Thursday, May 21, 2015

A wooly diversion

(c) Garnverket, via (c) Garnverket, via
Using the combination of my weather-induced gloomy disposition, the idea of shopping as retail therapy, and a need to replenish the yarn stash I had brought over from NYC as an excuse, I headed over to Kungsholmen to visit one of Stockholm's yarn stores. There are three that I know of, Ljungqvist Garn near Odenplan, Litet Nystan on Södermalm, and Garnverket on Kungsholmen.

I had never been to any of the three, though I had passed in front of the latter a few times while meandering about the waterfront near Norr Mälarstrand and the former thanks to its proximity to Cafè Pascal, one of my favorite coffee shops. And earlier this week with errands to run nearby, I finally had the chance to visit Garnverket.

Walking inside a yarn/craft shop is always gratifying—most have the same charming, cozy feel, with shelves of beautiful textiles, hand knits on display and there's always a quaint little worktable with chairs set up around it to host knitting nights. Garnverket was no different, with the added bonus of an exceptionally kind owner.

When I first came in she was helping another lady, giving me a chance to look around and get myself pumped up for a little Swedish session. By the time Annette came over to see if she could offer any assistance I was ready to squeeze out a few words and her warm demeanor helped me open up and we had a nice little chat.

She inquired as to what I had planned to make with the yarn I had chosen, why I had moved to Sweden, etc. After a few minutes she complimented me on my Swedish (I said she was kind, right?) and I told her I wish I was better at it after a year here, but working mostly from home in English, speaking two languages with R neither of which is Swedish, and not quite getting over the hurdle of switching (or attempting to) to speaking Swedish with native speakers whom I've always spoken English or Italian with, the only times I really speak any is when running errands, going to appointments or when we're out to eat, which really isn't all that much.

To which Annette responded to by inviting me to Garnverket's Knitting Café's, hosted frequently on weekday afternoons in the shop where anyone can come to sit and knit/crochet, drink coffee, chat with others, and get a little discount if they purchase any goods on those occasions. She told me that perhaps that would be a fun way to get a little more practice in (of both the speaking and crafting variety), which is something I had actually never done in NYC (despite many of the same setups throughout the city), but maybe, maybe I might get up the nerve to try it here.

In the meantime, I brought home nine of the sweetest, softest little skeins for my solo knitting cafè's at home.

P.S. Images above courtesy of Garnverket's Google+page since I was too preoccupied with Swedish grammar to take any of my own.

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One year ago: Swedish Differences, Vol. 1 & Our housewarming party & Spa day
Two years ago: Pitter patter weekends & Tonics + potions & Long weekend

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Swedish spring

Mälarpaviljongen, Stockholm Sweden  |  A Swedish spring on afeathery*nest  |
Ah, springtime. Sunshine, freshly-bloomed flowers, baby animals hopping about.

Except when you're in Stockholm.

Where springtime means wind-whipped rain battering your windows, cloudy gray skies, a chill in the air, and only the faintest glimpses of sunlight.

Last year we had just moved into our new apartment in Hammarby Sjöstad when I experienced a Swedish "spring" for the first time. We had just had an unusually cool April in Sicily and then came back to the normally-frigid month of May in Stockholm. We coped with long walks on Djurgårdenspa days, and the joy of buying my first adult bicycle and scooting about town.

This year, living in a slightly more isolated part of town, I've been coping with making lots of pancakes, knitting as if it's winter (not too hard to imagine), and Netflix marathons.

We have had some proper spring days (jackets required), though, so it's not a total loss of the season—we made the most of it by spending that one sunny Saturday on Norr Mälarstrand where we had drinks at Mälarpaviljongen, lunch at Orangeriet, and then ice cream and a snooze in the comfy lounge chairs at the café under Stadshuset (City Hall).

Mälarpaviljongen, Stockholm Sweden  |  A Swedish spring on afeathery*nest  |
Mälarpaviljongen, Stockholm Sweden  |  A Swedish spring on afeathery*nest  |
We just have to make it through two more weeks and then June will be here and hopefully another amazing Swedish summer with many more beautiful sunny days spent outside.

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One year ago: Our new home in Hammarby Sjöstad & Adjusting to Swedish life
Two years ago: Lullaby oil concoction & Playing with pauses & Welcome back

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Postcard from Göteborg

Göteborg Järntorget cherry blossoms körsbärs  |  Postcard from Göteborg Gothenburg  |
A few weeks ago I took the 9:22AM train from Stockholm's Central Station on a southwesterly train headed for Göteborg (Gothenburg), Sweden's second most largest city. We pulled out of the station with the most gorgeous view of Stadshuset retreating behind us, and then it was just us and bucolic views rolling by until we arrived on the west coast of Sweden.

The first thing I thought after stepping out of Göteborg's Central Station was, am I back in Uppsala? It had the same charming, small-town yet bustle-y feel, but better. I was immediately smitten. And over the weekend I realized there were also flashes of San Francisco in its building facades and of Sevilla in its gathering areas and courtyards, the combination of which probably makes no sense at all, but it did to me.

I started off my visit with lunch at Da Matteo near a display of olive trees with the friend I was visiting—she was just transferred from NYC to Göteborg for work. We took a walk from her office to a cobblestoned neighborhood called Magasinsgatan, a warm, industrial area filled with coffee bean roasters, flower shops, home decor boutiques, food trucks and hot pink bistro tables set out in the sun. After a leisurely lunch we couldn't face an afternoon of work sans coffee, so we picked up cups to go a la the Americans that we are, and I had the honor and pleasure of introducing her to Sweden's gift to chocolate lovers everywhere: the chokladboll. By now I've become an expert on them and I can say that Da Matteo's were incredible—not too sweet and exactly the right level of fudgy-ness.

Before we headed back to our laptops we did a little browsing at an adorable shop called Floramor & Krukatös one of those mixed-retail types of places that's sort of like an Anthropologie, but Swedish. And, more affordable. With more unique goodies.

That night we stayed in and caught up over Sex and the City DVD's (naturally). The next day I worked from her apartment and then we met up at the famous Fiskkyrkan, a fish market that happens to be housed in a building that resembles a Gothic church (it was never a church though), alongside one of the city's canals for lunch. The interior reminded me of a much smaller Östermalm Saluhall, with individual fish stalls lining both sides and in the eaves of one side of the building, Restaurant Gabriel, where we sat at the bar to enjoy a tasty meal. Being a Friday afternoon and with the chef/owner weaving his way among tables to welcome people in whatever language they happened to be speaking, there was such a festive, jovial feel.

I had the fried herring with mashed potatoes and lingonberry while my friend had the massive and tasty shrimp sandwich with mashed potatoes and mushrooms. We both toddled our way down the stairs and out into the crisp afternoon full and happy.

Lunch at Restaurant Gabriel Fiskkyrka  |  Postcard from Göteborg Gothenburg  |
Then we walked around exploring more neighborhoods before a little more work and then for dinner, the most amazing pizzas I've had since moving to Sweden at La Gondola.

On Saturday we slept in, lazed about and then took a walk to the center of town for brunch at Hotel Pigalle, whose top-floor restaurant, Atelier, is essentially made just for women. With its gilded touches, floral brocade, and dainty menu, it's not surprising that we were surrounded on all sides by lady friends lunching and bachelorette, bridesmaid and baby shower brunches.

Brunch at Hotel Pigalle  |  Postcard from Göteborg Gothenburg  |

Brunch at Hotel Pigalle  |  Postcard from Göteborg Gothenburg  |
There's only one set menu on the weekend (with substitutions welcome) and it was creative and very, very good.

Before heading home on the last train on Sunday we took a walk to Haga, the old town of Göteborg for brunch. Although we didn't do much except for walk and eat, that's really my favorite way of seeing a place. But next time I'll have to return with R and I hope we can do a little sailing around the west coast's archipelago because it looks beautiful—and there were also be a return visit to La Gondola for that pizza!

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One year ago: Easter 2014 in Sicily & Postcard from Milano + Parma
Two years ago: Smited by the Gods & Fleeing the foolishness & Postcard from Mexico