I Knit London

I Knit London, club, shop and sanctuary.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Woolly weekends in West Cumbria

What a scorcher! It's been a HOT weekend and it's getting hotter. Where we were on the hottest weekend of the year so far? We were surrounded by fleece, having a woolly time at Woolfest; we were working on a Whopper and paddling at the seaside...
Woolfest takes place every summer in a glorified cattle shed on the outskirts of Cockermouth in Cumbria and it's our favourite knitting show of the year. With a leaning towards natural fibres there's a huge amount on offer, as well as alpaca and sheep to 'ooh' and 'ahh' at. They always look a bit bored of the camera lenses poking into their faces, or maybe it's just embarrassment at the new short back and sides. This year we spent all day Friday and a little bit of Saturday touring the stands, meeting friends and having a good natter. Gerard was especially (and surprisingly) restrained this year, although his first purchase (cashmere laceweight from Knitwitches) was enough by itself to break the budget. The portable Ashford spinning wheel was calling to him but I persuaded him that we could probably do without it right now! You can see all of our Woolfest photographs in our gallery.
We made more of our weekend away as an excuse to have a short break too. I'm a local lad so we met up with friends and spent the rest of the weekend in their back garden barbecuing veggie burgers and drinking organic pear cider and gin. It was lovely just spending time in the frsh air with only the bees, the chickens and the home-grown salads for company. And Ann and John, of course. On Sunday we made the pilgrimage along the Solway coast to Allonby, a one street village with sea views and a ninety-year-old sweet shop called Twentyman's. Their legendary Allonby Whoppers are a challenge to even the biggest ice cream fans (and the biggest gobs).

Whenever we get the chance to get away from the shop Gerard makes the most of it knitwise. As I'm the designated driver it's his chance to sit back and relax for a few hours and get some knitting done. Gerard gets his best knitting done on the M6 and it's seen some of his best work over the last few years on trips to Liverpool and Carlisle! This year is no exception. Aptly, on the journey up he made headway with Jared Flood's Girasole shawl (pictured) - for sun-worshippers everywhere, this circular laceweight shawl is named after the sunflower. He's knitting one up using a natural, undyed laceweight from Garthenor's organic British wool range. Chris from Garthenor was at the show and was delighted to see the yarn in progress. On the way back to London G started on an ambitious multicoloured intarsia hat from Charlene Schurch's Hats On! collection, using the glorious JC Rennie 4 ply that appeared in the shop last week. While I was contending with the worst hailstorm I've ever had to drive through and 3 mile tailbacks, G only had about a million ends to contend with.
Craig

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Woolfest memories

Straight after Thursday's knitting group meeting Gerard and I travelled oop North for our first Woolfest. I'm a Cumbrian boy, born and bred, but we hadn't had the chance to get up to the show before. Ooh, the excitement was barely contained! After a stop off at a motel outside Preston (nice) we arrived on Friday morning and headed straight for the venue. It was a brilliant event - beneath the metal roof of a giant cowshed were yarns, fleece, sheep and alpacas, angora goats and rabbits, spinners, dyers and fibre fans from all over the place. We spent almost the whole day there, feeling up the fleeces. Gerard had a go with the world's biggest knitting needles (below) (you can have a go too, when Ingrid comes along for I Knit Day in September) and he gained a healthy obsession with the curly Wensleydale sheep and bought his first drop-spindle with a view to being a beginner spinner sometime soon. It was great to meet so many familiar faces and meet up with loads of people who we only know as Ravatars! We saw the sheep shearing and felt compelled to buy a fleece - no idea how we'll wash it, perhaps it'll be a 'gift' for someone...and we scrounged our way around the stands collecting for The Great British Sheep project with some success. Thank you to everyone who got so enthusiastic about it and watch out for our first photos from the fete this weekend. Personally I fell for the Herdwicks (pictured). I want one!

We stayed at a lovely hotel in Cockermouth, the Allerdale Court, and noted that it was pretty much full of knitters too...ProbablyJane's name we spotted in the signing in book, there were little knit sessions in the hallway outside our room, and in the evening knitting in the bar. Even at breakfast we saw the Freyalyn witch (sans hat as the ceilings were too low). We loved it so much we went back on Saturday for more! Our boot was stuffed by the end of it all and our pockets a bit lighter.

But this being my 'home country' there were friends to catch up with, family to visit and amazing views to be taken in, plus sampling some local beer here and there. On Sunday we headed off to the fantastic Kirkstile Inn in Loweswater for a post-Woolfest knitting group meeting. If anything it was worth it for the drive and the spectacular location, nestled at the foot of Mellbreak and with stunning views...and the sun even came out for us! A perfect end to the weekend, and thanks to those who made the journey there to join us. Heading back to the motorway we both felt like we were hoping for a reason to make us turn back.
You can see all of our Woolfest Weekend 2008 photos now in our Flickr gallery.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Carlisle, capital of....?


Last weekend we took a short break up to the Lakes and my hometown, Carlisle. Doesn't it look lovely with all the Christmas lights out? Sadly, I was a bit disillusioned by the way the place turned. Every time I go back it feels like the heart's been ripped out of the place - and just how many pubs and clubs does Carlisle need? There's a particular area of town that's been the major part of the city 'regeneration'...and all they have to show for it is a few hundred yards of bars, bouncers and pools of puke. I'm sure I'm upsetting some folk here, but I do love Carlisle, it's history, it's location and it's small-town feel, but each time I go back there's something else that makes me wonder if the council are out for making a quick pound at the expense of the city. The clincher this time was where once stood a bookshop now stands a KFC! And still no theatre.



Anyways, rant over. We spent much of our time out and about in the countryside. A very close pal, Ann (above in my new knitted hat that didn't fit my big head), moved out of town into the back of beyond last year and it was the first time I'd been to see the new cottage. Loved the isolation and the misty view, and the chickens on the run around the garden....her vegetable patch looked a bit worse for wear at this time of year but G and I were jealous as hell about the fact there was even a garden, let alone livestock and homegrown veggies. we are looking forward to our Christmas hamper of damson gin and chutneys. We're trying to convince Ann and John that what they really need is a couple of angora goats and a constant supply of fibre for IKL.

We went to a medieval fayre while we where there. G was chased by ladies of a certain age after he asked after the price of stained glass candle holder; it wasn't for sale , 'but I can make you one if you are desperate'. We got lots of cakes instead. Far left is the delightful homemade mead which went down a treat. This was in the REAL back of beyond at Roadhead (find it on a map!) in 'Reiver country' (we Carruthers are descended from the Reivers who terrorised the Borders way back in the day).

Yes, that is a real pig's head!

This is a shrew. Cats are lovely, no? Another peril of country living - Ann's cats bring her lots of gifts:



There was something small and kidney shaped not far away from the shrew. There were also some entrails on the sofa. Neither the kidney or the entrails belonged to the shrew. We found all this when we went back to Ann's to lock up the chickens, just before we went for dinner.

We had a great time, it was difficult to come back, but we have so much knitting to do!

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