Thursday, 17 September 2015

Brand New Bumper Boucle

I am absolutely overwhelmed by the response to yesterday's post. It was really hard to write and it was a long time coming but the amount of people that have read it it astounding and the people that took time to comment and come up with suggestions really made my day. I must admit, everybody around me is pleased that I did it, Chris in particular. He gets the brunt of hungry, tired, overworked me and I'm pleased to be able to do something for him. So far it's worked! Only one lady was here when I got in a few minutes early and she's not a blog reader so... we can but hope that this is for the long term. Fortunately we've also been pretty busy in the shop so the tidying isn't where I hoped it might be but I have managed to get something pretty cool on t'internet so let's move this on shall we??



Cygnet Bumper Boucle!

How cute is that? It's got to be the most beautiful colour that I've ever seen in my life. So beautiful I had to cast on a jumper:

It's taken like.... two days? Spread over a few days because of how manic the shop is and teaching a lesson and... stuff. But seriously. 12mm needles? Cropped jumper? No excuses not to get in done in less than a week, no matter how slow you are.

There's no pattern for this and I don't suppose that these photos make you want to jump up and cast on straight away but if you want to know how it was made. Well, my gauge was 2 stitches per inch. I measured my wrist and multiplied that by two to get the amount of stitches to cast on. Then I measured the top of my arm and multiplied that by two to work out how many stitches I should end with. And I knew I ought to get my increases done pretty quick, so I increased at each end of every 4th row. When I got to the length that I wanted on my sleeve, I cast off three stitches at each side and then decreased a stitch at each end of every right side row until it seemed like the right length for a raglan. That turned out to be 7 sets of raglan decreases. Which meant that once I'd made my other sleeve, I could start the body really easily. Measure my bust, multiply by two for the cast on, rib a bit, knit a bit, cast off three stitches at each end and then work seven sets of decreases for the raglan. For the neck I cast off a few stitches in the middle of the of the row when I first started my sleeve shaping, then decreased on every right side row at the side of that and at some point, between the neck shaping and the sleeve shaping I ended up with no stitches and I fastened that off and boom. Then I sewed up a sleeve to the front and the front to the next sleeve and that sleeve to the back, basically everything but one raglan seam, and then I picked up stitches all around the neckline, decreased a little bit on the first row of rib (thought I wish I'd decreased a little bit more), another row of rib and it was ready to cast off. Sew up the final raglan seam, sew up the sides and sleeves, sew in the ends, take some stupid photos. And boom.

Anyway, that's the jumper and it's lovely and warm and I can't wait to wear it with a skirt that it actually suits and maybe get some proper photos (me and Chris are going on a date on Saturday so maybe I'll persuade him then...).

Back to the wool. This is super chunky. This is super bloody chunky. And I love it! If you've worked with the Gypsy then it's a similar sort of weight to that and actually, the texture and colours are not dissimilar but it is very much softer. OOOOOOOOOH. Soft. This is the thing that sells this wool, how bloody soft it is. Like a cloud! Like a baby's bum! Like an angel's armpit hair!

Bluegrass - Cracker - Frisee - Tea

Kale - Waterweed - Dock - Willow

How cute are those colours? But so much richer and more gorgeous in real life, I'll try and show you:


I think lots of experienced knitters are almost a little scared of superchunky. Metre for metre it's not the most cost effective way of knitting, but it is super satisfying and sometimes we need satisfying. Like a good kebab or a bottle of wine or a second bar of chocolate. It's naughty. It's not right. But sometimes it's just what we need. So I've done a rav search for you which you can find by clicking here.

But here are a few that I think stand out:
Sentiment Shawl

Oohoohohoh. It's been a while since I took some time to wander/wonder around ravelry. That website really is bloody good isn't it??! Especially when you know how to do it well - have you seen out vlog about it?

So that's it! A brand new super chunky - Cygnet Bumper Boucle - 100g - 60m - £4 - beautiful colours - stupidly soft - boom!

Love Eleanor. xxxx

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

An Announcement

This almost kills me to say but I have to for the health of me and my shop. I'm setting boundaries. And these boundaries are the shop opening times - 10.30 to 6.30 every day apart from Sunday when we're closed.

One of the best things about this shop is you! I love hearing and sharing stories and emotions and histories with you. It's fascinating and sometimes mind blowing and heartening and important. But this is also a shop, first and foremost. And more than anything, this is a bloody busy shop right now. We  must be doing something right because things have seriously gone off the hook and I suspect a lot of that is the heart and soul that's in this place - mine and yours.

So I am really mindful that that can't disappear but I'm also mindful that the shop has been a shit hole for a long time and e-mails are answered too late and orders are placed a day or two late because other stuff needs to be done and that has a knock on effect with everything else in the shop. There is nothing that I can do, and nothing that I want to do, about how busy we are in the day but I am increasingly aware that I'm staying over time chatting or getting in an hour early to get some of the to do list done and there's already a queue forming outside of the shop or people popping in for a couple of hours to chat and not buy and I'm a softie underneath it all and I find it really difficult to say - 'sorry, we're not open yet, come back in an hour' or 'gosh, it's that time already, I have to go now' or 'I'm sorry I can't chat now, I have a tonne of stuff on, let me help you buy the yarn that you came in for'. But really, it's for you and for me. Imagine coming into this shop and it's tidy! Imagine how much more you could see and discover. Imagine how much less pulling stuff out on the floor I'd have to do if I had time to actually tidy! Imagine how less stressed I'd be if orders were placed on time and the accounts were done! IMAGINE A HOOVERED FLOOR!

I think that there's a little bit of me (or actually a lot of me) that really enjoys being the 'magic wool lady' who can just get everything done with no stress but in reality, everything that the shop is and everything that I do for the shop (and I need to emphasise that not everything that the shop is is stuff that I do, some of it's just a special kind of magic caused by everybody that spends time here) takes time. So the Yarndale e-mail, that some people are still waiting for, took about two hours to sort out. There was no time to do it last week when the shop was open and a few times I stayed late with customers so there was no time then and then some nights I just needed off. So that two hours came out of my one precious day off. And now there are some people that haven't had it but I spent a lot of yesterday explaining that it is coming and please be patient rather than actually sorting out the problem, so I'll probably stay late tonight and do it. I won't be the 'magic wool lady' if I don't get at least some time off, I've learned that the hard way, I'll be the 'jibbering wreck in the corner surrounded by piles of wool' which is very much how I feel today. Haha.

And therefore I'm asking for everybody to be mindful of the fact that I'm a human being and I need time to do stuff. I love being around you and as loud and obnoxious as I can seem I'm really bloody shy at telling people where to get off. So I'm going to work on that, and if you could work on being out of the shop by 6.30 and not turning up before 10.30 and just popping your head around the door to say a friendly hello when you're not buying or not coming on Sundays when I'm teaching my lessons so that I have to stop and explain that we look open but we're not open then everything should work out much smoother in the long run. Yes?


Love Eleanor. xxxxxxxxxxx

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Pattern of the Weeeeeeeeeeek - Union Onesies

You knew it was coming. It couldn't not, could it? And what a way to relaunch Pattern of the Week!

I'm going to start early with my top tip.... Don't enter into a speed knitting competition. It'll only break your heart when you lose/you fingers when you can't stop.

So, let me set the scene. Toni has started covering the shop on Wednesday morning for an hour or two whilst I have a regularly scheduled appointment. So far, every single time she's covered, for one reason or another she's ended up staying all day. One of those days somebody came in looking for interesting baby patterns and ended up with a onesie type suit. Toni speculated that it might be bloody brill for her to have a onesie and started looking on Ravelry. I started wondering whether it might be reasonable for me to have one too. She found the Union Suit. I couldn't resist and we both cast on that evening. The photos that really set this in our minds were these:

Look how much fun he's having chopping wood! 

And this one:


We got over excited and started talking about pockets and hoods and detachable feet but we were both very definite on there having a fairisle bumflap.

The pattern is fantastic. Fan-bloody-tastic. This is not for the faint of heart. This is a lot of knitting, knitting in the round, knitting flat, fancy increases, fancy decreases, picking up stitches, short rows, counting rows, knitted all in one, button holes.... Anybody who's made a jumper confidently should be fine but be warned. It is really well explained and all the way through there are options for short or longer or wider or thinner or curvier or less curvy bodies. Both me and Toni made adjustments, some of which worked and some of which didn't. I'd definitely do my legs shorter next time and Toni would definitely make hers a little baggier. Overall though, we felt pretty well supported throughout the pattern but I think it helped that we were doing it together so you know when you don't read the pattern right? Well, the other one would. And to be honest, once I got down and finished the legs I didn't touch the pattern again.

At some point, the knit-a-long turned into a competition. I think it turned seriously when Jean offered Toni £50 to beat me. Toni was in front for most of the way and then, somehow, when she went away for the weekend, I got ahead. AND THEN AT THE LADY MINUTE SHE BLOODY FINISHED! But have you seen the side of her compared to me?

Although that photo makes her look almost as tall as me I'm about a good 6 to 7 inches taller, and to give you some idea of sizing.... my thigh is two inches smaller than her chest... Haha. I believe, even though my knitting finished the day after hers, that I won. Also, she never got a single pocket on hers.

The bumflaps were dead fun. For some reason I got it in my head that I should definitely have my name on mine. I roughly worked out how many rows I'd have to work and split that into seven sections which, give or take, gave me seven rows per letter. So I spent a bus journey working that out meticulously...

As meticulously as I get anyway... If you can't make that out (and I barely can) it's a series of scribbled grids with letters blacked out. It's all I needed anyway. And it ended up looking like this:

You can probably tell that I spent very little time centering the patterning, just went with it. I'm of the passionate belief that fairisle really should be done in the round and steeked where you want it flat, so every row of doing this made me cringe. Better than leaving this though...

Toni's not so bothered about how to make fairisle though so she just ploughed ahead with the cutest bunnies ever in the world.

I think she roughly took the pattern for a monster eighties jumper, but basically looked at it and made it up from there. Each bunny is separated by a line of fairisle jamming and there was a little bit of heartache about whether she could fit another bunny and another line of fairisle in. Especially seeing as she decided on having a useable bumflap. I was convinced I wouldn't use mine so I sewed it up (forgot to put buttonholes in anyway....) but Toni assures me that it is useable!

Which leads me to. I'VE GOT TO MAKE ANOTHER ONE! I decided to put a zip up the front of mine - no idea why seeing as I hate sewing - but I did. Only, I decided this on a day when I knew that I wouldn't be able to get to a sewing shop before I had to wear it at the party so I had to send Chris in. Good old Chris. Only, I couldn't decide on the colour, seeing as they didn't have burnt orange in a 30" zip. (You mean not everybody is making burnt orange plus size onesies around here!?!?!?) so I got him to pick up a red and a black. But then I didn't want to take the black back because I want another onesie. I was tempted to make an all black onesie. I have a beautiful long black velvet dressing gown that I wear all the time and it almost makes me feel classy in my sleepwear. Surely I would feel classy in an all black onesie - perhaps with some crystal beading detail around the yoke??? But then Steph from Nettynot suggested a multi coloured onesie and it all came into focus because a loooooong time ago I got a bag of all of my aran bits together fancying making a big oversize sweater for me and never got round to it. Add a few full balls in there and I have enough for an all over mental onesie! IMAGINE THAT!

Anyway, for these original onesies, knitted in three weeks and one/two days respectively if you must know, we both used the big balls of aran. Everybody loves a big ball don't they? Toni used the Grousemoor Aran in Pink Mix (marked 'Pine Mix' on the internet.... how have I missed that?! It's on the list of stuff to fix. It's a very long list...), three balls of it. And I used the King Cole Fashion Aran in Mull, three and a bit balls of it. Note the difference in metreage - the Cygnet Grousemoor has 660m and the Fashion Aran has 800m so even though I only used half a ball more, I used a good 600m more. We shared a ball of Cygnet Grousemoor Aran in cream for the contrast and used most of that although there's some left over that might make it into my next onesie seeing as I don't have that much cream.... not usually my thing... It's knitted on a 4mm needle and I think a 3.75mm for the ribbing and we both ended up using a circular all the way through even though some of it's back and forth. It's just much better for your wrists this way because the extra weight is not being supported by your arms or wrists but laying on your lap as you knit (or under your arm if you knit whilst waiting for the bus like I do). This might seem like too small a needle, and technically it is, and parts can be hard going to be honest but you really don't want a loose gauge on something like this. You'll be wearing it when it's cold and probably without a bra and can you imagine a nipple peeping out of your loose weave? Nobody wants that.

And I think that's all I've got to say! I really, genuinely recommend this. It's one of those projects that you really regret casting on when you're half way through but we've both worn these to death since we made them and they so impressive and technically interesting that I say just bloody go for it! £30 for a woolly onesie made by oneself? Boom.

One last proper photo:

I'm off to prepare for tomorrow's lesson.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxxx

P.s. Just to help her our a bit, here's the pattern again - Union Suit by Megan Grewal.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Brand New Arne and Carlos Regia Collection

I hate to have to tell you this (actually I don't, I really, really don't) but the brand new Arne and Carlos stuff is nearly half sold out. Before I get to the deets of the matter, I suggest if you need this in your life but can't get to the shop, order online by clicking here and either just have it sent to you or click 'collect in shop' and it'll be saved for you until you can get in and you won't be charged the postage.

So, there's a vlog uploading about this as we speak, so you can go and see me chatting away about it but I know some of you either don't like the vlogs, don't know about them or need to know the details without stealing all of your internet minutes. I understand. And it's my job as a yarn shop owner to get the info to you in as many ways as possible. AND I've finally got my blog foo back. I think. Don't quote me on this, but I even have an idea for Pattern of the Week tomorrow (don't mention not having any time... at all... ugh, I'll get there) and if I can get that done then I even have an idea for the next pattern of the week! Boom! Anyway, wool, yarn, socks, ooooooooh:

There it is. The stuff we've all been waiting for. It should have got here by the shop party last week but it didn't. I got the invoice for it on Friday while we were moving the shop around and when I rang them up it turned out that the box had got missing. So it actually was sent in time for the party but somebody somewhere messed it up. Gah! Anyway, they resent the box on Monday and then I got the box on Tuesday and didn't have any time to do anything with it... And then another box turned up on Thursday which turned out to be the box that they resent so the original box was the original box! Bloody nightmare.

Anyway, it doesn't matter because it looks this good. Another photo? Oh go on then:

How gorge is that? So, first things first. It's a sock yarn, that means it's 4ply and it's made with 75% wool and 25% nylon and tightly spun so that it's really hardwearing. You still need to be knitting your stitches nice and tightly so where a normal 4ply would be knitted on 3mm needles, a sock should be knitted on at least 2.75mm but more like 2.5mm needles preferably. It depends on what you can stand. ;)  There's 100g per ball (lots of people have missed this because the last lot came in 50g balls so don't miss it!) and 420 metres. This means that you can get a good pair of man socks out of one ball or three smaller woman pairs of socks out of two balls. Each ball is £10. If that price makes you hyperventilate (and I get it), firstly, that's a standard price for 100g of sock yarn (the Zig Zag is just really cheap) and secondly all Regia sock yarn comes with a 10 year guarantee. That means that if you knit socks on the needles and gauge specified and wash it like they suggest, if you get a hole in your socks within 10 years you get to send the socks back and they'll send you some yarn back. Of course, then you miss out on the joy of funny coloured darning patches... :)

100g - 420m - 75% wool, 25% nylon - £10

The Regia Arne and Carlos Collection.

And now we should talk about colours shouldn't we? Because that's what we're alllllll about. Ahhhhh.
So, these are all fauxisle. The idea is that the yarn, when knitted as a sock or on a similar amount of stitches, will work up to look like fairisle. I know a lot of us are familiar with this technique (especially as so many of you have been struck by the gorgeous King Cole Drifter) but it's still a bit magic isn't it? Here's a close up of the socks that they sent us to show off the yarn: 

That's the Forest colourway and isn't it stunning? Ahhhhhhhhhhh. I love the little hint of green.

So I took a load of photos for the shop page because Regia hadn't provided any good ones but I am a bit disappointed, especially with the Fields colourway. But there was no helping that. I'll either swap to Regia photos when they get some or the yarn will be sold out (I strongly suspect it will be the latter, haha). Here:

Fields - Garden - Iris - Islands

Forest - Orchard
 The one that upsets me the most is the Fields colourway because you miss the purple altogether. Here's a much clearer photo of what it looks like: 

But is it that much clearer???? Ooooooh, I'm having a bit of a crisis. Haha. Yarndale is weighing heavy on my mind at the moment. Everything's paid for. Everything's happening. No need to worry. It's just that people are cancelling left right and centre and needing money back and some people that were on the waiting list now can't go. And then I forgot how many people we could get on the bus - is it 64 or 65 - makes a massive difference if I'd overbooked and then somebody wouldn't be able to get on.... Wouldn't that be awful!? Cue stress and panic. No, it's okay it's 65. And then everybody's asking me when they'll get tickets or when we're setting off or coming back but times that by like 65 and I keep saying 'it's coming in the e-mail' and it is but I have to have a minute to write the e-mail but I had to get this yarn on the internet, and on the vlog and here and then up on the shelf and then of course there's the Boucle than came in last week to do all of that for (and a sample) and then an order from Cygnet came and then I had customers and then they wanted stuff right from the back of the shelf and orders on the internet and trying to keep the facebook page looking sane and normal and forget about Instagram. And then apparently becoming Tourist Information for Mansfield Road. Ahhhhh. Sorry. Slight detour into my brain. 

So, Arne and Carlos Collection for Regia. This is a first come first served thing and it's nearly half gone so get to it!

Love Eleanor. xxxxxx

Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Radcliffe Village Show and Other Assorted Bits

For the second year running the ladies of the Radcliffe Village knitting club invited me to judge their knitting (and this year crochet) competition! I am thrilled to do this, it's a nice little outing and it feels so very..... out of place.... for me to be doing this. The rest of my life is spent on Mansfield Road which I love, hanging around with people at the pub, swearing a lot and generally being a bit of a numbskull and to be invited to somewhere so lovely and homely and British in a professional capacity is, to be honest, a little bit mind blowing. Haha. You can read about last year's trip here if you're interested. This year, we knew where we were going but we were still only just on time. We were ushered into the judging hall and we were off! Last year the competition was just for scarves (adults and childrens categories). This year there were four categories: crochet blankets, knitted hats, knitted and crochet toys and then a kids category (that nobody entered sadly).

The skill on display here was truly awesome. Amazing things being made so near to where we are. There's a thing that I do, I'm sure it's not a normal thing, but I often end up thinking about what other people are doing - like right now, there will be people getting married in the world, or somebody leaving a job, or somebody wiping their bum or eating an orange, or crying or giving birth or.... whatever. I think about it quite a lot. But right now, this very second, somebody pretty near you is creating something amazing. It might be knitted or crochet or woven or spun or woodworked or painted or drawn or sung or danced, but somewhere near you, or not even near you, somebody on the other side of the world right now is doing something that you love. Imagine what you might speak about if you could meet them and then communicate. I wonder what you'd learn. Or what they'd learn. Or whether you'd hate eachother, or love eachother. Or who they might introduce you to. Anyway, in Radcliffe, which is pretty near us and I'm sure we could communicate if we met, there are lots of awesome things being made. Shut up Eleanor, get on with the blog. Haha.

This is what greeted me, how gorgeous is that?! 

I started with the crochet blankets. I went from one end to the other looking at each blanket as it came. I had no idea what I was looking for at first but that slowly became clear as I went along. The first thing, did I like the design? The colours? Honestly, there was beauty in each one and the designs were obviously chosen with much love, but there's a balance to a truly beautiful thing isn't there? A balance between colour and texture. Then I looked for interesting things. Which meant, I'm afraid, that the good old granny square was out. I love a granny square, you know this, but I couldn't allow that to win. That narrowed my pile down. And finally, I looked for finishing. I didn't want to see any ends and the border had to sit straight and be evenly picked up all along. This left me with three blankets. I chose the winner in the end because technically, out of the three, it was the most difficult to make, being all in one instead of squares. There was a lot of counting to that pattern and I know I couldn't be bothered.... ;) I loved the one that came second because of the colours which were just so unusual and the finishing which was spot on but I couldn't allowed a granny stripe to win even though I had Lucy in my head saying 'Go On ThAt'S jUsT ScRuMpTiOuS!' or something like that. haha.  And the third was just beautifully sewn together, and I liked the design but I felt like the colours were just a little jarring. The cute little bow design in popcorn stitch were just the cutest though!

Chris took the photos - I'd have got more detail of the exciting things but there was more to judge!

The next thing I looked at were the hats. So many entries! So many bloody lovely entries. Of course, it was most important that these fitted as actual hats so either me or Chris tried them on and it meant that some couldn't get through. After that I chose based on colour and design and how these worked together. And finally finishing. Which meant that I ended up choosing the thing that first caught my eye as the winner - a lovely design, well chosen colours, fitted as a hat and the finishing was superb, AND IT WAS A DOG! Once again, Chris took the photos so there aren't as many details as I'd enjoy.... but they're here anyway:

 The next hat was just so beautiful I couldn't resist. A proper old fashioned bonnet type affair with a bit of a crochet edge. I wasn't sure, given that the hats had to be knitted, whether I could allow this to win but it deffo had to come second. So well finished and such a pretty little design. And the third prize went to the most original - I recognised it immediately as a Minecraft character even though I've never seen Minecraft (played it?! See! I don't even know what it bloody is! I did this with Frozen before I saw it too, I knew more about Anna and Elsa's wardrobe than I did about my own at one point...). It was really nicely finished of course, as neat on the back as it was on the front and I have a soft spot for a stocking cap. Ahhhh.

And finally, I judged the soft toy competition. I must admit I wasn't looking forward to this as much because I don't really do soft toys.... Just not my thing. I love knitting and crochet for the practicality and toys just don't seem practical, unless of course you have kiddy winks.... Anyway, the one that caught my eye from over the table was the parrot. But as soon as I moved around to start the run through I knew I'd found a winner because I literally fell in love. Look:

How gorgeous is that?! I've been told it's a mouse since but there's something about his eyes that makes me think he's more of a racoon. A funny coloured raccoon. I loved the fact that the maker had combined knitting and crochet, and if you know me you'll know that I usually hate that but they'd both been used where they could make the best effect and the buttons were bloody perfect. But most of all....


Again, the finishing was spot on but the design and the choice of colours in the yarn, buttons, eyes and all the bits was just spot on. He also wasn't overstuffed which is a trap I fall into a lot and probably half the reason I don't like toys... Gorgeous. So he won:

The second prize went to this.... flower baby? I loved how modern and old fashioned the colour and design were at the same time. I can imagine a child from the 50's having this as well as a child from now. The yarn was cottony and obviously pretty posh and to be able to make a toy with a good tension and no baggy bits in that was quite a feat. Beautiful. But I couldn't let the parrot go without having some recognition because it was spot on! The colours! The wings! Those wings were made up of loads of little hand knitted and shaped feathers sewn carefully into place. There was a lot of work in that parrot there and some kid will be thrilled to have him.

Other highlights, but there wasn't enough time to photograph it because I like to give personalised feedback on each item, were a diamond shaped blanket in deep browny-purples matched with cream, really unusual. A gorgeous textured tortoise with beautiful chain stitch swirls on top to make the pattern on her shell - I'm pretty sure that some of the yarn was handspun and the colours and textures were put together in a really lovely balanced way. A fabulous knitted campervan! I suspect the lady that makes that has a business because I saw a stall with some of those on it later on in the day - if it's you, let me know and we'll give you a showcase because your work was fab! And a gorgeous little 4ply baby bonnet, properly old fashioned and exactly the thing I'd put on a kid. Every entry was gorgeous, I'm only sad I can't remember them all this year because there were so many!

This was organised by the ladies of the knit and natter at Grange Hall in Radcliffe and I assume they still meet every Wednesday from 1.30pm to 3pm (let me know if that's changed ladies!) and it sounds like they have a real exciting bunch of activities going on including a coffee morning in aid of male cancer research. Ladies, again, if you're reading this - let me know more details because I should have taken them on the day only I was horrendously hungover.... Haha. That's the way to do it!

So, now, onto the rest of the show and how lovely it was!

 Both days that they've chosen for this so far has been fabulous in terms of weather. It was SO warm and sunny and just beautiful. It's kind of strange to be there before it opens to the public - there's a really nice atmosphere and anticipation in the air. It opened with a short speech and a lovely brass band and then they were off.

People went to check who'd won in the many competitions - jams, pickles, chutneys, pizzas, bread, and victoria sponges. And on the other end of our table was the sewing bit. One of the classes was the upcycled category and there were some beautiful bits including a skirt made out of ties and a beautiful blanket made out of dresses and a sheet. But the thing that caught me eye was this:

A pair of jeans made into a cushion. We were both a bit taken aback - like why???? But the more I thought about it the more I realised that I could really do with one of those! Support for while you're knitting without getting too much in your way. AND it passed the touch test. This denim was as soft as a baby's bum! I don't know whether they'd done something special to it or whether it was just a very soft pair of jeans but I definitely thought that this should have won. It didn't... 

The hall was really busy: 

 An impromptu one way system was set up otherwise there would have been chaos!

Next we went into one of the side rooms where there was a display of those lovely ricketty fairground ride model things, the kind that they have in Wollaton Hall. And at the end of that room is one of those games where you pay 20p to pick a miniature sword out of some polystyrene and if it has a painted end then you get to win something which is where a plot first started to form in my mind. I won two and chose two packs of shower gel. More later.

There was a dog show:

But I remember from last year that Chris didn't want to stand around a watch. I could have spent all day there.

Then we headed over to the other end of the field where the fruit, veg and flower competitions had been judged and were being displayed. I think I took the most photographs here so I've put them in a board thing for you so as not to bore you too much. I was determined this year to enter a marrow but because of my haphazard gardening I ended up having to dig up my marrow plant and use my marrow about three weeks ago because the tomato plants that I'd planted without realising that they were tomato plants needed more space. I was sad about this on the day because it appears that there were only two marrows so I definitely would have won something. Haha. They were lovely marrows though!

We were thrilled that we saw that Debra, the lady who'd helped us judge because she was nothing to do with knitting or crochet, had won a few classes and placed in others. And those onions, mid row on the left were literally as big as my head. Absolutely amazing! They deffo deserved best in show.

There were some beautiful floral displays:

This one didn't win but it should have done. Maybe I should judge that next year too? Ha.

And then we bought some dougnuts, some beer and a little hand made cracker thing for my dad who recycles crackers every year. For some reason though I totally missed the fudge stall. I mean, I saw it, but I avoided it and I've no idea why. Only, when I went back inside to say goodbye to the knitting ladies they'd bought me a bottle of wine and some fudge to say thank you! HOW LOVELY! Honestly, they're a great bunch - a proper sense of humour and magnificent talent. If you're around Radcliffe and free on Wedneday afternoons you should definitely visit them. :)

Then we headed off to my house. I needed to get rid of a big chair that's been taking up space and become a bit of a dumping ground for years. I decided to dump it because it was third hand or so when we got it, and I got it to take to a carboot and get rid of ten years ago, and although comfy it was definitely worse for wear. But because that was going to the tip my mum got the great idea of sorting out the shed which had been a mess for a long time. If you've ever heard about my dad you'll know that he's a lot of a hoarder (I was going to say a bit of a hoarder but...) so his garage and many rooms in the house are full of stuff. This does everybody's head in and it was a real shock and surprise that he agreed to sort the shed out. Whilst we were sorting we found a load of old tent stuff - poles, shelters that aren't quite tents, fold up chairs - that sort of stuff. As well as some electrical bits that don't work and haven't for a decade and empty paint tins and broken toys. Anyway, suffice to say there was a big pile to take to the tip and an even bigger pile to take to the White Lion in Beeston for the refugees in Calais.

Having spoken to Jet at the party who is one of the organisers I'd decided that I needed to do something other than just feeling shit about it. So along with a lot of clothing and even more blankets and scarves and hats and gloves that I was never going to wear, and the tents and chairs and bbq items, with £50 of the profits from the shop party I went to ASDA and got some of the stuff that Jet was talking about. She had a great idea, think about the worst camping trip that you've ever been on and then imagine that you've lost your purse, that gives you some idea of what to give. So we bought £20 worth of pants (kids and adults), tonnes of shower gel and soap, toothpaste, rice, big woks than were on sale and tins of soup, beans and fruit that were on the cheap shelf. I really do think that we did the best that we could do but it just seemed to little for just over £50. We took it and everything else straight down to the White Lion where it was gratefully received and taken down to the storage. Please be aware that everybody that's collecting at the moment has asked for donations to be put on hold because they've been overhwelmed by the response and need to sort out more storage so bear with. I want to talk more about this, I really do, I feel really angry about some of the views that I've heard about this (including one from a tory councilor who's got to be one of the worst people I've ever met) but I am aware that it's political and I'll keep it off the blog. I am just so pleased that we as a shop could be involved in a tiny way in making somebody's hopelessly shit time a little bit better.

By the time we'd done that, and got our shopping done and got it all into the house I was inspired to sort out the dress that I'd been wearing all day. Verity got married a year and a half ago and I was one of the bridesmaids. She chose a really beautiful delicate colourscheme of cream and grey - it suited her so well but grey really isn't my thing. So not my thing that I actually ended up wearing silver. I made the dress myself and chose a yarn (I can't remember what it is sorry, and it's not from the shop for shame...) when Verity was there so she liked it too. The yarn was truly lovely and actually not that posh. It had like a polyester-y type french knitted core in a very bright silver and then there was a grey wool acrylic mix kind of shot through it, not really spun in but just hanging around in a fluffy kind of way. Haha. When I bought it I said I'd dye it eventually but I didn't have the spare money or time (it's a lot of yarn... needed lots of dye...) and because of the polyester content which I thought was undyeable. But when I went to Pikes the other day to get the buttons for my onesie, I asked the lady about it just out of interest and it turns out that it does dye! So I bought three packets of Violet and got on with it. It started out like this:
 And by the time it'd finished dying on the Monday morning it looked like this:

Whilst at ASDA I'd also picked up a bra because it was NEON yellowy/green but it came in a pack of two with a white bra and I hate white bras because I don't generally wear white (messy eater....) and they get gungey looking quickly don't they? So I chucked that in not knowing what it would do. A delightful Babie pink if you must know. Haha. It all worked out much better than it might have done so if you're thinking about dyeing something, bloody go for it.

By this time, and a bit of pottering in the garden, I was knackered so I sat down with a new crochet project and just crafted in front of the tv for the rest of the day. Chris made dinner, brought me drinks and crochet hooks when I needed them and mostly everybody left me to it which is just what I needed.

All together, this was a bloody fantastic weekend! Full of lots of supportive people and lots of excited people and lots of helpful people and just loads of brilliant people. I am still knackered, this summer really has been busy and it never really wound down in the way that summer usually does so I'm knackered from a knackering weekend and from a winter and then summer where I feel like I'm rushed off my feet. I am immensely grateful for all of this and it feels like the good kind of tired where you know that, once you get the chance, you'll be able to snuggle down into bed and sleep for 20 hours solid. Maybe at Christmas?!

Love Eleanor. xxxxxx

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The Fifth Birthday Party

Ooooooh wee. I bet you're looking forward to this blog. I am. I've had a lot of catching up and sorting to do today - the problem with having two days off together - so this is delicious time to relive Saturday's party and Friday's sorting without all of the stress involved. Ooof!

So, as you probably know, we're now five years old. Five bloody years old! I can't actually believe that we've made it this far and that we're still here!!!! But really, genuinely, I couldn't do it without other people. It's been amazing to me how people have stepped up and in to help at times when even the people involved in the business (including me) didn't want to! This year was the first year I was on my own for the shop party having bought out the other business partners in April and it did add a little to the stress but, never fear, Elizabeth, Toni and Harriet were here!

I went on the tv in the morning so I Toni offered to cover the shop's opening and then she stayed around for the rest of the day and whilst the shop was open we moved a box at a time trying to keep everything as ordered as possible. If you came to the shop on Friday you'll be laughing out loud at that.... it didn't work very well. Especially when we got the King Cole order half way through the day...
We kept those boxes outside, slowly bringing bits in as we needed them and eventually they were empty.

When we emptied the shelf thing that's on your right as you walk in the shop, I knew I had to do something to reattach it to the wall... After that horrid bloke from the council came and smashed the shop up (that's a slight exaggeration, see here) I noticed that shelf had started leaning, it seemed secure so I wasn't too worried but I knew it wasn't right. So once the shelf was almost empty, I started having a look, pushing it gently backwards but I couldn't... So me and Toni looked behind and it turned out there was a load of bloody wool there! Haha! Most of it was the Authentic, which is what the bloke from the council smashed off the shelf, but some of it was some cotton yarn that we haven't stocked for three or so years. That's how often I tidy.... Here it is all on the shelf:

Haha. Some of those bits were just hanging around. Anyway, it's sorted and I've now nailed the shelf well and truly to the wall in case any other council employees pay us a visit... 

So, we were genuinely too busy after this to take many photos at all. Harriet comes every Friday so we roped her in when she turned up and then when she left Elizabeth came after she'd been to work bringing chocolate fingers as always and this time prawn cocktail pringles (which are as divine as you imagine...). She helped out with the last bit of sorting, some tidying, chopping up the bits for the lucky dip and this bit that she liked best, sorting out Truly Hooked's yarn. I love this photo of her. Haha.

So, because those three helped me out so wonderfully and we started so early we actually left the shop at about half nine which has to be a record! I was just so excited that I was making something other than a onesie. Because Thursday and Friday had been so busy, the only crochet I'd managed to do was whilst I was on telly so I was so pleased I took a photo...

Another way that Toni helped me out was, back on Monday, she made me make some stitch markers. We'd done a little research on fifth anniversaries and found that the special gift for anniversaries is fruit (and flowers) so the choice was obvious. But making that many little things is a bit of a nightmare so we made a household job of it, Toni on the pasta maker, Chris with his hands and me making the shapes. It wasn't until I got home on Friday that I had time to put the findings on though so that was me up to 1 o'clock. Very pleased with the outcome though and I kept some back from the party so there will be some for you to order today or pick up in the shop over the next couple of days.


So on the day I woke up nice and early. Had a good breakfast and got into the shop a few minutes early. Lovely. It was a sunny day, I changed into my onesie straight away and then.... nothing. Ha. Which got me worried. It doesn't matter how early I am, usually on a party I am inundated the minute I open but not this year! I had a good half an hour on my own crocheting outside before anybody turned up and to be fair the first person was Toni! She changed into her onesie and we sat and had a little crochet and an ice lolly. Lovely.

Then it began.

Zoe Halstead turned up! BOOM! And Chris, Harriet, Kayleigh, Caroline, Helen and Gabi.  LOOK AT ALL THE NAMES I REMEMBERED! This was just a snapshot. The day was ridiculously busy from top to bottom. Lovely. Chris made himself useful in the corner (mainly as a drinks catcher for Carla.... Nice boozy smell in my corner... ;) ).

Davina showed off her FIT T-shirt:


That's the Patons 3990 but knitted in the green,  plum and black in the Bamboo Cotton DK (although the plum's been discontinued so if you want to look as good as Davina then you need to do it quick....). How gorgeous does she and it look?!

Steph got drunk. Very very drunk. And appeared in 90% of my photos. haha.

And the shop just got busier and busier:

 Knitwear was shown off:  

Belfies were taken...

And most importantly, the onesie was photgraphed properly.

As always, we were overwhelmed with food and gifts. Whoever bought the toffee is my particular favourite this year. But also gin and rum. Delicious. Gill made me this little project bag which I promptly filled with wool and have carried around with me ever since. I haven't touched the wool but I will. I might. Maybe... I think I'll just appreciate the bag for a while more... Haha.

Sue Richardson also bought me the best mug ever! I took it home with me, woke up on Sunday and went to make a cup of coffee and..... it was gone. Yes, Chris has claimed it. It has cats on it, of course he's bloody claimed it. Haha.

Thank you to everybody! You don't know how appreciated you are, even when I'm moaning, and I moan a lot! It's not the gifts (alright, it's a little bit the gifts... especially the amount of wine I've had this year...), it's you, spending your hard earned cash in this tiny and disorganised and ridiculous shop to that I can carry on having the time of my life and sharing a little bit of joy (hopefully.... but not when I'm moaning). Mostly, thanks for listening to me moaning.

And to sum the day up, when we got home, after we'd had our Chinese, we all headed upstairs ready to brush our teeth and collapse into bed, when Versace decided to do something that we all wish we could have done and hid in a very small, very dark, very quiet place - the chimney...


Eleanor. xxxxxx