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Happy Monday!

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Last weekend, Mica, Jackie and I headed down into England for Cockermouth’s WoolFest. Inside a huge polebarn normally used for livestock shows were rows and rows of booths all having one thing in common – wool. 

(well, mainly wool – there was a hemp booth and some alpacas and a cake booth, but I digress)

We left Edinburgh early and stopped for a coffee on the way.  We were some of the first people in line when the show opened and each bought something at the very first booths we saw (Mica and I purchased from Fyberspates, while Jackie RAN towards the Natural Dye Studio booth).  No photo of my cherry red lace weight, but it’s destined to be a shawl for my mother-in-law, so it will show up on the blog eventually. 

We split up after that – each of us preferring to browse on our own for the first go round of the show.  I stopped almost immediately at a bargain yarn table (given who  my parents are, I have a hard time resisting a bargain) – this table was full of 100g skeins of various 4ply yarns – all undyed.  At 3 for £10, I scooped some up that were all the same, welcoming the inexpensive opportunity to try my hand at dye-ing yarn again.   

Happy with my purchases so far, and eager not to spend all my money in the first 10 minutes, I spent the rest of the morning wandering around the show, taking notes of what I wanted to come back to, picking up two small pots of dye powder in plum and deep navy, and then met up with Mica and Jackie for tea and cake. 

Mica bought a sweater’s worth of Fyberspates 4ply in the same cherry red, and a Laar’s worth of laceweight.  Jackie had picked up two skeins of the Natural Dye Studio’s new yarn – I believe a combination of silk and baby camel, and was raving about the hemp booth.  After our short rest, we headed back out again, this time together to share what we had found and revisit certain booths.   Jackie took us to the hemp booth, Mica picked up some un-dyed yarn (and three more skeins of it found it’s way into my bag as well), Jackie bought some un-dyed baby alpaca from a different booth, and I scouted out the next purchase from the list I had brought with me – a top-whorl drop spindle and some fibre to try out.

I watched a demonstration at the Ashford booth, then got to try it on my own.  It seemed the most sturdy variety of the many I had seen so far that day, so I picked up a mid-sized one and went on my way to find fibre.  I brought home 100g of a gray Shetland wool, 100g of a lightblue merino and 50g each of maroon (seen above) and a deep orange.   As the picture shows, I spent some time the next day trying out my spindle skills – let’s just say that it will be a while until I am out of the beginner level of spinning, but I am proud of myself so far. 

After that, I met up with Mica and we headed towards the sheep and alpacas for a photo session.

This is me holding a ten day old lamb of the Ouessant breed – the smallest sheep breed in the world.  Adult sheep only come up to about your knee, and this lamb was so small it could have fit in my bag and made a good pet (and I was sorely tempted to take it home…).  And how about those freshly shorn alpacas? I love the tuft of hair left – it’s almost an alpaca toupee…  so comical.

The rest of our time went quickly – Jackie bought some hemp and more Natural Dye Studio yarn, Mica resisted the siren call of more Fyberspates, and I was down to my last few coins.   So we headed back to Edinburgh and chatted about what projects we would make with our new purchases. All the yarn talk and an audio version of one of the Yarn Harlot’s books made a three hour drive seem short. 

It was the largest yarn event I have been to so far in my knitting career and I can’t wait to visit more!

No photos to go along with this list, but they will come along soon.

1. Went to WoolFest with some dear friends from knit group last weekend.  Got to hold a kitten-sized ten day old lamb and bought yarn to dye and fibre to spin.

2. Tried my hand at top-whorl drop spindle spinning.  My first attempt started as a slubby thin yarn and ended closer to a worsted weight slubby yarn.  But, I am still pleased with my new hobby.

3. Finished my first lace shawl last week, but will have to wait to show it off to the world until the fall (but no complaints about the warm weather!). Photos to come.

4. Feeling rather dull of late – tired and unsocial with nothing to talk about.  I am hoping this melancholy will lift soon – Perhaps a week in Paris is the cure I’ve been needing…

5. Am missing my family as we approach the Fourth of July.  My extended family on my dad’s side always does the Fourth together, and this year instead of all staying near my aunt’s vacation trailer home and being a  part of the small town parade in Solon Springs WI, they will be headed up to my dad’s land near Duluth MN for four-wheeling, golf, and apparently I hear rumours of secondhand above ground pools that have been purchased.  You’d have to know my crazy family to truly understand how I will miss this slightly white-trash/hick gathering in northern MN – I am considering writing a biography of the Johnson clan to preserve the memories for future generations. If any Johnsons or adopted Johnsons are reading this, I wish you well and safe for this Fourth of July weekend.  Enjoy the Lodge and don’t do anything stupid with fireworks.

Gotta run, it’s secret birthday dinner time for a friend and we’re hosting – time to cook 50 meatballs for the spaghetti…

Having made myself a pair of earrings like this several weeks ago, I really wanted to make a few more as gifts. It might turn out to be dangerous to live so darn close to a cute bead store…

I now have a pair for myself in light teal and salmon pink.  Maybe another pair in bright pink or purple next?

I do hope the girls like these as much as I do!

A recent visit to a huge antique fair saw me buying a china tea set. Well, I tried to buy it myself, but my visiting mother-in-law bought it as a gift for me instead… so sweet.

{Indian Tree Pattern China}

It’s a 1930’s set in a popular pattern – meaning I can easily find the missing pieces I need.  It came with 11 teacups, 9 saucers, 11 dessert plates and a teapot (that did actually have a lid until I dropped it a few days ago – ergh).   I’d love to pick up extra pieces for a full 12 sets plus sugar bowl and milk pitcher (and a new top for the teapot, of course), but will be happy to host tea parties without those pieces for the time being.

I love the bright colors and combination of floral designs and geometric patterns.  I am not usually a huge fan of gold, but the delicate gold edging adds to the overall design in the best way.

I love how special it feels now to make tea just for me – it’s really helping me with my goal of ordering less Starbucks… :)

Who wants to come over for tea?

Last week I went on a road trip with Seth and the in-laws.  I made a point to drive up to Shilasdair as a part of our driving around Skye, and on the second attempt to get to the shop, we made it (the first attempt ending a few miles short thanks to a flat tire – in the rain – with no phone service – fun times).

The shop is well laid out and displays lots of hand knits already made (for sale or as display for a kit or both).  I picked up four skeins of 4 ply with a vest in mind, TBD.

This brings my yarn stash up to this much yarn:

This photo does not include the 5 skeins of yarn brought to me from my tiny stash in the states, nor does it include the 5-6 projects/yarn in my knitting bag.  I am going to guess that I have yarn enough for 9-10 projects in this bin.  Most knitters would consider this to be a small stash of yarn – judging by the ‘flash your stash’ thread on Ravelry, I would have to say that I agree!  Reading the ‘flash your stash’ thread is a frequent lunch hour activity for me – some days inducing jealousy, but most days just making me laugh and wonder in amazement at some knitters ability to accumulate yarn!  So far my favorite photo shared in the thread was of a double bed covered with yarn – probably 80-100 lovely skeins.  The tagline under the photo read, ‘And this is just my Malabrigo.’  I don’t know that I even want to know how much yarn this woman has if that is her stash for just one brand!   :) 

Do you keep a ‘stash’ of yarn/fabric/other craft supplies?  I’d love to hear about it!

My sweet momma-in-law was in Edinburgh (with dad-in-law Doug) last week and brought along their birthday gift to me.  This cameo ring was given to Julie when she was in high school, and she purchased the 1930’s shell cameo pendant to coordinate with it – to make a set for me!  I was so surprised and blessed by the gift.  I do have a thing for cameos of any kind!  Thanks momma!

She also brought along my birthday gift from Seth’s nana Betty – fun vintage costume jewelry!

Sibling-in-laws Clare and Dan sent along some gifts as well – a dress, bag, and the new Regretsy book – along with my order from Clare’s Etsy shop: a headband and necklace (and a little extra headband thrown in).  No photos of these items yet, but all three Etsy items were worn already, the dress fits great, the bag is currently holding yarn, and the Regretsy book has been making us laugh all week.

Thank you family for sending along such lovely gifts – I wish I could thank you in person!

1. Prepared three new knitting projects to start at will.  Am having trouble focusing on any one knit and feeling like I will complete more projects faster if I start a bunch at once.  This, of course, is total self-deception.   For this lack of focus I blame my Ravelry queue as well as any of my friends who are pregnant/adopting – suddenly my queue is filled with baby cardigans.  

2. One of those baby cardigans is Laura Chau’s Sweet Bunting. I have a feeling that instead of knitting many types of baby sweaters, I will end up knitting this for all of them (maybe even regardless of gender).

3. My love for this pattern was on intensified when last night at knitting group, Laura Chau joined us at Tea Tree Tea.  She’s a friend of Ysolda’s and is on holiday in the UK for the month.   I am a fan of her consistently good taste in designing and have queued up her patterns several times in the last 6 months.  She’s very sweet and down to earth as well – it was great to meet her. 

4. Despite the knitting fever 1-3 may have shown, I am in the middle of two sets of visitors (friends this week, family next week).  I love to hostess and practice hospitality, so I am enjoying having some people to inflict this on.  This weekend will see me on a Highlands tour and next week a road trip up the west coast to the Isle of Skye.

5. I am thinking about creating a nutritional plan for myself that does not include so much sugar.  Yesterday I consumed a hot cocoa, a tea, and a large iced mocha – along with these I ate sugary cereal, the equivalent of one whole donut, three shortbread cookies, two pieces of fancy hazelnut chocolate, and another dark chocolate cookie.   Admittedly, this was not at all balanced by veggies or super healthy foods (B: Scone, L: Cheesy pita, D: Turkey, Brie & Cranberry sandwich).     I really did think I was healthier than this.

6. #5 shows me that I should keep a food diary for a little while.  It has also proved to me that I am scared to keep a food diary as I would no doubt be ashamed of each page.

7. The next year may see me adding spinning to my craft repetoire.   I shall try to resist as long as possible for the sake of our budget and our storage space.

8. Just finished the latest Jasper Fforde novel ‘One of Our Thursdays is Missing’.  I am such a huge fan of his Thursday Next series – I am already impatient for the next novel (which won’t be out for a year or so I suppose).  Maybe I should have paced myself through the first six instead of reading them all in less than a month…

Eight seems like enough for one day and besides, I am having trouble stringing two or more thoughts together coherently, which is never the best state of mind to be blogging in.    I will be back soon with WIPs, photos from my upcoming adventures and more random lists.

My friend Megan planned a fun Royal Wedding party for yesterday’s big event.  She created a yummy menu of British foods and we were all required to wear hats and dresses in celebration.

{me and Becca}

Becca’s hat was the clear winner for best hat at the party – we had both picked up hats a local charity shops in preparation for the wedding.  I am hoping to attend several other fun parties like this one during my time here to make the most of excuses to wear a hat!

{Cath Kidston Tea Towels}

I did pick up a couple of tea towels as souvenirs of the Royal Wedding. There were lots of souvenir options around here – my mom and sister picked up mugs and magnets on their recent trip to Scotland, and lots of stores had their own versions of wedding memorabilia.  Some stores were even selling masks of the bride and groom, and some parties were rumored to have lifesize cardboard cutouts for their guests to take photos with.

Don’t worry.  I don’t plan to become one of those people obsessed with all things Royal, but living in the UK – how could I pass up the chance to watch a Royal Wedding?

Good evening everyone!  The laundry is put away, bread dough is rising, and dishes are drying – time to say hello to the olde blog.

I was able to get most of the items on my birthday weekend to do list accomplished with joy.  I ate French macaroons twice even – but that’s becoming a weekly happening around these parts…

Made it to all the local charity shops for a little bit of shopping.  Megan, Julia and I walked through the rain all afternoon Saturday, but it was worth it for my ‘new-to-me’ thrifted items!  Forgive the blurryness/strange angle/lighting of the photo above. I was trying to do something ‘cool’, but had to dash before I could get everything just right (it was time for my skype date with Chelsie – love that girl!).

I picked up a dress (grey), a plaid bubble tunic and jeans (on me), brown leather boots (which are much nicer in person than in this photo), two great embroidered pillowcases and pillows to go in them, and several other small items.  I was very impressed with what I was able to find – especially since I was attempting to be very picky about what I brought home.  I just wanted a few new things to mix into my wardrobe – I am sick of wearing the same outfits all the time!   I used to stop almost weekly at thrift stores in the states, but now, even with second hand items, I am attempting to only buy things that fill a hole in my wardrobe or things that I need.   Mature, no?  Well, I’d like to think so…

By the way, I totally called this plaid top I am wearing a ‘bubble tunic’.  Is that a thing?  I am still unsure I can pull off a long top that cinches in around my thighs, but I can always turn it into a normal top if people give me the ‘fashion police’ stare.

All in all, it was a fun and relaxing long weekend.  This week is a short one too – it’s the Royal Wedding on Friday and me and some girls are planning a fancy little get together (hats required!).

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