Saturday 28 September 2013

More from London

If you feel up to it, we have a little more walking to do. This is the Covent Garden Market.

This part of London belonged in the 13th century to the Westminster Abbey and was known as "the garden of the abbey and convent".  Henry VIII took it and gave it to the Earls of Bedford, and in the 16th century there were fashionable new houses around an arcaded square, and a small open air fruit and vegetable market. In the 1830's these buildings in neo-classical style by the architect Charles Fowler were built to cover the market area.

In 1980 the protected place was reopened as a tourist location with cafes, pubs and shops. The Apple Market is a craft market.

A short walk from the market was another interesting part of the city.

The houses were not set around a square for an interesting reason. To maximise the number of houses as rentals were charged per foot of frontage and not per square feet of the interior, the area was laid out in a series of triangles.

Seven streets meet at this central point, and the Sundial Pillar was built in 1694, at the same time as the houses. The pillar has six sundial faces, and the column itself is the 7th 'style'.

On the way to the hotel we spent some time at the Fowles bookshop, but with my very tired feet (and head) the best they could offer was a comfortable chair.
As the next day will be even more walking and even more photos and facts, I'll show you the London part of it already. We started our one-day excursion at the Paddington Station, and guess whom we met there:

A very famous bear, waiting patiently to be looked after.

We took a morning train, because the 4.50 from Paddington sounded too exciting and because we wanted to see as much as we could at or destination.
This day in London was still a warm and almost sunny one, but here in Finland we have had our first frost nights and a sleet shower earlier this week. Räntää, sleet, it feels and looks as unpleasant as the Finnish word for it sounds. The dotted a's are pronounced like the a in the English word 'bad'.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

London day 2 - Victoria & Albert, and my new finish

Our first morning in London was warm and sunny, and after a nice breakfast at Pret a Manger near our hotel we took the Underground to South Kensington Station. I loved looking at the beautiful tile decorations at the old stations when passing them, and here you can see the old ironwork behind the text. They really made an effort to make the places look beautiful when they were built.
Our destination was the V  & A Museum, but we were a bit early so we took a look at the Natural History Museum across the street too.

Look at all the lions and fish and other animals on the walls:

Lizards with a lion,

and a pelican, I think.

OK, it is 10 am and the doors are opened. This is the entrance to the V&A Museum. This museum, and the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum were all founded after the Great Exhibition of 1851, masterminded by Prince Albert,  was a great success and made a surplus that equals over £ 17 million in today's money.

Relief portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. You may know that Queen Victoria ruled for over 63 years, until her death in 1901, and she wore only black after her dear husband and cousin Albert died in 1861. It was not considered suitable to wear gold when in mourning, so Victoria had a little silver crown made to wear with her black dress and and lace veil.

We concentrated on fashion and jewelry. These are clothes for a doll.

In this dress one would have to go sideways through doors!

Oriental ideas and kimono style were high fashion in 1905 to 1915.

A tennis dress and chic woollen swimsuits. I wonder if those patterns are still available?

After all the fashion Kaija wanted to show me a very special carpet. To protect it from light, it was only lit for 10 minutes ever hour, and photographing was not allowed. Pictures in the next link. Click here to read about it:

The Ardabil Carpet was made as one of a matching pair. They were damaged in an earthquake in the 1870's, and sold off to fund the repair of the shrine where they had been placed. One carpet was used to repair the other. The result was one like the originals, and one without borders. The V & A Museum bought this big carpet after William Morris had travelled to inspect it and urged the museum to add it to the collections. On an earlier visit to V & A Kaija had learnt that in order to make the very large carpet look symmetrical when seen from the usual point of looking, the pattern at the far end was elongated. How clever was that! Next time you make a quilt that is more than 30 ft tall, remember this little tip!
This is the John Madejski Garden, surrounded by the V & A Museum buildings. (Seems like John is a chap with some extra money to spend.)

Click to enlarge and read the text.

This is the Cast Courts where plaster cast copies of monuments are on display. This massive column, here in two pieces and still without the bronze statue of Saint Peter on the top, is a copy of the Trajan's Column in Rome. Today the originals have suffered from pollution and erosion, but the copies from the 19th century keep many details intact.

This is a copy of Puerta de la Gloria from Santiago de la Compostela, the famous destination of several pilgrimage routes.

At this point we were desperate for a moment off our feet so we had a delicious light baguette lunch at the museum's cafe. You must be tired too so we'll finish the rest of the day trip on another day.
I had my circular needles and two balls of sock yarn with me, and I started knitting these socks in the hotel room while resting my feet.

Now they are finished - I'm so happy knitting two socks at a time, this time the usual way from top to toe.

I have the book you can see in my link, but I was annoyed that the pattern of the cover picture was not included.

I have half of my yarn left so I think I'll make another pair, with a different pattern.

Friday 20 September 2013

Day 1 - in London

This will be lots of pictures, some history, and links for those who would like to know more.
On day one, we arrived in the afternoon so something close to the hotel was all we could think of. Liberty was at the top of my list and within an easy walk from our hotel.
The shop was founded in 1875 and moved to this Tudor building in 1885.

They sold beautifully designed fabrics for clothing and furnishings, and "decorative items" for the home. Famous members of the Pre-Raphaelite movement were among their customers.

In a renovation in the 1920's three light wells like this were built, and the customer was supposed to feel like walking in his/her own home as smaller rooms surround the well on each floor.

Old chandeliers have been replaced with more modern lighting.

The names of staff members who gave their lives for their country during the war 1914-1918.

They still sell "decorative items", and one room is a permanent Christmas exhibition. Crafty idea for your next Christmas' baubles!

I liked these red-chested birds. They came in different sizes.

In my mind Liberty means first of all beautiful floral prints. They were quite expensive, but also very good quality. Another delicious sight was the Rowan yarns:

If I had more space in my cupboards, I would have considered these plates for serving fish. As I don't, I didn't even need to look at the price tags! They had others with the fish just on the rim.

I think we are all a bit tired now, so the tour continues later with day 2. Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes as it will be a long walk!

Monday 16 September 2013

Greetings from Britain and two new CO finishes

The holiday is over and I bring you greetings from London and Oxford. I took my daughter on the trip and she was a wonderful guide and source of information in London. Before the trip I created something new for the Craft Olympics. We have a saying about something coming up like mushrooms on rainy weather. Like this:

... and suddenly there are some chanterelles too...

... and before you notice the toadstools have popped up. This is my finish for the New Category of the Craft Olympics, my own designs in crochet and knitting.

For the Special Category I sewed a little rucksack with a zipper in the front
and another zipper in the back for another pocket, and adjustable straps.

The craftiest part of our trip was this fence in Oxford, with lovely pieces of knitted and crocheted graffiti art.

Can you guess how we got to see this, and C.S.Lewis' and J.R.R.Tolkien's favourite pub, and the place where Inspector Morse used to sit and have beer, and the Ashmolean Museum and many other places? We had an experienced guide with local inside information, and many of my dear readers have enjoyed her guided tours in different parts of Britain and other places. Did you guess her name already? It was Melanie, and she tailored us an all day program based on our interests, and came all the way from home to her old home town  to meet us. My next post will cover the first part of our stay in London, but we'll come back to Oxford after that.
Meanwhile, Autumn has arrived to our part of Finland. The leaves are turning red and yellow, and I look forward to sunny days with cool, clear air and fresh wind.

Sunday 8 September 2013

Harvest fair and farmers' market in beautiful weather

Yesterday was the first Saturday in September, and time for the Maa elää harvest fair and farmers' market. The weather was beautiful and warm, bright sky and fresh air, not too hot. Sometimes the event has bad luck and only rain, no visitors.

Farmers and crafters had their stalls and tables along the pedestrian area in Järvenpää, our nearest town.

Our craft club had a stall there too like always.

The local craft centre was showing new trends of their classes. The oddest fashion seems to be the bags and other items made by crocheting can opening rings and yarn together.

Fascinating but strange:

I just love the Autumn colours. Soon I'll change my hanging flowerpots for something like this.

After a good walk around the ares and some shopping my company and I had a nice cooling raspberrry sorbet and soft icecream with espresso before returning home. Tomorrow I'll leave for a little holiday and come back in a week.