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.


  1. Imagine how heavy that big dress must have been to wear. That carpet must be utterly amazing. It looks as if you had nice weather for your museum outing. Tired feet need pretty socks. :o)

  2. Oh so many memories! From school and College I used to get the train to London to hand out in the V&A for days at a time! Still love it, and you can never see everything! I still go whenever I can get over. I hope you really enjoy your stay!

  3. Thanks for the tour, Ulla, and the links. I went to see the carpet... very beautiful. And your socks are nice, too.

  4. I don't know if I will ever graduate to making socks. Yours look great. Thanks again for the tour. I do love architecture and always wonder how long it took the artist(for that is what they were to me) to construct all the wonderful detail on old buildings. It always fascinates me I spy the detail on buildings way high up.

  5. Great socks for the cold days ahead of us, you are such a good knitter:)) Love seeing your photos from the V&A museums as will, Ulla!

  6. Thanks for dshowing the nice photos.
    I got so inspirered by your socks that I ordered the book.

  7. The tours have been lovely. Like minded people are interested in similar things. Loved all the architectural photos.
    Nice socks.

  8. Two of my most favorite places in London, Ulla! What a nice place to sit and work on your socks, too - I love the museum cafe!

  9. I followed the carpet link- yes what an imagination it took to create them! I am glad that they both survive although not in their original forms. I think I would've ruined the wide dress bashing it when I went through a doorway forgetting I was wearing it.


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