Friday, 24 October 2014

Don't Let Perfect...

be the enemy of the good. I can hear Jazz saying that as I type.

You'll have to excuse my lack on contact over the last couple of weeks. Despite lots of things happening they haven't quite felt 'blog-worthy'. I can't believe I'm saying 'blog-worthy'. Couple that with a massive increase in shop busyness and you have a recipe for... no blogs whatsoever. Still, here I am and I'm going to pull together a few little bits that in and of themselves don't make a blog but together should make something readable. I'm not going to even try and put them in time order. I'm not letting perfect be the enemy of the good - seriously, that's gonna be my mantra for this winter.

So, the most exciting thing that's happened recently is that we had a bloody dog in the shop!!! Why?! Well, to help out Jerry Green's Dog Rescue in Blidworth. They're putting on the Great Doggy Knit Off in order to get some warm woolly things for their dogs whilst they're waiting to be rescued. Read more here:

And find a pattern here:

Although Singing Bird tells me she can't understand why it's all in rib, and that it makes life harder and I say bugger it! Knit what you want! The dogs won't notice or care and the lady from the centre, lovely as she was,  didn't know the difference between knitting and crochet so go forth and knit or crochet dog sweaters in any design that makes your heart flutter. 

So NottsTV and the Post came, it was slightly last minute, run by a PR firm who must have thought I was some little old lady who's barely seen a tv before because they kept reassuring me that I wouldn't have to speak much and it was all very straight forward and they'd all help me out. Little do they know that I am a consummate media professional, Z list celebrity and local pillar of the community. :) Anyway, Singing Bird and Sue both volunteered to be 'ladies that knit dog coats' for the day and we had quite a laugh because we're actually cat women. 

Dogs have their place. And Gizmo found a place in all of our hearts, he was an absolute sweetheart: 

Anyway, we're being a little hub for knitting doggie coats, blankets and snoods (for the greyhounds' long necks) so if the urge hits, as it has my mum apparently, get your sticks and strings out and get to it. We'll make sure they find a good home

So, next on the list. I did the window!!!

 It's veeeeeery tricky to get a photo. Very tricky. Because despite being caked in Mansfield Road dirt, I am a slattern, the window is surprisingly shiny and then if you wait till it's dark you can't see anything - just silhouettes (I don't think I've ever written that word before!).

Anyway, the lady, who had a bikini on:

 Is now snuggled up for winter:

In a jumper knitted by Jan that ended up a size too small (I may write more about that later because we ended up doing swapsies for a new project for her and it's going WELL!) and my very own Finite Cowl.

It's an Autumn themed window, can you tell?

And it's exciting to have BOTH of my awards nestled amongst conkers. 

AND to have Sam the Gingerbread Man (yes, that's his name) from Zoe Halstead's amazing Second Christmas Book nestled amongst the British yarn

I've made the prices a bit more obvious on this window because I was getting a little sick of people asking if I sold wool. Not just what the price was but if I sell it?! Ummm, nah. I just pay loads of money every month to show off my stash, you can look but you can't touch. Hmph. Misery misery. 

Really though, you'll have to come and see it to see how wonderful it is because photography isn't my forte anyway plus shiny windows and lots of details. Anyway.

Onto the next thing. What shall I start with? It's just a load of personal update-y things really. Firstly. I'M BLOODY FAMOUS! So, I goes to knit club on Tuesday, put my bags down and nip to the bar. I know exactly what I want and I'm thirsty so when the bar tender doesn't know who's next I'm all apologetically like 'can I go because I'm gonna be quick and sorry and...'. Anyway, the lady who I was pushing in front of knows me from the Facebook group, looked excited to see me (how little that happens!!!) and gave me a hug! Like I'm a sleb! IMAGINE! Ha. 

Next thing. I've been beading:

I don't have the staying power with beads that I do with wool because... fiddly. Yeah. So it's coming slowly. It's going to be a beady bauble and it's going to be amazing but it may also be my only beady bauble despite visions of beady bauble Christmas trees in abundance in my house. Not gonna happen. But I may get around to finishing the glasses string thing that I started *mumble mumble* months ago. Maybe!? Or maybe used some of the many, many Christmas themed beads that I have... 

Other news. I've been asked a lot about the cat. Versace. She's started answering to Kitten and Cat rather than Versace because we're terrible. But we're trying to train ourselves and her into using the name proper. Now, the reason you haven't heard much about her? Because she's less of a mental now!!!! Remember when she was timid and upset and scared all the time? Well she's a right haughty witch now! Haha. She knows who's boss. 

She's also started going outside, we did actually sign to say that she would be a housecat, I guess because of her timidness but she's been desperate to get outside and Chris bought a tiny dog harness and lead and started taking her in the garden which progressed to me letting her go out on her own and then finally, last Sunday she scaled the wall and went on a wander. God knows where. But definitely not far because she kept coming back to check we were still around. Chris however, went a bit mad. He sat in the back bedroom upstairs in the dark looking out to see her and as soon as she turned back up in the garden he'd run out shaking the dreamies and scaring her off. Ha. What a tit.

She also has fleas. Ugh. Chris had a choice whether to use the out of date flea treatment or the in date flea treatment and he chose the out of date one which didn't work but, having spoken to a vet, we weren't allowed to give her in date stuff. So she's had fleas for a month. And now I have a day off this Sunday (and an extra hour!!!) and we have to spend it fumi-bloody-gating the house. Oh well. He brings me coffee and breakfast in bed every day so I'll let him off.

But she's doing well. :)

Cathy bought me a chocolate orange. That got eaten throughout the day and was very much needed by all involved. 

I finally picked my cucumber because there's no way it was getting bigger. It was a bit rind-y and apparently I should have picked it and it would have grown more cukes. Ah well. I chopped it up, mix it with yoghurt, mint and saffron and made a delicious accompaniment to our curry the other day. MMMMMMM delish!  

 In other news, I am saving madly for a secret thing that hasn't graced the blog yet because I can't trust myself not to say too much. If you've been in the shop you'll know about it though because I do like a good moan. It's not a new shop but it is a step on the way.

And finally, I am knitting a cape - Constantine by Natalie Selles on Knitty. It looks like nothing because of my shortish needles:

Note the cat hair. That's Versace's fault too.  

 Separately from that I've got two small design projects on but I can't tell you about it, I can show you this though:

Can you remember that thing, sorry mathematicians, that we did in maths where you get a number then you add that number plus something and it makes a graph? Like n+(n+1)? Yeah? No maybe? Anyway, I'm doing that. My thing is n+(n-1). I think. Only I've still got to do each level because I can't just pluck an n number out of the air, it's to do with stitches. Anyway. Ignore me. I'm doing maths. That's all you need to know.

And that's it! Can you see? Nothing 'blog-worthy' but lots of little bits. Let's hope that something comes of the cape so that I've got something to speak to you about soon!!! I'm working on it.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Knitting And Stitching And Winning And Boozing

So. If you read the blog you will know that we won the Best Yarn Shop In The Midlands AGAIN this year! And if you don't read the blog, then we won the Best Yarn Shop In The Midlands AGAIN this year! Ha. Amazing!!!


There's an awards ceremony hosted by Aceville Publications who do Let's Knit and Let's Get Crafting (and a host of other titles) at the end of the Knitting And Stitching Show in Ally Pally. The idea is that you go and enjoy the day and then have a soiree in the evening where you meet lots of people and have your photo taken with the certificate. We went last year too because we are TWO TIMES WINNERS! Ha. Shut up Eleanor. 

Anyway, I should start with the premise that I hate London so Vezza has come with me both times, both with t'babbeh but last time she was safely tucked up in womb-land, this time she was just a joy. Anyway, our train set off at 8.30 ish so we were there bright and early. Kind of. This is how I looked at half six in the morning: 

Can you tell I'm not a morning person? But I'm also not the kind of person that tries on her outfit before the day that she's wearing it apparently and that dress was. not. working. with the jumper. I tried it on with a vest top that was hanging around and it looked great but I didn't have a skirt to wear with it! So me and Chris hopped into his car and skated round to my house, Only. Trams. Ugh. And other traffic. When we got onto my road, it was chocca-block so I got out of the car, ran to my house, picked up a skirt, and got back into the car all whilst he was still in the jam. Only. Before I got my skirt on I was only wearing leggings! LEGGINGS AS TROUSERS FOLKS! Not a good look. Ha. But anyway, once I'd got my face on and it was after 9am I looked more like this: 


Much better. The train ride out was uneventful. The train station was slightly feministly eventful. Look: 

ADVERTS FOR BOOB JOBS?! How is that even allowed?!?! Is that just a London thing? Does everybody in London hate their boobs?? Well they bloody will do once they sat down for a wee in King's Bloody Cross or wherever it was that we landed in. Ugh. Slight anger. Which dissipated almost exclusively by seeing this: 

Platform 9 and three quarters. We didn't queue up to see it though. Too much to do. 

The underground was uneventful however we did see a woman crocheting!!!

And then as we were coming up the escalator I saw this woman: 

Queen of the surreptitious photo. :) We were trying to decide if she was going to the Knitting And Stitching Show and whether she'd knitted it. Turns out, when we met her later at the show, that she had! She was a lovely lady - a nurse with a masters in health informatics who had recently come over with her husband from Denmark. She loved her dogs. And knitting. Good woman. 

Anyway - since I wrote that part of the blog a whole busy day has happened - mega busy in fact. :) So, where do I start from here??? I'm gonna give you a photo I reckon. 

The main entrance hall is called the Palm Court and it is covered in palms. Nice place to rest and feed Layla. 

Oh yes, when we got in we went to the Box Office, told them we were VIPs (ha) and expected our tickets to be forthcoming but because of some error somewhere (no idea whose error) the tickets weren't there and I had to spend ten minutes explaining why we were there and why we weren't going to pay to get in. It felt very much like 'do you know who I am??'. Ha. 

There were many beautiful things at the show. One of my favourites was this: 

The Jamieson's stand. I still haven't bought anything from them but every time I see them I go a bit gaga and light headed - this is my wool people. Fine, wool, scratchy. Ahhhhhh. 

And we saw this: 

Which I'm not going to tell you anything about because I hope there will be lots more to tell you. :)

And I bought this: 

As a kit and I do feel a bit diddled on the price but bugger it. The pattern was like the first thing I favourited on Rav and now I have it in my greasy mitts - I don't mind paying for the privilege. I also bought this: 

And this: 

Both of which I'm thrilled with but it's nearly time for home and I've loads more to tell you so I won't twitter on too long.

At five thirty it was time to go and collect our award. This happens in the Londesborough Tearoom (which was where the bride from the tattoo convention wedding on Don't Tell The Bride had her reception). It's painted a yucky salmon colour and there's naked men of which we approve: 

So, basically, you just go in, have a chat, have a glass of bubbly, get your photo taken, get a goodie bag and head off. But somehow we've made a few more friends this year - Baa Ram Ewe and Black Sheep Wools and the ladies from Let's Knit - so we ended up chatting and drinking and somehow... I got drunk. haha. I spilled a drink on somebody who looked important and made a general tit of myself (I bet we don't win the award next year...). Anyway. Here are some photos: 

This one is of me and Sam who's my contact at Let's Knit and she's so lovely and we've never met before so it was great to meet her finally. She touched my bum - that's the photo on the left. 

And that's that. The award's now in the shop:

And hopefully the official photo will be less horrendous than last year and I might share it if I see it around at some point. 

And now for the final, and most important (!?!?) bit of the blog, the prize! I've finally got together a photo montage of everything you will win if you've tagged or retweeted the last few competition posts and because it's taken so long to get together I'm going to extend it until tomorrow night. Here the gifts are in all of their beauty! I think you may be a little surprised... 

You're not winning the certificate or booze. That's just to remind us all why we're doing this. No. You get three skeins of the Namolio linen (which I love), three balls of the Navia Duo DK, a faaaaaaaahbulous beading kit to make that lovely snowflake (apparently a 12 year old can make it, so you deffo can you clever things) and a Sew magazine (that came free in my VIP goodie bag so you've got a little bit of VIP status too. Fact).

Good?!!? It's worth quite a bit more than the £20 I decided on but it's so worth it for the colours. Individually they're all things I would LOVE for myself (apart from the mag, I can't sew, I won't sew and I need to get over it). Anyway. Share and share alike people. Let's have one last big push to get lots of lovely new likers into the gang. :)

Thank you all SO much for the support. It means the absolute world, especially with the sad news over at Purl City yarns in Manchester, your support of this messy, disorganised, chaotic little yarn shop is 100% necessary and appreciated.

LOVE Eleanor. xxxxxxxxx

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Where on earth does the time go!?!?

So, today was all planned. Last little bits of accounts (read: making it pretty), sew up a jumper that I stole from a customer (more on that another day), answer e-mails, follow up some e-mails from the last few weeks that haven't been replied to, tidy up a little, write a blog about Yarndale, go to knit club.


 The bloody trams happened didn't they? I'm almost sounding like a Beestonite now - Allison will be pleased - but seriously, 40 minutes to make a two minute journey is just a little bit over the top now. No? Anyway. I was late by a couple of minutes, bumped into the lovely Iris and walked up with her. We were having a good old chinwag when somebody from Notts TV came in asking if we were doing anything for National Knitting Week. Ummmm. Nah. It's knitting week every week innit? Anyway, he wants me for some filming and I want to be famous (mwahahaha) so I said yes which meant that me and Iris got ourselves sorted out quick rather than meandering and discussing life as we do but that left piles of wool all over which might well have been sorted slowly as we were talking but weren't because we were being fast. Then he did some initial filming (the rest will be live tonight) and then he popped off. Then I had customer after customer creating their own little piles until I had an amount of piles that took an hour and a half to sort. Ahhh well, at least it's basically stroking wool.

So, here I am. I've tidied (although two more piles have been created), I've answered e-mails and caught up on one e-mail that I should have received two weeks or so ago, I've eaten some lunch and served lots of customers but nothing else has been done. I'm 35 minutes away from when I have to set off to the tv and in that time I really ought to do something about my (haggard) face for the tv. It's been a hard weekend - goose fairing, playing mahjong, eating and drinking too much.

But I couldn't leave the Yarndale post any longer because that would be ridiculous wouldn't it? So. I've set up an album on Facebook with all of the photos that I've borrowed *cough*stolen but referenced*cough* from customers - and hopefully there'll be more to add as more people send them in. You can find that by clicking here (even if you're not on facebook I think - it should be pretty open). And then I've chosen my favourite few to showcase here. Good. Yeah?

 That, to me, is just the most inviting basket ever. And I didn't see it! This is one of Sue's photos and this is the information she posted with it: "Lovely yarn from Teeswater sheep. The stallholder, Freda Pilkington, was extremely helpful and reassuring to a beginner like me."

I must admit I love all of Lindsay's (is that how you spell it?! I know it's a weird one but she's 'Linds' on facebook and that doesn't help me!) photos - we both enjoy colours and she's really captured that. The pants are great. Am I right in thinking they were like underwear bunting??? Somebody was talking about it t'other day. :)

And this: 

Which isn't really much to do with Yarndale but was being knitting on the day by Beccy. Linds and Becky both came on the toe up sock course the week before. It was finished on the bus home! Good job ladies and bloody brill photo.... :)

This is Steph wearing her second Sailing Pi Shawl. I ADORE Steph and her lovely smiling face. Every time she's around the place feels happier and more positive. And she's a good cuddler - even for somebody that doesn't like cuddling. :)

And this is Steph's lambala (I'm sure it's spelled differently) made in what looks like Bamboo DK (????). The idea was that you made these, from a certain pattern, for a certain shop (and I don't know who it was) and wore them on the day and then you got an exclusive gift from the stall which was a biscuit and a pattern. I think?? Good idea. Amazing marketing. And cute sheep. :)

So that's it. We're now 20 minutes from tv lift off and I have to get loads of stuff done. So I'm off. Sorry this is short lived. Ahhhh. One more photo: 

It's the (almost) finished jumper I was talking about last time! I've done the neckline since and that's pulled it in a bit but it now needs a wash and a dry and I should have got round to it this weekend but you know.... drinking.... goose fairing.... eating. Oh well. More photos on the day. :)
That's it. I'm gone.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxxxx
 NO! I'm not gone! I'M BACK! I have to announce the winner for the free lesson:

I did the thing where I randomly select 20 names from each post again but there weren't enough to make it 20 on twitter so there were, in the end, 83 entries to this one and the winner is.....


Who is just the most lovely lady and she's getting married and... AHHH! How thrilling! A little bit of a shame that I don't get to test out the Skype method - but I'll get round to that one day (and if you want it then you need to let me know and we'll sort it).

The next, and final *sob*, part of the competition starts tomorrow. I have a real good one for you to finish off - I think you're going to luuuuuuuurve it!

Once again, 

love Eleanor. xxxxxx

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Court, Castles, Life Chats and Dyeing.

I'm blogging out of order and I just don't care. I have so much to tell you about yesterday and then tomorrow or maybe the day after we can get back to Yarndale (I keep looking back at my photos and wishing I was still there. Ahhhhhh Yarndale.) :)

So, I told you in my last blog that I was going to be a witness at a trial. I suppose I could talk about what happened in the case now but it's not fun and it might get me or somebody else in trouble and I don't want to risk that because the outcome was positive and I think that will make a big impact on the victim's life - I don't want to jeapardise that. Anyway, at the last minute the court was moved to Lincoln - having spent all of my money on Yarndale and being told I wouldn't get compensated I decided I couldn't afford to get there so they sent a police escort! Luckily it was an unmarked car as I was being picked up from Mum's house and what would the neighbours say!? Ha. We got a bit lost on the way there which I thought was hilarious - what if it had been a police chase!?!?! When we got there we parked up in a car park just outside of the castle and had a chat about what to do because we didn't know where the court was. Turns out it's INSIDE THE BLOODY CASTLE!

Readers, that is Lincoln Crown Court. If I'd have known courts could be that pretty I might well have been a barrister now... 

Honestly, it really interests me because that seems historical doesn't it? I bet the court was there when it was an actual functioning castle. It's a motte and bailey - I know that from visiting as a kid - and I bet the court was always within the motte - could that have been the bailey??! It looks a bit Victorian too me so probably not, but could that have been the place?! Could a king or one of his circuit judges delivered judgements from that very place back in the dizzay??!!?!? WHO KNOWS?!?!!? Not me! But once I've finished my bits today then google will be my friend. :)

Anyway, the victim went in and I hung around with some police people - they still make me nervous - a hangover from my misspent youth and perhaps from learning about police brutality during my degree (not that these police were brutal I must add but it does put you on edge...). I tried to relax but it's hard. Then I was sent in the the witness room - I hadn't asked anybody about my crochet and I'd left the house in such a rush that I had scissors and 2.5mm dpns and sewing up needles and all manner of dangerous items in there. The bloke checking my bag made a joke about that and the amount of tissues. :/ That's called organisation mister.

Anyway, it was quiet in the waiting room. I got my crochet out and all of a sudden we were in a massive room-wide conversation about knitting, weaving, crochet, spinning, sewing, photography, cooking, Birds the bakers. Everybody relaxed. I must admit, once out of the way of police people, I was pretty relaxed in the court but then tension when I walked in was palpable and I'm glad I helped in some way. I nipped out to the loo at some point and when I got back they told me it'd gone back to silence. It would have been a good time for a sing song I reckon. Anyway anyway anyway. I was there about an hour when the news came that the accused pleaded guilty which meant I was free to go! We all trundled back to the car and headed back to Nottingham - much quicker than we got there.

I nipped for a coffee and headed towards Verity's. As I walked through the Viccy Centre Bus Station I saw a customer of mine looking a bit confused. She'd got on what she thought was the free bus to Broadmarsh but due to somebody asking how long it'd take to get to Doncaster(!!!!) she knew she was in the wrong place but didn't know where the right place was... So I pointed her in the right direction, helped her with her knitting and spent the next hour and a half talking about life, the universe and comparing human beings. Lovely. Deep.

Anyway, then I got on the bus to Vezza's and finally got there. We got to work more or less straight away because we knew what we had to do. Remember this?

 Of course you do. :) It's pattern 3899 in the delightful Masham DK and we were dip dying it! Although on some blog somewhere I realised that I'd said we were tie dying it. Nah. Deffo dip dying. Now, we all know Vezza is the queen of dying around these parts - just look at Truly Hooked - but she'd never tackled something like this before. So, we decided to leave it in parts. A front, a back and some sleeves. Babbeh was impressed:

 Now, because it's a drop sleeve rather than say a raglan we had to clip it together and try it on before we knew where the sleeve would sit and therefore where to dye to we used numerous lovely stitch markers:

And then we used bits of wool to mark where on the sleeves and body we were going to match to. It took two of us to dye it at the same time (otherwise the dye might not have been exactly the same) and we needed them to let us know roughly that we were dipping at the same speed. 

That photo also shows the skein that I dyed at the same time too so that I have something to sew it all with.

AND THEN WE WERE OFF! You need to soak the thing first to help with the take up and stop it burning if it touches the side of the pan. Then you put the dye in the water and heat it up like this:

And then you put the stuff in! Slowly. Slowly. Slowly. 

 Then take it out and let it cool. Smoosh it about it some water. Take a load of photos for t'blog.

 Then go about the process of blocking. JUMPER SAUSAGE ROLL!

Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. 

Then admire it some more and take it home!!!!!!!! WHAT A DAY! I am SO pleased with it! It's still slightly damp so I don't want to sew it together and we might have made a mistake. Let me show you:

Can you see? It's at the front so I'm still deciding whether I can style it out or whether I'm going to rip the back down and make that a 'front' too so that front and back are exactly the same. Another option would be to rip just that side down to where it goes wrong and work that up again. But I kind of what to leave it in there - it was a lovely day and a mega experiment and I like the hand-done approach. I'm just not sure I want it all up on my left tit - know what I mean? I think I'll probably make the back into the front and then I can sew it all together which will take a matter of minutes, crochet around the neckline. Reblock and spin it so that it comes back into shape a little and BISH BASH BOSH I have a dip dyed jumper!!!
WHAT DO YOU THINK?!?! Who am I kidding? I don't care what you think! Mwhaha! I have the best jumper to collect my award in made by me and my best mate and me and my best mate are gonna have the best time in London. Tra lala lala.


Tomorrow I talk Yarndale again.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxx