Woolly weekend randoms

OMG where does the time go? There's been a lot of travel and goings-on in the last couple of weeks (who am I kidding - months!) and I'm sorry the blog is just one of those things that seems to fall by the wayside.

This picture pretty much sums up the fun we had this weekend! L-R: Dani, Catherine, me and Rachel

This picture pretty much sums up the fun we had this weekend! L-R: Dani, Catherine, me and Rachel

I spent this past weekend recharging my batteries in the company of my girlfriends - all of whom are truly amazing, beautiful, clever, wonderful women. I'm so lucky to have them in my life and am so thankful to have found a group of stitchy friends as dear to me as my gals back home.

Some of you may remember my tweeting this photo of Rachel and Alison following last year's successful jaunt to Wonderwool Wales.

Some of you may remember my tweeting this photo of Rachel and Alison following last year's successful jaunt to Wonderwool Wales.

In the last couple of weeks we managed to throw together a slightly planned yet slightly impromptu excursion to Wonderwool Wales and it was just perfect.

There were alpacas.

There were alpacas.

Baa Ram Ewe won a ribbon.

Baa Ram Ewe won a ribbon.

Catherine took the Mercedes of spinning wheels for a test drive.

Catherine took the Mercedes of spinning wheels for a test drive.

We made new friends at the new  Midwinter Yarns .

We made new friends at the new Midwinter Yarns.

Shetland sheep were there too.

Shetland sheep were there too.

This knitter very kindly let me get a photo of her awesome skulls cardi.

This knitter very kindly let me get a photo of her awesome skulls cardi.

The rainbow of SweetGeorgia colour was proudly on display at the Purlescence booth.

The rainbow of SweetGeorgia colour was proudly on display at the Purlescence booth.

While  Kettle Yarn' s Islington was also very popular (and so sweetly displayed!).

While Kettle Yarn's Islington was also very popular (and so sweetly displayed!).

My stash haul included the new ChiaoGoo DPNs kit - although technically that's for work and not stash!

My stash haul included the new ChiaoGoo DPNs kit - although technically that's for work and not stash!

There was also yarn for a new design project, and a kit to try something new.

There was also yarn for a new design project, and a kit to try something new.

Why yes, that is a new yarn bowl. And glass spiral shawl pin, and a very restrained single skein of "non-work" yarn.

Why yes, that is a new yarn bowl. And glass spiral shawl pin, and a very restrained single skein of "non-work" yarn.

And the time in the car was spent productively too!

And the time in the car was spent productively too!

Thank you so much for your patience as I get back to finding my blogging groove. Blogtacular is in a few weeks. I'm sure it will help.

Interruption

I'm interrupting the marathon of rainbow crochet squares and squeaking in this post to bring you a little update of my day trip to Paris last Thursday.

And now, it's on to the borders!

And now, it's on to the borders!

(Even after living in London for a year and a half I'm still tickled to be able to say that I went to Paris "for the day". If I'm honest, I'm not sure the novelty will wear off!).

Catherine, Alli and Karen ready to catch that 7:01am train!

Catherine, Alli and Karen ready to catch that 7:01am train!

The girls and I were at St. Pancras bright and early to catch the Eurostar to Paris. Catherine and I had planned this for a while but Karen ended up visiting due to work and happily decided to crash our party!

We were traveling down for L'Aiguille en Fete and decided to mix things up a bit this year by not heading directly to the show first thing.

We still haven't figured out how Karen didn't buy anything on this trip. At. All.

We still haven't figured out how Karen didn't buy anything on this trip. At. All.

Instead we decided to introduce Karen to the wonders of La Droguerie. None of us bought anything, choosing instead to save ourselves for the stitching show. I did price out some lovely merino/silk singles to make a wonderful cowl though. Since I'm going back to Paris in April I'm letting that simmer on the back burner for now...

Having a glass of wine while we wait before lunch at Le Boudoir. Have the tasting menu - it's divine.

Having a glass of wine while we wait before lunch at Le Boudoir. Have the tasting menu - it's divine.

After La Droguerie we headed to the trendy Champs Elysee and Franklin Roosevelt area for an extremely leisurely (3 hours!!) lunch. And then we were on to the Porte de Versailles for the show!

Aimee holds down the fort at the popular L'Oisive The et Tricot booth where knitters were two and three deep to check out the lovely yarns.

Aimee holds down the fort at the popular L'Oisive The et Tricot booth where knitters were two and three deep to check out the lovely yarns.

Since it was opening day we knew that the show was going to be a little crazy, but thank goodness it was less so than last year! Our hope that the crowds would have thinned by the mid afternoon seemed to have come true. The show also seemed slightly smaller than last year and one of the vendors said that the aisles had been widened so that likely factored in making a difference too.

I love the subtlety of colour in this French hand-dyed yarn.

I love the subtlety of colour in this French hand-dyed yarn.

Catherine and I were both tempted by some lovely pretties. I got a skein of French hand-dyed yarn and a vest's-worth of Icelandic lopi yarn (the same that I opted not to get last year - I figured if I'd been thinking about it for a year, I should probably get it!) and while I was tempted by plenty else, I stuck to what I had been on the look out for on my mental shopping list.

We even managed to see the Eiffel Tower - sort of...

We even managed to see the Eiffel Tower - sort of...

As the show wrapped up it's first day we headed back to the Gare du Nord with plenty of time to clear customs and purchase a bottle of champagne to enjoy on the train back as we knitted merrily away.

I wonder who will join us next year?

I wonder who will join us next year?

Roadtrip recap: The Small Wool Gathering

Things continue to move at breakneck pace here and it's been a whirlwind with Karen's two week visit, which wrapped up this past Saturday. The week before we were fortunate enough to gather with some other P3 alumni and knitting friends in a beautiful country house near Berkeley for a weekend of relaxing, knitting, spinning, and general un-winding.

Want to see some pictures? 

 

Avebury Henge - a delightful yet slightly soggy detour on our way to the retreat!  

Avebury Henge - a delightful yet slightly soggy detour on our way to the retreat! 

  Not quite as big as Stonehenge...

 Not quite as big as Stonehenge...

  ...but plenty big enough!

 ...but plenty big enough!

Our first stop along the way was Avebury - a recommendation of our monthly spinning hostess Caro and it was an excellent one! The henge is quite large and spread out by comparison to Stonehenge (you can see how the village is quite close and even a road runs through part of it!) but with significantly less crowds of visitors. The chilly, blustery day may have also had something to do with it, but it was nice to stretch our legs and wander around the gorgeous serenity of this place.

  A sweet yarn shop tucked away on a cobblestone side street from Bath's centre square.

 A sweet yarn shop tucked away on a cobblestone side street from Bath's centre square.

Our next stop was Bath where we found an adorable yarn shop named Wool - appropriately enough. Maybe next time we'll be able to see a bit more of Bath itself!

And finally we were off to Peddington Manor for the retreat and where I forgot to take any pictures of the venue itself!  Click the link though to see the post with the gorgeous pics that Catherine took earlier in the year to whet our appetite for The Small Wool Gathering.

Class gets underway with the delightful Amy Singer from Knitty  

Class gets underway with the delightful Amy Singer from Knitty 

It was one thing to say (in the face of the cancelled P3 retreat for this fall) that we'd all get together anyway, but quite another to actually organise the logistics for a dozen or so women! Catherine and Jenny did a bang up job and we were happy to be the guinea pigs as they launch this venture in their retirement - how exciting!

Sally was wearing these fab sparkly gloves at the Saturday night dinner where we were encouraged (but not obligated!) to "go a little glam".

Sally was wearing these fab sparkly gloves at the Saturday night dinner where we were encouraged (but not obligated!) to "go a little glam".

  Over the top: I decided to wear the MOH dress from my BFF Lisa's wedding this summer. If you look closely, my left sleeve isn't quite finished. The ball of yarn is in my pocket!

 Over the top: I decided to wear the MOH dress from my BFF Lisa's wedding this summer. If you look closely, my left sleeve isn't quite finished. The ball of yarn is in my pocket!

To their credit, Catherine and Jenny did an amazing job of not only keeping us well fed but also ensuring that things wonderfully low-key and relaxed. Peddington Manor had lots of nooks and crannies for small groups of knitters and spinners to come together, and the workshops on offer from Knitty editor Amy Singer were diverse in their subjects and skills. At the same time, they were also comfortable and without any pressure, which is a unique talent the Amy has for making students in her classes feel at ease.

  Some samples from my experimenting following Amy's Digital Camera Secrets for Knitters class. 

 Some samples from my experimenting following Amy's Digital Camera Secrets for Knitters class. 

  Amy even made new spinners!

 Amy even made new spinners!

After three very full days it was hard to believe that it was time to head for home already. But how nice to do so while feeling refreshed and well rested, inspired with new creativity, and that it was a productive time too! 

Roadtrip recap: Yarndale 2013

Today was the opening of the annual Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace - or Ally Pally as they say here. Coupled with a serious tidy up of the home office (and where my stash lives) I've been completely in a buzz this evening as the possibilities of projects abound!

Which meant I had no excuse not to share with you my photos from another yarn-y adventure on the road - Yarndale!

  A very welcoming entrance at Yarndale

 A very welcoming entrance at Yarndale

 

Yarndale happened the week after the Yarn Crawl so it was a welcome getaway to look forward to. Once again I was on my own as apparently it is just as complicated to go to Skipton for the day as it is to make one's way up to Cumbria for Woolfest for the day so people thought I was a little mad for even attempting to do it in a day. 

Not easily deterred, I headed off to Kings Cross Station in the wee hours and caught the 7am train north towards Leeds where I would transfer to Skipton. I knew Linda was heading up with Renee (another fab volunteer from the Yarn Crawl!) and as luck would have it we ended up on the same train. Fab knitting company, especially when we had a slight delay before getting into Leeds.

Eventually we made it though - and wow: 

  Can you believe this was Yarndale's first year? 

 Can you believe this was Yarndale's first year? 

HUGE. I mean, I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I'd heard that this was Yarndale's first year and boy, talk about knocking it out of the park! The place was packed, the vendors were wonderful and for the most part everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves.

Yarndale collage.jpg

The organisers obviously leveraged their considerable contacts to pull together such a sizeable show. The path from the train station to the auction mart was well signed with yarn bombings of all colours and bunting, bunting, and more bunting! In fact, one of the organisers, Lucy of Attic 24 has written a great blog post on how the bunting came into being

  That's Renee on the left and Linda on the right - tree-hugging the yarn bomb bunting!

 That's Renee on the left and Linda on the right - tree-hugging the yarn bomb bunting!

 

After having had my yarn-y fill, I reconnected with Linda and Renee for a chance to decompress with a class of fizz and show off our purchases to one another before I was off on the train back to London.

  Cheers to a fab yarn-y day!

 Cheers to a fab yarn-y day!

Way to make the most of it! Let's hope the organisers decide to do this one again next year!