It’s true–sheep in the city! For one day only–Thursday, Sept. 27th–sheep will graze alongside midtown lunchers in Bryant Park, which I like to think of as my library’s backyard. I’m particularly excited about their visit because, after a trip to Ireland this summer that included five days of hiking across green hills and pastures among countless sheep (a few of my many pictures of them are below), I am a bigger fan of sheep than ever.
Last month I met Bristol-based designer Nick Hand. Over tea we talked about handmade creativity, and he told me how he’s been exploring and documenting the makers he meets. But it wasn’t until this recent stretch of warm days, when I got on my bicycle again for the first time in months, that I realized I’d neglected to recommend his work here. So today I will remedy that oversight.
This past Saturday morning, I was grumpy. Both the L and the 7 subway lines were shut down all weekend, making the process of going from my Brooklyn home to my Manhattan workplace just about as inconvenient as possible. I was unhappy about it, even though I was heading to work for a fun reason: the first spring handmade crafternoon (it was a great time, with guests from the New York Guild of Handweavers; you can find pictures of the weaving we did here).
But after maintaining a mood of quiet disgruntlement for most of the journey, I had to smile because Sophie Blackall‘s subway knitter was there to greet me as I embarked on the last leg of my journey.
It seems that the summer has slipped past me completely. But while it may be true that the season’s almost over, I continue to think back on my June vacation in England and am so grateful to have had the luck to take a true holiday before July and August disappeared in a whirlwind of meetings, presentations, dog walks, classes, dinners, and sewing (about which I’ll report soon).
But back to holiday nostalgia. Using a short-stay flat in London as our home base, we explored southeast England in a series of day trips on foot and by train. The varied landscapes and buildings all had vivid tales to tell, and I was so happy to have read Una McGovern’s book ahead of time because I could begin to understand and appreciate the skill and labor that went into creating each stone wall, thatched roof, and artfully arranged orchard we walked by. We hiked across fields, through forests and villages, along marshy coasts, and among old, old oaks. We saw oast houses, mosaic ruins left by the Romans, mysterious standing stones and prehistoric mounds, Elizabethan hunting lodges, and ingeniously constructed gates and stiles and hedges along the paths to allow people through but keep cows where they belong. We also spent some reacquainting ourselves with London, wandering among its parks and along its canals.
In addition to the sites already mentioned above, here are some additional memorable elements of my summer vacation:
*The V&A’s quilt exhibition and its books (both the exhibition catalog and Patchwork for Beginners) that I brought home so that I can continue to be inspired, enlightened, and informed about all of the quilts’ techniques, stories, and connections.
*The many animals we spotted: coots, swans, a variety of deer, herons, cows, horses, sheep, dogs.
*Memorable meals in stunning spots, including a visit to Meantime at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and a lovely dinner at The Wapping Project, an abandoned power station reinvented as a dining and arts space.
*And last but not least, London’s innovative ladies of publishing—specifically, the friendly and welcoming women of Selvedge Magazine (a fabulous periodical with fashion, art, craft, history, and more) andPersephone Books (purveyors of should-not-be-forgotten English authors’ works, packaged in elegant dove grey wrappers with carefully chosen endpapers that often recreate vintage textile patterns). Both concerns maintain combined work/shop spaces in London, and in both spots busy staffers took time to welcome me and assist me with my purchases before returning to their other duties. I love what they do, and I loved that I could visit them.
We couldn’t have created this trip without doing some research first. All of the little volumes pictured here were useful, but the best sources for practical details as well as discoveries turned out to be Walks in London and Southeast England, IDEO Eyes Open: London, and City Secrets: London.
What’s coming up in the fall for me? After one quick getaway to Seattle, I look forward to settling into autumn in New York, and to visiting the Charles Burchfield exhibition at the Whitney and Dead or Alive at MAD before each closes. And I have some dressmaking and knitting to get back to as well.