Thursday, 31 May 2012

[Insert Clever Name Here]

This is why I've been slow to update around here. It's a LOT of commission and a little of my own knitting. I won't go into detail about it all. Suffice to say I am overwhelmed at the minute and I keep promising commission customers that if they come in in a month of so it'll be fine but the problem with this batch of madness is that I kept saying to customers 'come in after my holiday' and they all bloody did!!! Not complaining just tired...

I will say that I am dead pleased with the teddy bear's face!!!!

Anyway, I've got a blog planned about steeking. This second attempt at steeking went a whole lot better than the first and I thought I'd talk you through what I did. But I will stress that doing something two times does not an expert make. Anyway - look forward to that.

I did say somewhere in the last few posts that the shop is slow because of summer and I guess it was but around the time when we had our first blast of proper summer last year (or was that, only blast??) I started taking note of extreme weather like snow or torrential rain to see what effect is had on sales and I've been able to work out that we're actually up still! Isn't that brilliant? I get the feeling that we're actually creating a sustainable business here. Crossed fingers.

On that note I did an interview on BBC Radio Nottingham on Monday and an unfathomable time of day (8am or so...) about 'young entrepreneurs'.  It was only three minutes long but I got myself in a lather about it and had to knit throughout to stop me murdering somebody. Urgh. But I think it went quite well. If you fancy listening, click here for a link and pop to 2:12 or so. If you're bored whilst listening to it, try counting all of the 'yes's I said - I think that was nerves too...

Aaaaaaaand finally, WE GOT SOME NEW COLOURS IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've put them all up on the website so I'll list them here.

We're finally up to date with the Cottonsoft DK! The colours we've managed to add are the white, sky blue, cherry and ecru. I'm dead pleased because when the rep came in with this yarn I fell in love like you wouldn't believe (it's literally as soft as a baby's bum) so I ordered every colour but only five turned up and I must admit they weren't my favourite colours out of the range. But every other yarn shop owner obviously had the same idea as me so the best colours have been out of stock. Anyway, I was in the right place at the right time t'other day (or rather on the right phone at the right time) and managed to order just as the shipment had reached them. Aren't I lucky?! I must stress though that I suspect we'll still have difficulty getting a hold of the colours so if you want it - get it...

Jazz came in the other day and said she thought it was like the Rowan Pima Cotton but softer. I've no idea, Rowan doesn't hold much weight with me so their yarns come and go and generally pass me by but Jazz used to be a Rowan addict (she's been mostly converted now) so she knows her stuff. I did a cardigan ages ago in a pima cotton (I think it was Mirasol) and I LOVE that cardigan - have worn it loads - and it looks a bit shabby now so I was thinking that maybe I could reknit it? But I'm not sure if I could cope with not having it in yellow. Here's my best friend Masa expertly modelling:

I'm sure you'll agree that her outfit is expertly put together. 

Before I move on let me do one more little link to the King Cole Cottonsoft DK (to get it up the rankings you see). 

And then we have just one lovely little colour in the Smooth DK and it is the most delicious shade of purple you've ever seen. Seriously, I've never seen a more saturated colour - it sort of hurts your eyes but not in a horrible way. Difficult to explain. Apparently this colour has always been available (it's in the shade card that I've had since this time last year anyway...) but I'd just missed it and I don't know why because I love love love a good purple. Good job King Cole. 

Then - and this will be a shock - we've got three new colours in the Seriously Chunky. I've been absolutely amazed at how well it's been selling throughout this little heatwave. Literally amazed. There are a couple more colours in the range to collect but I just couldn't bring myself to go over budget to get a superchunky in the week leading up to June. So I got the three colours that are most likely to sell based on what you like in other yarns and I'll add the others as we go. Amazed I was!

I realise I said that that was 'finally' but actually, I have one more photo to show you that I completely forgot about. Let me introduce you to Lesley the Swan: 

In all honesty, I've no idea what his/her name is but I thought Lesley was as good as any... It's a gorgeous prop (I guess - it's not an actor) from the Theatre Design section of the Student's Final Show. Isn't he/she great!? We fell in love... 

Right, I'm off because there's a big box of yarn to sort out and I'm guessing it's Patons (and maybe some Regia... if it all turns out like I want...). 

Love Eleanor. :)

P.s. There's a hideous drunk Russian man at the door and he won't leave. Save me? Haha. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

An Industry Professional

So I left you at my last blog when we were just making our way over to where the knitwear, fashion and product design bits were. Obviously, this is what I was excited about! So many of our customers recently have been students and the closer you get to a deadline the more frantic it gets so I was looking forward to meeting them outside of a stressful situation. But, it turns out there wasn't an exhibition as such - it was a catwalk show and you needed tickets. Looking back, somebody did tell me but it didn't sink in that I'd only be able to see the stuff on a catwalk - I thought there'd be an opportunity to look at them like the fashion. I believe the clothes are now on an exhibition and if I get time I'll pop down to see - don't quote me on it though. Oh well.

So, in this building there was fashion (which we kind of slipped by, don't know why we didn't stop), the knitwear catwalk, the product design area where the beautiful knives were and some sort of technical, computery design stuff (too much for us in the heat of the day). We stopped after that for a little rest and saw this beautiful sunset:

I think it looks like America. 

Then we headed over to the Waverley building where the theatre design and management students were showing off their work. 

The theatre design was fantastic! There were little models of stages - tiny tiny and there was this: 

A model of a caravan site? By this time it was late and we just wanted to get round most things so I didn't get a chance to read about it or what it was. 

The real gems in the theatre room were the costumes though. there were a lot of Elizabethan type gowns - so intricately sewn. My favourite details are here: 

And it was in the theatre design section where I saw what I believe is our yarn. The one and only time we saw it! 

I do hope I'm not taking credit for somebody else's yarn but I believe part of that to be the Cygnet DK in Fern. It was an amazing costumer. Kind of hideous but so intricate and cleverly done. Again it made me wish we had more time to read what they'd written. Absolutely wonderful!

Then we headed over to the management section which was less exciting in terms of textiles but there were some wonderful ideas. On the walls were big posters full of pictures and I didn't notice at first that they have QR codes that linked back to blogs and websites fr the students. They were also using a programme called Aurasma which is something do to with 'augmented reality'. I don't really know what that means but essentially if you point your smart phone to a picture using this technology you can see a video!!! Expect lots of videos to be set up around the shop when I can get my head around it - which won't be any time soon. The two girls there, I didn't get their names, were absolutely lovely - really friendly and helpful, especially when they found out that we owned the shop. I guess helping at places like our shop would be where they want to be in life. Maybe they would fancy somewhere a bit bigger or more glamorous though? Haha. 

Then the last photo I took was this:

I took it because the graveyard was so beautiful looking. And then there's June!

Right, I'm off to have a BBQ and soak up the sun whilst it's still here. If you can't beat them - join them ey?

Love Eleanor. :)

Saturday, 26 May 2012

I ought to tell you...

That I really quite dislike art. I like craft. By my definition art is making stuff for the sake of beauty and craft is making something beautiful and useful. I like beauty and usefulness therefore I like craft. I've also had bad experiences with artists (I'm sure there are some nice ones!). About a year ago I rang the Nottingham Contemporary up - you know the hideous building in Hockley where millions of pounds of our tax money was used essentially to create a clique of little to no usefulness to the majority of Nottingham residents - to see if we might be able to do something with them. I don't know - free classes for kids, free classes for adults, a small exhibition of customers work, a fashion show? I don't know. I was told emphatically that they wouldn't work with us because we're 'craft' and therefore, presumably, inferior to their 'art'. Hmph. Funny that a 'craft' shop is still the perfect place to place their posters and booklets though (having thought about it I've put a stop to that).

Bearing that in mind, I've always been a bit hesitant to accept invitations to art private views and we've had a few. But when I got the invitation to the Nottingham Trent Students Private View I just couldn't say no because so many of our customers are students there and I couldn't resist seeing if we could spot our yarns, or some of the work that I've done or just catch up with these wonderful creatives outside of the shop. Plus they promised there would be free booze. Sold!

So I RSVP'd and headed on down with my best friend. It was too bloody hot and, you know these students, they were running out of booze by the time we got there! We spent most of the evening chasing the free booze and 'hidden' bars. Haha. Soaking up a bit of art and design on the way.

I guess I'll start with my favourite thing I saw. Aaaaaaand we're back to craft... 

I guess we both thought it was a bit boring at first even if it was beautiful but Heather, my friend, was intrigued by the 5p coin in the middle - can you see it?

The lad, Jason Webster, was hanging around explained that it's to do with the old wives tale whereby you can't just give knives as a present, you have to involve a silver coin somewhere in the mix so as not to 'cut the friendship'. I love that! Something so modern mixed with something do old fashioned - I wonder when that custom first appeared? 

Then Heather asked about the implement on the left hand side - she thought it was chopsticks. Turns out it was a sort of set of wooden tweezers to get stuff out of toasters. Heather said, 'ahh, like toast' and he said 'yeah, sort of. I was thinking more like muffins and crumpets'!!!!!! My kind of man! :)

The next knife is a bit less interesting to me; a shaving tool kind of thing. And the one after is a wooden letter opener with a magnifying glass in the handle. I've never needed to use a letter opener - have you? So, again I'm not too fussed. But then!!!!

The last knife!!! And this is seriously my favourite thing ever!! It looks like a pretty kind of normal knife and I thought that's just what it was so I wasn't going to say anything but sort of as an afterthought he told us that it was a blunt knife for smashing through double glazing in the case of a fire. Good idea. Nothing too creative. But you see the white knotty stuff on the handle? That's a bloody 20 foot, super strength piece of rope that can be un-knotted in an instant for you to climb out of a window on. How did he think of that!? How!? I think he's got a bright future in front of him. 

Thinking about it - do you think I got excited about the rope because it was the closest thing I saw to yarn all night? Haha. 

Beautiful and useful right?

I'll talk about my second favourite thing next. I liked it because it made us both laugh out loud. 

Can you see the pickle?

It's a piece by Clare Fuller and on first glance is looks like real 'modern art'. White wood, a bit of concrete and some bare metal (if I remember rightly). At the time me and Heather were making a joke about the fact that we didn't understand what was art and what wasn't and how awkward it makes us feel. On the floor, half on and half off of some of the concrete was a piece of beetroot. It made us laugh because we thought somebody had been eating their dinner and just dropped it. Heather went over for a closer look and when she was there she noticed this little pickle. And then when we looked up there was a pickle on top of a tall piece of wood. I wonder if the artist was making some kind of statement about modern art, art galleries and how awkward it makes most people? We had a good laugh. :)

The building that the fine art is housed in is full of little rooms and windy stair cases and corridors. There's art all over the place:

I know you can really see this, but it's on the wall of one of the staircases. It's like a window into a secret space full purple flowers and leaves. It's magic. I wish I could have got a proper photo. 

This was another secret space: 

It's a room at the back of one of the gallery spaces completely closed off. There are two torches to use and to get the full effect you have to turn the torch on and close the door to the room leaving you in pitch blackness apart from the light from your torch. Quite disorientating because the rest of the place is so white and stark. The room is set out like a living room from the 80's - I guess you only know that because there's a newspaper with a story about the miner's strike. It's interesting. More like a museum than an art peice - maybe that's why I liked it. 

I couldn't find the name of either of these artists in the books - sorry!

Another piece that was sort of hidden from view in a windy passage I didn't get a photo of. And I didn't take a photo because of that awkward feeling. It was a series of wooden plinths with unfired clay columns on top - they were probably five foot tall. There were about eight of them or so and they were set out sort of randomly - not in lines or rows. Two plinths in middle had fallen and the clay had smashed by the time we got there. We'd only just seen the pickle and we couldn't work out whether it was part of the art or if somebody had just smashed them. To top it all off there were two people having an in depth discussion right at the back of the piece. When we turned up to see they stopped and stared at us. Way to make people feel welcome! 

Anyway - I didn't get a photo so I guess you're wondering why I'm writing about it here. Well, it turns out that it's piece by one of the girls that lives upstairs!! And she's lovely! We've had a good relationship with them over the year: signing parcels, letting friends through the gates so that they can knock on the door, forcing the landlord to install a doorbell. And at Christmas they made me some lovely iced cupcakes. They've been really sweet and I'll miss them - I hope the next lot are as nice as them. So here's a photo of Fern's piece from the catalogue-type-book that you can pick up from the exhibition: 

Fern Mayo - Ghost - 2012. 


After we'd looked around as much of the fine art as we could take we headed over to the Arkwright and Newton building. But I think I'll leave the post here and talk about that tomorrow because this isn't supposed to be an essay. Maybe I'm more interested in art than I think??

Also, I ought to say that you can visit the show now! It's open Mon-Fri - 10am-5pm, Sat - 11am-5pm and Sun - 11am-4pm until the 3rd of June. It's free admission. I guess you's start at the Bonnington building which is where the textile design, photography and fine art is and there you can get a map to help you get around the campus (it's a bit odd and I only vaguely remember the names of the buildings from studying there). To get the the Bonnington Building you want to head up Shakespeare Street, away from town, past where the old births, marriages and deaths place was. It's on your right hand side and it has a hideously, relentlessly modern exterior with some benches and random bits of metal arching through the air. Failing finding it with that explanation, click here for a map. It was seriously fascinating. 

Love Eleanor. :)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The livin' is easy.

There's not been an awful lot to blog about recently if we're honest. The shop has been relatively slow because of the weather and I've been knitting like mad to get through my commissions. I've been invited as an 'industry professional' to the final show for the Nottingham Trent Art and Design students tomorrow (at least that's what I think it is - I was lured with the promise of free booze...) so I'll have a blog about that on Friday hopefully. I'm mostly looking forward to it because there have been a couple of manic commissions that I've done for the students and forgotten to photograph because everything was so fast and furious. So I'm hoping to stumble over some of my work there and get photos for rav. That'll be nice.

Apart from that I've been mostly dying in the heat. Blurgh.

I do have three photos to show you though.

Photo number one:

My nearly finished Oranje. It is finished now but I'm almost of the opinion that it was better as a jumper than a cardigan... I stayed up until 3 in the morning on Tuesday finishing it (and taking advantage of my last free day of netflix) and got it done. Don't get me wrong I like it - I'm just wondering if I shouldn't make another one, in green, and leave it as a jumper?! I'll post a picture of the FO once it's dried and not so warm that I might die if I wear it...

This is our 'Jubilee' window. I couldn't get a picture of the whole thing without it being obscured by the beautiful buildings across the street. Essentially - it's a whole load of blue, red and white and some picnic stuff. :) My friend Masa helped me do it (that's pronounced 'Marsha' but she prefers to be called 'Marsh Marsh'. Actually, she probably doesn't but that's what I call her). She's brilliantly talented and artistic and has that knack of placing something so that it looks like it just fell down beautifully. Makes me sick. One day I'll do a blog post of her fabric pen creations - mega talented. 

And this is what just happened to me which caused me to want to write the blog. I threaded up a needle to sew a commission that I've been doing together and what should happen but I magically split the plies of the yarn and get the needle attached to just two of them and not the other one. The mystery of this is that I hadn't split the plies all of the way down the yarn - I'm pretty sure that would have left a splitty mess and I hadn't broken one of the plies either. It's a bit magic and a bit of a mystery.

Love Eleanor.

P.s. I was just reading through this when I customer walked in and we were having a good chat. I decided to cut the yarn and rethread the needle to the end that was left and get on with it whilst we were chatting. I finished that bit, then I was preparing to thread the next bit of yarn to do the next bit of sewing and this happened:

So maybe I'm not magical or mystical but a silly old tit who breaks sewing up needles. Who does that?!?!?!

Thursday, 17 May 2012


It might be a bit odd for one shop to be talking about another shop on their blog but we're all part of the same community, right? And I liked this shop. Well, loved it a little bit...

I was so excited to find this place. I'd been out and about in Bournemouth the day before, walking miles and miles to find something woolly or fabricy or beady or textiley or just anything creative really. And there was nothing! Nothing! Can you believe that?! I even went into the Tourist Information and they sort of looked askance at a mad northerner with green hair asking for 'anything woolly before I go mad!' with a glint in my eye. Nothing. But they did assure me that there was somewhere in Poole, probably to get me out of the office...

There was a half day excursion to Poole the next day so I tried to get on the internet in the evening to find out where it was but things kept cutting out and I kept having to speak to people (I know, speak to people!), so I didn't get very far but luckily Roy, the driver, dropped us nearly outside the Poole Tourist Information Centre and I was slightly less manic when I asked them where it was because I hadn't spent all day looking for a bloody shop! They were really kind and excited - maybe one of them was a knitter?!

Anyway, I got there and she was nice (I think her name was Jo but I don't want to hold myself to that so I'll call her a very respectful 'she') but she didn't half make me jump when she said hello! There were little hidey holes in this shop, lots of corners to stuff wool in and she was hidden right at the back so that I hadn't even noticed her. She left me to it and I was happy, checking out all of the interesting stuff she had in. I'm not going to go through what she had, I'm sure you can see that on her internet shop but she did have King Cole! Which I believe makes her a good kind of wool shop. 

I was really pleased to see that she'd got a good mixture of wools in there - some exciting and new and colourful and some baby-ish and acrylic-y. In fact, an awful lot like our shop. She had the same Ikea shelves and a vintage looking table in the middle of it which was literally crammed full of stuff:

Doesn't it look lovely!? Remind you of anywhere!? I really enjoyed looking through all of her buttons. I had in mind something that I wanted and she had them but she only had nine or ten and I needed bloody 15 (I would have to be awkward) so I settled for something else but it isn't really settling if you love them almost as much, is it? It's just a different path through the project journey. 

I loved the little spinning wheel in the corner but forgot to ask if she was a spinner or had any fibre. It's not something that automatically comes into my head to talk about if I must admit - Sue's a lot different... We talked about all sorts of stuff; knitting, crochet, needles, suppliers and theft. She was telling me that early on she had a break in and he/she/it took some money from her back room but luckily left the yarn alone. If I remember rightly, she'd only been open eight months at that point so it must have been really hard. My stomach went. It's weird, before I opened the shop stuff like that just sort of happened. It was bad but it wasn't heart breaking but now I know that that really could have been the end. We wouldn't have survived if it had happened to us for definite. Hmm... it wasn't all doom and gloom though. 

One of the things I most like about her shop was the separate patterns area. It means that customers can have a right good nosey through the patterns without being in anybody's way and being comfortable. Good for everybody. I loved all of the pin boards at the back too - a place for local events and knitters to organise, plan and promote bits and bobs. That's lovely. I don't know if you've noticed out pin boards but we have three here and there and I have another one to put up but nowhere to bloody put it - I'm thinking in the loo? Anyway, I liked this idea. 

I thought her window display was lovely. I liked the way that the back of the shelves backed onto it so that the balls were see-able from in the shop and by the window. Yes, that was a good idea. One that I shall be borrowing *cough*stealing*cough* if and when we ever move into a bigger space. 

I stayed for a good hour and had a marvellous time, I didn't spend much, only about £20 but I know from experience that £20 can be the difference between a good day and a shit day and I did my bit, I talked up the Galaxy DK and got her a little sale. And again, I know from experience how lovely it is when a customer does a little bit of your job for you when you're busy with another customer (it also helps when you're not affiliated with the shop I guess, the customer didn't need to know that I own one that sells the Galaxy just a couple of hundred miles away...). 

Somehow I didn't get a picture of my haul but it included a lovely cashmere and silk blend lace weight, over twenty buttons and a crochet hook for the laceweight that never actually got used... too busy with my Oranje I'm afraid. Not that that's bloody finished... Or anywhere near. 

Anyway, that's that. Three blog posts in one week - aren't you doing well!??!

Love Eleanor. 

P.s. I was also heartened to realise that I hadn't once checked to see if the carpet was messy. Maybe that means I don't have to hoover!? :)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

On my Jollies

I saw:

A beautiful sky. 

The sea as sawn was breaking (and some people doing tai chi). 

A shell with a pearl in it. 

Incredible glass ceilings.

A Samurai outfit. 

Incredible colours. 

A lovely wool shop that reminded me of home. 

Hand knitted gloves. 


The most adorable little sweet shop ever. 

Fish and chips by the sea. In the rain. This is England.

A tug boat!

Beautiful lamp posts by the sea.

My bike for the day!

Surfers. Standing up. And it wasn't Newquay.

Stalactites forming!

A hideous cliff lift. 

Kite surfers and watched them for an hour. It was amazing really. They sort of run into the sea, allow the kite to catch a breeze and pull them a couple of metres into the air, shove the board underneath them and hope for the best on landing. Spectacular!

And then, despite all expectations (and hopes if I'm honest...), I met new people and made friends!

That's Sylvia and the lovely Stan. 

Alastair and Stanley. Alastair bought me the cutest teddy bear you ever did see on the way home. 

Alastair in the background and John in the foreground looking rather confused...

And these are the girls me (obviously), Sandra and Sylvia. 

Oh didn't I have a lovely lovely lovely time!!! It was fantastic! I can't say the weather was great, and I didn't get as much knitting done as I had hoped, but I went out and did stuff; walked for miles, swam, rode a bike, played in the arcades, ate gammon and visited my first proper wool shop since I opened this shop. And I did it all on my own! I came straight home and started looking for the next holiday. It'll be a while though. 

Tomorrow I'll talk to you about the wool shop I visited. It was fabulous! I didn't want to bore you about my holiday but I thought I ought to let you know how it went seeing as I wouldn't shut up about it before I went...

Love Eleanor. 

P.s. I forgot about this:

It's a mosaic of the most fabulous little beach huts painted in a rainbow right down on the sea front. What I wouldn't give to own one of these The blue one I took from front on I think (although it was actually, definitely, green in real life...). Do you think the council would mind if I just lived there and knitted on the sea front all day every day? The black and red one I took because apparently that was the first beach hut in the UK... not sure I believe that. And the very last picture was my hotel - just to fill up space - it was marvellous despite my reservations about the reviews on certain websites... Very clean and accommodating. Maybe the owner was a little... reserved, shall we say but you can't have everything right? I would tell everybody to go there! Perfect positioning for the price - perfect! Click here to get through to the Kensington Hotel's website. 

Really am going now... love Eleanor. :)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


It happens every year and I never get there, a little bit because I'm miserable and don't like meeting new people but mainly because I'm lazy.... Made! The pop up shop run by the students and Nottingham Trent. It's just down into town, next to Boots in the Victoria Centre, across from Wilkos - I guess that's still classed as Upper Parliament Street...

I popped in the other day because I was just walking up from Hockley into town and it was there. Absolutely lovely. I didn't get much info about the students involved because I didn't feel like talking (I've discovered podcasts on my shiny new phone so I'm catching up on all the Freakonomics episodes - fantastic, if a little anti-social...). But the wares on offer were fabulous. I took photos - lots of them:

I LOVED these lobster claw necklaces. Like seriously LOVED them!

There's some fantastic stuff - at all price points. I bought these fabulous little earrings:

Not that you can see them in that photo - they're little blue roses and only £3. That's a bloody bargain!

So go out and support our students folks, they're trying their best and doing really well! 

I had to tell you about this today because the store closes at some time in early June but tomorrow I will tell you about my holiday. It was bloody marvellous!

Love Eleanor. :)