Monday, September 30, 2013


So - for only the second time, I met someone yesterday who knows me entirely through this blog (hello Melanie; I tried to find you through Ravelry but wasn't sure I'd got the right person - message me?!), and was reminded (not by M, she was far too nice) that there's been next to no knitting content for the last few months.  I'll maybe talk about that later, in another post.

But I met M at Yarndale; so here's Yarndale.


The night before, the Keighley Travelodge gave me a quiet evening between a visit to family and the Yarndale throng, and let me watch the first episode of this year's Strictly, and a wonderful programme about Nic Jones's return to folk-singing...  Didn't find the place the first time, but having detoured mistakenly into an industrial estate I found a woman coming out of Aldi, and she gave me directions... (This is fairly standard for me if I don't have a map, and I didn't really find one I could print out...)

I went to Yarndale by public transport; this seems to have been a good move.  Not least because of the yarnstormed Routemaster bus which pulled up at Skipton station entrance just as I was coming out.


There were felt panels with sheep and flowers where the ads would usually be...


I got there before the doors opened, and this also seems to have been the right thing to do. I was able to stash my bag under the Sparkleduck stand (thanks, Heather and Michael!) and could then dive in quickly and have a look around before it all got too busy.


Lovely wool, lovely fibres, lovely fleece...


And animals.  These were the pretty, pretty bunnies from Bigwigs.


Can anyone help me with whose alpacas these are - they were right at the end of the arena away from the exhibition hall, near the back car-park/bus entrance?  I marked them off on my programme and then promptly lost it (as seems to happen at most shows; I need to hang it round my neck on a lanyard or something).  I meant to go back and get some alpaca fleece from them for spinning... Lovely bright things...

Edited to say thanks to HilltopKatie who also had a beautiful stand there; and has let me know that these are part of the Why Not Alpacas? herd.


... But the halls definitely filled up quite quickly, and then (speaking as a short person) it became somewhat difficult to see things. Sort of like the Knitting and Stitching Show but without that Huge Horrible Roaring Noise you get in the Great Hall there.  There were, to be honest, some pretty rude people there; none of them, I'm sure, in this photo... More elbows than I'm used to at a fibre event other than Ally Pally, anyway!


Once I'd fought my way to one end of the building, and then been sent to the other end for (not-on-the-map) loos, and realised that breakfast wasn't going to happen because the queues were too long, I spotted Colourcraft's stand for acid dyes; after three attempts at taking payment with no signal, they went down the old-fashioned route...  Then I was able to meet up with a bunch of people from the Archers group on Ravelry...  We were sitting here, in one of the auction rings...


looking over this side, too...


I'd have loved to have taken a group pic, but I'd have been shooting right up people's nostrils, so I didn't. It was lovely to meet Anne, André, Gina, Christine and Susan and see Jill and Brigid again!

Another couple of friends met were Nic, of the Yarns from the Plain podcast and blog, last seen during the Olympics and first met at Knit Camp in 2010; and another friend first met at Knit Camp, Ann Kingstone; here seen at her stand wearing her lovely William design, and with the Truly shawl and the Mallorn sweater behind her, as well as her range of yarns...


There was a lot of lovely yarnstorming in and out of the hall.  I don't know who the blissful lady was, but I suspect I'd have had a similar facial expression if I'd managed to score a cuppa - it gives an idea of the decor though!


The bunting in the exhibition hall was extraordinary;


At about 2:30 I decided I'd probably seen everything I wanted to, and bought what I needed to plus a couple of slightly indulgent things (work's small annual bonus due at the end of September!) - so although I had a couple of hours before I needed to leave, I took the walk through the park, and was glad I'd done it that way round, as most of the walk (after the initial flight of steps) was downhill and I had a wheely holdall...

What had started off as a grey day was now a lovely sunny afternoon


and each time I wondered if I was going the right way, there was something to guide me...



These were particularly wonderful, next to the canal bridge near the station:



The journey back was... well; I'd have said "epic", but that implies "interesting".  Which it wasn't; but I'm going to write about it anyway. Just missed a half-hourly train at Skipton, which meant that breakfast was a Snickers bar from the vending machine at 3:30; once I got to Leeds I had two hours before my onward train. They seem to be much better at letting you break your journey these days (I suspect all those shopping opportunities beyond the barriers are responsible for that) so I headed into Leeds city centre for some lunch/dinner; Bella Italia isn't my usual favourite place but it was close, and actually really nice service, even if grown men calling me "duck" isn't something I'm used to.  (They were calling each other "duck", too; I hadn't nicked that bollard-cosy to wear as a hat, or anything.)  Then another train from Leeds to Selby; and then the Train from Hull. Didn't bother trying to get into my reserved seat as half the train was full of football supporters celebrating a victory, and therefore Bedlam on Wheels.  The detour via Lincoln and half-hour delay at Peterborough didn't help, either; but the train staff had evidently planned for this journey and had the world's largest supply of cans on board...  We eventually limped into Kings Cross at 10:50pm; but at least that meant a quick trip to M&S for some milk before they closed, and catching the last (packed) train back to Kings Lynn, were still possibilities...

If that sounds like a roundabout way of doing things, your're right.  The quick option is to do Skipton - Leeds - Peterborough - Ely - home.  But that option was £99.50, and the perambulatory alternative (with the final London - home stage on my season ticket) was £22.90.  Money saved on the trip - £76.60.  When you see what I bought...


... £76.60 covers everything but the dyes; definitely worth a couple of extra hours of my time!

Clockwise from top left - two skeins of Sparkleduck Socka, which I love for its high twist, and of course Heather's beautiful colours.  The purply one doesn't have a name; the green one's called "The forest began to sing". A bag of fibre from Freyalyn - oatmeal BFL and sik; colour "Sky blue"; 2 balls of King Cole Country Tweed and a set of 2.5mm Harmony needles from Knitting4Fun (I'd gone looking for exactly that sort of yarn, and a new-to-me King Cole yarn is always a bit exciting; I thought I needed the Harmonies but found the set I thought I'd lost in my bag on the way home!); 7 colours of dye from Colourcraft (I hope these are the colours I needed, but forgot to take an inventory before I went); braid of BFL from Wheeldale Woolcrafts; 4 skeins of organic merino aran yarn from John Arbon's bargain box - 400g for £12.

That little tissue-wrapped parcel nearly didn't make it home - it skippety-hoppeted out of the top of my bag on the train as I was getting up north of Cambridge, and was retrieved by a member of British Transport Police (they usually send a couple of police up on the last train home as it all gets a bit lairy at Cambridge); he asked what it was and I said "knitting wool; well, wool and angora, for knitting" - turns out I got a knitting member of BTP.  He makes socks, apparently, but not boring black uniform ones...  Here it is, unwrapped...


I have a small collection (3 balls) of slightly exotic stuff, none of which are quite the same thickness as each other.  I'm hoping this is going to be the same weight as one of the others - I'd love a pair of nice warm gloves for this winter.

So - that was Yarndale.  I'd definitely go again, particularly if it's at this time of year and I can combine it with a visit to other bits of Yorkshire - Skipton itself looked lovely, and it's been ages since I went to Bradford or Leeds; keep meaning to stop off in Saltaire at some point, too... There were teething troubles with catering and parking, but I imagine those will get themselves sorted out for next year; essentially, a really nice show.

Monday, September 23, 2013

2013 books, #76-80

The chessmen, by Peter May. London: Quercus, 2013.

The final part of the Lewis trilogy; and another very good book.  Fin is now working as a game warden on the local estate and finding one of the disadvantages of local knowledge; one of the trickier poachers is a schoolfriend.  One day, a weird geological event leads to the discovery of a small plane they both know, with a body in it. The body's identified as their mutual friend Robbie, a musician with a now internationally-renowned band, and a man who'd disappeared 17 years before.  But various things don't add up, it's immediately obvious that the body in the plane was murdered... One of the good things of signposting a series of books as a trilogy is that plots from previous books can rumble on, notably the church court case against Donald Murray for the events in The Lewis man.  

Night watch, by Linda Fairstein [audiobook]. Read by Barbara Rosenblat. Rearsby, Leics.: Clipper/WF Howes, 2012.

I've listened to a couple of these so far; this one was very enjoyable for being set partly in Mougins, near Grasse in the South of France.  Fairstein's style's a bit overwrought, but Rosenblat just goes with this in her superb reading, and it's all very entertaining and goes into both New York dining history and the financial business of running a restaurant.

Broken homes, by Ben Aaronovitch.  London: Gollancz, 2013.

Another really excellent book in the Peter Grant series.  I didn't notice whether others have had THE END on the last page, but I'm really hoping this isn't the last book - there's one huge question still to be resolved!  In this one, a mutilated body is found in Crawley, and a town planner goes under a Tube train; Peter and Lesley are led to the Skygarden, a South London estate designed by an insane but idealistic architect and seemingly built for maximum discomfort.  As ever, the ideas are excellent and the plot really works; and it's just incredibly funny.  It riffs off all the fantasy you've read, and all the procedural thrillers, and makes something completely different.  I love these books so much.

Red bones, by Ann Cleeves. London: Pan, 2010.

A young policeman discovers his grandmother Mima is dead; what looks at first like a tragic shooting accident becomes more sinister when Jimmy Perez starts to talk to the family and finds feuding and secrecy. The discovery of bones in a nearby archaeological dig and Mima's reaction to them also comes into play, and generations of secrets begin to be revealed.  This is the book dramatised in the recent Shetland series, which also included a couple of Kate Davies knitted items; the book is much better than that drama, though.

The dark vineyard, by Martin Walker. London: Quercus, 2009.

The second of the Inspector Bruno books; and another good one.  Bruno is called to a fire in a nearby field, to find that the field was being used as a research station for genetically modified crops. Meanwhile, an American wine conglomerate (reminiscent of the Gallo family) is trying to buy up most of the valley to create a new appĂ©lation, and Bruno is pursuing his relationship with Isabelle, with mixed results.  There's a small element in the unravelling of the plot which I'd quibble with on the grounds of our not being able to make things add up, but it's a minor point...