Feeling Festive

This year I really seem to have got my festive spirit back. It may be a bit early for some of you, but I got very excited when I saw these  lovely cup cakes in Sugar Junction last week. I went home and whipped up this little santa hat.

This pattern makes a hat for a child with approx 35 - 45 cm head circumference.

You can have one just like this if you have a ball (or approx 100m) of Aran weight yarn and a 5mm circular needle (40cm long). Just cast on 50 stitches, knit until you have a piece roughly as long as it is wide, turn inside out and bind off using a 3 needle cast off. (If you can’t manage a 3 needle cast off and don’t have the time or inclination to look at  a video simply cast off as usual and sew up. Embellish as you wish. I used 2 beaded felt balls bought from Fibre and Clay in Knutsford, but you could easily make a couple of pom poms or tassels with the same or contrasting yarn.

PS I was in Sugar Junction with my lovely friend Debbie. Do check out her latest workshops, especially the dye and steeking days which I am desperate to attend.

The Teacup Tour

I can’t tell you why I was in Manchester yesterday, but I can tell where I went and what I did – which (no surprise) involved cake and the discovery of a couple of fab new places to eat in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

I first visited the Northern Quarter in 1969 – a visit to the dolls hospital – the result of pulling off Sindy’s head once too often! Then in the ’80’s you could find me in Affleck’s or Band on the Wall, more recently I’m more likely to be found drinking a cuppa while the teen and her friends spend their allowance in one of the many vintage shops. So, after 40 plus years  I like to think I know my way around.

Despite a huge regeneration strategy, the area still retains a slightly seedy, almost dangerous air, but don’t let that put you off. Be brave, throw off the security blanket of “Costabucks” and the well known chains, take a map and walk with me through the “real” Manchester for a change.

My all time favourite place for coffee (or tea), used to be Love Saves the Day , but when that closed I was determined to find a new place and was introduced to Cup (which  is now called Teacup) on Thomas St, which takes tea very seriously indeed. They used to do  a fab soup and sandwich, but more recently friends have been raving about their meatball menu which I’m aiming to try out very soon. If you are visitng Fred Aldous for art / craft supplies then this is very nearby.

The lovely Vikki who works in Purl City yarns recommended two places for coffee and cake when I was shoping there, the first North Tea Power, is apparently very knitting friendly, so I’ll be paying them a visit before too long, but we went with her second recommendation Drip, which served up huge cappuccinos and a very tasy rasberry muffin.

We had a bit of a trauma looking for the Loo, only to discover we had been sitting beside it all along!

They also promise wifi, but we couldn’t get access yesterday.

After some great shopping we made our way via the Manchester Craft and Design Centre (there’s a whole post coming about that soon) to Sugar Junction, which  now holds the title of Tracey’s  Fave Place in the Northern Quarter.

I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Not only does this place have the friendliest staff, an amazing tea menu, (very) clean toilets and the best spicy pear cake ever, they managed to serve me a sandwich so generous I had to bring half of it home in a doggy bag (that has to be a first).

This is the place I’ll be heading for on my next Manchester jaunt, and if, like yesterday I need a place for an informal business meeting, this will be top of my list. Very comfy chairs, vases of flowers, vintage china, real tea pots and sugar lumps! When did you last see sugar lumps? All that, and it’s cheaper than a certain chain of Coffee Shop I am known for spending my ill gotten gains in!

Do check out their website, it’s worth it just to see a photo of Bunty.

But don’t worry, despite several new shops opening, including a beautiful flower shop on Tib St, the Northern Quarter is in no danger of becoming “gentrified”, the Koffee Pot is still there and still does a very reviving mug of tea and bacon bap!