The Wilds of Canada

Okay, so that's a slightly dramatic title for this blog post. But yes, I am in Canada for the next few weeks! After last summer's four cities in 7 weeks tour, I'm happy to be staying put (mostly) in Calgary this time around.

So much for staying put in Calgary: Mr. H and I had an inadvertent 5-hour layover in Vancouver on our way to Kelowna so we were happily able to meet up with my brother and his wife for lunch. Who says you can't do it all?

So much for staying put in Calgary: Mr. H and I had an inadvertent 5-hour layover in Vancouver on our way to Kelowna so we were happily able to meet up with my brother and his wife for lunch. Who says you can't do it all?

Of course in saying that, I'm writing this from my in-laws in the lovely Okanagan valley where the weather is deliciously hot and there's a lake with a beach that beckons this afternoon. There's also a lovely LYS that I'm hoping will have the perfect buttons as soon as I finish the sweet baby sweater that I've been knitting on this trip. 

While I'm mostly over my jetlag, I'm still taking the time to rest and recharge my batteries on this trip. I also keep thinking about how wonderful Unwind Brighton was and am hanging onto those memories a little while longer before sharing them here. But really, it was amazing and fab!

More soon... 

PS - This post was written using a new app for my blog platform. I hope the formatting is okay! If anything looks weird, please email me or leave a note in the comments! Thanks! xx 

Return to Woolfest

In a fit of insanity week before last I somehow found myself booking a train ticket back up to Woolfest for the day from London. For my North American readers, allow me to explain the insanity.

Early morning scenery when it felt like the rest of the world was still waking up.

Early morning scenery when it felt like the rest of the world was still waking up.

Woolfest is held in Cockermouth, Cumbria - a gorgeous part of the UK known as the Lake District. It's kind of in the middle of the UK, and to be fair, London is kind of near the bottom. Google Maps puts it about 326 miles between the two, which is about 524 kilometers. And that my friends, is a lot of distance to cover in a day in one direction, let alone two!

Did I mention that Woolfest has been running for 10 years now? Amazing support from the UK's knitting community!

Did I mention that Woolfest has been running for 10 years now? Amazing support from the UK's knitting community!

But part of our adventure in living in London is about embracing opportunities when they come our way, and let's face it - as someone who is running her own business and also has the business of being a mum, getting away for any longer period can be more difficult timing-wise, and is also more expensive, so you just do what you gotta do.

The train to take me to Woolfest - or at least part of the way. Probably my favourite train operator in the UK.

The train to take me to Woolfest - or at least part of the way. Probably my favourite train operator in the UK.

So a day trip it was and at 4am I cursed my alarm, got up and was ready for the cab when it arrived at 4:45am to take me to Euston station for the 5:30am train towards Glasgow. Looking back at this time on the blog last year, I think I missed posting about Woolfest because well, my brain was probably mush from all of the faffing about it took to get up there, and the delays, and then re-organising the journey back.

This is the large. Note to self: a small will be fine next time, hell, the small is probably perfect!

This is the large. Note to self: a small will be fine next time, hell, the small is probably perfect!

This year I had the advantage of knowing where I was going, and also what to look for on the Ravelry boards in terms of people sharing rides, or organising buses. And to be frank, I got lucky. I happened upon a lovely little knitting group that had organised a minibus from Blackpool, which would be passing through Lancaster, and then onwards to Cockermouth. Lancaster is on the main train line up to Glasgow, and a straight three hour shot thereabouts on the train from London. All good!

Victoria Magnus welcomes knitters to Eden Cottage Yarns.

Victoria Magnus welcomes knitters to Eden Cottage Yarns.

Aside from a dubious introduction to stinging nettles when I had to beg the bus driver to stop at the side of the road (the result of an overly large cup of coffee. Note to self: don't order the "large" at Euston station - it's freakin' ginormous!) - the trip up was relatively uneventful and meant that we arrived around 11am at Woolfest with plenty of time to wander around and see everything.

I think I take a picture of sheep or alpaca at almost every show I go to!

I think I take a picture of sheep or alpaca at almost every show I go to!

I wish I'd thought to duck outside and take some pictures of the beautiful hills and area where the auction mart is. It's incredibly gorgeous and the weather was so wonderful. By comparison last year it had been chucking it down and the show was so busy on the Friday that one could hardly move up and down the aisles to see everyone's stalls.

Beautiful woven scarves from Laura's Loom.

Beautiful woven scarves from Laura's Loom.

I squee-ed when I saw these lovely vintage sheep.

I squee-ed when I saw these lovely vintage sheep.

My favourite Viola yarn from John Arbon.

My favourite Viola yarn from John Arbon.

The numbers of people enjoying the show seemed down, although organisers said they were on par with last year. As someone on Ravelry posited, perhaps last year there were more partners and children increasing the throng of people as they couldn't really go out and about with the weather so awful! Whatever the case though, it made for a lovely day wandering the stalls with the ability to stop and have a chat with folks for a bit and catch up.

hese lovely knitters were having a great chat when I crashed their party. Lea is wearing an amazing Bohus that she knit herself! So gorgeous!

hese lovely knitters were having a great chat when I crashed their party. Lea is wearing an amazing Bohus that she knit herself! So gorgeous!

This was my favourite part of the day - just having a chance to sit down and meet new knitters and see what they were working on and learn more about them and where they're from. And of course I always love seeing familiar faces too.

A ticket mixup meant I was pleasantly surprised to be in First Class on the train journey home. Might as well enjoy it!

A ticket mixup meant I was pleasantly surprised to be in First Class on the train journey home. Might as well enjoy it!

And now it's on to the next. There's a brand new show on the knit-erary calendar this summer. Unwind Brighton makes it's debut this weekend, 12-13 July 2014. I will be there on the SweetGeorgia stand, and Felicia will be there too - doing a couple of talks on Saturday and her spinning with colour class on Sunday. Come by and say hi!

The posts in my head

I've been having problems with my iPad since around the time that I was in Japan so it's been a tad difficult to blog on the go. And "on the go" I have been! My sincere thanks if you still continue to pop in periodically to see if there's a new post up.

How have I been keeping busy? Well during my lovely holiday and with all that thinking time, I've been sorting out the Champagne Communications side of my business and making things a little more formal. Which, wonderfully, has led to work for some new clients and it feels amazing to be flexing the creative muscle on marketing projects again.

Then there's this year's Great London Yarn Crawl to be planned. Rachel and I have once again been working on the logistics and sorting out some new surprises, new routes, and adding new shops to the mix to keep things fresh and fun for this year. Tickets go on sale on Tuesday, 8 July, and you can mark your calendars now for Saturday, 20 September for the Yarn Crawl itself. 

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Rachel and I also have a couple of other projects in the works, and tested those waters with our first design collaboration - maybe this summer we'll have time to work on a few!

At least I finished the Lady Eleanor Entrelac Shawl!

At least I finished the Lady Eleanor Entrelac Shawl!

And then of course there's been the usual knitting, quilting, traveling and yarn shop exploring! And I really, really promise to get some posts up about all of that soon. I just have to get through Unwind Brighton first!

Nothing to see here but some stripey socks

June already. Is anyone else wondering how 2014 so far has just been moving along so quickly?

Rachel and I have the planning for this year's Great London Yarn Crawl well underway (click the link to read all about it). In fact, the excitement has gotten to be a bit too much for me so I felt the need to cast on this week for a pair of socks to wear to this year's event. 

Just look at that delicious rainbow of colours!

Just look at that delicious rainbow of colours!

The yarn is the Mind the Gap colourway by Trailing Clouds and each one of those stripes is a different coloured line from London's Underground. Clever, eh?

In other news, the winner of the Unwind Brighton Design Competition was announced and it's a simply gorgeous shawl! I even happily have a skein of Kettle Yarn's Islington in a lovely gold colour to knit it. Mmmm... summer knitting!

Watching the Tide

I'm really thrilled to write this post as I feel a bit of a self-proclaimed "knit-by-numbers" kind of girl for the majority of my knitting life, although that's been starting to change in recent years.

The longer version of the cowl was knit in two colours using a slipped stitch in the transition portion to work the two colours. We chose a stitch that mimics water rushing over the rocky beach in Brighton.

The longer version of the cowl was knit in two colours using a slipped stitch in the transition portion to work the two colours. We chose a stitch that mimics water rushing over the rocky beach in Brighton.

Enough of a change I guess, that I was confident enough recently to collaborate on a knitting design with Rachel for the Unwind Brighton Design Competition - a light, lacey cowl that we've called Watching the Tide. Clever girl that Rachel is, she also has her own entry, the wonderful Brighton Dome socks.

The short version can be pulled down around one's shoulders, like a little capelet...

The short version can be pulled down around one's shoulders, like a little capelet...

Happily, our design has been shortlisted! (If you'd like to vote for it, please use the link above - you can vote until midnight on May 31st). We came up with two versions of the cowl, both of which are knit in gorgeous yarns from Eden Cottage Yarns. I knit the single colour version in the Titus 4-Ply - a really delicious 100% British-sourced wool. The fingering weight yarn makes it a little easier to knit that a true lace weight, and provides the right amount of warmth against a soft, summer's breeze.

...or wrapped completely behind the back to turn the cowl into a shrug.

...or wrapped completely behind the back to turn the cowl into a shrug.

The winning design will be printed in the Unwind Brighton programme handed out to people visiting the Marketplace at the show. All other designs will be able to be sold as of the beginning of June. I'll keep you posted on when that happens.