Tuesday, 29 July 2008
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
When we lived in London, I wasn't particularly crafty, apart from doing a bit of cross-stitch, so before we left New Zealand I did some research to find out the best crafty places to visit in London. There are good suggestions here and in the comments here and here. In the end I only got to visit a few places on my list, but I figure I'll be back there one day, so it's nice to have something to look forward to next time.
I didn't want to make this the longest post ever (although I suspect it may become that), so here are just a few favourite craft and food places I went to and would recommend. A list of links to other places that I liked is at the end of this post. I've restricted this list to craft and food places, but the links above list many other museums, parks and places of interest that are also well worth a visit. The picture at the top of this post was taken in St James' Park - a nice haven of calm to relax in after a few hours of touristing.
*Loop. The well-known knitting shop certainly lived up to its reputation. It is a tiny place, full of delicious yarns, fabulous patterns and other bits and pieces. Downstairs below the shop is an area where they hold knitting classes. There was a class being held when I visited and every now and then a roar of laugher would make its way up the staircase. Sounded like they were having a lot of fun. Even though the shop is small, I still spent ages deliberating over what to buy. In the end I picked up some pattern books and some wonderful Clover bamboo DPNs. Yummy though the yarn was, I just didn't have space in my bag. The lady working there told me that they do ship to NZ through their online shop though...
If you are visiting, I would allow plenty of time to get there and even more time for browsing. The shop is situated half-way between the Highbury & Islington and Angel tube stations - about 15 minutes walk from each station.
*Liberty. I had visited Liberty when we lived in London, but that was just to see inside the wonderful Tudor building more than anything. It is only in the last two years or so that I have realised that the wonderful tana lawn fabric I have seen in lots of craft blogs is from Liberty. I have to admit that I did get a bit overwhelmed by all the crafty goodness and in the end only bought some rolls of grosgrain ribbon, although I did spend a lot of time oogling the countless rolls of fabric (both the Liberty fabric and the huge range of cotton quilting prints), and the Rowan knitting yarns. No pictures for you though - the sales people were pretty attentive so I couldn't take a sneaky pic.Liberty is pretty central - just off Regent St and close to the Oxford Circus tube and Carnaby Street.
* Spitalfields Market. This was a favourite market of my mine from the time we lived in London. Since then it has been revamped and now has permanent shops as well as market stalls. Most of the stalls sell art and crafts and a lot of it is handmade rather than imported. There seemed to be quite a few emerging designers selling their clothing labels. Sunday is the busiest day (it's closed on Saturdays) and on Thursday is the antiques/vintage market which we didn't get to but sounds like it would be fabulous (a friend we caught up with said that the vintage market is great for taking photos).
* Borough Market. My favourite food market in the world (well, I've only been to a few, but this is the one I liked best). If you've watched early episodes of Jamie Oliver's show, you might recall that he would jump on his scooter and go to a fresh food market to pick up his supplies - apparently that was Borough Market (though I never saw him there and we used to go most Saturday mornings). This is the place to go on Saturday mornings to get your fresh veges, meat, bread, cheese, olives, wine or just soak up the atmosphere. Apparently some of the stall holders come over from France for the day to sell their local cheese or other produce. When we lived in London, I discovered a stall-holder selling kumara (NZ sweet potato) and bought a few at great expense to roast on Christmas Day as a reminder of home.
Borough Market is close to London Bridge tube station.
Mildreds is in Soho and is therefore within walking distance of several tube stations - Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.
Rolls of ribbon from Liberty, other ribbons from VV Rouleaux, coin purse from Marimekko and knitting books, needles and project bag from Loop
Other places I enjoyed:
* Carluccio's Caffe. A chain of cafes started by chef Antonio Carluccio - their Bicerin coffee, cream and melted chocolate drink is to die for.
* V.V. Rouleaux. Shop selling ribbons and trims in Marylebone. Not as impressive as the ribbon shops in Hong Kong, but still wonderful to browse in.
* Cloth House. Linen and vintage trims. In Soho.
* Marimekko. Fantastic! The shop I visited was in St Christophers Place, just off Oxford St.
* Treacle. Cupcake shop in the Columbia Road flower market.
* Bar Italia in Soho - an espresso or cappucino and cannoli here is a must-do. I think their cannolis are better than any we had in Italy.
* Brick Lane - Bangadeshi curry houses lining the street. On a busy night the touts outside offer you discounts to dine at their restaurant.
* Hummus Bros for reasonably priced healthy fast food, all based around hummus (yes really). Their tag-line is "Give (Chick) Peas A Chance".
Sunday, 20 July 2008
The three photos above show rolls of ric-rac, a wall of ribbon and a ribbon shop. I'm not sure if I was allowed to take photos, but no-one told me not to and I knew I couldn't blog about how great the shops were without some eye candy for you!
Though most of the shopkeepers I encountered spoke little English, and were used to dealing with people buying in bulk, they were only too happy to sell small quantities to me. I have to admit I did get a bit overwhelmed by all the choice and completely forgot what I already had in my stash at home. In the end I went for a few ribbons that "spoke" to me. From the picture below it looks like velvet, spots and stripes in bright colours are what caught my eye that day. The most I paid for any of these was around $1 NZD per yard. Most of it was about 50c per yard.
I didn't make it to any of the fabric shops, but apparently they are just as good. If you are ever going through Hong Kong, I highly recommend a visit to Sham Shui Po. I can almost guarantee you will not come away empty-handed!
P.S. Craft2.0 was fantastic as always. This time I got to meet a few local lovely craft bloggers in person as well. It's nice to finally meet people that you only know online, although it does feel a bit stalkerish saying "Hi, I'm Louise, I read your blog". But Helen, Helen, Kimberley and Steph didn't run the other way screaming, so I must have come across as harmless. It was lovely to meet you ladies!
Friday, 18 July 2008
- Craft2.0 is tomorrow! If you are out in the Hutt between 11am and 3pm, try and call into the New Dowse and check it out.
- CraftFetish is up and running again. This cool site is an online community for NZ crafty peeps plus a marketplace a bit like felt or etsy where you can sell your creations.
- The Wellington Film Festival starts today. I was a bit disorganised and only bought my tickets this morning, but the good news is there are still tickets available for a lot of sessions.
- I finally joined Freecycle and got rid of our old compost bin (we upgraded to an Earthmaker a while back and the old one has been taking up room in the garden). I love the Freecycle concept and I'm looking forward to sending some more unwanted-but-still-usable stuff off to new homes.
- Sukin face wash. I think my search for an eco-friendly, organic, non animal-tested, foaming face wash that is also reasonably priced may have finally ended. This stuff smells great, foams really well, and is at least a third of the price of other similar products (Living Nature, Trilogy) that I've tried. Plus, the bottle is actually recyclable in NZ. I've seen their range so far at Health2000, CommonSense Organics and Farmers.
- The Big Shwop - fantastic idea for refreshing your wardrobe, plus it's free and eco-friendly.
Thursday, 17 July 2008
8 ply flared Kimono sleeve
Knit kimono cardigan as in pattern here. For sleeves, do the following:
Evenly space the 36 sleeve stitches on 3 DPNs
With the right side facing, locate the centre bottom of the sleeve opening. Leaving a tail of 8 inches or so, pick up two additional stitches from the left of the opening and continue knitting the round, picking up two additional stitches at the end of needle 3 (40 stitches total).
Decrease round: k2tog, k2tog, knit to last 4 st, ssk, ssk (36 stitches).
Knit 26 rounds.
Increase round: k1, m1, knit to last stitch, m1, k1
Increase every 4th round 3 more times (44 stitches total)
Alternate purl one round, knit the next round for next 4 rounds.
Note: you can choose not to pick up the stitches at the start and just knit 28 rounds of 36 stitches, but I tried it that way and I was getting holes under the sleeve. I think picking up the stitches and then decreasing them helps eliminate this. You can also fix up any holes when you weave the ends in - that is why I suggest leaving a long tail of 8 inches.
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Monday, 14 July 2008
A quick update from me before I attack my inbox.
The holiday was fantastic. Italy was great, but unseasonably hot - 35 degrees most days and quite humid. Almost too hot for me. Though I understand the weather was awful in New Zealand while I was away and have been instructed not to complain too much about the heat in Europe! Hong Kong was also humid, with 30 degree heat and thunderstorms. London was a bit more pleasant - overcast and 20 degrees.
I managed to get to a few craft places in London and Hong Kong - posts and photos to come. We also ate a lot of great food, but I have discovered on returning home that pizza plus gelato plus pain au chocolat times four weeks of little exercise equals trousers that are too tight. Hmmm. Will have to do something about that.
While on holiday I had a lot of time to think about what I want to do with this blog and my crafting. I've made a few decisions which I'm looking forward to sharing with you in the next little while.