a yarn-y one; pt. I

Ok, so, originally my blog was meant to be pretty much about crafting – yarn, knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery, weaving, everything… So here is probably the first relevant post! I’ve been making and buying a lot since I started blogging, so maybe it’s best to break it down.

I’ll start with the recent stuff, the stuff that’s fresh in my mind and that is… Edinburgh Yarn Festival! I live in Newcastle at the moment and Edinburgh really isn’t that far for me, about 1,5 hours on the train so we made a day of it. Morning at the yarn festival, afternoon for wandering. I was super super lucky that my boyfriend came with me, this is the second yarn festival I’ve dragged him around (the first was Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show!) and he feigns interest like a hero. I thought I had a plan with what I wanted and took plenty of cash in preparation and then… I kinda threw a strop because I wanted everything.

The first stop was the Loop London stall and this is a yarn shop that I would LOVE to visit – in my head it’s this little magical grotto in the big city filled with wonderful squishy yarn and happy, wooly people. I hope I haven’t set my hopes too high…! But anyway, I knew that I wanted some sock blockers. I find them pretty expensive for a fancy shaped piece of wire, but when I’ve finished knitting my socks, I really want to show them off. And they always look a little bit rubbish when I try and photograph them. So that was the first thing ticked off my list. And then… ahhhh…. they had some skeins of Madeline Tosh yarn scattered across their table. I’ve heard so much about this yarn in the blogosphere but, if I’m spending > £20 on a skein of yarn, I need to see it, feel it, squish it before I part with my cash. O m G this yarn is a dream.

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It’s in the colour way ‘Scout’ and, of course, it’s going to be a pair of socks. Maybe it’s a waste to be using 100% merino yarn for socks but OH they’ll be so soft!! I’m thinking maybe white cuffs, heels and toes and I’m still not too sure whether to use a pattern or stick to a good old vanilla sock… I also got a lovely canvas bag with my purchases so this will make a wonderful project bag for this years jumper – when I get around to it!

After my Loop purchases, I wandered round all of the other little stalls. SO many indie dyers that I have wanted to squish the yarn for for too long – Eden Cottage Yarns, The Knitting Goddess, Coop Knits amongst a few. And then some others, TOFT is always always always a favourite (I bought *another* beautiful alpaca pom pom!) and had a wander about the John Arbon range – the Knit by Numbers. I’ve heard good things – and it’s only about £12 for a 100 g skein… It’s around then that I had a little meltdown, there was SO much wonderful yarn and I wanted it all.

I re-visited the Coop Knits stall and purchased some of their ‘Socks Yeah!’ yarn. I think the book will be my next purchase which you can find here. I bought 5 skeins: 2 x Chryso (the blue),  2 x Ammonite (the pink) and 1 x Sphene (the yellow). I’m thinking of a pair with cuffs, heels and toes made out of the yellow, with the main body striped in the other two colours. If I’m lucky, I might get another pair of out them too!

coop knits yarns

I also picked up a set of HiyaHiya 2.5 mm dpns for my socks, I’ve been knitting on some of the Karbonz but 1. I hate the name and 2. they’re going a bit of a funny colour on the ends – like a copper-y colour I think from contacting my skin so much and they drag the yarn a bit so they aren’t always the most wonderful needles…

The final things I bought were from the Brooklyn Tweed stall. I’ve not really come across this brand before, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it mentioned. The thing that drew me there was the perfect array of skeins, organised by weights and then split into colours. So. Many. Colours. The love of organisation inside of me dragged me over for a closer look… Now one of the things I was thinking of knitting was a pair of mittens for my mam – I’ve promised that I’d knit her something and nothing has ever headed her way yet. So I thought, yes, perfect opportunity to buy some super squishy yarn for a pair of mittens. I picked up 2 x 50 g skeins of the ‘Old World’ colour way in the ‘Shelter’ yarn – 2 skeins in the hope that there will be some left over for a pair for myself! It’s a worsted weight yarn, which I’m guessing is about Aran weight? 4.5 – 5.5 mm needles are recommended so they should make a lovely pair of mitts! It’s a lovely, deep, mottled purple colour and really squishy. I also bought a 100-ish g skein of the ‘Quarry’ yarn in the ‘Lazulite’ colour way. It’s kind of deep blue with flecks of lighter blues and greys in there. This is a chunky weight, so 6-8 mm needles and I’m thinking this will be a hat for my boyfriend – now I just have to find the right pattern!

brooklyn tweed yarn

Listing everything here doesn’t actually make me think that I bought a whole lot, but trust me, my bank balance was screaming at me to stop! I think in hindsight I would have picked up some of the Eden Cottage yarns (I went to their stall twice and squished and squeezed the yarn but didn’t purchase any!) and maybe some of the Knit by Numbers in cream for the cuffs, heels and toes of the socks with my Madeline Tosh yarn. But I guess I’ll find something!

We headed back into the city and wandered around the National Museum of Scotland, such a beautiful building with some wonderful exhibitions! Then, after a few pints and watching the Eng v Sco rugby game, we headed back home to Newcastle…

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Until next time Edinburgh, you beautiful city!

Jess xo

 

 

wroclaw, december

7 months later….

For the last few years, me and my boyfriend have taken a trip around winter time. Last year was Copenhagen which I absolutely LOVED. This year, we were kinda stuck. We swayed from Tallinn to Riga, from Stockholm to Vilnius, from Oslo to St. Petersburg. But, well, the deciding factor was £30 return flights from Newcastle to Wroclaw with Ryanair.

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I’d never heard of Wroclaw before, as I guess most people haven’t… Ok, so, some background info.

1.) It is the 4th largest, most western city of Poland.

2.) Wroclaw has been part of Germany, Prussia, Hungary, Bohemia, the Austrian Empire and, since 1945, part of Poland after the World War II.

3.) It has been chosen for the European Capital of Culture for 2016.

4.) It has a really weird pronunciation. It’s kinda pronounced ‘Vrots-waf’ (if you look on Wikipedia, there’s a link of a man saying it if anyone is really interested!)

 

We booked an airbnb which was fantastic – the room even came with a hammock!

 

The old town, Stare Miasto and the market square, Rynek felt very festive with a huge Christmas tree up, along with the Christmas markets lining the street.

We had some mulled wine and tried some Polish cheese called ‘oscypek’. Its cooked on the stalls and tastes a bit like halloumi (which is always a good thing!) There is also a fantastic-ly wonderful doughnut (ponchki) shop which we kind of stumbled upon. It’s called Stara Pączkarnia and they do so many different flavours, from strawberry to nutella to rose to peach to blueberry to apple to toffee… It seems like there is usually a huge queue outside, so I guess you know it’s gonna be good! There’s no photos included because, er, I was too busy eating I guess…..

We went on a free walking tour, which I can highly, highly recommend. They run everyday and the one we went on, the ‘Old Town’ tour lasts about 2-2.5 hours. The guide we had, Piotr, had lived and studied in the city and knew a lot about Wroclaw (including good places to eat and drink!) You can find more info here. We wandered through the old town and towards the University, from there to the market hall and finishing up in Ostrów Tumski, the oldest part of the city. At dusk, there is a man who wanders round the area in traditional costume, lighting the oil lamps, returning again at dawn to turn them off. We managed to catch him just near the cathedral at the end of our tour.

We also took a trip to the University museums, which for about £2.50 gets you entry to all areas, including up the mathematic tower giving panoramic views of the city.

As part of the city being the European Capital of Culture 2016, Wroclaw was host to the European Film Awards. This was happening the weekend we had visited and there were screenings of some of the films nominated for 6 PLN, or about £1. We decided to go and watch I, Daniel Blake, with the screening including a Q&A session with the director, producer and writer. I thought the film was fantastic and discussed the poverty that people in our own country are living in and the systematic problems of how it is being dealt with. The film is set in Newcastle, which has always been local and is now where I am currently living, so it hit pretty close to home for me. One thing which is shown in the film is the use of food banks and how their usage has soared over the last few years of a Conservative government. They prepare emergency food parcels for people who literally cannot afford to feed their families and have given out millions of these packages over the last few years, a heartbreaking proportion of these going to children. If you want to learn more, or find out how to donate/volunteer, you can find the link here.

But anyway, if you fancy a trip to a city full of history, colourful houses and good doughnuts, I can definitely recommend!

 

Jess xo

april

april has passed and it’s now may… i’m not sure how that happened.

tulips

i also finished my first ever pair of knitted socks. i followed the tutorial here, it’s so clear and full of photographs. i got stuck on a few parts, such as picking up stitches, but there’s plenty of useful youtube videos that can really help along the way.

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i knitted them for a friend’s birthday and she has modelled them so beautifully…

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so i am really happy with how they turned out… if your interested, here are some details from the pattern:

i knitted from the cuff down, casting on 60 stitches with a k2p2 rib for 16 stitches. then, i just knit round and round for the leg for 60 rows, then i knitted the heel flap following the tutorial (35 rows in total) and then shaped the heel. i picked up 19 stitches either said, as shown in the tutorial (i didn’t even have 19 loops to pick up, so i just ‘found’ them!) and decreased until i had the original 60 stitches left on my dpns. for the foot, i knitted 48 rows before i started to decrease, although this varies with foot size – these were for a size 6 (UK) pair of socks and they fitted perfectly. for the toe, i decreased until there was 8 stitches left on each needle, and i grafted those with the kitchener stitch, which is brilliantly detailed in the tutorial. and a pair of socks were born!!

the yarn i used was the Regia Arne and Carlos Design Line in the colour way ‘Fall Night Colour’ which is £5.19 for a 50 g ball here, and you’ll need 2 x 50 g balls to knit a pair of socks.i  really love this yarn, it’s so clever the way it knits up and produces a fair isle looking pattern, rather than plain stripes. i’ve got a ball of the ‘Summer Night Colour’ too, hopefully one day i’ll have a pair in every colour….

another of my crafty ventures was sewing up my first ever cushion cover, using some fabric i found at IKEA.

the inner was about £1.50, and the fabric was only £4 per metre, i bought some of the dark floral fabric and some cream fabric for the back of the cushion. you need a sewing machine, but it was pretty easy and i followed this very handy IKEA guide to making envelope backed cushions. i made my cushion as if it was 40 x 40 cm instead of 50 x 50 cm, just to make it a bit plumper, and it fitted perfectly. however, if i were to make it again, i’d make the back panels a bit bigger because i didn’t get a very good overlap (probably because i had made the cushion fatter). i added a few press studs into the back and it was fine. changing cushion covers are a really cheap and easy way to change the look of a room, and extra cushions are always a good thing, right?

xo

 

sicilia

after bagging some bargain flights to Catania, Sicily, we stayed in a small town called Taormina, which is quite high up in the hills. it really is probably one of the most beautiful, picturesque towns i’ve ever, ever seen! we stayed for 3 nights in a little hotel on the main street, we ate pizza and pasta everyday and drank local wine (which was pretty good!) the photos above show the main square with a view of Mt Etna and the public gardens, along with one of the hundred of orange trees growing everywhere! the town itself isn’t on the coast, but we got a bus down to the beach for about €1. there is usually a cable car running from Taormina to the beach, but it was out of order, so we braved the crazy drivers and the hairpin bends down the mountain – and it was so worth it…

… as you can see, we got some pretty good weather! we found a quiet beach, with lots of local people chilling and taking their boats out to sea and, as we walked further around, we found another stretch of beach containing the Isola Bella park. as you walk along the beach, there is a small stretch of sand leading to a small island and, as the tide starts to come in, the pathway gets more flooded and you have to paddle back to the main shore. you can kinda see what i mean by the panorama i took below – where I’m stood on the small island facing the mainland beach and you can spot a few people paddling through the gap!P1020103

we had local sweet drink/dessert too, called ‘granite’. to me, they seem like a mix between a slush puppie and a sorbet, and they’re a sicilian thing made from fresh fruit and produce. my favourite was the lemon and orange! they’re served with a thick cream on top and a brioche bun to dip – it sounds really strange, but it was so, so good!

and sitting at the heart of this little town is an ancient, greek amphitheatre built in third century BC! (according to wikipedia…) it’s condition is amazing, it’s weathered pretty well 2300 years on and you can pay a couple of euros to go in and explore

apart from feeling like you’ve gone back in history, you also get some amazing views of the city and the coastline! i looooove these cool cacti they had growing everywhere.

although back to rainy Manchester for quiet Easter. the final push through my university degree and onto the real world!

x

barcelona

 

one thing i really, really love is being on holiday. every chance i can get – i try to get away, every break between university terms is a chance to travel, which isn’t always easy on a student budget! my friend is living in barcelona at the moment so with free accommodation, i couldn’t really afford not to go, right?

we flew ryanair from manchester which is ideal and 4 days exploring didn’t set us back much more than €150 (although we didn’t eat out at all really!)

the above pictures are from when we visited la Sagrada Família. if you can afford it, pay pay pay the entrance fee to get in. last time we visited, it was too tight to pay it, but you seriously cannot appreciate it without visiting the inside. i was surprised at how beautiful and modern it is – the height of it is huuuuge and the stained glass windows let streams of colours into the building. work on it is still going on – it’s expected to be finished around 2026 i think, so we’ve still got 1o years to wait!

we also did a little day trip to a place about an hour outside of barcelona called montserrat – a mountain which has a monastery sitting at the top. you can get a ticket from plaça d’españya for €20 which is a return train fare and includes the rack railway or cable car from the station up which i thought was pretty reasonable. however…. we must have picked the WORST day to visit, it was super foggy – so foggy that we couldn’t even see the monastery in front of us!! however, there was no fog inside i guess and the interior of the basilica was incredible, just so ornate and beautiful. hopefully i can go back in the sunshine because the views are meant to be amazing!

barceloneta beach is beautiful – even though it was super cold…

… and these were some view of the city we got.

there seems to be so much of the city left to explore so, until next time Barcelona! xo

spring

is it the start of spring yet? some of my photos suggest so….

…but the rain is not relenting anytime soon! i’ve just broken up from uni this week for a lovely 4 weeks off (although with a huge report to write and a lot to revise, i think i should probably get out of that mindset!) and i went with my mam to Sheffield for the evening. we stayed in a lovely  hotel and got to use the pool and the sauna rooms with breakfast included (the best part!). the hotel led right out onto the Winter Gardens which i thought were amazing – they’re like a jungle within the city centre

i have to admit, it’s really the first time i’ve ever been to sheffield and i wasn’t expecting it to be so pretty! there are hundreds of bars and restaurants and some decent shopping too, so it would be nice to go back again.

i’ve also been knitting my first ever sock! i bought some self striping sock yarn, of which the novelty is still yet to wear off! i’m knitting it for my boyfriend who has huge feet (like size 12?) so i cast on about 80 stitches, which i think may have been too many…. i’ve been following the sock pattern here which is a fantastic tutorial – i’m a terrible knitter and i’ve managed to get this far!

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i’ve turned the heel and now i’m just knitting the foot. the sock yarn i’m using is the Regia Arne & Carlos limited edition yarn (you can find it on woolwarehouse, although i bought mine in a yarn shop in town) – it’s listed as £8.99 for 100 g so that should make two socks! however…. i split my ball into two approx 50 g balls, to make two socks, but i’m slightly worried i’m going to run out! so it could become a very expensive pair of socks… but it’s going ok for my first pair i think!

i’m going to Barcelona tomorrow for a few days, so hopefully there will be some pretty pictures to come.

xo

hello!

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hi! my name is Jess and this is my first ever blog post – hooray! i’ve had blogs before, there’s probably numerous of my tried and failed attempts at keeping a blog out there on the www so hopefully this won’t just be another. i’ve used blogger in the past, and it’s super popular, but i’ve just never managed to make it look quite how i like it, so i tried wordpress and it seems a little better. this blog is mainly just a journal for me, a place where i can keep track of my travels, my crafts and my thoughts but it would be lovely to share with people too. it’s also a place for me to keep track of blogs that i lOvE rather than just keeping them all in my memory. i’m going to try and set aside a certain hour of every Sunday evening to just sit down and write a little about my week – so it’s just like writing in a diary really and a chance to reflect on the good (and also maybe the not so good) things.