Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?

… I’ve been to London, to visit the Queen!

Well, almost.

I was barely in London (if Gatwick even counts as London), and I didn’t see the Queen or any of the Royals – but I did spend a really wonderful 6 days in England. My parents were there on a longer itinerary and very, very generously flew me over to join them for the last few days of their trip.

I flew over on a Tuesday night, heading straight to the airport from a conference I had organized for work. I landed at Gatwick on the Wednesday morning, and was greeted warmly by the unspeakably lovely Ruth of Rockandpurl

I had never met Ruth in person, but we connected by twitter and by blog and Ravelry a couple of years ago, and I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. It turns out that she is even more sweet and generous and fun in person than she is online!

After we spent some time at her house and I ogled her studio and yarns (OMG TEH PRETTIEZ) and decompressed myself a bit after the flight, she took me to a lovely tea room and treated me to lunch. I almost ordered a clotted cream tea for lunch and didn’t — and although my sandwich was delicious, in retrospect, that was the only time on the trip where I saw clotted cream on offer, and I do regret not ordering it. I do not regret the excellent chatter over lunch, though, nor do I regret the fantastic tea or the rather fetching waitstaff! (Ruth says she has a friend who thinks the entire staff at the tea room must be comprised of models.)

Photos of Artisan Patisserie, Horsham

This photo of Artisan Patisserie is courtesy of TripAdvisor – for some reason I didn’t think to get my camera out, but it’s even more charming on the inside!

I found Ruth so easy to talk to – even for someone shy and anxiety-ridden like me, who was jet-lagged and travel-stunned to boot – and our conversation ranged far and wide. We talked about her upcoming book with Cooperative Press (!!!) and about her life as a knitwear designer and editor; we talked about our husbands and shared stories of first dates and silliness; we talked about Canada and hockey and Tim Hortons and patriotism, and who knows what else?

Stunning cemetery

Be sure to click through to Flickr to see these shots larger – the beauty of this place was definitely in the details every bit as much as it was in the grand view!

After lunch, Ruth took me for a walk around the village, and into a “spooky cemetery” that is wild and overrun with greenery and generally unspeakably beautiful. It had been dumping down rain, briefly, and then suddenly the sun came out, and everything was glistening. It felt like we had stepped off the high street into some kind of fairy kingdom! (Had it been dark out, the cemetery would have been spooky, but as it was daylight, it was much less ominous, and much more enchanting.)

Stunning cemetery

Sunlight and deep shade, spring flowers, and a weather-worn stone… How unutterably beautiful!

There was something about the greenness of the setting, and the sheer age of the stones, that made it especially clear to me that I was in England, not in Canada anymore. Oh, we have green, to be sure, but this was a very English green that I hadn’t seen in many years. Somehow this place, even more than the tea room or the driving on the other side of the road or the age of the buildings in the village, made the reality of the trip sink in particularly deeply. It set the scene for the rest of my visit perfectly.

Stunning cemetery

You know you have a pair of knitters together when… we both looked at this gravestone and thought immediately of counterpane patterns!

Ruth has tried to convince her photographer to take pattern photos here, but the photographer is convinced that when she loads the photos there will be ghosts materializing in each shot.


Ruth! With no ghosts in sight. (Where did you get that bag, Ruth? Everyone who has seen this photo has asked!)

Ruth and me!

Ruth and me! Timer shot selfie edition.

We eventually wandered back to her place again in time for a bit of knitting together (and more fondling of her book projects) before my father came to pick me up.

@rockandpurl & @anniebeeknits

Ruth and me in her studio – this time, photo courtesy of my dad. I am so envious of that studio, full of light and yarn! My aunt saw this picture and congratulated me on having found a yarn shop within hours of landing, but this shop won’t show up on anyone’s map. It’s all Ruth’s collection, cultivated through relationships with some of the very best dyers out there.

Ruth wouldn’t let me leave without pressing yarn into my hands and insisting I take it home. See that photo above? That’s four skeins (two larger, two smaller) of hand-dyed Alpaca Silk Lace goodness from The Mulberry Dyer. They are exquisite, and entirely naturally dyed! I think it must be a new yarn base for her, because I don’t see it listed on Ravelry or on her website.

Mulberry Dyer Alpaca Silk Lace

Mulberry Dyer Alpaca Silk Lace yarns

Mulberry Dyer Alpaca Silk Lace

The pale yarn was dyed with walnut, fustic, and cochineal (shown); the blue was dyed with indigo, lac, and brazilwood.

My other little souvenir from my time with Ruth? It just happened that I’d gotten the latest issues of both Interweave Knits and Knitscene just before leaving Canada, and Ruth had designs in both, so I made her autograph them for me, which she did with characteristic sweetness:

Autographs from Ruth!

I adore this vintage-y sweater and the way Interweave styled it. And I adore Ruth’s message!

Autographs from Ruth

A very different look, though still characteristically ‘Ruth’ in its clean lines and careful details. Plus another sweet note from Ruth herself!

When my father finally managed to drag me away (with many hugs and promises of future visits!) he settled me into the rental car for a drive off to Norfolk to visit family there. More on that next stage of the adventure in my next post!

For now: it’s Ruth’s birthday today (for a few more hours) so please wish her a very very happy day!

1 Comment

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One response to “Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?

  1. creative pixie

    . Happy birthday Ruth.