Saturday, 24 April 2010

A change is as good as a rest

We're now all settled back in after our lovely holiday - 2 weeks of no phone signal or Internet access was pretty special, but it's been good to catch up with the world again and especially great to come back to such nice comments about my knitting needle tutorial! Lovely Larissa from UK Handmade posted about the tutorial on the Made in the UK blog on Thursday so I feel proud that I'm maybe helping to bring a little more order to the lives of some UK knitters!!!

The last fortnight has been such a lovely 2 weeks spent with the people I love the best that I thought I'd go off-topic a bit and very briefly share (okay... gloat) about what we've been up to. I know, this is supposed to be a craft blog, but I've decided that time spent in beautiful places with beautiful people comes under the heading of "inspiration"!

Week 1 saw the return of the Warne family to the North Norfolk coast after a sojourn of at least 10 years. I have really happy childhood memories of the area due to massive chunks of the summers spent at my grandparents caravan in West Runton. We had a hectic week spent with Mum, Dad, my brother, sister -in-law and their 2 little ones. Freya was fascinated by her cousins and it was so lovely to see how much they like spending time together. Watching the big boys really bought Freya along and she had a few firsts: first sitting up, first proper chuckle and the not so developmentally significant first chip!
Our troupe of entertainers/terrors

Being back in Norfolk was wonderful. The beauty and unique-ness of the coast and its villages had become a quiet background note for my vivid memories of hours spent teasing every last bit of white meat out of Cromer crabs, reading ancient copies of Readers' Digest in Grandma's caravan on rainy days, taking sneaky sips of Dad's beer on sunny afternoons in the Village Inn. So it was great to be reminded quite how stunning the area is.

Cromer beach

On the craft front it was pretty productive considering the company of 3 mini-people. I worked on 2 more tops for Freya - finishing a stripey sleeved crew neck and made significance progress on an Angel top (my first foray into crocheting garments).

Week 2 was a completely different, but equally wonderful visit to the Isle of Mull with 6 friends. We stayed in a converted fisherman's cottage in the tiny village of Kintra, on the Ross of Mull with the most perfect view of the beach. The weather was on our side all week and we spent our days making the most of the stunning landscape.

Beautiful Mull

Laura, the writer and soon-to-be triathelete amongst us has a much better account of the week on her blog, but for me the
highlights included:
  • walks across beautiful heathland to deserted tropical-looking beaches
  • a trip to Iona and the most surreal golf game ever played
  • an early morning cycle ride along the Ross
  • evenings spent talking hilarious rubbish to wonderful friends with the feel of fresh air in the lungs and the warm glow of exercised limbs
Freya turned 6 months while we were there and again this week was full of firsts: first roll from back to front (and once she started, she couldn't stop!), first time in a high chair, first whole banana, first taste of ice-cream and - here's a good one - first night spent sleeping in a bath (in her moses basket I hasten to add!!).

Craft-wise, there was much activity - you can get a lot done in 11 hours of car journey! I finished Freya's crocheted top, and very proud I am of it too. I also made good in-roads into a simple cardi for a friend's imminent baby - I'd forgotten how tiny clothes for new borns are! Julia (creator of Mr Bunny) was my partner-in-craft and she finished the parts for Bunny #3 and then quickly mastered the art of "increasing" with the sleeves of a boat-neck jumper destined for Freya.

Freya's Crocheted Angel top

Julia's Bunny legs

But the craft-related highlight of the week for me was a visit to Ardalanish Isle of Mull Weavers. The others had embarked on a mountain climb which was a little too serious for taking Freya along. We made a little trip to the Ardalanish farm instead and I was massively inspired by the story of this organic farm who started weaving the undyed wool from their Hebridean sheep almost as a side-line. Freya and I were the only visitors to the farm at that time and had a wonderful half hour running our hands over bolts of the most magnificent tweed and admiring the stunning clothing line they have developed - unfortunately, all out of my price range, but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to visit and admire the ethos of the farm, summarised by this quote from their website:

"For us the production of Hebridean and other Native Breed Tweeds is a step towards revitalising the traditional industry of weaving whose end product pays tribute to the sheep and the energy used to grow their lustrous wool."

I love the philosophy that we should pay tribute to the natural world with the things we craft from it and the people we craft for.

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