Knitting with All the Fun of the Fair

Note: All The Fun of the Fair has now closed.

One of my favourite places to buy quirky habberdashery supplies is  All the Fun of the Fair. I frequently use their online shop for yarn, patterns, unusual buttons, lace and accesories.

Located in Kingly Court, off Carnaby Street in Soho (London), All the Fun of the Fair has been open for 5 years.

In addition to the cute shop and online space, they often visit craft, handmade and vintage fairs and markets such as the recent Soho Flea Market on Dean Street and the Wealden Times Midsummer Fair in Kent.

In a bid to improve my knitting pattern skills, I purchased a Chunky Knitted Cushion Cover Pattern for a reasonable £2.50. It is a nice simple knit and purl project with Cygnet Seriously Chunky Yarn and 10mm needles. I ordered the bluebell colour, but when it arrived it was more of a lilac tone, so I decided this would be a gift for my sister rather than another cushion for my spare room.

After a few blips in understanding the pattern repeats and many cups of tea later, I had finished the cover. I do love how a chunky knit grows so quickly! It was a 2 evening project with a bit of telly watching in between. A nice plump cushion insert made it feel really big! My sister was chuffed with her handmade gift.

This week, I made a couple of other purchases from their quirky range including the ‘I Love Sewing’ Spool Holder (perfect for my vintage stash), Fancy Trim Pack of Lace and Sew Crafty Gift Tags.

I’ll leave you with Jaqueline from All the Fun of the Fair’s best craft tip:

Try something new. When you’re an expert in a specific craft, be it knitting, crochet or felting, it’s always good to try your hand at a new one. The skills you learn from one can always be transferred to another and help keep your mind creative and filled with new ideas! And if it doesn’t work out, then you just go onto the next one!

Claire x

 

 

Crochet at The Sheep Shop

As part of my handmade mission for 2012, one of the goals I set myself was to learn how to crochet. I’ve always dabbled with a bit of knitting, but never really understood the concept of making items with just one hook? Where do the stitches go? How do all these loops make a hat or a scarf? It was time for a class.

The Sheep Shop is my favourite place to buy yarn in Cambridge. When I discovered they also ran classes, my craft buddy (formerly study buddy) Jess and I signed up for beginners crochet.

The Sheep Shop is run by Sarah, who happily answered some questions about her journey with yarn….

When did The Sheep Shop open?

November 23rd 2011 (I hadn’t realised – it’s 6 months!)

Can you tell me a bit about the beginnings of the shop & why you started this venture?

I felt Cambridge didn’t have much choice for nice yarns, and no comfy environment to revel in choosing them.  The idea kept popping into my head that I could open a yarn shop myself.   I used to work for the county council waste team so it was a big step, but eventually I listened to that idea, and am very glad I did as it’s a joy every day to meet the most lovely people (all knitters are lovely!) and be surrounded by all this incredible colour and texture.

What kind of response have you had to the shop & the classes?

It’s been rapturous. It makes life worth living when people go round stroking everything like they’re cats in a field of catnip – and some have purred.  They’ve been very generous with their comments.  A lot of praise belongs to my wonderful mother – she’s the one who designed the shop and all the decorative and display touches.  The classes are still settling in.  We’ve found some awesome teachers, but trying to match what people want to learn with when they want to learn it is a bit of a learning curve, some have ended up very oversubscribed with others empty.

What is the best item you would recommend in the shop? Favourite yarn etc?

Argh, I love everything!  Circular needles are the bees knees – they are more comfortable to use, easier to carry around, and knitting in the round means you can cut down on seaming, purling and if you’re doing Fair Isle you always have the pattern side facing you.  And interchangeable ones mean you don’t have to have millions of sets of needles of every size and every length.  So the Knit Pro needles are A Good Thing.  I’m a sucker for soft and silky yarns which feel heavenly between the fingers.  My favourite yarns are Mirasol Miski (baby llama), Malabrigo Merino Worsted (supersoft wool), Louisa Harding Grace (silk/wool blend – was up until 2am knitting it because I didn’t want to put it down!) and the Hjertegarn bamboo/cotton mixes – these are cheap as chips but feel silky and gorgeous.

Which do you prefer, Crochet or Knitting?

Well, I’m a bit of a one-trick pony.  I’ve only done a tiny bit of crochet, but keep coming across marvellous patterns on Ravelry and then have a “damn, it’s crochet” moment.  So I guess I’d better learn!

 

Such pretty yarns! For the class we chose some bright colours to crochet with and got to work on understanding the basic stitches and differences between UK/US terms (which I found highly confusing!).

Our teacher Michelle, was self taught and she was kind enough to share with us her many projects which provided inspiration. How lovely is this lace scarf?

At the end of the class we attempted a Granny Square, but I know I am going to need more practice. That’s why I’ve signed up for another course! (I also used really dark purple yarn which made it super hard to see the stitches.)

Many thanks to Michelle for a great class and to Sarah for the lovely hospitality and advice on yarn and books. I’m really looking forward to my next class and feel lucky to have this tranquil corner of yarn in my neighbourhood.

The Sheep Shop has a great Ravelry group and also Facebook and Twitter pages.

Have you been learning to knit or crochet? I’d love to hear your experiences and see your projects – please leave a comment!

Claire x

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair

You can never be bored at the weekend in Cambridge. There is always something happening and despite the tourist season being in full swing (I swear it gets earlier every year!) I decided to wander into town to check out Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair at the Guildhall.

The Affordable Vintage Fair started in 2005 in Leeds and now tours to more than 30 cities and 6 festivals around the UK. Cambridge’s fair this weekend displayed a vast array of dresses, jewellery, bags, crockery and cake. It’s not a proper vintage fair without tea and cake, right?

The atmosphere was relaxed with many sellers willing to share tales. One stall holder was still jet lagged from a recent trip to the US to source 50s swing dresses. Needless to stay I stopped at this stall to admire the polka dots and lace adorned frocks for a while. Although vintage clothes were not on my shopping list for the day, I took time to lust after all the 40s shirt dresses and hand sewn lace tea dresses.

Local vintage boutique Jemporium Vintage were in attendance with a great selection of demin cut offs and sunglasses.

I had to stop myself from buying vintage clutch bags as there really isn’t space in my wardrobe for any more!

How fabulous is this stall of vintage Vogues?!

I had already contacted my favourite vintage market stall Retrovert to reserve some items, so I headed there in excitement to collect my goods from Sophie and Jane.

As well as beautiful crockery, the stall had numerous baskets of vintage lace, doilies and retro nick nacks. I couldn’t resist taking a snap of this vintage icing set!

These retro tumblers were £12 for the set and Sophie had kindly reserved them for me. I am so impatient and realised I should have also reserved the tea cup I had my eye on too. Luckily it was still available and I parted with £5 for this china Mayfair beauty.

After leaving the fair I spotted many people around the city in vintage get up and some fab victory rolls too! Only made me wish I had worn my vintage frock which I adjusted last week.

Claire x

Postcard from Cambridge

For a while now I’ve been getting to grips with my SLR Camera and venturing out on photography trips around my home city. Cambridge is hugely photographic, with plenty of postcard images on every corner. Combined with the creative buzz, architecture, river views and green spaces, it is difficult not to feel inspired every day. I know I am lucky to live here.

I hope you will enjoy my ‘tour’ of the city through this post. If you don’t even plan to ever visiting Cambridge, I hope the photography will at least be something nice to look at.

The most iconic/postcard image of the city is Kings College, used by locals and tourists as a hotspot for outdoor lunch or meeting up (weather permitting) to watch the world go by.

Just opposite, is the super tasty and decadent Fudge Kitchen where you can taste, make and buy SLABS (yes, slabs) of fudge to take home. I recently tried the maple syrup & walnut fudge and it.was.amazing. They even have a loyalty card with double points on a Friday. Win.

The Market Square hosts all manner of sellers, incuding my favourite vintage sellers Retrovert and the Ostrich Farmer on Sundays. Waffles, fresh flowers, cakes and fruit and veg all week, come rain or shine. A shopping must for visitors and residents.

The River Cam is my little haven for quiet time and walks. Equally you can join the masses and punt along the backs of the college or even get up at the crack of dawn for rowing training. I am lucky enough to live incredibly close to the river.

My prerequisite for living in Cambridge, was getting a bicycle. It is the best way to get around the city and my trusty dutch bike gets me places in all weathers! You see all sorts of cyclists in the city, from those riding with an umbrella to pooches in baskets.

The Sheep Shop is a definite for knitters and crochet fans. Tucked away along the river, this quiet haven of yarn includes a shop and courses at a reasonable price. This weekend I will take the first steps towards learning crochet – watch this space!

I hope you enjoyed the tour today!

Claire x

Adjusting a Vintage Dress

A year or two ago, I went to a great swishing event and came home with two vintage dresses. One in brown silk with white polka dots and another bright orange polyester shirt dress. It might sound like a horrid dress, but I felt it had potential and that every vintage dress has a journey to follow.

The orange dress stayed in my ‘needs mending’ bag at the bottom of the wardrobe for quite some time. The length just wasn’t right. Finally I got around to adjusting it.

I started by measuring the hem to see how much I wanted to take the dress up. Then I realised I would need to prepare myself for cutting vintage fabric. *Dread*.

Whilst on, I loosely pinned the hem of the dress and with a friend’s help, decided that just above the knee would be a much more flattering length.

Pinning the hem was actually the most tricky part of this little project as the dress didn’t behave and lay flat. Plus the iron hates this fabric!

I folded a double hem and pinned along the length.

Then I plucked up the courage and cut the excess! I don’t know if anyone else has the vintage cutting fabric fear, but I find it really scary!

I used my sewing machine along the hem being careful to hold the slippy fabric in place as I removed the pins.

The dress has a new shape now it is shorter and I know I will actually wear it now. I will accessorise with a skinny waist belt and gladiator flats if the Spring weather ever brightens up!

Have you ever adjusted vintage pieces? Please share your posts or stories.

Claire x