Friday, 23 September 2011

Little Eleanor in the Big City.

Hello all, boy-oh-boy have I got a tale to tell today! Well, actually it'll probably bore you to death but I remembered to take photos all the way through so you're getting a blow by blow account whether you like it or not!

Knit Nottingham gets asked to take part in stuff a lot. A lot, a lot. All sorts of 'stuff' - charity events, craft shows, art exhibitions, local social groups etc etc. But essentially, I'm a miserable sort of person and I hate being out of my comfort zone i.e. the shop. There's also an awful lot of 'stuff' for me to do for our own shop so taking a day out isn't always an option. But then something or somebody comes along and the event is fabulous and the cause behind it is heart-wrenching and I just can't say no. This was one of them...

National Wear a Tea Cosy on Your Head Day.

Organised by White Stuff, the idea is simple, the staff at White Stuff wear a tea cosy on their head (and you do too if you want) and they put on a day of frivolities in the store which the customers sponsor. Each White Stuff store has a charity that they support and our local store sponsor Brad's Cancer Foundation (look here for Brad's story - I defy you not to have a little cry).

So, the lovely James got in contact with me nearly a month ago about making some tea cosies - I said yes (despite my better judgement, I already had a dalek and two cushion covers to knit to a deadline...) because I couldn't say no. I did bits here and there but didn't really get down to it until this last Monday and Tuesday when I had two days off together that I wasn't hungover and nothing else needed doing and I got down on it, as they say:

This was the start - crocheting infront of the t.v. with a cup of tea and wrapped up in my crochet blanket. Heaven! Also - mega stash bust!

This was part of the results of my effort - 126 crochet flowers in about 4/5 hours. Mega. My thumb still hurts! Then I had to decide what to do with them all... so I went a-searching through my little brain for ideas. I came up with some sort of flower basket - a plain cosy, with a brownish basket popped on top full of fun, frilly, bright little flowers. Brilliant! 

Then I found out that I had far too many flowers to I had to use them in some way, cue my 'abstract' piece...

Then later, whilst watching Big Brother, I had a craving for the knit so I cast on for a second version of my Sheepster tea cosy using some leftovers of 'proper' wool (including the lovely lovely lovely lovely British Wool Aran). 

And finally, the next day, I decided to tackle a pattern I've never been able to do - though I've tried many times - don't laugh... The PomPom Fancy... bad knitter. It got done, but I didn't pull the floats tight enough so it's a bit floppy but it fits my mum's tea pot perfectly so I'm not fussed, that's a Christmas present in the bag!

Pictures later in the post - I didn't take enough of them to put them here too... 

Then, dear crafters, the lovely James popped into the shop and invited me to come down for the day! How exciting! I said yes straight away, a luckily, June was able to cover. I decided to take some spare bits of yarn, needles and hooks with me and made my way into the big city!

I wore some makeup, a lovely dress and some heels! Because, really, I don't get out much so this was a lot of excitement for me! Doesn't the store look lovely?

James was there to greet me and he took me around all the exciting bits of the shop:

This is the male changing rooms - bloody garden sheds aren't they!!!

On the left, that's the inside of the shed (don't worry, everything's screwed down!) and on the right, that's a cat sat on the roof!! Sorry for the bad photo...

The ladies changing rooms are down a little cobbled street with a lovely seating area and a magic mirror at the back which takes your picture and you can collect it later on the internet! Isn't that dead good? Surely we could set that up in our shop!? 

All of the changing rooms are different styles; different doors, mirrors, chairs, light fixtures. Here are my two favourites:

Again, sorry for the bad photos. 

The last bit of excitement is this: 

It's only an old-fashioned sweet shop in the middle of the shop! Haha, this place really was like Disney, I couldn't believe it! 

Anyway, here's where they set me up:

Cute ey!? And comfortable with good light, the perfect knitting conditions! I know Steph's going to love, love, love those owl cushions (though she'd make them herself and a million times better...). If you look closely, just to the top left hand corner of the comfy, comfy, comfy chair there are some little cottage tape measures. Absolutely adorable! But £7.50! Blimey! Might make a nice present for somebody though. 

These were my views for the day: 

The bottom is there little 'home' set up with cookie cutters, sewn tea cosies and some gorgeous 50's kitchen units and on the top is out of the window looking down onto Bridlesmith Gate which is just such an adorable street and seems to be coping well with the recession. The amount of people I saw popping in and out of Flannels and Links (some sort of expensive jewellery place) was quite amazing. Those sorts of places make me glad that my yarn addiction is cheap - only by comparison - but in terms of hour by hour entertainment, there's surely no cheaper hobby? 

I set up my little shop: 

I cast on a few different bits with some stash yarn that didn't get crafted into flowers - the idea was that we'd maybe make enough patches to work into a tea cosy on the day. We didn't make it, eyes too big for our needles/hooks, but I'm going to finish those patches and keep a stash out of all the events and shop samples and bits I make throughout the year and we should have enough to make a few more cosies for the event next year!

And before you start to worry:

They kept me well fed and watered! I had some beautiful tiffin and a mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.... delicious cupcake! All home made by the guys and girls that work there. Lovely. I kept meaning to take photos of the produce but before I got a chance it was down the hatch... Oh well... You'll have to make do with my empty cup and saucer. 

Oh didn't I have a wonderful time!? I did some knits and some crochets - got an awful lot done on my exciting commisions (more on that at a later date). The staff were wonderful. One of the best bits was that the company had sent the head office staff to man the shop floors! I thought that was lovely, it keeps the buyers and managers in touch with what's happening at ground level, provides extra staff on manic days and lets them understand what sort of pressure the shop floor staff are under (and how well they cope with it). I remember working for a 'proper' company and there was always the feeling that they just didn't know, or care, what was going on with us. They'd send edicts at 6pm at night that we had to action before the shop opened in the morning or send us merchandising plans for newly refurbished shop spaces when we hadn't had an ounce of work done in our shop for 10 years. And retail is damn hard work! So I thought that was lovely, well done White Stuff!

These are the pictures of the staff that wore my hats - the lovely sheep on the left, the flower cosy in the middle and the 'abstract' on the right. I'm glad they were well loved. The lady on the right of the middle photo is the manager (wearing the flower basket) and I loved her! She kept coming to see if I was alright even though I could see she was busy and she even had time to knit a few rows on one of the patches! She only meant to knit a couple but just couldn't stop - don't we know how that feels!

I didn't take down any names, you should know by now I'm atrocious but they were all just lovely!

I thought the staff were great. But I'll stop saying that now and just show you this photo:

A trashy sort of a picture that I must have seen before but it's got nipple tassels!!! Nothing else to say I just thought it was great!

And in case you were in any doubt:

There was some fabulous knitwear. I loved this simple jumper and thought it was reasonably priced at £56 (ish...) but we all know it would be much more fun to knit it! The big trends seemed to be chunky (has that ever been out of fashion?!), modern aran-y type cables especially when mixed with lace and leg warmers - blurgh. 

I'm also mega pleased to announce I didn't see one bit of crochet which means that White Stuff has just overtaken Monsoon as my favourite store. Now, if we could just persuade them to sell clothes bigger than an 18 - come on guys, the national average is 16, would it kill you to stock a 22?!!?!??! 

1 comment:

  1. popped in for 5 mins on my lunch break, definately going to go back and have a better look at this place :-) and , yes, maybe we should petition them to stock larger sizes !!