Tuesday, June 26, 2012

swag - fairly restrained edition

After teasing you about my Woolfest swag, I feel I should preface this post with a simple fact: despite the abundance of amazing things present, I didn't buy very much at Woolfest. Part of me isn't even sure why, though it probably comes from two directions. First, I'm not a big spender at the best of times, and I'm still coming out of my unemployed-for-nearly-two-years cheapness hole where I felt guilty about each nonessential purchase (and sometimes guilty about the essential ones). Second, the event was so overwhelming that I didn't know where to look or what to look for.

Anyway. I went to Woolfest with one yarny item on my shopping list: red aran-weight wool yarn for a hat for my Grandma. I came home with the following:

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See the red yarn? I thought not.

The yarn I did buy is from Sparkleduck - it is called Stratus, which is a BFL/Silk/Cashmere sockweight yarn. The colourway is Mallard, appropriately enough. It is semi-solid - there's more green than shows in the photo, and it is decidedly not dull-looking in the least. I will probably make a scarf or shawl from this, since there is no way I'm putting a yarn this fancy on my feet. Sparkleduck's entire stall was filled with amazing colour, and it took me ages to pick one to take home with me!

In the above photo, you can also see my fancy houndstooth Woolvember badge, that I purchased from Kate Davies' stall. (She wasn't there when I wandered by, so I was spared an awkward starstruck tongue-tied encounter, I guess. More on this theme later.)

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I also bought some fabulous buttons to add to my growing collection of buttons I have no idea what to do with. The ceramic one is large and chunky and would be a good accent on a hat, I think. The wooden square ones are made of reclaimed floor boards, and I just like gazing at them, so who knows what they'll be. I'll enjoy them in the meantime.

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Speaking of starstruck encounters, Lily and Amanda France (whose blogging and designing I follow avidly) stopped by the Ruth and Belinda stall, and I blurted out "HELLO! I KNOW YOU FROM THE INTERNET!" or something equally eloquent, and proceeded to babble for a bit. Apparently I was the first to recognize and accost Lily at Woolfest that day, but I'm sure it happened many more times. Haha. Anyway, they were obviously lovely and not phased by my awkwardness.

I also met Heather from the Nude Ewe, and had my mind totally blown when we realised we'd gone to the same high school in Canada. Small yarn worlds! We weren't at high school at the same time, but in any case that has never happened to me before. Amazing. I'm ashamed to say that although I'd heard of the Nude Ewe prior to Woolfest, I hadn't a clue what they were all about. Now that I know, I'm fascinated - yarn spun from the fleeces of conservation grazing sheep. Genius.

In summary, yay for Woolfest! I met so many interesting people, saw so many beautiful yarns, and had great fun communing with the woolly beasts. Now I see why fibre events are such a big deal.

Monday, June 25, 2012

And... Woolfest!

I have returned from Woolfest! It was great fun, exhausting, overwhelming, and inspiring. Also, cold and wet - it poured all day on Friday, causing flooding and transportation difficulties the following day.

Here are Ruth and Belinda selling their wares. It was lots of fun helping them out, meeting lots of great people, and being surrounded by lovely, squishable yarns all day. Because of the awful weather, it got quite cold in the Woolfest barn on Friday, so we all wrapped up in the samples to keep warm.

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When I had the chance, I explored some of the other stalls, but found it all quite overwhelming. Aisle upon aisle of yarn / wool / fibre / animals / craft materials... It was hard to know where to look first, and difficult to focus! I admire those organised people who kept track of which stalls caught their eye so they could find them again later. I wasn't so smart, but I bumbled through and saw plenty nonetheless.

I loved seeing everyone wearing their own creations. It occurred to me that I look at lots of knitwear online, but in my everyday life don't see many handknits outside of knitting groups. A fibre festival gives people the opportunity to really show off their handiwork, knowing it is perfectly acceptable to accost strangers and admire their gorgeous shawl or cardigan.

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I also saw lots of creatures. These hebridean sheep are possibly the strangest looking ones I've ever seen.

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And alpacas. Awww.

One memorable encounter was with an older fellow who was going through examining all the wooden buttons / shawl pins / accessories on offer and identifying all the woods used. He said he wasn't a knitter himself, though he used to help his mum out when she was losing her sight by picking up her dropped stitches with a crochet hook once she'd put the knitting down for the day. He was wearing a gorgeous cabled sweater in perfect condition that his mum had made for him when she was 89. He was in the process of reconstructing the end of the sleeve of another sweater she'd made; it had come unraveled in an aggressive spin cycle, but he was reverse-engineering the pattern using a crochet hook and some pliers. Well, damn. I'm impressed!

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I'll be back soon with another post on swag and the rest of Woolfest.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bread and WOOLFEST

I made some delicious bread last week - definitely the most successful bread I've ever made. The recipe I used was Paul Hollywood's easy white bread from the BBC food site. I don't watch tv so I have no idea who this Paul Hollywood fellow is, but the recipe turned out rather well.

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Mmmm crusty bread. It didn't actually burn on top - it got a bit dark, but for some reason the pictures make it look charred.

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The recipe calls for 40 g of butter, which seems like a lot... I've never made bread that had butter baked into it before, but it was tasty. Next time I might try with olive oil, since it is easier to deal with. Though maybe the butter is what made it so good.

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One thing that I always feel unsure about is kneading. Specifically, how long to knead bread. I've heard various things about how the dough should look / behave when it is kneaded sufficiently, but I can honestly say I've never managed to get it to pass the window-pane test. (Even then, it has usually turned out okay). In this case, I think the dough was too stiff, since it was difficult to knead and I was at it so long that my arms were aching. I eventually gave up without knowing if it was enough... but it rose perfectly, so whatever. Next time, more liquid? Bread-baking experts - what do you say?

In other news, I'm going to Woolfest this weekend! I'll be there Friday and Saturday, helping out at Ruth and Belinda's booth. Come say hello if you happen to be passing by! (I'm the one who is neither Ruth nor Belinda. Obviously.) We can have an awkward/joyous "I know you from the internet" moment. Anyway, I'm pretty excited, since I've never been to an event like this before. Especially since I've been working a lot lately, so I might even get to spend a little money on lovely yarn.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Festivities

Yesterday the Olympic torch relay came to Edinburgh.

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We caught up with it in town. I'm ashamed to say I haven't a clue who the torchbearer we saw is. But everyone was pretty enthusiastic, with even the motorcyle cops that preceded and followed the procession arousing huge cheers.

What you don't see on the BBC torch-feed are all the sponsorship buses that head up the procession. It was a bit weird seeing these buses with cheerleaders standing up top, and people walking beside to hand out promotional goods... all this took probably twice the amount of time the torch was actually in view.

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Most of my pictures are pretty terrible and blurry, or have other people's body parts obstructing the frame. However, I quite like this one I accidentally captured, with the reflection on one of the torch buses.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Just because

In the spirit of silliness, and inspired by your comments on my last post, here are the latest adventures of my hungry Pomatomus sock.

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Considering an apple

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YAY A MUFFIN. Socks like muffins.

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Tea tastes best in a silly mug

I promise I'll have something other than these socks to show you next time, but thanks for indulging my madness!

Monday, June 04, 2012

Choices

There is something extremely liberating about waking up early and then finding out I don't have to work until this afternoon. All those hours that were previously scheduled and spoken for now open up ahead of me with possibilities.

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I could clean the house, or go running, or start writing a novel, or something. But I think I'll just sit with a larger-than-usual cup of tea and plow through the rest of this gusset.

(I don't think there is a flattering way of showing a sock at this level of completion - is there?)