Sunday, March 18, 2007

Skip North Weekend

A number of circumstances converged, and the result was that I flew to northern England a little over a week ago to attend a knitting weekend in Haworth, Yorkshire. It sounded like a nice, low-key weekend of knitting, some workshops, and shopping. It was all of those, plus a lot of lovely unstructured knitting and conversation, but the shopping did not really qualify as low-key, we were shoppers that found every bargain and discounted treasure, even if not actually for sale yet (more about that later). I met many interesting and talented people, and had a great time.

I flew over a couple of days before the weekend started, to be sure that there was no chance of jet lag marring my experience. After careful consideration, I decided to leave the spinning wheel home, though I did take a spindle and some roving, and to pack an empty suitcase inside my suitcase, just in case I bought too much. Ha - "just in case"!

Haworth is the home of the Brontes, so I did some touring on my free days-

The Bronte Parsonage

Skipton Castle

Sheep on the moors

(I know that I should have been thinking of all of the great literature written about the Dales and the Moors, but I found myself thinking of the Mary Russell books by Laurie R. King. I was a Sherlock Holmes junkie as a small child, and I have been enjoying this series of books about Mary and the much older Sherlock. Oh, well, I am a Philistine, I guess. I did like Wuthering Heights as well, just haven't read it lately)

On Friday morning I joined a few more early arrivals to Haworth on an extracurricular trip to Texere. This is a mill shop in Bradford that has expanded to also carry other yarns, as well as some fiber. It is really huge - two large floors of triple-shelved cardboard bins of yarn and fiber, much of it on end-run cones.
I even found some guanaco fiber tucked away, packed in 100 gr. bags for about $6.90. One of the highlights of Texere and some other mill stores is the 1p/gram bin - and at Texere there were several of these bins. It was fun to rummage around and find a couple of cones that would be great for socks, or lace.

SkipNorth started with workshop sessions, short ones so that we could do 2-3 on Friday and Saturday. I started with a vegetable dyeing workshop, led by Liz Marley. Since I have avoided dyeing non-protein fibers, I was curious to see how this could be done in a short session, with only limited equipment. I am a convert to this now. Here are several of the class skeins curing-
and then here is my skein of (not handspun) cotton-
I also took a workshop with Alex Byrne on making stitch markers, just for the fun of it (Alex isn't in this picture)
and brought home these:
I had a lot of fun but will probably not be making a lot of stitch markers in the future, as I don't use them too often, and then only a couple at a time. I'm not a person who marks off each repeat of a lace or cable pattern, just selvedges and beginning of rounds. The other workshop options were Bullion Crochet, which was very pretty but which I didn't get a picture of, and spindle spinning. Both were popular, and several dedicated new spinners have emerged from the weekend.
Our mill store outings began on Saturday, with a hired coach and box lunches. We had made arrangements with Coldspring Mill to open an hour early for us, but they weren't quite ready when we arrived,
but soon we were inside, taking advantage of the bargains in domestic and imported yarns. Coldspring is the UK distributor for Noro mill ends, so we got Kureyon, Silk Garden and Kochoran for 20-25% of the US cost.
We stopped at The Skep, in another village, but they were a discount retail shop, not a mill store. They still had great bargains, on wool fabric as well as yarns. I have a future project for which I need 7-8 yards of wool dress weight fabric, and I unexpectedly found it here, as well as nice sock yarns.
The last stop on Saturday was at the headquarters of the Knitting and Crochet Guild. It is in a village near Holmfirth, where Rowan is based. We didn't get to Rowan, but the KCG was very interesting. In addition to the displayed collections, we
were given presentations by officers and docents of the Collection. There is also a shop, and a used book sale of books donated to the Guild that are duplicates. Almost everyone found a treasure or two in the book room, and the bargains in the shop were also treasures (yarn at 1p/gram, Addi Turbos at 3-4 pounds, and more).
The Collection spilled over onto the walls of the shop area, as with this needlework collage near the door.
Saturday evening was full of knitting, crocheting, spinning, wine, snacks brought from home, and talk. I had brought a couple of spindles, which were used by workshop attendees to continue improving their new skills.
Sunday brought the last outing, to Wingham Wookworks. This is a full service company that provides spinning, felting, and knitting supplies as well as for most other types of needlework. The fiber is organized into 3 small adjacent buildings, one for colored top, one for Merino and Merino blends, and one for British Breeds (my favorite). Here is Anne, one of the new spinners, being enabled in the British Breeds building:
and a shot of the Rainbow Top building
We returned to the Hostel where we had been staying (NOTHING like a US youth hostel, this was a converted Victorian mansion with fireplaces, high ceilings, lots of hot water, and a kitchen that prepared very good meals and hearty box lunches) for a last couple of hours, during which we shared purchase details, finished off snacks, and of course knitted and spun.
It was a lovely weekend, and kudos and thanks to Alex and Nic for organizing it, a much larger task than any of us see, of course. I had another 1 1/2 days to spend before flying home, and had planned to spend the time puttering about in the towns south of Manchester. One of the weekend attendees, Wye Sue, is a sample knitter for Colinette, though, and she suggested that since I would be only 1 1/2 -2 hours from the factory and mill shop for Colinette, it would be a nice fibery end to my trip. The Monday dawned beautiful and sunny, I still had over half a tank of diesel in my little car, and the decision was made - off to Wales I went. Sue had called ahead to let them know an American friend was coming, and they were on the lookout to welcome me to the shop. I love Colinette colorways, but the yarns are just so expensive in the US. Well, not only is the mill shop discounted, but it has a sale room! Thinking of the small mountain of fiber from Wingham and my 2 reasonably sized suitcases, I tried to be restrained, but I still picked up some great yarns. The drive back was very pretty as well, so my day was well spent.
Here's the haul-
Yarn (the plastic bag at the top right is a kilo of navy 5-ply Guernsey wool, so a guernsey is in the future for someone in our house)
And here is what I made on the trip, playing around with some eyelet stitch patterns. The yarn is about 450 yards of a worsted weight handspun that I made for a sweater that I finished last fall (the sweater, the yarn I finished last spring back in NY). It's just a little over scarf size, nice for keeping one's shoulders warm in a cool room.
It's really more purple than blue, but still a pretty color.
So now I'm home, with lots of back posts to do. I'll be showing some of the things I've been doing the last few months, though the dial-up connection here is really slow. Oh well, maybe I'll start to be a regular at the local coffee shop with wireless internet.