Saturday, 30 March 2013

A Question About Tax.

There's a lot of talk about the 'hive mind' on Rav. It makes me feel a bit sick seeing as I have a phobia of bees and wasps. Ugh. Maybe I'll explain one day. So maybe the Knit Nottingham hive mind can answer a question I have - is a manicure an allowable expense for tax purposes?


It's for a brand spanking new company called run by a lovely bloke called Oli. It's going to be a series of online workshops, professionally filmed and taught by skilled artisans. There will be a magic course, a bakery course and now a knitting and crochet course!!!! (More too but I can't remember them...).

We took ages to decide what we were going to do and we've plumped on a blanket each for the crochet and knitting and then a dress for the crochet and a cardi for the knitting. So now I just have to make the things and write some lessons! I got a bloody lot done last night at Verity's.

All different stitches starting from very easy to really quite difficult, sewn together and edged in some spectacular way. I'm dead chuffed so far! 

But, once all of that is done, I'm deffo going to have a manicure because my nails are terrible and this weather is drying my hands out so they look like little prunes. It'll be my first one and I'm dead excited!!!!! But can I claim it on expenses?!?!?

Right - off to finish the blanket.

Love Eleanor.

P.s. I reckon I'm most excited about this because I'm actually being paid a fair wage!

Thursday, 28 March 2013


*I'm not going to be holding back with the swearing in this post, it's necessary, so avert your eyes if you're offended...*

FML is one of my favourite phrases at the mo. I learnt it from Jazz who speaks almost entirely in internet phrases. It means 'fuck my life' (and also, apparently, 'fix my lighthouse'. Whatevs). It's a brill phrase that sums up a lot of life's little frustrations and I use it a lot. Me, Marsh Marsh and Verity have expanded it to include FYL and FOL - 'fuck your life' and 'fuck our lives' respectively. Both of these are apparently 'things' according to the urban dictionary but we most definitely made them up.

Separately from this, some bastard crack addict broke into the shop earlier this month. He smashed the little window above the shop which we had to get fixed and I decided to put some bars up behind the glass to put off any potential burgling bastards. Dave did it. Can you remember Dave? He did some work for us a few years ago - a proper friend to the shop. :)

There he is - lovely Dave. 

Anyway, they look a bit.... stark... I hate them. I can't stop myself looking at them and I feel like I'm in a prison and I'm pissed off that some scummy bugger has made me feel like that. So my only option was to prettify them wasn't it? I wrote a bit about it here

And here's the result:

Dead hard to get a good photo of....

You know how much I love morse code in crochet. Well I thought that if anybody's up there I might as well write them a message. And if you're six feet up in the air, on Mansfield Road, about to break into a yarn shop (instead of the myriad booze shops, electronic shops, pubs etc. etc.) then really.... FYL.

It makes me feel better anyway.

But of course, who knows morse code now? And they just look like pretty stripes don't they? So I thought I'd give them a clue - that's where the bunting came into play. I'm sure it's not readable from street level so whoever is up there to read it is about to break in (or wash the windows... unlikely...). Maybe if they do read it, they'll stop to google what the stripes mean and then their conscience will kick in and they'll clamber back down. Hmm. I'll shut up now.

They could probably do with a press though....

And lastly, I wanted to talk about one last little thing. Look here:

I know, I know, it's a terrible photo but can you guess my favourite part?

Well I did worry Bob, I did. I loved my three little birds. I used to say hello to them every morning and goodbye every night (unless somebody else is there of course - don't want them to think I'm weird). They were smashed in the great burglary of 2013 and I was pissed off! I was also a little touched when people asked about them - you noticed them too! 

So on Saturday night, happily crocheting my bunting whilst catching up on Attic 24, I was struck by the inspiration to use her love Little Birdie Decoration pattern to make three replacement birdies, each one smaller than the last like little avian Russian dolls. I'm dead pleased that I did.

So that's it, fully prettified and I'm pleased and I hope if you ever decide to break into a yarn shop you stop and think 'fml' - because, honestly and truly - fuck your life. 

Love Eleanor. :)

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

HoOkY tImE!

In my little corner of the world it's been CoLd! Perfect for snuggling with a blanket, a big mug of coffee and some quiet hooky time whilst the family was otherwise engaged. 

Oh... bugger it... I was trying to write this in the style of my icon, Lucy from Attic 24 but really, who's actually got time to be so relentlessly positive?! Maybe when I find myself a rich husband and be a stay at home mum to three kids - two of whom go to school... What a life. :) That makes it sound like I really dislike her! I don't! She's inspiring! At least, she inspired me to do some weekend hooky to prettify a certain area of the shop. Here are the results at about the half way mark:

Cute hey?

It's all hopefully being installed today but that entirely depends on how much I got done last night (it is last night right now but I can't post this blog because I already posted this blog  - trippy blog timings).

Some of you might be able to guess some parts of it, and other people might spot a rather well known pattern in there but it's deffo going to be BETTER THAN ANYBODY COULD IMAGINE! Mwaahahahahahahahahahaa!

Love Eleanor. :)

Monday, 25 March 2013


(I'm giving you the gift of a free pattern, the blog is really just an explanation of how I came to it so click here for a link to it if you don't want to hear my ramblings...). 

Remember Saturday the 23rd of March 2013? No? Well, it was blady snowing wasn't it!? Naturally. So the shop was slow(ish - who'd have thought so many people would brave the ice and cold for yarn!?). I spent the day cleaning the shop and putting on our new toilet seat. I also got bleach on one of my favourite dresses which was a bonus! (I didn't plan to clean that day I was just overcome by an urgent need. I know. Something's wrong. I've booked an appointment with the doc. I haven't really...).

Anyway, once I'd finished the bathroom:

I did some odd jobs around the shop and then settled down to listen to the remaining parts of the Neverwhere programme on the radio (which has been bloody brill! Makes me want to actually listen to the radio, something I've never felt like before. That's another symptom I'm going to take to the doc's. I'm not really...) and I finished off a project. What kind of project might one choose to finish whilst freezing their bum off in our glass-fronted shop surrounded by snow? A summer dress of course! 


I say that like I'm excited. I'm not really but even I'm a little bit bored of the snow now (yet another symptom...). Now, let me tell you this story - what, in the Guardian, they might term the 'creative process'. 

It all begins with jealousy. I was jealous of two things. 

Number 1: I sold some King Cole Cottonsoft to a lovely lady called Lisa because she fancied making a shawl. She chose the Jade colourway and produced this. Beauts right?
Number 2: Lovely Lynsey started a shawl in the Regia Laceweight for her CRUISE! She chose the Elise shawl because of this blog post by yours truly. And it is beautiful! Seriously stunning. 

So naturally, I shoved everything that I needed to do aside to start my very own Elise Shawl with the Cottonsoft and finished it the very next day. Obsessive much? 

That's genuinely the best photo that I can (be bothered to) take. Maybe one day I'll show it off. 

Around about five metres from the end of the project though I ran out of yarn! Yes I did! I did a little swear and then remembered that no yarn is ever wasted, so I bought a new ball, finished it off and at 8.30 on Wednesday night I began a dress. 

Let me tell you a little bit about how my crafting (and therefore mind) works. I'm L.A.Z.Y! Lazy lazy lazy. Which is why I ended up doing this dress on a 5.5mm hook instead of something like a 4mm. A 5.5mm was all I had to hand and I couldn't be bothered to get up and get another one and being much bigger than what it should have been the whole thing would go a lot quicker. Boom! Decision made! I also couldn't be bothered to measure anything or do a gauge swatch so it had to begin with a straight chain across the top. This is also the reason that I chose to crochet it rather than knit it, with crochet once you've made the chain you pretty much know how long or wide or whatever the thing is going to be, with knitting you need to work out how long you want it to be, work out how many stitches in the inch and do some maths to get the cast on number. Ballache if you ask me... 

Anyway, I began the dress and got... obsessive... again. And lo, it was finished on the snowiest day of the year! Boom!!! Let me present to you, my summer dress:

It's bloody brill ain't it!?!?

As I was crocheting it, lots of people asked if I was going to be writing a pattern. The question always makes me squirm because it's so not my style to go back to things. It's why I can't really call myself a professional knitter/crocheter - I get so excited whilst doing one thing that I find it really difficult to keep my mind on the first thing. Having said that, I've written out a sort of recipe for the pattern with lots of spots for you to make alterations. I suspect that the dress as written will fit lots of people because, like I say in the preamble, it looks good on me (roughly a size 22) and good on the model (roughly a size 12). Really, I've got no idea how that happened. I do like tight clothes (size 22 and a fahhhhhbulous waist, thank you very much) and the big hook means that it stretches a long way but I don't suppose it has to which is why it looks good unstretched on the model. It's the sort of pattern that you can hold up to yourself as you're working it though (no measuring tape remember, that's how roll), so please adjust to your liking. 

I also want to add that if you're struggling with how to do the ripple pattern then click here for a tutorial by Lucy at Attic24. It's how I learned to do a ripple and I truly believe it's the best version out there. Bear in mind that as we increase on the skirt you'll be doing more stitches in between the increases and decreases but by that point you'll hopefully have got into a rhythm. 

That's it then. Without further ado - here's the pattern! 

As with all of my patterns - I haven't tested it so do let me know if there are any problems.

Love Eleanor. :)

Friday, 15 March 2013

YARNDALE! (Again...).


I've had loads more interest so I've decided to put it back up for sale.


Or call us on (0115) 9474239 or pop into the shop. 

Seriously though - first come, first served and these are the last 19 spaces so after that you'll have to make your own way. 

Love Eleanor. :)

*****UPDATE OVER...*****

Right, remember my Yarndale post? Well, if you've been following, you'll know that we went ahead and got a 30 seater coach which we promptly filled... there are a few people who missed out so I've looked up getting a 49 seater and we can do it if we get another six people booked on.

After that we've got another 13 seats going but I really don't want to get into doing more than one coach so if I get enough interest for the six seats and actually put it up for sale then you've got however long it takes to fill up 13 seats to book it. It's first come first served and you're not on there until you pay. If we go ahead and put it on then you'll be able to pay over the internet (I'll give you the link if and when it goes live), over the phone with a credit or debit card or in person.

First come first served and money talks people! So - this is just a show of hands - if six of you show real interest it'll go on to be available.


Love Eleanor.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


I ain't saying this is an appropriate song for a knitting blog but it does feature Jamie Foxx and I do love him and I am giving you a free pattern for some fox mittens. So, whatevs. 

I love facebook because I can tell you that exactly on the 15th September 2011 a (handsome) man came into the shop and commissioned me to make some of these for his nephew: 

I got dead excited and started them the very next day because I'm like that when I get excited about a project even if I've got actual work to do... I'm not sure I'll ever change. 

The first pair I made were for my nephew and he love love love love love love loveddddd them!!! When he was two and his health visitor came to sign him off he ran straight to get them to show her (and, despite them being in Huddersfield, she'd heard of our little shop!!!). Then I made some for the original customer. These originals were pretty much a straight copy of the photo above, with the intarsia style colourwork. But I'm not keen on it in crochet - can you need towards the right of the glove there's a messy bit between the cream and the orange? I hate that. I'm sure it can be made better but I have neither the time nor inclination to work it out. 

Close to Christmas, I was discussing presents with my bff Heather and she said that all she'd ever wanted was a pair of those mittens with an idiot cord in between. I started them pretty soon after but I soon realised that I'd so much rather crochet a proper mitten and then a little bit of cream to applique over the top. So that's just what I did! She loved them too! As did everybody that's ever seen them apparently. 

But Bec's a bit different - she didn't just love them, she collared me while I was drunk at a party and made me promise to make her some (sensibly, once I'd said yes, I did tell her to remind me when I was sober...). I started the mitts yesterday, the shop was a little slow and some yarn that I'd planned to get on t'internet hadn't turned up (it has now, we'll discuss it tomorrow or maybe the day after...), so I caught up with Chicken Shop and got commission crocheting! 

Sort of by accident I started writing down some notes and it's turned into an actual pattern. It's certainly not been tested and, to be fair, they're kind of off the hoof so come of the bits may be clunky and I so wouldn't mind if you change things (like working them without sl-sts to join so it's more amigurumi style or actually counting stitches instead of roughly placing things). 

Anyway, here's what they look like - cute hey?

I'm particularly pleased with these lot because one looks slightly evil - I think Bec will like that. 

I crocheted them in the Cygnet Superwash Merino DK in the copper colourway, which apparently isn't on the internet... One more job for me then. Mainly I chose that because the colour is just perfect but also because you can splash out a bit on something so small can't you? I'm imagining you've got some black and cream in stash for the face and nose etc. but we have that too. And of course your 4mm hooks we have too.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH I've just remembered I was going to write about an alternative that might make them look a little less doggy and a bit more foxy... The faces could be made in this sort of a shape:

I think it's what I did with Heather's but I only remembered that that's what I did after I'd put the ears on and Bec can be ballsed if she thinks I'm changing it now... I think they're foxy enough! I also think with the current shape but different colours they could look like dogs and maybe whiskers would make them look like cats and floppy ears for bunnies or or or or or... Let your imagination run wild!

I hold the copyright so please don't try and pretend you made it up - just link it back to me and here. If you want to make some to sell (even for charity) ask me in advance. I've never said no but if I don't actually grant a license for you then I'll be forced to sue your arse. Ha. Really, it's if the big guys get involved, I have to show that I've followed up every breach of copyright so it would be easier if it just wasn't breached. Dead good. 

Brill! Any problems, let me know. 

Love Eleanor. xx

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


It's not exactly the emotion I want to be feeling as I walk up to my shop and find that the windows haven't been smashed. In fact, I'd rather not be feeling anything at all or even noticing them but at the moment as I walk up from the bus station I'm frustrated by the bus stop outside of our shop because it hides the window from my view until I'm a few doors away.

For those of you who don't follow the facebook and twitter, we were broken into sometime on Saturday night or Sunday morning. They got away with the float (£100) and smashed two panes of glass from the window above the door. June found it as she popped round on Sunday evening to drop some bits off for a customer. I can't imagine how she felt. She rang me and then the police and we all rushed around to do what we could. Two of June's friends boarded up the window and the screws that they used were far too long for the job so we ended up with a medieval looking fortress style board. I sorted out a glazier yesterday to redo the windows and because he felt sorry for me he gave me some sort of upgrade on the glass so that it should be a bit stronger. Everybody's been so kind to us and the shop and I'm really grateful. As far as break-ins go, it's not been that bad but it would have been 20 times worse had everybody not rallied round to help and offer support. So thanks. 

Thing is, I had a customer in yesterday, a lovely clever man who bought another independent shop in the city a few months ago. I'll not mention any names because he's taken the decision not to tell his customers that he's taken over just in case it doesn't go well. I understand, sometimes you have to keep things to yourself for self protection. We had a good chat about it and I did what I could to encourage him to shout about it, to have a party, to introduce loyalty cards and write press releases because people really do want independent businesses to succeed. The support of customers, their families and friends, passers-by, people of Mansfield Road and the other business owners is really overwhelming. 

It's bloody hard work running this business (as it would be any other - we're no special case). Yesterday I started work at 8 o'clock googling for numbers of glaziers and ringing insurance companies. I wrote my last e-mail at 10.11pm and after that I cashed up, tidied up and headed home. That's more than a 14 hour day. I can't believe that any human being who knew what I do on a daily basis and how hard I work would have it in them to steal a £100 from me. I can't believe it and I won't. 

But I also can't be angry. I'm frustrated and upset but not angry. The two panes of glass that he smashed amount to about 8" of space. Eight inches! Whoever got through there is either a child or a crack addict. There are no two ways about it. And I can't bring myself to be angry with somebody like that.

I want to bring them here and show them the value of hard work. I want to show them how hard it is to be always smiling, to remember everybody's stories, what they like, what they don't like, what they can't stand, to constantly be scanning the internet and books for more knowledge, to figure out which transaction is wrong when you're £2.50 out on a day when you've taken more than £300, to deal with people who are absolutely positive that they bought that Rowan yarn here and they won't have it any other way and they'd like to see the stock room please because they know that it's here. Jeez. Why on earth do I do it? Because of the customers that came yesterday to bring me wine and the cake this morning, and the customers that retweeted our appeal to find out more, and the ones that swore with us on facebook, and the customer that gave me a £10 tip this morning as well as spending £30 to put towards the damage, to meet all of the nearly 30 customers who have booked onto the Yarndale trip because they know it's worth travelling half way across the country for one day to feel part of a community and the friends and family who rallied round for us on Sunday evening in the cold, and the man who donated metal bars so that we could secure the newly fixed window.

It's all been noted and appreciated and I'm going to remember these feelings when I'm out on my fag break and scanning the street asking myself if it was him or her or them. We'll almost certainly never know who it was - we have our suspicions but really, who actually gets caught nowadays? All we know for sure is how loved we are as a tiny little business, how supportive everybody has been and, on a personal level, how efficient I felt when the window was fixed by half 11 the day after we found out! 

So that's that folks. That's the full story. It hasn't killed us and it won't change us. We'll see you soon. 

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxx