Last Thursday myself and Lara went off to Edinburgh to have adventures and to visit Kate. Kate’s own words on her recovery and rehab are absolutely brilliant and I feel there is not much that I can add; just that it was amazing to see her, that she is every bit as dignified, strong and thoughtful in person as she is online, and that she is the most stylish patient since Frida Khalo.

As you may expect our adventures in The Burgh were largely influenced by the context, and themes running through the weekend included visiting places that we have read about on needled, and finding places where we may acquire good provisions for the improvement of a hospital-food diet*. We also tried out a version of the Jane Gaugain walk that Kate wrote for Twist Collective, acquired knitting ideas and materials along the way, and made a brief pilgrimage to The Oxford Bar, where one of Lara’s favourite fictional characters – Detective John Rebus – hangs out after hours in the Ian Rankin novels.

We started off by dumping our bags at the Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel and making explorations around Broughton Street, where we found Concrete Wardrobe. Here I purchased a lovely brooch by Paola McClure to fasten my Maud. I love the sad/concerned face on the badge, and the love.

I spotted a shop with a name derived 100% from the typeface selected for its signage!**

After this we paid a visit to The Royal Edinburgh Repository and Self Aid Society and purchased some of the beautiful handiwork on sale there. The amount of money that we paid for the work sold through the repository seems a little low in proportion to the skill and beauty evidenced in that work, but the proceeds do all go directly to the maker and the institution has a solid and long history of allowing women of limited financial means to gain income through making – a history you will be familiar with already, if you read this post that Kate wrote. By amazing coincidence, Lara selected a fine colourwork tam for herself that was also made by knitter 66, while my beautiful shetland gloves were made by knitter 44. I am very enamoured with my gloves and grateful for their warmth. I like the gradations of colours and the subtlety of the grey and white scheme and if knitter 44 should ever be reading this, Thank You.

We then set out to find good cheese. Mellis turned out to be the perfect place to assemble a small platter of delicacies and with these and our respective knitting projects, we set out to the rather inflatedly named Charles Bell Pavillion at the Astley Ainslie Hospital. I had been searching for information on bus timetables beforehand when I learned that this place was established by funds from a wealthy mid-Lothian sheep breeder, named David Ainslie. Unfortunately there are no descendants from his livestock there today, though I think it would improve the place if there were a few grazing sheep around to cheer the view and provide distraction from tedious puzzles.

Later that night we went home, rather overtired from our early start, and made dire efforts to feed ourselves some tinned soup.

We have learned from this experience that a 4am start is not conducive to good soup-pouring abilities come 11pm.

On Friday we ventured into town with picnic items, ready to walk in Jane Gaugain’s steps through the city. We could not access the pdf map that provides a route, so we improvised with a combination of Lara’s iPhone and a tourist map. Taking all the place names we could find from this article, we crossed North Bridge and found the Balmoral Hotel where the businesses owned by Jane Gaugain’s husband and Father once stood.

We failed to locate Register House on the corner of Princes Street which houses the 1182 trade charter from Philip of Flanders to the Monks of Melrose Abbey, however we enjoyed speculating on the contents of this document and the history of the wooltrade in general, before striking off up Frederick Street, where I insisted that Lara augment her picnic set with the addition of an ever-useful Spork,*** and where we got our first glimpses down towards Stockbridge.

We turned down George Street briefly, to see the site where Jane Gaugain’s knitting emporium once stood; it is now a menswear store but we enjoyed envisaging it in its former, knitterly glory, before once again setting off down Frederick Street.

Pausing for coffee, there was much taking of photographs as we surveyed the lovely greys and browns inside a wonderful place on Frederick Street. I cannot remember or find the name of this place, but it sold good strong coffee from Artisan Roast, and all the woodwork inside was made from salvaged church pews.

Our table also had a bottom converted from an old sewing machine, continuing the day’s theme of needlework and textile appreciation.

Continuing down towards Stockbridge and St Bernard’s Well, we noted a certain familiarity in our surroundings. A little Internet research has helped me to identify that Ysolda’s photos for Matilda Jane were taken around St Bernard’s Well. This seems very befitting, somehow linking the places historically associated with one successful knitting entrepreneur of Edinburgh, with the work and designs of a contemporary successor.

From St Bernard’s Well, we walked along the Leith, trying to picture it in the times when Woollen Mills lay along its banks.

Finally, we ended up in the Dean Cemetery, searching for area H where Jane Gaugain purpotedly lies in an unmarked grave. Since we had no idea where to find “section H,” we tried to locate the statue that Kate photographed for her Twist Collective article, so that we could recreate the same image and thus be assured of having visited the correct area.

We did not make it to the Museum before rushing to Newhaven port to meet up for dinner, just in time for a beautiful sunset.

Saturday’s early morning adventures involved rather a lot of traipsing around Edinburgh with our bags and spotting the sights, which included views from around Edinburgh Castle and this wondrous teapot which reminds me of Kate with its dual tea/yarn references.

We quickly swung by the farmer’s marker with just enough time to eat dangerously sugary meringues before catching the airport bus and our plane home. I am glad my socks didn’t break again, as there would have been no time to darn them as I did on my last visit.

Feeling rather travelsick and high on sugar, we reluctantly headed back down South, missing Edinburgh and Kate already

*Cheese! Cheese!
** Sorry, I appreciate this is extremely geeky for anyone who is not as obsessed with typefaces as I am…
***The Spork is very useful for camping/picnics/packed-lunches

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