled my fibre-related exploits for y’all. In true librarian fashion.

The sign says:

               This door was at Westminster Abbey, if you’re curious.

I’ll start with a very cool find at All Hallows-by-the-Tower. Though it’s right by the Tower of London, it’s easy to miss. I only found out about it through an obscure blog post. Even my guide book didn’t mention it, but it’s totally worth a visit. Not just for the fibre-craft related objects I’m going to show you, but it’s a beautiful old church. In fact it’s the oldest in London. It was built on the remains of a Roman house and road, which you can still see in the basement. An added bonus? It’s one of the few churches that lets you take photos inside.

See the weird rectangle-shaped objects hanging below the pews? They are cushions: each handmade by a member of the congregation, going back generations. Here are some close-ups:

There is also this lovely weaving near the altar.

Another very cool find was the textile collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

I was SO excited to see these very famous ancient Egyptian socks made for wearing with sandals (ignore the “shoes” description. That’s for another item). These socks are often cited as an example of early knitting made using one needle, much like nålbinding.

The works below are woven tapestries from Byzantium.

The above is a woven silk piece depicting a bishop. It dates to 12-1300’s Germany or Italy. The very modern (i.e.: cartoon-like) looking face (complete with what looks like spectacles!) just kills me.

These woven pieces date to early Christianity in Egypt, around 400-600:

Here is a close up of the tapestry on the left. It depicts ankhs – an ancient Egyptian symbol of life that was adopted by the Christian Copts around the 4th century.

Below we have a quilt dating to 1360-1400. Probably made as a wedding gift, it depicts fourteen episodes from the adventures of Tristan. It was hard to take in all the detail on our camera, but you get the idea: lots and lots of stitching BY HAND. So gorgeous. It really has to be seen in person.

This next one is obviously a passion of the Christ scene. Probably from France around 1400-25. Once again woven BY HAND, folks. Our tour guide told us it took a professional weaver about a month working full time (sunrise to sunset) to make 1 square meter. Remember, most of these were big enough to cover a castle wall!

By the way, if you’re curious why tapestries were so common in the medieval period, here’s an answer: no central heating. Well-to-do homes that could afford tapestries were also typically made of stone. That sh*t gets cold!

We also got to see the famous, and enormous, ‘Boar and Bear Hunt’ woven wool tapestry, probably made in Arras, France or Tournai, Belgium around 1425-30.

The last fibre arts related stop that we made was at the Globe Theatre. I was super stoked to find a whole reproduction of an Elizabethan costume textile workshop in the museum.

Can you say “heaven”?

I really doubt that the following close-up images need introduction. Fleece, yarn, dye pots, sewing, pattern drafting, embroidery and lace work, it’s all here.

Pssst: the velvet above is authentic 15th-17th century Spanish and Italian handmade velvet.

And here we have the costume worn by an actress who played Queen Elizabeth at the Globe re-opening.

Check out the handmade lace!

I’ll end with this cool video my husband took of the Swiss Glockenspeil in Leicester Square near Piccadilly Circus/Covent Garden. Not textile related, but still a pretty cool handicraft.

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Creativ Festival haul

Two posts a tad close together, I know, but I had to share the fruits of my second day at the Creativ Festival. Pics of my adventures as a model for the Fashion Knits show to hopefully come soon.

Voilà my haul of goodies, comprising both days:

Breaking it down, we have the two awesome books I got, more detail in my other post. Both are entirely worth the investment, but I love that I got them at a huge discount from Grantham Books. They’re at the festival every year, and I always come home with something. On their site they list other shows they go to as well as permanent locations.

In the foreground you can see some navy blue DK possum merino. That’s right, possum. It is made in New Zealand, and available in Canada here, the UK here, and the USA here or here. Apparently, “the possum fur is hollow and, when spun with merino wool, produces a hardwearing yarn with superior heat retaining qualities.” Either way, it feels awesome and I am excited to try it. Here’s a close-up.

I also picked up some good ol’ Berroco Vintage Chunky in white from Creative Yarns. It shall one day (soon) become the shrug for my wedding dress. I’ll be using the same pattern as for the one I talk about here.

I think it will be gorgeous. Actually, I know it will be because someone has already done it:

I also got some neats beads, pendants, and a pair of cool glass earrings at this store’s booth.

After much hunting, I was finally able to find a booth that sold Brother equipment for my Brother sewing machine. I got some thread, extra bobbins, a blind presser foot for fancy hems on dresses and dress pants (I have a backlog of stuff to fix…), and a teflon foot and twin needle for sewing onto knitting, so that maybe I can finally get the lining onto my cabled belt from way back.

One thing I did not buy, purely because I have a large enough stash already, is the HPKY I fell in love with. Their website isn’t the greatest, but I believe the yarn is called Lamé. It’s a bulkier weight and has strands of glitter running through it. The booth selling it (called Yarn Deals, LLC) I could not find a website for anywhere, but they had these wicked knitted samples that only need 1 skein:

I especially like the one with the tapered and braided ends. It makes it really easy to wear as a scarf or snood/hood type thing. Gotta remember this design idea for later.

And finally, you may remember Ozzy the Alpaca from yesterday’s post. Today, I leave you with a fortune.