Month: November 2011

WWW: Socks in Public, Knitting Behind Bars, Knitted Periodic Table

The winner of our Flügel yarn pack contest is Ginger from Oregon. Thanks to the lovely people at Blue Sky Alpacas for the prize!

Image courtesy Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun

A wonderful article about knitter Lynn Zwerling, who has launches the “Knitting Behind Bars” program in Maryland, to teach inmates how to knit. Although prison staff were initially skeptical about the program, it’s proven to be very beneficial. Participants find it soothing and calming, and there has been a marked improvement in their behaviour, mood and attitudes.

Ms. Zwerling maintains a blog about the program, and you can purchase specially dyed limited edition sock yarn to help support the program.  (The colorway is called “I Fought the Law and the Law Won”.)

Six teenage boys enrolled in a high school entrepreneurship program at a school outside of Philadelphia have started a business selling hand-knit hats to their classmates.

Wool is an element, isn't it?

Chemists in Wellington, New Zealand, have just completed a project to knit a replica of the periodic table of the elements. The project was unveiled at the University of Waikato during the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry conference starting last week.

The project was initiated by the Wellington branch of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry and took over three months, with 162 knitters using over 12 miles (22,500yds, 8km) of yarn. The project has Facebook group with lots of excellent pictures!

Image courtesy Matthew Sherwood/The Star

Our own Kate is featured in a punny but fun article in The Toronto Star about knitting socks in public.

A nice little piece from a knitter about colors and how you see them – and how knitting with Koigu is changing that. (Bonus: the slippers are Kate’s design!)

This article about a winter clothing collection campaign in Winnipeg reminds us that, as the cold weather approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, there are families in need of warm winter clothing. Consider making a contribution to a program in your area.

Spinning Tuesdays: I Bought a Fleece and Something I’m Excited About

It started in August.

During Deb Menz’s class at The Spinning Loft I noticed a fleece. A Babydoll Southdown, short, fine and sproingy bouncy. Unwashed it was the color of spilled pepper. When I washed a lock or two it turned to a gorgeous taupey brown.

I decided against buying it because, well, I have other fleeces just sitting and waiting for me.

But this fleece has been on my mind for months! During the Dream Wheel Weekend I couldn’t stand it anymore. I bought the whole thing, almost four pounds.

I washed and carded some right away.

Washed Babydoll Southdown

I even remembered from my spinning along with Deb Robson’s Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, not to over wash the fleece.


I carded it on my Patrick Green Deb’s Delicate Deluxe drumcarder. I ran it through four times.

All ready to spin

I’m not sure what I want to make with it. I have an idea about a cabled shawl. Woolen spun of course.

What do I want to be?

I’m going to start spinning and swatching soon.


Now you can listen to me go on about spinning

I will be a little bit busier in the future and I am so excited about it!  I am joining Sasha at the SpinDoctor podcast. Starting in December, I’ll be talking with her about what we’re both spinning and I’ll be doing an interview or two. More time to obsess over spinning.

Come over and give us a listen!

If it’s Thursday, this must be Dublin

I actually got to the point in my super-amazing birthday trip that I was saying things like this in my head. I started losing track of who’d told me that really neat thing about that really neat yarn and had to start combing my brain for landmarks that would remind me where I’d been when I’d heard the thing. It was disorientingly kind of neat, in a weird way.

Anyway, when we left off last week, I was saying farewell to Glasgow, after a much-too-short visit. There’s a whole country of green highlands and beautiful country that I never got to peek at because I scheduled myself too tightly. Have learned lesson.

My new BFF, Sharon, drove me to Glasgow airport, where I cursed not having asked my brother-in-law his historical family name [Christian isn’t on the list, but he’s got strong Scottish roots] so I could have snagged him something cool at the airport shops. Like I said, next time.

On the other end of this flight, I met the smiling faces of Lisa and her mama, Jacqui, of This Is Knit. One Irish smoothie later [I have a thing for crushed frozen fruit when I am super tired] and I was on my way to downtown Dublin, settled in a lovely attic-style room in hotel where George Bernard Shaw once lived [!] and passed out for the night. It was late and I had a big day coming up.

My knee had started to recover, so in the morning, I slowly ambled to the shop. Look at my neighborhood:

Harcourt street
I love the street light fixtures in Dublin.

The blue sky had me fooled…I didn’t bring an umbrella.

Stopped for what would be a favorite breakfast: a simple bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese and rocket. [You could put rocket — aka arugula — on anything and I’d be the happiest girl in the world. Why don’t we do that in North America? So much better than boring lettuce.] And a proper latte. And free wifi. Many of the Twitter posts I made while in Dublin came from those breakfast stops. Then onwards, to the Powerscourt Townhouse, which I imagined to be a weeny building, based on the name. Couldn’t be more wrong, me. It’s a beautiful, huge, soaring historic building that takes up a good part of a city block, with a large central atrium open all the way to the roof, filled with perfect little jewels of shops, including the aforementioned This is Knit. What a fabulous place.

The view from the upper level of This is Knit's new shop
Clever, beautiful yarn display on the upper level balcony

I taught some serious lace design knitters my Plug+Play technique all day, and that night, fellow Canadian but now Dublin resident Lilly made sure I had some authentic Irish pub experience. And cider.

Irish pubness. Happy me.
bacon and cabbage for dinner! ooh, and more cider!

Of course, by this time, the skies had opened and it wouldn’t stop for two days. It got pretty bad in Dublin.

Next day, I had a late start, which meant I could saunter slowly to my new favorite breakfast spot, have my rockety bagel and coffee, tweet and then get on with the afternoon’s teaching. Siobhán, a This Is Knit patron and clever photographer, was too good a brain not to pick, so I asked her to give a few extra photography tips to those learning about putting their best design foot forward. I learned stuff, too — thank you, Siobhán!

That night, an absolutely delicious Thai dinner, and a quick [ha! in Dublin? where all the streets go the opposite way you want them to?] cab ride home and boom, sackout me again.

Tuesday was walkabout day for me, as the knee continued to feel like it was improving. I went slow and explored galleries and museums, and took illicit pictures:

Acres of 79 euro Aran sweaters. Oh, the humanity.
Perfectly lined up doorways look like a mirror illusion, but they're not
“]looking up inside the museum of history i think…i can never remember museum stuff

I am, to the dismay of my friend, Jillian, not a museum girl. I saw a freaking HUGE dugout canoe the length of one hall in this museum and though, “oh, that is a BIG canoe” and walked on. So it was pretty neat that, the next day, I’d decided to take one of those touristy bus tours I usually avoid like the plague, just to see some Irish countryside  and learned something interesting. The canoe will return in a moment.

The next morning, I got in a big bus driven by a nice guy, and he gave me the Peter Ffrench seat [aka the seat for the tour guide, if there is one. in this case, HE was the tour guide]. So I had a prime spot. The bus filled right up, and off we went to county Wicklow, to see the green hills and movie filming locations, right on Dublin’s doorstep. Here’s some of what we saw:

there is a tiny dot in front of the garage in the middle of the photo...that dot is an older man (70?) diving in to the VERY chilly ocean for his daily swim. he was not the only one we saw.
beautiful green hills fly past my window
not really anywhere, but it's pretty (even with all the heather dead for the winter)
oh, I found some heather still alive! very pretty. must come back when all the hills look like this wee spot.

Around here, the driver told us about the bogs, and how they dug up strips of peat to burn in their houses for warmth. And that big dugout canoe? Was found in the bogs! How cool is that?

me, a big bus, a lot of strangers, and a bridge made famous in a movie I haven't seen (PS I Love You). surreal.
gorgeous scenery overlooking the Powerscourt estate (where The Tudors was filmed), and some random guy growing out of my head
A torrential downpour goes well with a walk in a graveyard (@ Glendalough Monastery)
ruins of the monastery

As everyone on the bus headed for the Upper Lake at Glendalough, I realized something had happened to my knee some time that day and turned back. I had walked too much, or I jumped down from the lowest bus step too hard and now something new hurt in the same bad knee. Unhappy, I headed back to the pub to wait for everyone to return so we could head home.

That night in my hotel room, I could barely limp to the bathroom and resigned myself to more  slow moving on the rest of the trip. An exercise in patience, this all was. I had had such great plans for walking and walking and walking, and it just wasn’t to be.

But I was having a blast anyway, and next on the itinerary was London…on my 50th birthday.

Which I’ll write about next week.

WWW: Black Friday Sales; Save Calmer!; The ‘Delit Maille’

This Friday in the US, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, is traditionally a day of big sales – the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season.

Some of our fibery friends are getting into the spirit and offering deals and discounts that day…

Spunky Ecelctic is offering 20% off of all handpainted fiber and yarn. And be sure to check back December 3 for deals on wheels and other equipment!

The Spinning Loft is offering a 15% discount on every bit of fiber, dyed and natural. Use the code “skeins2011” at checkout. Friday November 25th only.

Black Trillium is offering 25% off all day Friday, November 25th. Please use the coupon code BlackFriday when you check out through Etsy.

a wonderful, unique, unlike any other

Save Calmer! If you follow Amy on Twitter, you will have read of the petition to save Calmer. Calmer is a cotton-blend Rowan yarn much beloved by non-wool knitters (like Amy herself), for its amazing softness and stretch, with a construction unlike any other yarn available to knitters. “Yarns do get discontinued all the time,” says Amy, “but this yarn has no equal on the market from any vendor. Those with wool allergies or sensitivities and those who choose not to use wool for whatever reason — we can’t afford to lose it!”

Lucy Neatby and Wendy Johnson have blogged about their support for this movement.

Sign the petition!

Witty and woolly satire.

A knitter and blogger in France is creating knitted dolls of French politicians to satirize and comment on the French political situation, as the election approaches. Her website, the “Delit Maille” (“knitting offence” in French, but say it out loud to be reminded of a UK tabloid) has become incredibly popular amongst both knitters and newshounds. Video story.


Adorable alpaca (& fiber) pictures in this piece from the Maryland Examiner about the Second Annual Maryland Alpacas and Fleece Festival held this past weekend at the Howard County Fairgrounds.

Pop-culture blog Jezebel features a tutorial on knitting a Burberry-inspired cowl.

Knit your very own!

And following up on news of the amazing sweaters worn by character Sarah Lund in the worldwide hit TV series The Killing, the Radio Times in the UK has published a pattern for the sweater featured in the second season. (Spoiler-free for those of us who haven’t seen the it yet!) There is also a contest to win one of the original sweaters.


A small gallery in downtown Toronto features a rather fab knitting-themed display. The knitter’s arms even move… (Thanks to Sarah Fay for the pic.)

This is the work of a local artist. She’ll be doing a display in a shop window  — a different one every month.

Spinning Tuesdays: Dream Wheel Weekend

Julia Farwell-Clay of Takoma fame came to The Spinning Loft with Kelly (who makes those spinning wheel cup holders that are on every wheel you see) for a Dream Wheel Weekend.

On Friday night Julia gave a talk with slide show that expanded on her wheel maker article in the most recent Spin Off.

It was called “I’m Not Dead Yet” or Custom Wheel Makers Alive and Well in North America. It was fun and informative and just primed the pump for what happened on Saturday.

We got to spin on a whole bunch of wheels by custom wheel makers. Yes, we did. I have the proof in pictures.

Alden Amos wheel - thank you for the loan Marcy!
Reeves Norwegian
Pat Russo wheel
Jenson Production Wheel
Jensen Gossip Wheel - Kelly spinning 2 singles at once
Watson Norwegian
Sasha spinning on the Watson
Carson Cooper Sierra
Julia helping Erica adjust the Cooper
Magnus Drudik 28" Castle Wheel - I tried to keep it, but Kelly said no

It was an amazing experience! I fell deeply in love with the Drudik wheel, the Cooper and the Watson. Thanks to Julia and Kelly for sharing their treasured wheels with us.


Knitting Mondays: Gift Knitting and a Flügel Giveaway

It’s Jillian with a bit of knitting.

We got a new a roof for our house this fall so I am knitting quite a few gifts for winter birthdays and various holidays.

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

Briar Rose infinity scarf

I knit a long (80″) infinity scarf for a friend for her birthday. I used Briar Rose Charity, doubled.


Tweedy Hat

This hat and I have had many words. It’s an easy pattern, a cable rib, but it took me four tries to get it right. Now it’s going to be a hard gift to giveaway.

I’ve still got mittens, 3 scarves, a pair of socks and 4 more hats to knit. Go knitter go!

What are you knitting for gifts this winter?


Do you want to knit a sweater this winter? How about Flügel from our current issue?

The generous folks at Blue Sky Alpacas  have donated a Techno yarn pack for Flügel for a giveaway. If you’d like to see this sweater on your needles, this giveaway is for you. Prize Value $138 – $253. One lucky knitter will win this prize.


The usual rules apply for our giveaway: Leave a comment on this post before midnight, eastern time, on Sunday, November 27, 2011. A comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If s/he answers correctly s/he will win our prize.


When last we left Amy, she was in Wales…

…and heartbroken to leave. So much so that within days of returning home from the big trip, she (me, actually) and Brenda had decided we needed to make our Retreat an annual thing. Date is set already: October 5-8, 2012, in Pembrokeshire, Wales. To stay in the loop and hear exactly what we’re planning once we’ve finalized it all, sign up for the list here.

Anyway, I digress. We left off in Wales, with me making friends with Bulmer’s pear cider. Which I hear I might be able to find in the liquor stores in Ontario. I will start looking.

I took a very short flight, with a painfully expensive overage charge on my luggage (£98…not kidding) because I didn’t realize allowances were different for inter-UK flights. Oh well. And when I arrived in Glasgow, only just slightly tipsy from my Bulmer’s, I was greeted by the nicest people in Glasgow, the staff of The Yarn Cake, led by fearless leader Antje. They took me to my hotel, and as the knee was particularly horrible right then, carried my luggage up 2 super-tall flights of stairs to my room. Service above and beyond? You bet. And they were like this all weekend, taking the best possible care of me a teacher could ever hope for. I am spoiled for life, Antje.

Here’s what I found waiting for me in my room:

thistles and roses, project bag and scotch, chocolate sweeties and a fab mug

They also brought me my first Scottish meal: pie and chips. The best chips I’ve ever had. Was reminded tonight that it might be the lard they were cooked in. If that is true then mmmmm, lard.

The next three days were a blur unlike any I’ve experienced in my travels. I had a lovely lightweight tour of the city by car, since I couldn’t walk more than a few steps at a time, and got to peek at the unbelievable House for an Art Lover, a house recently built based on plans drawn up by Charles Rennie Mackintosh [whose work I adore]. Here are some snaps:

This is a piano. A ridiculous piano.
I adore the rose motif
what a beautiful bit of ironwork
Paisley obelisks that look like something quite different. Ahem.

The house was fantastic, in the old sense of the world, and a little more twee than I expected. A fascinating afternoon’s visit! Was quite bothered by a motif in the light fixtures that the people who built the house insisted on changing from Rennie Mackintosh’s original design. Dudes, you’re not him; don’t redesign him. But look at this room!

the little motif in the light fixtures? not authentic. why?

End of rant.

Anyway, after this fun bit of whimsy, Antje took me, Carol Feller [!] and her fabulous staff out to The Ubiquitous Chip for an extraordinary dinner. One of my favorite memories of this trip is of four of us cuddled into fur-covered chairs near the outdoor heater, under the roof overhang so we stayed dry, looking at this view, each with a pint of something yummy at hand.

Ashton Lane, beautiful in the rain

And then inside for my first haggis [this one with venison!], and of course, the essential sidekicks: neeps and tatties.

I finished 2 of the three things on this plate. Guess which?

And my first sticky toffee pudding, but not my last. It was unbelievable. Oh, sigh. Here is a nice picture of Carol, who is not pudding, but very sweet anyway. [Oh, stop groaning. It’s 1:20am as I write this. I’m punchy.]

The lovely Carol Feller in her own Killybegs sweater

After that, we got down to the business at hand, which was the Glasgow School of Yarn, an endeavour dreamed up by Antje and brought to fruition insanely professionally, especially for an event of this size and it was their first ever. Really impressed, and I heard the same from the students and vendors as well. It looked something like this:

GSoY held in a church designed by Rennie Mackintosh, of course!
That little black thing in front of my iPad? That's my new pico projector. SO COOL.

I got to use my brand-new pico projector (a Cinemin Swivel) to deliver my presentations on this trip. I’ve wanted something like this forEVER and now that it exists and is affordable, I jumped. It needs a very dark room and the text needs to be larger than it would on a big, expensive projector, but it works absolutely brilliantly. Everyone was stunned by the coolness of this thing.

As a bonus, it also lets you project movies, so I got to watch Lost in Austen in my room later that week. Love this thing.

My students, busily swatching for their own shawl designs

It was a great three days, though it went by so fast, and I really hope I get to go back next year. There are rumours of a return of the GSoY, and I hope they’re true! I also left my new BFF Sharon there, and I owe her a pint. Or three.

I promised you Dublin as well in this post, but as it’s Knitty deadline time, I think I’ll have to save that for next week. Besides, it’s fun to stretch this out a bit.

See you next week!

WWW: 150-year-old Fair Isle, swaddling fruit trees, balloon airlifted socks

A generous and wonderful donation.

Amazing story from the Shetland Museum and Archives…. a hand-knitted Fair Isle hat, purchased on eBay for about $12, has been identified as being approximately 150 years old. It was found in a house in London while the owners packed for a move, and it was very nearly thrown away. Instead, a lucky impulse to put it up for sale on eBay meant that it caught the eye of Masami Yokoyama, a knitter based in London. Ms. Yokoyama identified that it was something special, and while on a trip to Shetland for Wool Week, she donated it to the Shetland Museum.

Best Fair Isle sweater ever?

The staff at the Shetland Museum were very excited by the donation, and have confirmed that the piece is definitely 19th century, and the colors used suggest that it was most likely knitted on Fair Isle. The pattern is classic OXO Fair Isle, and the colors all come from natural dyes.

In addition, the Shetland Museum hosts a wonderful online photographic library, including a small but fabulous collection of textile-related images.

Ms. McDermed and some of the more than 400 items her group contributed this past year.

A nice profile of Mary McDermed, a knitter from Homewood, Illinois, who is leading an army of volunteers to make scarves, helmet liners, neckwarmers and other warm items to ship to US Military personnel in Afghanistan. She leads a group of 45 crafters, most of whom are senior citizens. She was inspired to start the effort after reading an article in a 2009 Homewood Veterans Committee newsletter sent to her husband, Ed, a World War II veteran.

Schoolchildren in North Yorkshire have been enlisted to help knit blankets to cover fragile young fruit trees recently planted in nearby Dalby Forest.

The Guardian entertains us again with another slide show from another great knitting book: Knitlympics. Knitted replicas of famous Olympians. So very, very good.

I have to agree with Mary Mooney of the Oregonian, who alerted me to this story: although it’s not about hand-knit socks, it’s still pretty great: a defector from North Korea, currently living in Seoul, South Korea, is using helium balloons to send socks over the border to residents of North Korea. There’s a long history of such balloon airlifts to take information pamphlets over the border, but this is the first initiative to send clothing. Winters in North Korea are bitterly cold, and Lee hopes he can help keep his countrymen warm, and perhaps help them by providing a valuable product to sell or trade for other goods.

Burberry does cables in their own fabulous way.

The New York Times’ Style section weighs in on the current crop of cable knits on the runway.  The high-fashion interpretations of cable sweaters are fascinating.  The history lesson is a bit dubious, but the eye-candy is great.

Spinning Tuesdays: Another Thing I Love About Fiber People

We love to trade.

I used to be a weaver. I have an eight harness Might Wolf that I haven’t used for years. It’s been hanging out at friend’s house just visiting.

Then another friend got bitten by the weaving bug, big time. “What would you want for your loom?” she asks. Offering just cash is boring, we decided a combo was in order.

You know how a spinning wheel can get stuck in you heart? I don’t need another wheel, but wow, this wheel waves to me, blows me kisses every time I see one.

So I tell her, “I’ve always wanted a Lendrum double treadle”.  Cat out of bag, the words and wish set loose into the universe.

Last week she shows up at my door with a big box.

My new Lendrum

She found me a Lendrum. I don’t think the old owner used her more than once or twice. It came with the jumbo plying head , the fast flyer, a carrying bag and 9 (!) bobbins.

My friend will get her loom in early December.

And my new wheel? She spins just fine.

Abstract Fiberarts, polwarth, Hopworks colorway

I love a good trade.


Party in the UK, eh?

I just got back from the biggest trip of my life. Almost a month in the UK and Ireland, coinciding with a big milestone birthday.

It was a teaching trip, which meant a lot of pre-planning and arranging, and it also meant that I got to meet more knitters from places I hadn’t been to before. This trip, I went to Wales, Scotland, Ireland and ended up in London. A really nice itinerary.

Let’s start with Wales. Wales [specifically West Wales] is the home of my friend Brenda and her partner, Tonia. Hub and I got to know them on the Sea Socks cruise in 2008, and we’ve been close friends ever since. We’d even travel with them — and that says a lot.

Brenda learns to use Instagram while waiting for tea to brew

I arrived in Wales the day after my 21st anniversary with the hub, and with a bunged-up knee that [frustratingly] plagued me the rest of the trip and is still not right (a little acupuncture a few days ago is helping, though).

I spent the run-up to P3 on Brenda’s couch, knitting and watching Downton Abbey right from episode 1. I fell in love with their cat, Jasper, who is now my cat, or at least Brenda allows me to believe this, which is a kindness.

Jasper, my cat who lives in Wales.

We took day trips to nearby towns where the streets are paved with cobbles and everyone is nice to you, whether they’ve met you before or not.

Smack dab in the middle of town, history. I love the UK.

It’s true. Everyone is nice in Wales. Hub and I want to live there.

Brenda took me to Cardigan, where the opportunity for puns was rampant, but the cardigans were scarce. She took me to visit the most beautiful Castle gardens; even at the end of its season, it was exquisite:

Huge plants, with Brenda there to show they're taller than peoples!
faery ring?
I have a thing for water lilies. Water lilies in a Welsh castle pond? Swoon.
Me, being a tiny elf. (I'm not fooling anyone, am I?)
Take that, Downton!

Brenda and I had decided that, instead of me teaching a simple afternoon class in Wales, she and I should plan a lace-knitting retreat where we could both teach. So we did. We called it Plug+Play in Pembrokeshire, or P3 for short. As the week went on and the retreat was fast approaching, we had a few little loose ends to tie up. This one was the most fun: packing the goodie bags!

Brenda sorts the yarn, provided by AlishaGoesAround, Anzula and Indigodragonfly, destined for the P3 goodie bags...a delightfully challenging job!
Boxes and boxes of well-stuffed goodie bags

And then it was time to drive to Beggars Reach, home of the P3 retreat.

The view from our classroom. Not too shabby.

14 knitters joined us from the US and all over the UK in a beautiful Welsh country setting, and we had an unqualified blast.

We talked about my Plug+Play lace principle and applied it to shawl design. We brainstormed over graph paper [they call it squared over there], stitch pattern books, and lots and lots of tea.

Lian, Karen, Laurie and Kathleen, making lace magic happen at P3 (look at the backdrop for our learning environment)
Vandy sits back and examines her work in progress

We learned how to put lace into a sweater pattern without tearing your hair out. We exchanged US/UK comparisons on expressions, holidays, customs, traditions. We bonded over Downton Abbey and Doctor Who. We ate yummy foods, including a traditional Sunday dinner (at the traditional lunchtime).

Roast beef with potatoes and Yorkshire Pudding (the veg came soon after, in heaping bowls)
Pavlova for dessert. I knew I should have ordered it.

We knit a lot. We laughed even more. We had the most wonderful time.

the knitters of P3

A few accounts of what it was like from the participants’ perspectives can be found at the pages of Catherine and Kathleen, and the video that Laurie took.

Leaving was hard. We were super-tired, but the good kind of tired that happens after something important goes well and you did your best. Brenda and I talked about next year the whole way back, and Tonia put up with us. She’s good like that. We talked about the people and how much we’d miss them. It was a pretty fabulous first retreat.

So yeah, next year, in some form. I promise details when they are available.

After that, there was little time left in Wales for me, which started to elicit physical responses. I was already homesick for it and hadn’t even left yet. So Brenda popped me back into the car and off we went to Hay-on-Wye, in search of this place. I was so surprised to have missed it last year when we were there, and was determined not to let it happen again.

I also had a short booky wishlist: I wanted an Arnold Bennett Penguin paperback and maybe something sailing-y for the hub. Both of those were easily achieved in Richard Booth’s Bookshop, a place I wanted to move in to and never leave:

This is a BOOKSHOP, people. Can you stand it?

But no one had heard of Merchant & Mills. No one. Until one sweet shopkeeper offered to use her phone (our mobiles were useless in town for some reason) and call them. Turns out, they’re not in Hay-on-Wye. They’re 20 miles down the road. Cough, cough. Unimpressed with this marketing tactic (labelling your shop as coming from somewhere posh when it actually isn’t), we headed to the home of solace, Shepherd’s. Where we had what may go down in my lifetime as one of the best lunches ever. It looked like this:

Ginger ice cream with lemon polenta cake at Shepherd's.

Brenda and I are still talking about this. Yes, ice cream, cake and coffee for lunch. What of it? (Did I mention that the ice cream was made from sheep’s milk? Because it was.)

The last day in Wales was meant to be me and Brenda and Tonia booting about Cardiff, seeing Doctor Who sights. But with my knee as it was, we chose another day of relaxing on the couch, with much icing of knee, knitting and lots of Jasper love.

This was my view all afternoon. You tell me YOU could resist this cat? It's impossible.

And then off I went to the Cardiff airport, where I met my new best friend: Bulmer’s Pear cider. I would spend quite a few happy evenings with a glass of this stuff as the trip went on. (I’m not much of a drinker, but I do like cider.)

Yummy. I don't usually get on planes a bit tipsy, but this time....

 And we’ll leave the trip here. See you next Thursday for installment 2, which will include my next stop Scotland, and Ireland, which followed soon after!