Saturday, March 15, 2008

SKIP NORTH - summed up in a rather protracted and garbled fashion because if I don't write it up NOW it'll never get done.

I hadn't packed and was fiddling about on the computer (drooling over yarns and patterns on Ravelry as usual) so didn't leave till late on Thursday to get to WyeSue. I also spent half an hour driving around Exeter looking for the Tesco garage I knew was there so I could spend my 5poff voucher on diesel. Never found it and wasted so much fuel that I could have just gone the nearest petrol station and saved POUNDS. Am I daft or what?
SO it was getting on for midnight by the time I arrived in Herefordshire to be greeted by a cold filled, sinus blocked, panda eyed WyeSue, who would probably have been tucked up in bed with a hot water bottle and fast asleep if it hadn't been for me! (Sorry, Sue!). The directions to her stash filled house were perfect and easy to follow. I slept well, despite the avalanche of yarn filled bags from the top of the wardrobe (knocked over by a curious marmalade cat).
MY mission was to keep WyeSue awake whilst she drove to Haworth and I knit. I think I fulfilled this task admirably by caterwauling intermittently.

I was startled to note how urban West Yorkshire appeared - I was expecting windswept moors and hills - but althought there were plenty of HILLS, there were also lots of buildings in a grey green stone to match the grey green fields and plenty of dark satanic mills around every bend. It was also plenty blowy - and we were amused to see plenty sheep being blown around like tumbleweed.

On arrival we were greeted by Nickerjac who was being a very organised organiser and asking us what we wanted to order for lunch the next day as well as filling us in on the itinerary and sleeping arrangements... She was accompanied by a very cute and active liddle Pete.

The Youth Hostel is amazing - and must have been splendid when it was built and stood in grand isolation overlooking the Mill in the Worth Valley below, but it's now surrounded on three sides by new houses, which detracts somewhat. It has many stained glass windows depicting various citrus fruits, and a wooden frieze of disturbing looking gargoyles around the skylight at the top of the grand staircase.

(The second picture is of the view down into the valley - you can see the chimney of the Mill just to the right of centre - the Mill is now a 'Spring Factory'. )

WE didn't hang around for long, as there were three workshops to participate in - I learned how to knit mitred squares as a building block for modular knitting, to dye sock yarn with koolaid and a little more about colour theory - great fun and thanks to WyeSue, Lixie and Nic.

And this was the result - not bad for a couple of minutes of paddling about in and inhaling fruity flavoured powders. (minor panic when I couldn't find the hot little microwaved clingfilm package in the kitchen - but Lixie found it for me!)

That night I was taken aback by the sheer wealth of skill and inspiration and talent amongst this small (24 of us) band of fibre enthusiasts. The energy and enthusiasm was contagious and we knit and spun and exchanged skills and showed off and chatted. Everyone was friendly and willing to share - a real inclusive group. It was also fascinating to put faces to names that I already 'know' from blogworld.

Next morning the excitement woke me up early, so I went for a walk down the hill in the drizzle. There must have been at least half a dozen hairdressers all in a row - how do they all stay in business? There was a Steam Engine puffing out steam in the railway station at the bottom of the hill - the Worth Valley steam railway line is open from Easter so it looked as if the Engineers were overhauling the trains in time for the new season. I had to make my way back to the youth hostel for breakfast, before I could work out a circuit - but I saw a runner turn off right so I determined to investigate the next morning.

A coach turned up after breakfast, and Andy drove us to Coldspring Mill first of all, then on to a tiny little shop called the Skep - with a quick turn up the hill to a fascinating haberdashery (RL and CM Bond ltd) filled to the BRIM with buttons, zips, threads, ribbons and implements of torture. I spent far more than I had intended. In fact, 'The' Sue (as opposed to WyeSue) after glancing at my stash enhancement bags, decided I needed a counsellor to off load my addiction problems - She decided to act as the collective conscience of my family to 'save me from myself' and proceeded to reduce me to fits of giggles with just a stern glance my direction as we emerged from each venue. The Sue was part of almost the entire Golders Green Stitch N Bitch who Skipped North: what a fab group that must be...
The coach moved on with many socks being knitteth on board - and we arrived at the Knitting and Crochet Guild's collection and infamous YARN MOUNTAIN - all donated by folks to be sold to raise funds to help the Guild maintain their textile collection. I bought a 720 gram rainbow of dk weight yarn for 1p a gram - can't be bad and destined to be some kind of beloved fairisle. Rumour has it that some of this may originate from Rowan, which isn't that far up the road in Holmfirth. I also bought a book or three.WE all got to fondle some amazing handknitted items (with white gloves donned) dating back to 18th century and beyond - some of it so fine you could hardly imagine anyone having the eyesight let alone the patience to knit it.

We retreated back to the Youth Hostel to drool over everyone's purchases and bargains: 'The' Sue had found an alpaca jumper - knee length, with four dpns still in the unfinished sleeve - AND not forgetting a safety pin, all in a bag for £5. WE convinced her that the best thing to do would be to chop off the length and use the yarn to finish the sleeves. She wasn't entirely sure this was possible I don't think. For a picture of this bargain see WyeSue's blog.
Just look at what Chris had bought! I think she got the record for most yarn puchased...
Makes my booty look quite meagre!There were bags overflowing, bags everywhere!
In the evening after the usual tasty three course supper (during which The Sue had to take a break to listen in to The Archers - a much hyped instalment where a divorce is threatened and a premature birth occurs)( I think she could do with some counselling to help her deal with her addiction, personally ;-),we convened in the dining room, as there had been an invasion of 'Peace Jammers' (average age 11years). WE ate cake. Spinning Wheels also materialised and I got to have another go on 'Morris' - WyeSue's wheel. I didn't have much joy on Natalies's new Majacraft Susie Pro Wheel but it sure looked beautiful - a sight to behold. There was also much amusement when Julie - who had bought a couple of humungous skeins of pastel multicouloured yarn earlier - untied one and then threw it across the dining room. Unfortunately one end caught as she did so - result - a gorgon knot.

Isabella and Natalie showed a huge amount of patience in untangling and balling it up...

Later, in back in the lounge, Natalie showed me how to use her Ashford Top whorl drop spindle and also how to andean ply - I spun up a small ball of Jacob fleece, and got a round of applause for my efforts. There were several spontaneous rounds of applauses for achievements - Ann-at-work completed a scarf over the weekend - only her fourth completed project, and Jane learnt how to make a granny square (to think of but two - I'm sure there were more) from Julie, who also got a round of applause for finishing a cabled jumper whilst she was on the coach on Sunday. She took off the beautiful Colinette jumper that WyeSue had given her (as part of her MAJOR destash) to show it off.

I loved seeing what people had made - Kate is enviably proficient and spent the weekend picking up stitches for the last sleeve on her Kauni-like fairisle jumper whilst wearing a beautiful aran jumper, and another knitted shadow kimono (which can be seen on her blog) and a beautiful lace shawl. Rachel wore a gorgeous fairisle cardigan (oh so fine!). Dianne was knitting a fingerless version of the same Karen's KAL gloves that I've been trying to finish. There were two (really well behaved) babies also modelling knitted items - when they weren't eating the yarn...Max wore a pilot helmet that mum Heather had knitted him, whilst Pete sported a jumper knitted by WyeSue. I hanker after a hat that Rosie had knitted to a personal design - I'm hoping to create my own version some day...

Oh, just too much to mention, and I'll no doubt remember some more beautiful FOs as soon as I publish this post - suffice to say the fibrey enthusiasm was contagious!

I can't emphasize enough how inspirational this weekend was.

On the last day, I'd brought my running gear, so of course I had to use it. I got up and took the right turn down the hill that I'd seen the runner take the previous morning. YES - it took me down to t'river and a muddy footpath running alongside crossing over it a couple of times. I could see the remains of the mechanical waterwheels that must have helped power the Mill. Back up the hill to the youth hostel in a circuit, and dramatic clouds forming overhead - shame I didn't take my camera.
After packing up and vacating dormitaries we piled on the coach for a longer trip to Wingham's Wools - Now this place was set in surroundings more like what I had expected - Wentworth is really pretty - AND had a good pub (serving real ale). The sun was shining as we prowled round the sheds eyeing soft rovings. With remarkable self restraint, I bought myself a drop spindle like Natalie's, and some 'rainbow merino' fluff to spin with. There's Jael in the pink hat, and Fred's ponytail in the background - exploring the treasure trove. I also bought the latest issue of 'Spin Off' for inspiration.
I've been obsessed with spinning since I got back home. I peeled off slivers of the 'rainbow merino', to control the colours a little - then I spun up enough to knit some Saartje's bootees - which I finished last night... Here they are, sitting on the magazine.I'm in love with spinning - and thanks to Natalie and Sarahw for starting me off!This pic doesn't do the colours justice - the bottoms of the bootees is much redder and the tops much greener - but you get the gist.

There's a good picture of everyone waiting for the coach to take us back to the Youth Hostel on Natalie's blog...

I took three projects with me - and managed to finish two: This doggy jumper, pattern by Zoe Mellor, for my friend's daughter's son. We played 'spot the difference' as I've changed the dog in some subtle ways. (There are about 7 differences for anyone interested). I also finished a pair of socks in Opal self patterning 6ply. These socks were doomed. I'd already frogged one completed sock because they were too small for the recipient, who I assumed had small feet. Assume makes an ass out of 'u' and 'me'. Then the pooling in the second sock was COMPETELY different to the first sock. I was totally bemused by this - but the mystery was solved by Natalie and Isabella putting their heads together - they worked out that I'd used a different set of needles on the second - which made it infinitessimally bigger - just enough to alter the pooling completely. Great detective work. So I finished the second sock on the coach. And promptly left them behind. duh. I haven't even got a photo of the finished item! Fred can witness their completion - as can Jael. I guess they just weren't meant to be! (sorry Karen - I'll knit you another pair, promise). I did ask Lixie for the name of the coach company - "Hunter's of Haworth", she says. "Google it", she says. Well, there ain't no Hunters. There's a Hodgson's, but they didn't do 'Skip North'. So, if anyone can remember the name of the coach company, give me a bell.
AND so, back at Haworth and people are packing up ready to go and the sight of sooo much yarn in carboots is a hoot. We had a show and tell of the all the little articles destined for the local SCBU. That's Lixie looking pensive on the left.

Bags of attitude - aren't they great?
Time to go home, and then there were three - WyeSue giving Rachel and me a lift home. We spotted a REAL nodding dog in the back of this Robin Reliant wobbling up the road:
After picking up a takeaway ready meal from M&S and dropping Rachel off, WyeSue and I stayed up till 2am (gasp), drinking Bucks Fizz and continuing the fibrey banter - Sue has a fantastic library and so many wips, yarns, buttons, ideas etc etc, I just didn't want it all to end.

Next morning, WyeSue allowed me to lie in - which was just as well as the weather was deteriorating - seriously - with gale force winds of up to 82mph reported to be lashing the coast of Devon and Cornwall. Sue took me for a wet and windy walk to visit 'her' sheep down by the River Wye. Here you can see the sheep in the various stages of growth - sprouting out of the ground and complete with legs, before they start blowing around like tumbleweed - those small fluffy whitish things in the background, behind Sue. We also went into the wee church of ST Tysilio (him of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch fame) in the background.

More fabulous stained glass windows: I'm detecting a theme. And here is Sue pontificating on the building of this bridge by the Bishop of the aforementioned church. All very edifying and the walk blew the cobwebs away before the blowy drive home. I had a wonderful time, and thanks to LIXIE and NICKERJAC and WYESUE for organising it and putting me up and I want to come again next year please.

Chivers (or was this Dundee?) saw me off the premises.

Just to finish - here is a picture of my all time favourite knitted item - say hullo and goodbye to the Lady of the seven veils - isn't she a VENUS? (as knitted and birthed by WyeSue).


Wye Sue said...

That has got to be one of the worst photos of me !!!

Thanks for keeping me awake and for sharing a wonderful weekend

Rosie said...

It is so lovely reliving SkipNorth via your blog! I love the little shoes, your handspun looks gorgeous in them.

TutleyMutley said...

At least you're smiling, Sue! And thanks for the compliment on my first attempts at drop spindling, Rosie. And I've been enjoying reading everyone's version of events too. It really was such a good weekend...

Susie Hewer said...

Wow, sounds as if you had a ball (or 2 of wool, geddit???). Glad you managed to dust off your running shoes too!

Nickerjac said...

So glad you enjoyed the weekend and thank you for the best pictures of the weekend