knitting

Note to Self. Remember to Make Notes!

Last year I visited the Sheep Shop in Cambridge and came away with 2 skeins of the most gorgeous Lotus Tibetan Cloud 100% yak laceweight yarn. It’s sooo soft and dreamy I just couldn’t resist!

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I knew right away that it wanted to be a pretty little shawl and thought I would have another go at designing a pattern. I decided to make a thin crescent shape shawl, one that increases 4 sts at the beginning and end of each right side row and 2 sts every wrong side row. After looking through some stitch pattern books I was drawn to a diamond design shape ‘Starlight Lace’ from the Barbara Walker – Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns book.

Starlight lace

So armed with charting software, notebook and pen I started to put the pattern together and knit the shawl as I went along, writing everything down as I did it…well I say everything… I kind of wrote things down on various notebooks, on my phone, on scraps of paper and on the computer pattern too and I even remember on a couple of occasions thinking ‘I don’t need to write that down because I’ll remember that’. Of course you will Jem! What was I thinking….and to make matters worse I finished the shawl and then decided to wait another 6 months before attempting to write the pattern up :-/

I picked it up again a couple of weeks ago, after searching high and low for a missing notebook and swatches…I couldn’t put it off any longer or it would never get done!

And it wasn’t that bad once I got back into it, the bits of scribble I had started to make sense and I was eventually able to piece the pattern back together. I did have to cast on quite a few swatches though mainly to keep track of the edge stitches as the stitch count varies on some rows.

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But I think I cracked it. It’s now gone for tech editing so fingers crossed it’s all ok….

The beauty of the rain

And here’s a little peek at the final design. Next step is to get some decent photo’s 🙂

Beauty of the Rain

I’m off to buy some more notebooks tomorrow 😉

Happy knitting! x

Travel

A Weekend in Porto

So Mr. A worked his socks off and won us a trip to the beautiful city of Porto, Portugal!

Thursday

After meeting some of the other winners in Gatwick on the Thursday morning we boarded a plane and arrived at our hotel ‘The Yeatman’ in the late afternoon.

The Yeatman Hotel.JPGAnd wow! What a stunning place…

The Yeatman Hotel PortoThis was the view from our room…View from the Yeatman.JPGAnd this was the view from our bath!

View from the Yeatman Bath

After welcome drinks on the terrace and a quick freshen up we headed to the lobby to be transported to our venue for evening dinner on the beach – via tuk tuk’s! What a perfect way to get a taste of the city!

Porto.JPGAnd what a perfect way to end our first day, with drinks and dinner at a beachfront restaurant 🙂

Porto Beach

Friday

It was an early start on Friday as we departed Porto by train to visit the Douro Valley, an area famous for it’s wine and port production. Our destination was the Quinta de Pacheca wine estate where on arrival we were met with a guide who told us all about how the wine was produced and the traditions that are still employed to this day – such as harvesting the grapes by hand and squashing the grapes by foot (which involves a military style march for a couple of hours, followed by ‘freestyle’ squashing – where they get the music on!)

It was then time to visit the cellars and sample some of their fine produce…

Quinta da Pacheca Wine estateAnd we were even able to make up our own bottle of Port to take home…

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….bottled, corked, sealed and labelled, all by my own fair hand 🙂

A sumptuous BBQ style lunch followed in the restaurant overlooking the vineyards…it was such a pretty setting. After lunch we hopped on a boat that took us partway up the Douro river, another chance to take in the spectacular scenery.

Douro River.JPGOn Friday evening we were taken to one of the oldest wine lodges in Porto – Grahams Wine Lodge for a tour and a spot of Port tasting.

Port tasting

We tried (from front to back) a Ruby six grapes reserve, a 30 year old tawny port and a 2000 vintage port. My favourite was the vintage 🙂 And speaking of vintage…

A vintage year

….apparently 1977 was a fine year 😉

Another beautiful dinner followed in the Barrel Room restaurant which overlooked Old Porto. Needless to say we slept well that night!

Saturday

Saturday was our day of leisure in which to explore Porto. But before we hit the streets we had chosen to do an additional activity in the morning – the Rib Boat Experience…

Porto Rib Boat

What started off as an exhilarating ride up the river with a few donuts thrown in then saw us tearing out into open sea bouncing over waves and clinging on for dear life! Talk about blowing the cobwebs away!

Fresh faced and a little wonky legged we then headed into the heart of Porto, taking a cable car up to the top of the Dom Luís bridge to take in the spectacular views.

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DSC02425.JPGWhilst Mr. A and the others headed to a cafe on the waterfront, I was keen to seek out a LYS for some souvenir yarn 🙂 So camera in hand and armed with the shop finder on the Ravelry app I went exploring via the backstreets.

As I climbed my way up the city I couldn’t help but stop to take photo’s of the beautiful tiled buildings lining the roads and streets.

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IMG_8072Here are some close up’s of the tiles, or ‘Azulejo’s’ that I passed along the way…

Portugeuse House Tiles.jpgEventually I reached my destination – the Ovelha Negra yarn shop…

Ovelha Negra Yarn shop.jpgBottom right is the souvenir yarn I purchased…a gorgeous BFL & silk in a soft brown, a merino and cotton blend in the turquoise and 100% Portuguese wool in orange. I was one happy bunny 🙂

We headed back to the hotel late afternoon in order to prepare for the Saturday night celebratory gala dinner -time to dust off the posh frock!

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The venue for the gala dinner was the Old Customs House of Porto (now the museum of transport and communications)

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Photo taken from http://www.localporto.com/transport-communications-museum/

It was a short trip to cross the river by boat before we arrived, to be greeted by a lady wearing along fronted dress that ran all the way down the steps.

IMG_8149Apparently this is a Portuguese custom, but I didn’t find out the tradition behind it at the time and I can’t find anything on the internet, so if anyone can shed some light I would be really interested to know what it means?

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During the evening each winning dealership was congratulated and presented with a gold lion trophy in an awards ceremony, and what followed was a fantastic night of celebrating with great company, great food, great wine, great music and lots and lots of dancing!

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Sunday

So the head was a little sore on Sunday…but what a brilliant night! We were lucky in that our flight home wasn’t until the late afternoon so we had a bonus day, and the sun was shining!

Keen to make the most of the last few hours I grabbed the camera and headed out again. If you are a returning reader you may recall my obsession with abandoned buildings and boy, Porto had plenty of those to keep me happy! But imagine my delight when wandering the cobbled backstreets around the hotel I came across the Parque da Quinta das Devesas…

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Quinta das Devesas.jpgThe gardens of this abandoned Casa have been turned into flower gardens, unfortunately they weren’t in full bloom yet but I can imagine how beautiful it would be in the height of summer…

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It was a truly beautiful and peaceful place and I feel so lucky to have accidentally stumbled across it.

I headed back to the hotel to join the others for lunch and soak up the sun until we had to say our goodbyes…

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What a weekend…the organisation and attention to detail that went into pulling this event together was phenomenal. Thank you Peugeot and thank you to my amazing husband for winning such an incredible trip xxx

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Shenanigans, The Month That...

April: The month that…

And yet another month flies by! April was a fun month, and although there was slow progress on any knitting it was all for good reason. So here we go, April: the month that…

We Had a Party

April was kickstarted with Mr. A’s birthday BBQ on the first bank holiday weekend. Luckily for us the sun shined for most of the day and we celebrated with friends and one or two drinks. We made a summer cocktail in our new drinks dispenser (a Christmas present from Mr. A’s parent’s) which went down very well!

Cocktail on tap

As much as I love a good party I always under estimate the amount of prep work and tidying that has to be done beforehand. As such my crafty ‘workstation’ in the kitchen had to be dismantled and temporarily boxed up to free up the kitchen table. So that meant very little knitting for a whole week! On the upside, the kitchen had never been so clean and sparkly 😉

We Looked at Lady Sheds

I have always dreamed of having my own craft room as knitting in the kitchen isn’t ideal, especially when we need the kitchen table! Add to that I have books and skeins of yarn stashed away all over the place, it would be sooo nice to have somewhere more permanent to set up station! So Mr. A and I got talking as lately he has been thinking about getting into woodwork and learning to use a lathe. Add to that that the garden is in need of a bit of a makeover and I think we may have found a solution….our very own garden log cabin studio / workshop!

This is the kind of thing we are thinking of:

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It has 2 separate compartments so Mr. A can set up his lathe in the shed end and I could have my very own craft room in the pretty summerhouse end! I’m trying not to get my heart set on anything as we still have to work out the costings and our garden isn’t massive so we need to think about space, but we did go to a local dealer and have a look round some options. They even had a similar model on display so we were able to get a better feel for it.

Cabin

Wouldn’t THAT be amazing! It would be small – but it would be bigger than a kitchen table 😉

I Discovered that Knitting can be Bad for the Diet

Work saw me travel up to Manchester in April and rather than drive I saw 3.5 hours on a train as valuable knitting knitting time. And boy did I knit, I cast on a sock at the beginning of the journey and managed to knit the leg and the heel flap by the time I got to Manchester Piccadilly!

Sock

However I did consume a hot chocolate, a kit kat and a chocolate cookie on my travels – I don’t think that’s any coincidence when the yarn looks good enough to eat, haha! I never saw knitting as bad for the diet before but now I’m starting to wonder…

I pretty much finished this sock on the return journey. It’s a shame the 2nd sock hasn’t been such a quick affair, it’s been over a month in the making and I have only just turned the heel!

We went to the Handel & Hendrix House

Mr. A and I do love a day out in London and as Mr. A is a keen musician and guitarist we decided to check out the Handel & Hendrix house in Mayfair. Handels house, 25 Brook Street, was opened as a museum in 2001 and showcases carefully restored Georgian period rooms on the first and second floors. More recently the space in the adjoining house number 23, has been opened up as a museum to celebrate the time Jimi Hendrix spent there in the 1960’s.

Left: Handels Rehearsal and Performance Room – Almost all his works after 1723, amongst them many of his best-known operas, oratorios and ceremonial music, were composed and partially rehearsed in the house, which contained a variety of keyboard instruments, including harpsichords, a clavichord and a small chamber organ (text taken from Wikipedia)

Right: Handels bedroom (where he is believed to have died).

Up the stairs, Jimi Hendrix’s flat used to be used as admin offices for the Handel’s House until it was opened as a museum earlier this year. The exhibition documents his time spent in London during 1968-69 when he lived there with his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham. Unlike Handel’s House there was only one room recreated to show what it would have looked like when he lived there and that was the bedroom.

Every item in the room had been sourced and curated based on photographs taken at the time of his residence. It was so well done, it almost felt as if he was going to step back into the room at any moment.

And check out this giant knitted dog bear given to him by a fan. How cool is he!

Hendrix Bear

The rest of the flat had been turned into exhibition space, full of photos, records and memorabilia of his time there. On walking out there was just a small framed newspaper cutting announcing his death – it was a very poignant end to the celebration of his short time in London.

We ‘Cooked’ Cocktails in an RV

From Mayfair we hotfooted it over to Shoreditch as we had tickets to a pop up breaking Bad themed bar in Shoreditch! If you have seen the show you may recognise this…

Breaking bad RV

At 6pm the doors opened and about 20 of us piled into the RV to begin a ‘cooking session’. We were seated at our table and instructed to put on our protective clothing…

Cocktail makers

And the cooking began!

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We were given a base cocktail made with our spirit of choice (we went for gin). The first one up was a ‘505’ made with lychee, rose, maple martini and gin – but it was down to us to add the dry ice smoke infusion!

Cooking cocktails

Oh my, it was delicious!

Next up was the ‘Fly’ – gin with cranberry caviar, creme de mure, xanthum gum and a few other things I can’t recall…

breaking bad cocktailAnd this one used a whipper to infuse it with nitrogen cavitation!

breaking bad cocktails

Yum.

Finally we had ‘the cocktail that changes flavour’. We were given a really sharp citrussy cocktail, so sour that it made me wince. We were instructed to take a sip and then pop the pill (the pill being a berry fruit pill that miraculously turns sour things into sweet)

Berry pill cocktail

What a difference, the cocktail tasted amazing from thereon and we could even suck the lemon wedges without pulling funny faces haha!

So that was April, it turned out to be a rather boozy affair – and a lot of fun!

I’ll be back soon with more knitty posts as the needles have been very busy of late 🙂

Have a great week whatever you get up to! x