……… a wonderful retreat in Wales, and I am still full of excitement and wonder from the one I attended last weekend.

The hosts were Brenda Dayne (of Cast-On podcast, amongst other fabulous achievements) and Caerthan Wrack (of Triskelion Yarn and Fibre), both of whom provided inspirational instruction during the weekend.

The location was Beggars Reach Hotel, which provided just the right combination of support for excited attendees – sleep, food, service and ambience were all perfect.

Many of my friends have asked what happens on these weekend woolly retreats and, whilst I am bursting to give them minute by minute details, I would not want to spoil the fun for anyone attending a similar retreat in future.  Instead I will share some photos of the weekend.

Learning the alchemy of Indigo Dyeing, and being totally mesmerised by the whole process, we turned a little corner of Pembrokeshire into lovely shades of blue.  From preparation of yarn and fabric (poised inelegantly ready for the dye bath):

To the preparation of the dye bath, using all this:

To produce this yellow vat:

Into which all that prepared yarn and fibre is bathed and, eventually, through the wonder of alchemy, turning into multiple shades of blue which were hung on the railings to dry:

Loving the rewards of yarn preparation and Japanese Shibori resist dyeing techniques:

Using Jamieson and Smiths yarns in ombre knitting techniques – so many colours to choose from:

Being tempted at the tiny perfect marketplace:

But most of all, enjoying the company of wonderful like-minded yarn addicts from across the world.

Thank you to everyone who attended, presented, sponsored and helped along the way.  It was brilliant and I can’t wait for the next Gwlana which will be at The Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales next May, something different but which is destined to be just as great!

Happy knitting, crocheting and dyeing xxx

The best came last……..

On the last day before we flew home, the plan was to visit a couple of museums and then do a little shopping before lunch.   The museums were excellent (Museum of Asian Art, an extensive collection of Asian artefacts and a great insight into the Hellenic influence,  and Casa Parlante, a living history museum).    The shopping aim was to try and find some oregano in a small terracotta jar.  We had bought one such jar 6 years ago but had broken it fairly recently.  There were lots of herbs and spices for sale in the usual tourist shops, but no little terracotta jars.  My memory told me we had bought it on a road somewhere near the old market and not a very touristy area.   So we were heading up to this location and were having no joy in finding terracotta jars when I suddenly spotted this sign:


The sun was bright making the window more like a mirror than a window, so I looked very closely and was amazed to find a it was a very lovely yarn shop!

Crocheted Autumn Leaves in the window
Crocheted Autumn Leaves in the window (or earrings!)

I was in there in an instant.   I think my enthusiastic entry surprised the owner Elli!    The shop is very new (only open about 3 months) and has little internet presence (yet).  There is a facebook page which I am certain will gain more followers.

I had a long chat with Elli, a lovely lady with excellent English who has set up a perfect shop:  fresh, new and very modern.  She has many English friends who are interested in knitting and crochet and she told me it is also a growing trend amongst the younger generation in Greece, very much like here.    I explained my search for a yarn shop and finding one in a lingerie shop which she said is the traditional way to buy yarn.      She has a small library of English magazines and books, which she wants to expand so that her English customers can have a good browse, but as we know knitting and crochet is international, especially charts and symbols.   And she plans to do workshops.

I promised that next time I am in Corfu I will have coffee with her for a much longer chat, in fact that’s a very good reason to book another holiday 🙂

I asked if she had any cotton yarn and she took me in the back of the shop where the cottons are (as they are out of season now) and amongst the selection I found a linen mix in a lovely pale blue:

Pale blue linen mix
Pale blue linen mix

When I purchased she handed me a perfect little crochet heart as a present:

Crochet heart
Crochet heart

Pompon is located at 7, Velissariou and is near M&S.  With M&S on your left, head north and take the second turning to the left – that is Velissariou – Pompon is a short way up on the right.  It’s a short walk from everywhere – the shopping area, the old town, the old port and the new port.

I know there are plenty of people who visit Corfu Town on cruises, every day we were on holiday we saw one or two very large cruise ships in port.  I even know of some that do specific craft cruises – so if you are in Corfu Town, whether on a cruise or staying on the island, even if just for a day, pop by to see Elli at Pompon and enjoy her thoroughly modern yarn shop, a new gem to be found in Corfu!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

PS we never found the oregano in terracotta jar, so if you know where I can find one please let me know.



Crochet and lace

Whilst there is plenty to see and do in Corfu Town, Corfu has many lovely villages to visit and so a hire car was an essential for some of the holiday.  The first day we had the car we travelled up to Kassiopi, a small port on the North East coast.

It was quieter than we have ever known it, mainly because it was so late in the season but also because the economic crisis in Greece has had an impact on tourism (such a shame as the island remains largely unaffected and there is no reason not to go there on holiday to enjoy the best Greek hospitality).   However, we like quiet!   Plenty of space for a wander along the seafront, stopping to spot fish, watch boats and enjoy the views.  Time also for a leisurely latte by the water’s edge.

Thankfully, despite many businesses being closed already in October, the place I wanted to visit was open – Agathi’s lace shop.

Agathi's lace shop
Agathi’s lace shop

I have visited this shop several times over the last 20 odd years and it always had plenty of customers, but this time it was quiet.  Agathi was crocheting as I entered and I was the only one there, so it was an excellent opportunity to have a chat.   She had just started crocheting a top-down cardi in white cotton – she pointed at all the crocheted tops hanging up around the entrance – all made by her.    She makes so many glorious things:  garments, tablecloths, doilies, rugs – and in many different fibre crafts: lacework, crochet, traditional Corfu Venetian lace (a sort of tatting), weaving, cutwork, embroidery, ribbon embroidery, cross stitch – the list is endless, she is extremely talented.

Agathi opened her shop 43 years ago, in that time she has seen many changes.  The season used to start early (March) and end late (November), but it has changed many times over the years.  Today the season depends very much on the airline timetables and so do her sales – she has so many beautiful woven rugs but they will be too heavy for taking home on an airline and I expect many of her sales are for the smaller items.  Next time I go to Corfu I will pack light to save room for a rug!

Each item in the shop has been made by her (well, apart from the carved olive wood by her son!) and the range, quality and beauty of them is unbelievable – she is so very talented.

I purchased 2 beautiful square doilies, in very fine crochet:

Motif doily
Motif doily

This one is 4 motifs joined simply in very fine cotton.

Textured doily
Textured doily

This is a single motif, with texture.

Each one will have taken 2 days to make.  I explained that I crocheted as well and she suggested I should copy them!   But I won’t as I doubt I have the patience or talent to make such very fine work.  However, she has inspired me – and when I returned to the hotel I started swatching a motif based loosely on a simpler part of one of her doilies, it won’t end up anywhere as good as her work but it will remind me of how wonderfully talented she is.

Agathi’s is well worth a visit if you go to Corfu. Kassiopi is easily found and Agathi’s is on the main street down to the harbour.   Next time I’m in Corfu I will visit again, it’s a must!

Tomorrow I’ll post a final blog about my fibre adventures in Corfu…..the last day was a bonus which I’m keen to share with you 🙂

Happy crocheting xx

It’s true!

I have researched yarn shops in Corfu before, and found a couple of blogs that suggested the place to find yarn in Corfu is a lingerie shop.  And I have tried to locate one in Corfu Town once a few years ago – to no avail.

However, this time I was determined to find it.  All I knew was that it was ‘around the corner from M&S’.  Yes, there is an M&S in Corfu Town!

I know where Corfu’s M&S is so my plan was to walk all the way around the block where M&S is located.   My husband is very supportive of my yarn searches and was happy to let me wander the streets a while looking for the lingerie/yarn shop.  I spotted a lingerie shop with the sign ‘Triumph’ outside (Triumph is a well-known UK bra manufacturer), but when I peered in the window I could see no yarn.  So I walked some more and then after prompting from Supportive Husband I went back to look a little more – right at the back I could see what I thought were buttons.  So in I went and YES there was yarn hiding at the back, along with quite a lot of haberdashery and some fabric.   There wasn’t much yarn, and it was mainly acrylic, but I found this:

Corfu yarn
Corfu yarn

2 large balls of aran weight wool/acrylic mix from Italy in very short variegations of blue (suitable best for crochet I think) and a 4 ply angora/acrylic mix from Turkey in longer variegations.

The purchasing process was interesting.  I had to take the yarn to the haberdashery counter for the yarn to be bagged and the prices to be written on a small piece of paper, then take the paper to the front of the shop to pay.

I bounced out very happy.

Unfortunately I have no photo of the yarn shop as it was on a busy road (and more congested due to roadworks) but this is the name on the bag:

Corfu Town yarn shop
Corfu Town yarn shop

And it is located at 14, Stamatiou Desila, very close to the open air market (recommended for a visit to see the most glorious display of fresh fish for sale).

We hired a car for a few days and took our usual route through town to get from the port to the seafront at Garitsa Bay, a route we have travelled many times which goes through the open air market and, yes, right alongside the lingerie/yarn shop – over the years I must have passed this shop so many times yet not realised it was a yarn shop!

On foot it is easy to find, it is just around the corner from M&S, walk south on Theotoki Georgiou with M&S on your right and take the very first right turn – the shop is a very short distance along on the left.

I have no idea what I will make with this yarn, but I chose blues because, as well as being one of my favourite colours, it reminds me of the blues of the skies and sea around Corfu.

I was very satisfied – I had found yarn in Corfu fairly early in the holiday (but was it the only one?!).

So my next adventure was to revisit a lovely crochet and lace shop in Kassiopi – more about that tomorrow.

Happy knitting and crocheting xxx

Room with a view…..

It’s a while since I blogged, but I have a good excuse – I’ve been on holiday.  Shortly after returning from Yarndale I was packing cases ready for a holiday in Corfu.

We love Corfu and have visited many times, normally in May or September.   This year we had a few logistical problems getting a date for holidays, mainly because there was something happening virtually every weekend throughout May and September.  However, it is still possible to fly directly to Corfu in October.

As we knew many holiday businesses will start to shut during October, we decided to do something a little different and book a hotel in Corfu Town rather than book a villa in the North East, hoping there would be plenty of activity in Corfu Town.

So that is what we did, choosing our hotel carefully so that we had a good view and a short walk to the old town.

This was the view straight out of our room:

The old fort
The old fort

The weather was good for October, mainly sunny and very warm.   Evenings were still warm and no jacket or jumper was required.  Our view to the left in the evening:

Spianada, Liston and Palace of St Michael & St George in evening light
Spianada, Liston and Palace of St Michael & St George in evening light

However, we did have a little rain, a few grey clouds and one magnificent thunderstorm. This is the view to our right on the evening the thunderstorm started to build (shortly after this shot the clouds thickened, the breeze turned to wind and the calm sea gained white topped waves…):

Garitsa Bay in the evening
Garitsa Bay in the evening

The hotel was the Cavalieri, in an old Venetian building of character and a rooftop restaurant (with those views!).  It was just what we wanted – not a large characterless box, no spa or gym, no pool but a tremendous location, lovely character, restaurant with a view and good service.

I am sure you will be wondering if I did anything yarny on holiday….well I did, but I’m saving up my Corfu yarny adventures for more blog posts – just watch this space!

Happy knitting and crocheting xxxxx