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Friday, 24 September 2010

Return to Trinity Buoy Wharf

Contrary to how the title may sound (rather like a horror/thriller methinks), our return to Trinity Buoy Wharf (location for Hotel Medea, as you might recall) included a good deal of pottering around, checking out art studios, climbing up lighthouses and exploring buildings made of shipping containers. Oh and scoffing burgers. Rather a good way to spend an active yet relaxing Saturday.

Exploring London has always been one of my favourite things and getting to go inside usually restricted buildings holds a particular thrill. It's a way of satisfying my urbex impulse while keeping my sensible side happy.

We began with a tour of the 'experimental lighthouse' where a Mr Faraday used to spend much of his time experimenting with electricity and light. It is now also home to the intriguing Longplayer: "A computer generated musical creation from Jem Finer designed to play for 1000 years." At the time of writing, it has been playing for 10 years, 266 days, 5 hours, 23 minutes and 32 seconds. It sounded rather like whale song, with melancholy drawn out notes echoing around the lighthouse turret it a rather haunting fashion.

Stairs to lighthouse:

View of Canary Wharf from lighthouse:

Random desk by the lighthouse stairs. Is it me, or those this look like a scene from some sort of surreal Terry Gilliam movie? "Why yes, we have been expecting you.."

We then had a poke around a couple of studios, finding some very varied pieces of work. Including this one made with fruit flies:

Rather cool and gross at the same time. Some fishy art going on:

Apparently they are made to be lit from the inside - much like those cocoon-like IKEA lamps (the artist would probably slap me if he heard that).

Next we had a look at Container City and Container City 2 which are all made from, you guessed it, old shipping containers! Most are live/work studios, and although tiny they are perfectly livable and normal looking from the inside.

I rather wanted to check out the Zahira's Boudoir studio for a free leather working workshop, but unfortunately it was closed. They make some rather cool leather corsetry and even run classes.. Tempting!

Did you know that Trinity Buoy Wharf even has a primary school? Well, now you do. We had a look around Faraday School, which had a rather funky rooftop play area. Here was the view:

Loved the cloud-shaped cut-outs!

And as the school is also built using containers (as well as brick), there is the possibility to expand upwards if they need to!

We rounded off the day with a malt shake and burger from Fatboy's Diner. The diner was great, as was the milkshake, but the burger was a little disappointing as it was of the frozen beefburger + white bap variety. Still, only a small disappointment during what was otherwise a lovely day.

We might just be back. Again.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Mr Abominable the Second

You may remember Mr Abominable. I created him as a Secret Santa present for P last year, and is characterised by a permanent despondent air. Since then, M has been subtly hinting that he would like a Mr A of his own, so for his Birthday this year I decided to oblige (under the pretense of making him for a pregnant friend).

So here he is, Mr A the Second:

M seems to like him a lot, and I must mention that the below pic was totally unposed:

Turns out that Mr A is the perfect accessory for hanging out in bed playing 'Angry Birds' on your iPhone, while feeling a bit coldy. Who knew?

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Yarn tourism - Swedish style

Ok so maybe this title isn't quite correct seeing as we were in Sweden for reasons other than yarn acquisition also, but I did manage to visit quite a few fibre shops during my stay.

The first was Tant Thea in my home town of Helsingborg. Now, Helsingborg isn't exactly a yarn mecca but this new store was definitely an improvement on the existing offering i.e. a tiny shop selling mainly acrylic (I can see you wincing). Tant Thea has a pretty good offering, and I succumbed to some nice Drops Alpaca which was discounted by 30%. The discount was due to the owner being fed up of being bossed about by Drops, who were trying to tell her exactly how to market their goods in store. I actually thought this was normal practice, but held back from pointing that out as she seemed pretty fuming over it. Oh the drama behind yarn!

Behold the Alpaca (dark grey/black and murky blue/green):

I had the pleasure of spending a day in Copenhagen and actually had no intention of going yarn shopping - honest! We did however, stumble upon a cute yarn shop called Bette Design and thought it rude not to go inside.. My mum fell in love with a pretty shawl which I (probably much too hastily) said I could knit up for her. We left the store with some gray wool and a knitting pattern for the Danish. I might just have to ask L, our resident knitting Dane to help me with the translation. Either that or I'll just have to hope that my mum doesn't quite remember the exact design.. ;)

Next on the cards was a trip to Stockholm. We stayed in a very cute hotel called Sven Vintappare in Gamla Stan (The old Town) which dated from the 1700s:

Our room took up the entire width of the building, so it was lovely and bright with windows on both sides, but being from the 1700s it was also rather wonky! I found it all quite charming. Even the lethally steep stairs:

Before I launch into more tales of yarn, I should probably mention a couple of other highlights. The food in Stockholm was exceptional, and although rather pricey, it was worth it. My favourite restaurant was Djuret (The Animal) which specialises in seasonal meat. The menu changes every couple of months, depending on which animal is in season and then serves about 5 dishes of various cuts. We enjoyed some succulent reindeer. Great restaurant detailing included meat hooks on which to hang your coats, tablecloths displaying diagrams of meat cuts, and meat grinders which had been turned into table lamps. Do I have to mention that they have *no* veggie options?

You may not know this, but I am slightly obsessed with cinnamon buns. Whenever I go to Sweden I *must* have one. At least one. I have been known to bake my own in London, when withdrawal reaches it's peak. So after reading that Saturnus Cafe sold the biggest cinnamon buns in Stockholm, I made a beeline.
On entering the place I was at first distraught to see that there were none on display, but the kindly lady at the till informed me that they were currently baking a new batch and that they would be ready in 5 minutes. So after an impatient wait the steaming package of cinnamon loveliness arrived. And it was HUGE. I'm not sure the picture really illustrates this fact clearly enough, but perhaps the coffee spoon helps a little in terms of scale. I had to call it quits after half of it and pack the rest away discreetly in a doggie bag, as I would otherwise had done myself and internal injury. But man was it good!

We also stopped off at a rather random junk shop in Gamla Stan. It didn't seem to have a name, nor did the owner seem too interested in customers being able to walk around it in. We spotted lots of interesting items from old fashioned pilot helmets to dashing vintage army coats, but erred on the side of sensible in the end.

And so to the yarn! First stop was Litet Nystan in Soder which I really liked. Easily identified by the yarn 'flag' outside:

A great selection of pretty yarns and friendly staff on hand to explain things. They were also hosting a book launch that day. It was one of those cute crochet books which makes me feel like I really should learn how to crochet properly: 'Valkommen till Virkligheten'.

Of course some purchasing occurred:

Two skeins of Merino Extrafine Lace by Tedman & Kvist (about 1,400m each) and some pretty blue Merino Silk with aloe, jojoba and vitamin E (apparently it's kind to your hands!) by Viva.

On the way to the next yarn store, we met some would-be escapees looking to fly their undignified confinement.

Next stop was Anntorps Vav in Gamla Stan, run by a charming lady who does a lot of her own spinning and dying.

Again lots of pretty things, but I fell in love with one sort in particular: Östergötlands Ull. Handspun and dyed locally, I was hooked. Oh and the colourway (called 'karamell' = sweets) totally won me over.

Colour close-up:

With approximately 1,500m of it, I should be able to do something interesting too.. I'm toying with the idea of creating project bags for myself. Choosing a pattern from my file (stuffed) and selecting some corresponding yarn from my stash (considerable) so it's all ready to go. It might just cut down on the time wasted on faffing. Knitting efficiency here I come?

Monday, 6 September 2010

Puppy power!

My colleague M left for her maternity leave last week. She absolutely loves dogs, as could be seen from her appreciation of the Bramble I created for C some months ago. So this time I thought I would challenge myself and create something a little more representative of canine anatomy. Would I live to regret this?

After some hunting around on Ravelry, I found a rather charming Alan Dart pattern which looked vaguely do-able. Shame I had only given myself about a week to do it in.. Anyway, after scoring some cut-price Rowan during a John Lewis fly-by I got to work swiftly. In just a couple of days, most of the bits were done. They did however, (in their non-seamed state) appear more like beige Humboldt Squid pattern pieces than Labrador components.. I regret not taking more photos of the process, but time was of the essence (poor excuse I know).

Thankfully my lovely knitting ladies came to the rescue and showed me their seaming skills in between bites of Carluccio's finest pasta. Phew almost done! The stuffing and final assembly was a little rushed, but I think in the end it turned out alright.

Obligatory mug shots:

M seemed more than happy with the result, which of course made it all worthwhile.

Not sure I'll be making another one any time soon though!