Sunday, 13 October 2013

Doing the zombie shuffle

I went up to the Alexandra Palace Knitting and Stitching Show today.  Some years it isn't as crowded on a Sunday, but it was packed this year. There are three huge halls of exhibits and stalls, and many of the aisles were choked with shoppers, which resulted in me doing four hours of the zombie shuffle, slowly moving along with the flow.  It's surprising how much more tiring that is than if you just had to walk normally for four hours.

And for two and a half hours of that my bag was far too heavy because I succumbed to some weighty bargains - oh, how we suffer for our art...

First purchase was an end of product line from Shilasdair, the Skye yarn company, who were selling off their indigo dyed organic cotton for less than a pound a ball.  For £20, I got 18 balls and a promise of a pattern for a cardigan called Carnach (they'd run out so will email it to me). The cotton is lovely and soft.

Then I stumbled across the World of Sewing stand from Kent, which had a few bolts left on their bargain rack at £3 a metre.  A few prints weren't too bad so I bought six metres of each to use as backing fabric for future quilts.  Nice to find this, as backing fabric is so expensive these days.

But the fabric and the yarn together must have weighed about ten pounds so it made for a very heavy knapsack to lug around the rest of the show.  I apologise to anyone whom I inadvertently knocked, I was trying to be very careful.

On a glass artist's stand I found this lovely Christmas card with a reusable glass christmas ornament, for only £4 which I thought was very reasonable.

I spent some time admiring examples of the applique work of the Tentmakers of Old Cairo on one stand.  Very intricate wall hangings at quite reasonable prices, I was tempted by a smaller one but decided it wasn't the right time to buy.  They have a website at

On another stall called Knit Like a Latvian, there was a display of the most amazing mittens, all covered in intricate flowers and geometric patterns.  Apparently they had been selling kits and patterns, but by Sunday were picked almost clean.  They have a website at so I have already ordered my mitten kit from there which costs 19 euros for the yarn and pattern and it looks like it comes in a nice display box as well.

There were loads of other amazing things to see from quilts to beaded things to jewellery to tatting to embroidery, lace making and all sorts of things.  An exhausting show but one of my favourites.

Speaking of lace making, I forgot to blog that a few weeks ago we visited the secondhand bookshop in Osterley who were having a half price clear out sale.  I stumbled across what appeared to be some lacemaker's entire library of bobbin lace making books, as the same name was written on the flyleaf in most of them.  I bought several of the more basic manuals very cheaply as I've always thought that I will try bobbin lace one day.  Who knows, maybe in the new house wherever that is.

I now have physical proof of the stressfulness of trying to move house.  No, it's not the wrinkles on my face, it's the second sock of my Lacy Socks.  I knit it to the same row and stitch count as the first sock.  After I finished the second toe, I tried it on and was baffled to find that it was far too small.  Much laborious counting (not my strong suite) ensued, but I eventually proved to my own satisfaction that the row and stitch count were spot on.  The only explanation is that I was knitting the second sock to a much tighter tension, no doubt because of all the aggro and waiting around I've been doing, not to mention the new job etc.  I had to pull out the toe and knit the sock about an inch longer to get it to fit on my foot, and it still feels tighter around than the first one.  They look nice though. These are knit in Smooshy Dream in Colour which I bought in Providence, New England, but I didn't enjoy knitting with it as it's splitty and feels a bit rough in the fingers.

For anyone who is interested in the housebuying saga, we decided to venture some funds on a survey of the big old period house we saw last Monday.  It has enough room for everything we were looking to have:  sewing room (not huge, but bedroom sized), dollshouse workshop, modelling workshop, knitting room, study etc. and the price seems quite reasonable but we'll see what the surveyor has to say.  The downsides are that it is in a town centre, so no country views, and the town is a bit rough although there are signs that it might be starting to improve with some investment being made.  It has some character, and has been recently renovated so to our inexpert eyes it looked in pretty good shape. And being in the town, it is close to the shops and I will be able to walk to the station, something I wouldn't have been able to do from the country house we lost out on.

I've been knitting away on a pumpkin with the yarn I bought in Oxford last week, and on Clue Two of the Morticia Mystery KAL shawl.  Clue Two was a bit boring, basically just more of the same pattern as Clue One, but I'm almost done and it looks like the lace is phasing into a new pattern now.

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