Week 8 – Meeting with My Tribe and not a lot of sock progress

It has been a crazy busy week catching up after a fab weekend in Stockholm so minimal yarning has been achieved. Must try harder, must concentrate more… familiar phrases from my youth!

My girl is still in India and due home tomorrow, I really can’t wait to see her, but it has been gorgeous to see my boy who has been home from Newcastle so it’s been a bit of a one in, one out scenario.

I have often mentioned the importance of seeing what I call my “Tribe” at the weekend. My yarn friends, my kindred spirits. Yesterday I went into Manchester to see my Tribe at Countess Ablaze, to chat, talk yarn, projects, life, some of us have arrived alone and never feel alone by the time we leave, always with new friends and ideas. I love it and it’s a really important part of my life. I liken it to going to the football, that passion and feeling of elation. I often come away from a new skein of something gorgeous too, there’s never a game lost.

I love a walk through the Norther Quarter of Manchester too, the street art is amazing.

I also love a little visit to Oklahoma in Manchester. This is a renowned kitsch delight, it is truly splendid. Perfect for presents a little treats. I have a habit of buying birds which I clip into mimosa branches. I adore them. I’m not sure I can add anymore however as the weight is starting to cause a 45 degree angle lean!

This week I have finished several Audiobooks as travelling gives me this opportunity. Michelle Obama’s Becoming is so inspirational and her calming and reassuringly strong narration just makes you think that woman could do anything. I also listened to Byrony Gordon’s Eat, Drink, Run about her training and preparation for running the London Marathon while battling with mental health issues. It’s not as calming Michelle Obama’s narration but encouraging all the same. This week I am listening to Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends, I am really looking forward to this one, I have heard great things.

And so, until next week. My girl will be back home, and I promise, I will try harder with the yarn. Have a good week!

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48 hrs in Stockholm Part 2

Walk In and Dance Out! When in Stockholm visit the Abba Museum!

It really is hilarious. If like me you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, Abba was pretty much your background music. Whether you think it’s cheesy, fun, you love or hate their music, you have to admit it’s a bloomin’ laugh. As soon as you get off the tram outside the museum you are greeted by a pair of giant silver boots on the roof and you know you’re in for fun, it’s a scream. The gift shop is kitsch and fun, even though they sell a knit your own Agnetha hat which is actually crocheted I’m not being picky… The museum is interactive, you can have photo shoots and karaoke ( could we be the only ones to score 0/5000?) . We loved it, it’s a laugh.

There comes a point when I was Abba’ed out and needed to get back out into the fresh air, I love the cold fresh air. We walked along the harbour back to the centre of town with the locals walking along the harbour, chatting, walking their dogs, on their scooters. Sunday definitely has a relaxed and chilled vibe.

There is a museum for everything and everyone in Stockholm; Boat Museum, Natural History, Pippi Longstocking, Children’s Museum, Modern Art. We went to the Modern Art Museum, it’s my thing, generally bright batty colours.

The museum has Warhol’s, Picasso’s, Modigliani’s and currently has a Gilbert and George exhibition. Check out the knitted placenta below too.

It’s so easy to walk around Stockholm, the underground is amazingly beautiful like an underground art gallery and science expo in one. We got the bus to and from the airport to the city centre so it’s really easy to get about.

We did intend to go to the Photography Museum on Sunday late afternoon, it shuts at 9pm (fab if you’re cramming a lot into a short space of time) but we decided just to slow it down this time, walk and people watch and get meatballs. We know we’ll return to see the Photography Museum soon.

So Meatballs for the People is a fantastic chilled out, relaxed restaurant and serves super tasty great meatballs and mashed potato. OMG! For me it was mash to die for and the meatballs were great too and I don’t like meat. Earlier in the day we had hot dogs ensuring we had pretty much ticked off the Swedish Ikea food offer. The hot dog was lush. Obviously being the fussy non-meat eating meat eater I took it on and loved it.

A slow wander back to the hotel through the streets like Weebles and that was Sunday done. Our early Monday morning flight home meant getting up at 4.30am to get to the airport. That’s fine to make sure we got the most of our weekend. We absolutely loved every minute of our time in Stockholm. The only thing I would say is it is expensive, the Swedes cost of living is high given higher salaries. The only way we could do as much as we did is because there was just the two of us, as a family of four we couldn’t have done as much as we did do, sorry kids!

Before visiting I followed Visit Stockholm on Instagram and they are really helpful, especially with yarn store locations!

And, just because, here’s this one, one more time. Enjoy! Until next time Stockholm, we’d love to return in the summer.

48 hrs in Stockholm Part 1

“Want to go somewhere warm?” he said
“Bugger that” I said, “I want to go to a land where’s there’s yarn!”
A very rare weekend just the two of us so instead of buying Christmas and anniversary presents we decided to go away. I have always wanted to go to Scandinavia. Stockholm won this time.

We stayed in Sodermalm in Hotel Hellstens Malmgard which was perfect for a couple nights in a central location. By choice I don’t do hotels, I really like to relax in a homely environment of an Airbnb, I guess I’m nosy, I like to see how people live, but this hotel suited me just fine; comfortable, boutique like interior, warm and friendly and with a cracking breakfast.

The hotel had some really gorgeous touches; I want geraniums in terracota pots everywhere now, tulip stems in glass vases, crochet linen cushions and lots of wood and natural materials.

We arrived late Friday night so Saturday morning we headed into the centre of Stockholm which is an easy walk through the neighbourhoods, past flower stalls, florists and small independent shops.

The Swedes love their coffee and the coffee houses in Stockholm are cool, comfy and inviting, the textiles covers and throws, the use of wood, natural materials, plants and finishing touches are gorgeous. I love Swedish interior design; simple and easily habitable. It’s just my bag.

Last week the weather had been sub zero, we were really lucky as the weather was about two degrees which was great for walking about. You can layer up, this gives the opportunity to wear all the yarn; cowls, wraps and knitted hats, mitts the lot, smashing. Even though there wasn’t snow underfoot there was a partially frozen sea with icebergs floating out to sea, usually with birds on board enjoying the ride.

The old town, Gamla Stan is very pretty, narrow cobbled streets, little coffee shops, hotels and specialist shops selling copper pans, glassware, paintings and vintage books, a great vibe for easy mooching about.

If you do go to Stockholm I really strongly recommend you take a boat trip around the archipelagos, it is so fantastic to see around the islands and learn a little more about Stockholm from a local tour guide.

We did the one hour boat trip which is long enough when it is only a short weekend trip. The boats are beautiful, varnished wood and painted white with throws and fur seat covers to keep you warm and the beauty of the nature along the way is stunning. I think this was one of my absolute favourite parts of the weekend. For me it’s bliss and made me want to take a summer holiday on one of the islands. Imagine; solitude, books, a tonne of yarn, a boat for the social life when you want it and quiet the rest of the time #buysalotteryticket

And so to yarn.  I wanted to find some yarn shops on Saturday just in case they were shut on Sundays and they were.

Firstly I found Makeri 14.  This is a gorgeous, small shop in the old town, the owner is really friendly holding a good variety of Swedish yarns which is what I was looking for, something I can’t easily get at home. I bought fluorescent yellow mohair and a gorgeous grey Gotland. A perfect combo for crochet or knitting together.

Just round the corner is a small shop called Anntorps Vav a large part of this small shop holds a loom and the owner makes the most stunning throws and blankets from mohair yarn in bright colours. They are to die for, lights as clouds, soft and beautiful but out of my budget starting at about £350 but you have to appreciate the work that has gone into these stunning blankets.

Next yarn shop was Lilet Nystan in Sodermalam, unfortunately I arrived just be closing time so my browsing experience was a little rushed. The shop holds Madeline Tosh, Malabrigio, Gotland yarns and many others. I bought a couple of balls of Lang’s Carpe Diem, picture two below.

It is so easy to stumble upon ice skating in the city centre, I loved this woman in the orange, she was so cool and having a great time, and an ice hockey game in Sodermalm, some tumbles and goals here, check out a few moves in my Instagram stories.

You can not visit Sweden without trying one or two, excusable is three, of these cakes, oh my god! They are so good. The Semla cakes are light, delicious and I became obsessed with hunting them down.

To finish Saturday night we ate pizza at Rost watching a live band local with locals, the atmosphere was fab. I want to move to Stockholm…

Week 7 – Super Soft Wool Crochet Blanket

This week I crocheted a blanket for a customer, I love crocheting these blankets, they grow and grow quickly and are so soft and warm. Ideal pram blankets or for some colour on your sofa. You can find more of my blankets here .

When it’s complete each blanket is carefully wrapped in tissue paper and sealed with a Mamie and Florrie label, it’s the little things, it pleases me as much as I hope it pleases the customer.

It was a busy week last week; on Thursday my girl went on a school trip of a lifetime to India. I can’t tell you how excited I am for her. Her school have an annual trip to a school in Mumbai, they raise money before they go to take sports and craft equipment for children without the privileges our children have. They spend time with the children in the classes and after school clubs in Mumbai, teaching the younger Indian children, playing with them and learning about their culture while also visiting the slums, going to Mass in Hindu temples, taking part in early morning rooftop yoga and next week visiting Goa. I mean!

I would have loved to have done this while at school and now. Her updates are amazing and she’s loving seeing and being within another culture. I think it is so important for our children to see diversity, other cultures, religions and poverty, they need to understand these things, it’s so important.

And so while we have had the rarest opportunity of a child free weekend we decided to go away too. My husband asked if I want to go somewhere warm, bugger off I said, I am going to a land where there is yarn. And for me it meant Scandinavia.

Week 6 – A Super Bright Neon Pink Cowl

This week has been a little busy so a perfect quick project (whilst still knitting socks) has been a super cosy cowl. So soft, so warm and so easy to crochet up. A couple of hours is all it takes.

So easy, here’s all you need to do;

Chain 90 stitches and join to make a ring with a slip stitch – careful to ensure the ring isn’t twisted.
Chain two stitches and treble into every stitch around the ring and joining the last stitch to the first stitch with a slip stitch.
Chain two, this time treble into the back of the stitch below only, not through the “V” you usually see. Continue around again closing the round with a slip stitch.
Continue with as many round as you want or until your yarn has depleted.

I used Countess Ablaze Super Chunky Astronaut Rebelling Against Suburbia yarn, it’s crazy bright, if you don’t want to use such a neon pink there’s Tiffany’s Lipstick and many other colours to choose from. I, however, love a bright Schiaperelli hot pink neon.

This yarn is 130m per skein, if you are frugal with the tension you can get 10 rows per cowl. The middle picture below shows the tiny left over yarn I had after weaving in the ends!

Back in my non Yarnlandia world the mornings have got brighter bring more snow but longer days.

I bought a little bit of sock yarn from my knit group friend Ann who dyes her own yarn Dye of the Tiger and it’s gorgeous. Muted tones which I don’t think I can hid in boots but need to make a shawl instead.

I love hand dyed yarn, not because I’m a yarn snob at all but because I like the fact someone, possibly by someone I know, has learnt the skills, chosen the colours, base and taken the time to create a skein. That is very special.

And best of all, Saturday brought my Girl’s 17th birthday! We ate at Rudy’s Pizza in Manchester which was delicious, had a drink at Mackie Mayor and mooched about the shops. I love Manchester, I may have mentioned that. and I love my girl too. Happy Birthday Lily!

If you do make a cowl like mine tag me in your Instagram post, it will be fab to see your makes too.

Enjoy your week, make something gorgeous!

Week 5 : A Cushion Called Marie

I’ve had this yarn for some time and it sat and sat and sat in my stash. I’ve also had this cushion pad which has sat in a cupboard and fallen out again, and again and again. Marie Kondo would have a field day but she’s going nowhere near my yarn stash, oh no, back off Marie. There is joy in this cushion. And yarn! And cushions! Joy! This cushion sparks joy. And if it sparks joy it’s staying, so I call it Marie.

I used aran weight yarn for this cushion and a 4.5mm hook.

Create a magic ring.
Round 1: Crochet 12 trebles into a magic ring and slip stitch close, 12 stitches.
Round 2 : Chain 2 and treble into the same stitch then crochet two trebles into each stitch, complete the circle with a slip stitch, 24 stitches.
Round 3 : Chain 2 and treble into the same stitch, *one treble into the next stitch, 2 trebles in the next stitch and repeat from * and complete the circle with a slip stitch, 36 stitches.
Round 4 : Chain 2 and treble into the same stitch, *one treble into the next two stitches, two trebles into the next stitch. Repeat from * and slip stitch close the circle. 48 stitches.
Round 5 : Chain 2 and treble into the same stitch, *one treble into the next three stitches and two trebles into the next stitch. Repeat from * Slip stitch close, 60 stitches.
Keep on increasing using this pattern until you have a circle the size of your cushion pad.
Repeat to have two large circles.
Place circles on top of each other, wrong sides together. I used a contrasting coloured yarn for added interest. Half treble into each stitch, placing the pad in between the layers before the gap is too small to do so.
Continue closing the gap with half trebles, slip stitch close the round, chain 1 and half treble another row closing the round with a slip stitch. Trim the yarn and weave in the end.
Voila!

This was a perfect relaxing make after a day at work and a hike up the hill in the snow. Snow came heavy and fast on Tuesday making it impossible to drive close to home and making it pretty difficult to commute. The joys of living in the Peak District in the winter!

Next week I’ve this chunky yarn to make up…no spoilers for now.