Sunday, 25 November 2007

Wind-up merchants

After the success of Tash's yarn-winding party last weekend, Gail, Ting and I were desperate to get our hands on our own equipment to deal with all those skeins of posh yarn. I already had a swift but not a winder. Not being patient enough to wait for eBay deliveries, we decided to spend a Saturday afternoon raiding some of London's more obscure yarn shops, as the likes of Loop don't seem to carry them.

So on a very cold, windy Saturday we set off first of all for Bethnal Green, the home of Prick Your Finger, run by Rachel Matthews (of Cast Off and the author of Knitorama). Having braved the mean streets of east London and seen off one very friendly cabbie, I found the shop and the others. No winding equipment, but some very interesting merchandise nevertheless - think plenty of knitted ornaments, yarn wound around animal bones, and skulls mounted on the walls. Feeling I should buy something, I picked out some lovely (but very expensive) handspun yarn, which was a watery blue-green silk-Teeswater mix (that's a breed of sheep it seems). It was sold by weight and I chose a ball of about 100g, though have no idea on the yardage - it looks to be about a 4-ply in weight. Hopefully I can do a Column of Leaves scarf from it:

Fuelled by a pub lunch (mmm, pies) and the thrill of finishing one cashmere fingerless glove (me) and a Manos-silk scarf (Ting), we headed north to Walthamstow. Unfortunately this involved three buses, relentless cold and annoying men at bus stops, but we eventually made it to E17 and The Handweaver's Studio. Overwhelming in many ways. The owner, bless her, was what I can only describe as "eccentric". In fact, I reckon she's the female Brian Wilson, right down to the Californian twang and the kaftan - I can only assume she has a spinning wheel in a sandpit out the back. The range of stuff though was incredible - just don't say the "k" word as this was clearly meant to be a shop for weaving and spinning, not for what you might choose to do with your yarn after you've spun it. So cheap though! An incredible variety of yarns were sold by weight on little tubes, and I was delighted to find out later that these are called "cheeses". I picked up some tweedy orange silk-wool blend at £27/kg:

And some bright fuscia slubby cotton-linen blend for £40/kg:

Both are laceweight and I bought about 100g of each. So I'll get a scarf at least, maybe a small shawl, for less than a fiver each. Bargain!

Some chunky handspun yarn, in a lovely mix of pink, purple and orange - so lovely that I realised after we'd left the shop that I already have a scarf in exactly this weight and colourway, that I made back in January from Rowan Chunky Print. Oh dear. Well, never mind, it's still pretty:

The ballwinder I was after:

Merino tops to take up needle felting - something I've been dying to do since I read Fleece Dog:

And the wickedly sharp needles for it - I have to be very careful not to stab myself through the hand with these, as they have little barbs on them to perform the felting process:

Oh, and some random packets of fibers, just to play with, no practical purpose. Clockwise from the top there's pure alpaca (ginger of course), golden camel with tussah silk, gunmetal-grey alpaca with silk, and silvery cashmere with mulberry silk:

I'm debating whether there's any way I can justify getting a microscope to teach myself something about the science of fibers, the scales, length, cross-sections etc. I've always been fascinated by forensics so think this would be great fun. Not sure if there are courses on this, but we did all sign up for a spinning course with Brian, sorry, Nancy in January.

Today I've been cranking out a giant scarf for my boyfriend, as he sadly lost his previous one earlier in the week. I am at once incensed that someone should nick a scarf from a restaurant rather than handing it in, but also quite pleased that obviously they thought it was a nice scarf and worth having. Sigh. But it does give me an opportunity to use all the Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky that's been in my stash for a scarf for him for ages, and at least I had the ballwinder to speed things up this evening. The one condition with his scarves is that they must be very long indeed - the lost one was at least 10 feet long - and so every little helps with timesaving!


stash haus said...

So sorry that the BF's scarf was nicked! I hope whoever took it appreciates the work that went into it. Mmmm, but Blue Sky Alpaca. Yum!

I think I enjoyed your foodie post so much because I couldn't eat anything myself - thinking about food was OK, smelling it was not.

Thanks for the sympathy.

Estieknits said...

Hey Lucy

You don't know me but I found your blog through Ravelry - I was v excited to read re. that place in Walthamstow, I've lived there forever and I didn't know it existed but I will definitely be checking it out soon!
I don't know where you live but if you do go back you can make the journey easier by getting the overland train from Bethnal Green Station (about 10 mins walk from the underground) or Liverpool St, but then I would say that as I HATE buses!

Cheers, Estie

PS sorry if you've got this post twice I'm not entirely sure how this works!

Ginger Lucy said...

Hi Estie

Thanks for the comment, glad to be of service with finding local sources of yarn! I live on the Victoria line actually so it's not that hard to get to Walthamstow normally, but we'd been to the other place first so as not to have to carry swifts around all day. Have fun when you go!