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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Rhinebeck

So this was my first year experiencing the yarn mecca that is Rhinebeck. Needless to say it surpassed all expectations.

When we first got there, we had quite a line ahead of us.

and then even more started to assemble behind us…

As uninitiated, we were a little worried we might be in for a long wait. But once the gates were open we sailed in and past some beautiful New England (or close to it anyway) foliage.

     

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we were sure to wear handknits. Though that probably goes without saying.

Here is a summary of some of my favourite sights. Most photos are my own, some are the work of Off the Hook Astronomy and Happy Seamstress.

The typical country fair staple of judging entries was not to be missed. The fair is so large there are entries from all over. It’s really the cream of the crop here.

Sheep-to-Shawl!

     

      

Look at all that fibre fluff.

Speaking of fluff.

Believe it or not, this is not wool roving, it’s actually delicious delicious maple cotton candy.

Though some members of our group felt compelled to taste actual roving…

You have to be one of us fibre freaks to get it.

Speaking of eats, omg apple cider donuts.

I think the look on my face says it all.

Besides food, there were also animals. Super cute fibre-producing animals (the best kind!).

The underbite kills me.

Llamas are actually quite affectionate. Who knew?

SO FLOOFY!

That right there is a cashmere goat.

And here is a paco vicuña:

Not only are they the cutest of camelids, they make delightful, if expensive, fibre. This skein from Victory Farms shares my name! Alas I didn’t have the budget to actually buy one…

A final animal-related thing I have to share:

Voilà my video of the leaping llama show.

On our last night in town we sampled some local food: AKA The Melting Pot fondue restaurant! We don’t have fondue restaurants in Canada, so we got really excited. The fact that we filled up on chocolate alcoholic drinks before we got our food after a long day of walking around Rhinebeck probably didn’t help…

But I digress…

Finally, here is a summary of the goodies I brought home.

Beautiful hand dyed roving from Briar Rose Fibers and a drop spindle from David Reed Smith. I got the Susan model for fine weights. I highly recommend it.

I also got some angora rabbit for only $10. Second quality, but it will be great for spinning in with other fibres. I also picked up a gorgeous shade of blue silk and merino roving from Pucker Brush Farm. I’ll post a photo soon.

Greener Shades environmentally friendly dye starter kit.

Some soft leather for putting grips on gloves or slippers from Bittersweet Baskets and Homestead Handles.

Silk hankies from Sheepshed.

And, the pièce de résistance… a SPINNING WHEEL.

Tali likes it too.

It’s a Roadbug from The Merlin Tree. SUPER portable.

Last minute gifts to make

Here’s a copy of a blog post I did for work. Enjoy!

Link to the original: Last minute gifts to make.

Ok, so it’s not really last minute if you’re shopping, but if you plan on making gifts to give this holiday season, the time to start is now!

Here are some great books full of instructions and inspiration.

(click on a title for link to item)

For those who celebrate Christmas:

Index

Index4

Index2

Or any of these other titles.

Or perhaps you celebrate Hanukkah?

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See more here.

How about Kwanzaa?

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See more here.

And then there are resources everyone can use:

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more card making resources here.

Maybe you have a particular craft you’re drawn to?

If you’re a knitter like me you might want to try searching for books with patterns for knitted gifts, such as this one:

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Or, if you aren’t the fastest knitter (also like me) or are running out of time (me again), try some of the quick-n’-easy patterns in these books:

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Into paper crafts? Want to make someone their very own unique fabric-bound journal? Try a search like this, to get books like this:

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Beading? Try a search like this one to get books like this:

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Wood working? How about searching for books like this:

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The possibilities are endless.

And don’t forget to have a gander at our librarian Recommended Websites too.

Happy Holiday Handcrafting!

Happy Holidays indeed

I love where I work. One of my lovely coworkers and fellow crafter offered to crochet a cat bed for Desmond. Voilà le résultat fabuleux!

Verdict = success

Last night the Knitters’ Drop-In program that I run at the library had their holiday party. I was pleasantly surprised to be given some lovely gifts and cards! I’m so touched 🙂

Post-festival

Well, I didn’t get it finished in time 😥

So close though! Ok, maybe about half-way… but I got the entire green section and one blue done in 2 hours! Evidently if I’d not procrastinated and been distracted by other, more shiny projects I’d have had it finished in time. Here comes the guilt setting in! To make amends with the universe, I feel I must promote another charitable craft-related campaign. If you are a reader of crafting magazines (and really, who isn’t?) please consider renewing and/or getting your subscription through Nazareth House‘s fundraising campaign. Located in Toronto, Nazareth House is a supportive non-denominational community that provides a home-like environment to women at risk and their infants. Over the past twenty-five years, Nazareth House has been a safe haven for over 1,000 women and 160 children. Over 650 of the magazine titles are available at up to 85% off the newsstand price. 37% of proceeds goes to Nazareth House.

And now on to my Creativ Festival adventure! It was a great experience. Next year I’ll definitely plan to go for an entire day so that I can see more. 2.5 hours just isn’t enough! That being said, I did come home with some great finds 🙂

 

 

Books!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Possibly my favourite, albeit impulsive, purchase: this handmade wooden shawl pin from The Woodlot‘s booth. Now I just need to finish my shawl to go with it.

 

 

 

 

 

And of course, yarn! I was really impressed that it was $1.85 for 100% wool.

 

 

 

 

I also bought this kit to make a framed piece of felted artwork. I always thought felting was… blah. I never much liked the look of felted knitwear – I’ve only ever seen old ladies wearing felted pieces (granted an aunt once gave me a felted tea cozy that was quite cute, but the difference is it is not a wearable nor worked in the bright 80s-esque hues and pastels one sees so often). Little did I know you could use wool to both paint and sculpt in addition to knitting and crochet! Further justification of my obsession!

A week through pictures

It’s been a busy week! Here’s a montage of the nature-y, home-makin’ goodness I’ve been up to.

The boyfriend’s parents have an orchard of sorts. Perhaps we took a little too much home this weekend…

This was the result:

Met up with the bro on Tuesday. We had a Toronto wilderness adventure, which included this (attempt) at tree climbing.

The mits are off to a slow start, but look! the cuff is almost done. Plus I get to show off my seasonally-hued nails 😉

My prize from Knit Like You Mean It’s book giveaway came yesterday!

and to boot a fabulous coworker thought of me and my yarn obsession and picked up this keychain for me. I was so touched!

(yes, I also have a TARDIS on my keychain. Keychains are cool.)