Winding Up

Hello All

Feeling a little touristed out I promised myself a woolly time today. Afterall I needed my Berlin ball of wool for the scarf-shawl-thingy didn’t I? The thingy is growing and the Leipzig mixed twist is rather splendid:

(Good grief hope Mr T isn’t ordering room service….) but I think it is ready for a calming influence. Where to go? A shufty on the Internet produced several candidates but from the pictures and website Wollen Berlin called to me. I was right to follow my instincts as near Ostkreuz S-Bahn at Gartnerstrasse 32, 10245 Berlin I found a haven of wooliness set in a lovely part of the city.

The assistant (who on checking the shop website was Caro) could not have been more helpful. She guided me to some German wool by ‘Hey Mama Wolf’. Looking at the Leipzig mixed twist we were both drawn to the same colour, not the most striking hue but spot on to stop the thingy being overwhelmed by a craziness of mixed yarns … the less is more.

Now while Hey Mama Wolf may call this Meadowsweet I have it in my mind as Berlin Senf (ignore my misspelling on the label, I couldn’t spell check while drinking tea at Hackescher Markt) as it reminds me of the colour of delicious German mustard.

Berlin Senf is created from German Merino sheep – not as soft as the Australian Merino but wonderful in it’s own Germanic way – and hand dyed. Like the Amsterdam yellow it is a bit finer than double knit so I asked if the 100g skein could be wound into two 50g balls so I could double up the strands. This was no problem and Caro was soon putting the yarn on the winder ready to make two neat balls of wool. While she set up I got busy snapping photos of the drool-worthy shelves of yarns. Note all the knitted and crocheted examples for customers to see how the worked wools look.

Skeins can be like life sometimes they get in a bit of a tangle and are then trickier to unravel. While I had been taking photos my skein had begun to misbehave.

Strange though this may be I like sorting out knots and tangles so I happily offered to hand wind my wool. What a pleasure to sit untangling the yarn and talk wool and sheep. Don’t you love woolly folk? It doesn’t take much to keep us happy. I managed to become happier still, not only did I finish my winding for the Thingy but I also got ….

Icelandic wool…I can barely contain myself ….. warm mittens…..ooooh yes…..you know you want some ….

With a halo that was now beyond wonky it was time for a church. Negotiating the S-Bahn (overground) I made may way to the biggest church available, Berlin Dom (Cathedral).

It’s interior was stunning

However I was distracted from my usual interest in the organ by the contents of the crypt. Berliner Dom crypt contains a macabre collection of sarcophagi containing the earthly remains of the Prussian royal family some dating back to the 1660s. I found it all a bit peculiar. Even though morbid curiosity overtook me – turns out my halo completely slipped – I couldn’t help but wonder if these aristocrats realised they were to become exhibits. It didn’t strike me as resting in peace. Bizarre.

Outside with a little sigh of relief I was on the island of museums. You can rest assured Berlin’s sizo-meter did not fail.

In my turn I made a sizeable decision. I would not visit them as I knew I would find it frustrating to rush around for a few hours and not completely enjoy the pleasure of taking time to view the artefacts. Oh well … I will just have to come back and spend a week in the Altes Museum alone!

Time to hop on a bus (love that German bus stops have digital updates of the arrival times of the buses and they are FREQUENT!!!!) and wend my way along my favourite route back to the hotel. Blimey they are breeding like ….

He was certainly not there last night.

Tomorrow I am off to Prenzlau. So for a while I must bid you adieu as I am having a little time out to meet family …. and I am likely to be without Wifi.

Auf Wiedersehen Berlin city of a big heart and mind blowing architecture.

Until next we meet

Moke xxx

Val-deri, Val-dera … my knapsack on my back

Hello All

Interrailing has begun. I started my train travels today on the International train ICE123 from Amsterdam to Trier via Cologne (Koln).

I stumbled a bit at the first hurdle as couldn’t find my reserved seat! However I was sitting on the right train, in the right carriage in what I thought was an unreserved seat so I was congratulating myself on being correct on two out of three until there was a tap on my shoulder and a gentleman pointed out that I was in his seat! Colour me beetroot red.

Apparently ‘freigeben’ doesn’t mean the seat is free rather it means that you should give up your seat if asked…. oh the shame….. To be fair the numbering of the seats was very odd. I had reserved seat number 12 but when I walked up the carriage I realised that there were not enough seats to go down to number 12 however once evicted from my seat (did I mention the shame?!) closer inspection revealed that the numbers jumped from the 20’s to 12 with nothing in between and nothing after. I obviously get my number dyslexia from my father’s side!

Still it was rather funny and pushed me stumbling through my basic German to the amusement of the other passengers (‘What did that woman say? “The cats eat the beetles?!”‘). Baptism of fire? Yes. But it was the best way to get going with a new language. Now anyone that cares to listen is getting blasts of Moke-German. Poor souls. My sympathy goes out particularly to the taxi driver who had my full range of conversation about the weather and the lack of rain.

Back in my comfort zone I have finished the Newcastle wool and while on the train to Trier I got started with the Amsterdam yellow. Doubled up to match the weight of the Newcastle yarn it is vibrant and crocheting beautiful. It’s like sunshine on a blue-sky day.

The journey from Koln to Trier was beautiful. It does I suppose fall in the Rhineland renowned for its wonderfulness. As it got further from Koln the little regional train – no reservation nightmares here (can’t get past the shame) as no reservations! – wound its way along rivers and through pretty towns and villages. Woodlands clothed the hills that rose on either side. The colours of Autumn embellished and amber-blazed the trees. Oh it was soooo restful. Infact soooo restful I struggled to keep my peepers open as I gazed at the passing countryside.

Soporific isn’t it? Appears I was not alone.

Now I am in Trier and excited about visiting the many Roman and Medieval sites/sights tomorrow. Will also need to look out for a good wool shop. Any ideas about shops in Trier or what colour to get next?

Before I sign off. I love this idea … wonder what I will get in my goody bag?

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

All at sea

Hello All

What I will turn my hand to for the sake of my blog post is nobody’s business! I sat drafting this post in the Observation Deck (front) of the DFDS Ferry taking me from Newcastle to Amsterdam staring out at the great expanse of the North Sea (looking deep and cold) as I was told that this was the only place that I may get a wifi connection … time will tell I thought.

Force 7 winds were expected and it did get a wee bit bumpy especially in the early hours. Still as you crafters know there is nothing like a craft project to keep you busy and your mind off things like the stack of sick bags behind the cabin door ready for use. As I described on Saturday I am trying to make a crochet ripple scarf-shawl-thingy and am already working with ball of wool number one purchased in Newcastle.

I always find the hardest row to get right in ripple patterns is row 1. And if that goes array the subsequent pattern row will be out of kilter. Pulling back is ultimately the kindest thing to do both for the crochet and your frazzled nerves.

This first row so confidently crocheted as I sat over lunch in the wonderful Great North Museum (GO THERE!!!!) had to be pulled back twice as in transcribing the pattern to my note book I completely missed out not one but two crucial sections of the pattern…. what a dope!

But once you crack it! Whoopee-do the rows start flying.

Sadly time did tell and my little iPad and me could not muster a Wifi connection from Neptune while we bobbed about the sea … this post had to await dry land.

Now safely ashore in Amsterdam I am able to access Wifi and even add to the above post as since landing in this fair harbour (No 1 Daughter’s favourite city … so far) I have managed to find a wonderful wool shop a fabulous dine-ery and another museum!

First my crafty friends to the wool shop. Having fruitlessly tried to find my hostel for the night (the directions were not good!) I did find right opposite the Nieumarkt Metro the first Amsterdam wool shop on my list: Stephen and Penelope.

The shop’s assistant was so helpful. Definitely going above and beyond. She helped me find the right wool for my project (I wanted something from Amsterdam), she wound the skein into a ball for me, directed me correctly to the hostel and also recommended a restaurant nearby. I could ask no more. She was brilliant.

I was desperate to get yarn produced locally (sorry Newcastle but you were a little disappointing in that department). I was captivated by the range of colours in the Undercover Otter range.

These are all dyed in Amsterdam and although a thinner ply than the double knit I started with I couldn’t resist the bright yellow on the top row. I can always double it if I want it to more closely match the thickness of the double knit I started with. I was a little ashamed of the tatty plastic back I was carrying my crochet around in but problem solved as I added a small cotton project bag to my purchases.

Undercover Otter normally sells only on line but Stephen and Penelope stock a large selection too they are definitely worth a look.

Before I get back to the scarf-shawl-thingy here’s a few other things I did on my day in Amsterdam:

1. Find my StayOkay hostel. It is in a lovely location and very central.

2. Start walking to No1 Daughter’s favourite Coffee and Coconut but find a lovely cafe of my own en route, Le Pain Quotidien.

With seating inside and out this cafe exuded a chic yet boho ambience. More importantly its extensive menu with tasty veggie options and cakes was drool worthy. What more could I ask? A pudding! I finished with an Apple-Cinnamon Tart. Delicious.

And yes that’s me drinking my Earl Grey out of a bowl….

3. Find a museum. I found the Amsterdam Museum. Using the site of an old orphanage the Amsterdam Museum gave a great overview of the history of this vibrant multi-cultural city. The assistants were very helpful and although they offered me the audio guide I demurred as I like to look at the exhibits without an information overload. As you can see it is quite a grand building with a history of it’s own. The plaques in the first picture are like adverts to anyone selling their services.

But to state the obvious tomorrow is another day and I need to be in fine fettle for the start of my interrailing. Tuesday so it must be it be Amsterdam to Trier. I will keep you posted on progress but for now I am ready for my bed.

Until next we meet

Moke xxx

Reasons to be cheerful

Hello All

Things that have made me smile since I ‘retired’:

1. No need to put on the alarm for ridiculous o’clock!

2. When I can’t break the habit of waking up an hour before the old alarm time – at even-worse-than-ridiculous o’clock – rolling over and going back to sleep (not quite mastered this one as early days, but working on it Zzzzzzzzzz);

3. Crochet at odd moments throughout the day;

There has been a lot written and said about mindfulness and yarn craft lately and this 8 row repeat pattern from my old favourite “Crochet Unravelled” by Claire Bojczuk definitely helps me zone out. The long rows and small hook size (2.75cm) enhance the comfort of working to and fro to create the cobweb design.

4. Have a haircut ‘cos I can have it mid-week;

5. Travel to Skipton on a Thursday and have lunch out with No 1 Daughter;

Thoroughly enjoyed a veggie bean burger at the Two Sisters in Skipton. This super cosy and quirky restaurant also opens in the evening with board games and all varieties of gin. Although I am not a drinker – apart from tea! – I would love to go back at night as the atmosphere will be amazing I am sure.

6. See No 1 Son and have a joyful catch up with his world and plans for the future;

7. Visit Yarndale in Skipton with good woolly friend AFl, No 1 Daughter and (yelps of excitement) Peanut who was going to her first Yarndale;

We all had a super (and slightly … erm … expensive) time. It’s only once a year we’ve got to make the most of it haven’t we?! No 1 loved this yarn-bombed van and all the finger puppets. Perfect for little Peanut.

8. Help No1 Daughter at Sheffield 10k

It was lovely to volunteer to help No 1 Daughter and BTRS with an event on Sunday and not be worried about getting home ready for work on Monday. The weather was beautiful and we met some fantastic people who were truly inspiring. Well done to them all.

Thanks to No 1 Daughter for all the photos in this post. Bet you were thinking I had suddenly improved!

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Knitting up the Past

Hello All

It’s been a whirlwind weekend. Plenty of laughter with friends and family and wonderful food. PF that was a meal to die for. Thank you.

Meanwhile back at Casa Moke I have another sample ready. Trouble is I got the pattern for these fingerless mittens from a magazine some years ago and have lost the original instructions so each time I make a new pair I improvise. Well at least I can say every pair is unique! Luckily they started out alright.

And I managed a pair that look mighty similar.

Did I sew up the space between the thumb and main section the same?

Think so. More or less ….

It seems I may have been crocheting in the right colour range. Military khaki tones could prove useful to future projects. I have been right royally spoiled of late with a special birthday and now as I prepare to move to pastures new at work. MB off on hols and not back until I have left gave me the most thoughtful gift and one that meant I struggled working – but I managed to keep going … I did …. honest – as I so wanted to have time to look through its pages. That pleasure had to wait but it was worth it.

Packed with photos, information and even patterns this is truly a celebration of yarn crafts in adversity and heartwarmingly has a chapter on craftivism. It is a revelation to both the ardent knitter and crocheter as well as the armchair crafter.

Thank you MB for such a welcome addition to my wool craft library and archive.

I would love to hear your recommendations for books on the history of knitting and other yarn crafts.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Free As A Bird

Hello All

As a much appreciated long weekend – thank you Sir John Lubbock and your Bank Holidays Act of 1871 – stretches before me it is lovely to feel free as a bird … for the next three days at least. I have earmarked this time to get on with some crafting. But first the delightful task of getting in some supplies.

Sadly the last dedicated wool shop in Kendal has closed so I was up early yesterday morning for a trip to Ulverston on the Furness Peninsula.

Ulverston could never be dull when you are greeted by these fellows.

And who is this little chap chewing on Oliver Hardy’s trouser-leg?

Ulverston has thrived not only because of it’s connection to Stan Laurel and its wonderful people but also because of its plethora (thanks V for reminding about that word) of Indies. It is home to a cornucopia of small ‘one off’ shops. All picturesquely jolly and in keeping with this quirky festival town. They have fab names like Tantrum – a baby and toddler shop – and Squirrel, an emporium of many delights situated in an old pub. As you can see the Ulverstonians invest in making things fun and welcoming.

And who can resist this logo:

I certainly didn’t manage to!

But before I could concentrate on shopping for supplies I needed a pit stop for breakfast. Ulverston has many fabulous eateries and is a vegetarians’ haven. I made straight for one of my favourite spots, Gillam’s.

Tofu BLT …. magic. Energised by calories and tea I am off to one of Ulverston’s lovely wool shops. I embarked on my journey … all the way across the road to Loopy… exhausting.

Having regained my breath from my huge exertions I had a very happy time browsing. Back and forth around the displays of wonderful yarns I went (good grief this is sounding positively aerobic!) until I found the perfect yarn and even more importantly the right number of balls. Joy unbounded. But that is a big project for a later reveal. This weekend is about making samples for a local co-operative. So time to smell the roses and get my bus home.

OK not roses exactly – rather worryingly poppies! – but you get my drift.

Now it’s Sunday and I have sorted out what I need let’s have a look in the craft house …

Time to get cracking. First let’s finish off an easy job (or two). A wee bit of ribbon and hey presto!

One sample pair and one pair a gift for a new mother. Smiley face.

Now for those colourful tops of Merino wool. Needle felting calls.

Fingers protected by pastry cutters I can choose the colours I want and obtain a degree of uniformity to create a mini- Roundel of blooms.

That is two samples ready to present to the cooperative’s committee. Next to the yarns …. sorry teatime calls and I have some food to rustle up so those next makings will have to wait…. I will keep you (literally) posted. After all I still have day left of my long weekend!

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Bags are packed

Hello All

All packed and ready to go

I have been on one of my regular jaunts to Yorkshire to see No 1 Daughter and little granddaughter Peanut.

I have configured what for me is the perfect route. Now this is not for those that want to get anywhere fast. In fact it is definitely one for the proponents of slow living and those that enjoy the journey more than the destination. All aboard.

As with most of my journeys this one starts with a bus. On this occasion the 555 traveling towards Lancaster easily caught from the end of the road. Apologies if you get travel sickness but here is a snippet of what I can see atop the double decker as it bumps its way between Milnethorpe and Holme crossing the River Bela. GCW grab your paper bag.

I show you this particular section of my trip because in a way this is where all my journeys start. See those low buildings just before we cross the river? They are on the site of a World War Two prisoner of war camp. This is were my father spent his first weeks in Britain.

And while we are traveling memory lane, anyone a fan of ‘Brief Encounter’? Here is it’s iconic location and the next stage in my travels, Carnforth Station.

Which comes complete – thanks to the magic of movies – with its own heritage centre.

It certainly feels like going back to a time when travel was a more leisurely affair. While there are high speed trains that pass through the station they do so at such speed that they almost whip your eyebrows off. Our transport is a two carriage rickety sort of affair which hopefully will get me to Leeds in time to meet No 1 for lunch.

Fast(ish) forward a couple of hours. Hey not so presto and here we are in Leeds basking in the city sunshine and enjoying an al fresco lunch at Bill’s.

Complete with complimentary Pimms.

Well while I am out of my normal comfort zone I might as well go all the way. Thanks to a gift from a friend – GCW got your head out of that bucket yet? – No 1 and I were off to enjoy a hand and arm massage at the freshly fragranced Jo Malone emporium of scented delights. All kinds of ungents were laid before us.

What to choose? Hanging on just about to my old hippy credentials I went for something earthy ‘Oud and Bergamot ‘. Oud ? I hear you ask. Or at least I hope you do because I did. Oud – I was reliably informed by the helpful assistant – is a resin that forms in trees. On further research (wonderful thing this interweb) I discovered that this type of resin is particular to the tropical agar tree. Well you learn something new ….

Funny how you often meet woolly people isn’t it? Turned out the young lady expertly lathering our arms with all kinds of wonderfulness

is about to become a fashion student in London and she creates artwork using yarn. Hopefully she is reading this and will be soon letting us know all about her Etsy shop. Good luck with your studies and your modern twist on wool craft. Can’t wait to see it.

Gloriously perfumed we made a quick dash to Leeds station and boarded the 5 o’clock commuter train to No1’s village. No 1 frequently averted her eyes/exclaimed/pretended she wasn’t with me as I swung my new backbag over my shoulders with such gusto that I should really travel with a Government Health Warning. But we couldn’t be late.

This little bundle of impish joy was waiting to see us.

Doesn’t she just wear the look that says “Get me. I have just graduated from the Baby Room. I am officially a toddler. Watch out world”?

It’s great being a Grandma (Omi) and even better when despite a few weeks apart your granddaughter immediately recognises you with cries of “Ommmmmeeeeee “, hugs, kisses and an introduction to all the toys in nursery.

Back home No 1 gets little one safely strapped into her carrier and we are off for an early evening walk to the river with their two hounds G (the Chihuahua) and B (a rescued Pooley cross). Now that’s what I call getting a wiggle on.

Oh the wonders of modern technology. Anyone else remember the delights of the Box Brownie?

Turns out this was quite a doggy weekend. No 1 was off first thing to help set up the village dog show while Peanut and I enjoyed a gentle start to the day watching the Jungle Book … amazing how you remember all the songs. If I say so myself I do a mean impression of Balloo the bear … I was never destined to be cool nor glamorous… you guessed? however did you do that?

After a lie down to recover from an over energetic rendition of “I want to be like you” we took the newest of No1’s doggy additions with us to spend the afternoon at the Dog Show. So many marvellous dogs so many waggy tails and what dog show would be complete without terrier racing?! The idea is that the terriers race to the end of the course and through the hole in the centre of the hay bales. Some of them had other ideas and the chaos at the end. Hilarious.

B was an absolute star. Despite a rough start in life he was as good as gold enjoying meeting new friends and even having a go at sausage bobbing. Well done to the new pup on the block.

Too soon the time came to return home. Armed with a new book to read – very promising – thanks to No1’s partner RP I was again packed and ready to leave.

One quick look at the roundel I made for Peanut’s door as bright and jolly as ever.

Then back home for work and next weekend’s crafting to build up a range of samples…more on that then.

And that was where I was going to end today’s post but life is full of little surprises. I had just said my goodbyes to No 1 Daughter and Peanut and walked to my platform at Skipton. I was thinking that there were a lot of folk awaiting the Morecombe train when this reminder of another era chugged into the station.

And revealed itself to be the world famous.

Who’d have thunk?!

Now unless anything else happens ….

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx