The New Normal – daring to feel optimistic!

Hello fellow knitters, crocheter’s, friends, family and random readers. What a busy few weeks since my last blog!
My main activity has been sewing face masks. There was a mad rush of orders when the pandemic really kicked in, and then when there were lots of folk selling masks, it slowed down.

When it became a legal requirement to wear “face coverings” in shops and on public transport, my orders started again. It was lovely to have so many returning customers who had been delighted with their initial purchase of a couple of masks, and then they returned with large orders for family and friends. I made children’s sizes for my grandchildren who are both 5 years old, and started to get orders in for the smaller size too. I made so many that my sewing machine started to wobble and complain and so I invested in a heavy duty one which works like a dream.
During the lull in face mask orders, I picked up my knitting. I finished my glorious Beryl jacket in teal Wensleydale Longwool aran, and I love it.

During lockdown, and miraculously, I lost weight. I think it was the increased walking and the daily need to exercise. Anyway, this jacket is a size smaller than my previous ones. I finished it off with gorgeous abalone buttons and this time stuck to the curved shaping at the bottom of the front, and am really happy with it. It is so warm! I love the colour too! Sorry about the slight distortion on the edge of the photograph, I needed to get an image quickly so that I can post this, and Mike is doing my Mum’s garden, so had to do the best using our bedroom mirrors.
I am a bit sad really because I love this yarn and the pattern so much that I now have 3, and am looking at every posting that Cath puts on to facebook or Instagram and the only reason that I haven’t bought yet another batch is that I can’t make my mind up which colour to do next! I really can’t speak highly enough of this yarn. It is so warm and the lustre really shows up the stitch definition. I have only ever knit in the aran weight, but wonder what the four ply or dk weights knit up like. I have looked at their other patterns and once again am absolutely spoilt for choice. I am missing the yarn shows because then I would be able to do what I normally do; visit their popular stand a few times, look at the colours, look at their patterns, and then when Cath is free, have a chat about them before treating myself. Do yourself a favour and visit their online shop, their yarns are beautiful, the colours really special, and you will not be disappointed with the results of your knitting. I am thinking that mustard yellow or maybe spruce, or the cream would be good too! Decisions, decisions…Lets hope the yarn shows start up properly next year, although I am conscious that things will probably be very different until we are all vaccinated against it! Never mind, lets be thankful that we have a hobby to keep us content, and my thoughts go out to my wonderful colleagues who continue to provide a brilliant service to patients in the North Staffs area.
While I am on the subject of patient care and the brilliant work done by nurses, doctors, allied professionals, paramedics, admin and all the other essential workers for the NHS….
They are NOT heroes.
They chose to do this profession, studied hard, continue to study as they update their skills, work very hard and as such, deserve to be paid justly.
All that health care professionals want to do is to be respected and paid for the work that they do. They deserve to be respected and recognised for the service that they offer. This is despite of years of cutbacks by the Tory government, where they have seen services both in the NHS and voluntary sectors lose their funding. I have talked to a range of folk who still work in the NHS and they all feel the same, they didn’t want to be applauded once a week, they wanted to be paid for their skilled work within a service that is adequately funded.
There, rant over. I do feel very strongly about this, and thank you to all the “front line” workers who have put themselves in danger just to care for others, but come on Tories, don’t sell off the NHS to that idiot in the States…
And now, on a much more pleasant note…
Our two eldest grandchildren became 5 this month. Edie decided she wanted a Barbie doll a month before her birthday, so I rushed about talking to friends about patterns. My Aunty Maureen had sent me some doll’s patterns which were really sweet. My lovely friend Karen Baker of Crafts at Poppy Cottage also helped out and I got to knitting. I managed to take a photo of a few of the items, but then was in such a rush to finish them, (the night before we went over), that some went without being captured.

The problem with Barbie is that she doesn’t close her fingers together when you put her arm in the sleeve. A little five year old
Edie was eager to see her doll dressed up warmly and so when the digit escaped through the knitting, she gave it a little tug to try and release it. I demonstrated what was causing the obstruction but it was fiddly for her to manage. It didn’t help that she had no sooner put it on one doll, that it had to come off and be put on another one. One Barbie was actually a mermaid (they have evolved since I was a kid), and she saw no problem in this lovely lady having a knitted skirt over her tail.

My elderly Mum came over to Lincoln with us to visit my eldest son Paul, his partner Zoe, and their children, Edie and Max and she was in her element helping to dress the dolls! Spending time with family brings me such joy. It was the worst thing about the lock down, and now that we can safely meet, we will ensure that we don’t bring any risks to our families. We spent all the time in the garden, and were very lucky that it was such a beautiful day.
I want to mention my Mum because she is doing so well and I am so proud of her. We lost my Dad on 30th January, the day after her 80th birthday and it has been a strange time since with this corona virus. She has taken it all in her stride. She has gone from strength to strength and is “going on” because that is all we can do. She is taking care in her appearance, keeps the house tidy and clean and is socialising with friends and family by phone.
She has been to have her eyes tested and will be having some new glasses. She is going to have some refresher lessons to enable her to drive again. She is determined to be as independent as possible. Now that the lockdown is lifting a bit she came to see my brother and sister-in law Tim and Brenda where we had tea and a cake. She has always loved Brenda and she enjoyed seeing where they live and looking at the garden. I have some very special friends who have helped to support Mum and Dad when he was alive. Sue Sumner and Karen Baker particularly have helped and it helps her to know that people care for her and are interested in how she is doing.
Mum’s brother, Uncle John has been brilliant, and so has her cousin Pat. My Dad’s sister, Aunty Maureen rings her regularly and so does her sister in law, my Aunty Avis. I think her social life has really helped her through all this sadness and loss. Thank you to my wonderful family and friends!
So back to The Knitting Companion….
No shows at all this year for us. I have joined in a couple of virtual shows but they aren’t like the actual show. I miss them because I enjoy them myself as a customer as much as an exhibitor. I love talking to the other vendors and finding out about their products. I love the hustle and bustle of when people come in, crowding around our stand to laugh and joke with Mike. Some of our customers are great and we love it when they return. One lady came with toffees for Mike last year at Bakewell, because she remembered he loved them from Kendal Wool Gathering.
One of the things that customers kept asking me last year was whether I had a crochet diary…well, after a lot of work, research and hours spent designing, I am chuffed to say that “Yes”, we do! “My Knitting Diary” has been enhanced with some useful bits for 2021, and we now have “My Crocheting Diary” too. They currently retail at £7.49 and there are stickers that can enhance your diary use, they will be in a kit of diary and stickers for £8.49. Our Etsy shop is having a little rest at the moment but will open on 10th August, where you can view our diaries in more detail. For now I will share a picture of the covers!

I visited Hanley Print Services (also Covid 19 aware) with appointments necessary, mask wearing, no touching etc., and was delighted to see the covers coming off the printer for the first time! Thank you to HPS for another perfect batch of publications.
I will update my shop to sell these world wide when we open again, as the knitting diaries were very popular and got posted to Canada, the States, Germany, Australia, Ireland and all over UK.
I am now in the process of knitting an aran cardigan in Navy (nightmare at night time) and will hopefully be posting about that next time. So until then, keep your spirits up by doing something that brings you pleasure, and I will update you on what has been happening with The Knitting Companion.

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