Hello March! Spring is on the way thank goodness and we are seeing signs of new growth in the garden with the initial blossoms of snowdrops, crocus, and forsythia. Having said that, the weather forecast is for snow next week which is par for the course as Mike is due to do the Cheadle 5 tomorrow! The weather is usually appalling. One of those “runs” where I see him off, then rush to the car and drink from my flask of coffee until I hear the early returners and get out, totally wrapped up to cheer them in!
I must apologise for being so late with this blog post. My family had to take priority and things became difficult for a few months. Mum’s health deteriorated where she needed to be checked more regularly. She is a very independent lady and has found it difficult having to relinquish more and more tasks to others (mainly me). She cancelled her carers a while back and so I stepped in (as discreetly as possible) to make sure that she was ok.
We are all still adjusting to not having Dad around and we enjoyed Christmas as best as we could. We had our sons, their wives and our Grandchildren (5 of them) for lunch on boxing day, but Mum felt that it would be “too much” to come too. She was spending more time resting and having a snooze in the afternoons.
Unfortunately, things came to a head when she collapsed on 3rd January, breaking her rib and puncturing her lung. The lung collapsed and she experienced internal bleeding. She didn’t have her caller alarm on and so was unable to move or call anyone. Luckily her wonderful neighbour, Cheryl, noticed her curtains were still closed and so rang me. I live literally around the corner so was able to pop round. The ambulance was there within 7 minutes which was a miracle in today’s times! Since then Mum has become increasingly frail and my husband Mike, my sister Helen & hubby Kev have been focused on ensuring that she is visited regularly and that all her needs are being met.
Things are settling down now for Mum and she is still under the care of the respiratory team as they keep an eye on her recovery and progress. I can now breathe a sigh of relief that she is recovering in our local wonderful nursing home.
We had a lovely busy time over half term. My eldest son Paul won a holiday and took his partner Zoe to Athens. They are very well travelled and enjoyed planning their trip. We were delighted because we had our grandchildren, Edie and Max for a few days! It was wonderful and we spent time visiting Mum and Julie, doing art & crafts, watching films, dancing to Edie’s favourite music, learning the words as she sang along, going for walks, playing with our range of toys, and having a few trips out. We loved having that special time with them and had planned ahead. We bought some bunkbeds so that they were comfortable and they settled really well in them! We will be well prepared for when our other grandchildren have sleepovers now too! We are blessed that all our grandchildren are wonderful little people and it is fascinating watching their personalities and interests develop as they grow!
Things for The Knitting Companion are remarkably busy! We applied for a few extra shows this year and were successful! The first one is Buxton Wool Gathering next weekend and I literally can’t wait. This one is like a local event for us as we are able to return home and sleep in our own beds. There are some wonderful vendors there and I always come home with lovely squishy yarns!
I have new products in the pipeline and am really excited about launching those later this year. I love having ideas and then spending time designing and bringing them to reality. One of the main concerns for all vendors has been the soaring costs of everything. Most of my products involve power in their construction, whether it be printing or sewing (and ironing). I am also aware that we are all feeling the pinch and am doing my absolute best to keep our prices as low as possible. This is difficult when materials are sent by post and so the increased cost eats into any profits that we may make. We are all in the same situation and our customers are very valuable to us. I ensure that the products we sell are of the highest standard. I use the best fabrics and other materials and cut down on waste to keep the prices as low as possible. We must be doing something right because I have a large number of customers who are regulars.
I have been busy knitting. After doing a lot of tiny items for gorgeous Jos who was born in November, I returned to my “Wednesday Cardigan” by Jaki Bogg of Hot Butter Yarns (also present at the wool shows)! This project has been a delight to knit. The pattern is very well written and in so much detail I would encourage anyone who hasn’t done a fairisle item to try this one. I bought it as a kit last June where I met Jaki at Wool@J13. I loved knitting it but had a few false starts with it. She assured me that the medium size would be fine, but I insisted I needed large. I did a test swatch and my tension was spot on. I cast on the required number of stitches for the large size and after knitting about 8 inches thought that it seemed a bit big. I soldiered on and then Mike said “That is going to be miles too big for you”. I measured it and then measured me and there was about 10 inches extra. I know that it is a comfortable, loose fitting design but this was way too much. I undid it and wound up each separate ball of colour and started again in the smaller size. This was much better and I really enjoyed the pace. Our wonderful news of a new baby on the way stopped it’s progress and it was only until the Christmas holiday that I picked it up again. What a joy the wool is to knit with. The colours that Jaki has dyed it are amazing and vibrant. It is a lot brighter than I usually wear and I think it really cheered me up! It has yet to be blocked, but I hope to be able to wear it next weekend and show Jaki my handiwork!
I have been trying to build up my stock of knitting needle cases. I sold so many at Kendal Wool Gathering and over the weeks up to and after Christmas that I only had a few left! I have bought some beautiful fabrics and know that they will be popular. I just need a few hours in the day. I found that when I was worried about anything, mainly Mum’s situation, by sewing I can escape. I have to concentrate so much that there isn’t any room for other thoughts. I particularly enjoyed listening to Radio 2 Ken Bruce, and would down tools and have a cup of tea when the pop master quiz was on. What are the BBC up to? I think it is disgusting that they have not seen the quality that the more senior DJ’s bring. Ken, in my mind, was the best on Radio 2, his interviews with singers and musicians, his sense of humour and his knowledge of the music industry made his programme so interesting and enjoyable. I know that this isn’t knitting related, but it has impacted on my work space, and I from today, am not listening to Radio 2 anymore. I have tuned in to Greatest Hits Radio, and after being initially disappointed with the adverts, soon realised that the music is brilliant and worth listening to. I have been sewing and singing along today! Oops, will have to ensure that my attention isn’t taken away too much!
My knitting continues to give me pleasure, and I am currently soothing myself with Wensleydale Longwool DK in a beautiful shade of pale blue. I am knitting the lace and cable cardigan that I have already done twice before in turquoise and navy blue. The sheen of the lustrous yarn, along with the haze make this pattern seem even more special, picking out the detail with the light. This project is done when I have sat down for the evening to enjoy a bit of television with Mike. The repetitive pattern of 12 rows is so enjoyable and my trusty “The Knitter’s Companion” helps me to stay on track so that I pick it up and instantly know where I am in the pattern. I am pleased to say that Cath and her team are at Buxton Wool Gathering too and I am keen to see these new shades that she has out! My Beryl jackets in Wensleyday Longwool Aran are so cosy and I adore wearing them.
I didn’t post this because when I logged onto my website it looked completely different and I couldn’t make head nor tail of it. Dale to the rescue, he responded promptly and changed the view so hopefully I will get used to it!
It is now Sunday.
I never made it to Buxton Wool Gathering because we had a load of snow. All the roads except one were closed to Buxton and having worked in the Staffordshire Moorlands on the Community, I know how dangerous it can be. Luckily the organisers, Carole and Michelle were already in Buxton to assess the situation, and cancelled the event. This was the most sensible decision and I know a lot of people were looking forward to it, but judging by the comments on Facebook, everyone was relieved that it was cancelled. The event is now going to be held on the Coronation weekend. The show will be on the Sunday and Monday, so although we can’t make it, I know it will be a fantastic event. There is a fair in the park next to the show, so bring your family, let them have fun while you take your time and make those squishy purchases.
I was very busy making lots of stock for Buxton WG. We did very well there last year and so I wanted to make sure we had plenty of everything. As we haven’t been there, these will be loaded up to the Etsy shop later today. I will post about it on FB and IG too.
I am now preparing for Spring into Wool in Leeds. This is another absolutely brilliant show based inside a grammar school. The refectory is open and the food is gorgeous and great value! There are loads of quality vendors and I always come home with a few purchases!
My Wednesday cardigan by Jaki Bogg is now finished, blocked and I wore it out for lunch today for the first time! It is so cosy and warm! Just what I needed in this chilly weather! I am so pleased with it and can highly recommend her patterns – just look up Hot Butter Yarns. Jaki can be seen at the wool shows too and is lovely and friendly. I am struggling to upload any more photographs – so frustrating! So I will publish this and until I can spend some time chatting to Dale, my IT expert – nephew – star – I will have to share them on social media instead!
I am now busy planning next year’s diaries. Yes, I know it is only March, but it takes literally months to plan, visit the printers, and tweak things until I am really happy with them!
I will close now, I hope that you are all warm, well, and looking after yourselves. Watch out for our latest products and some new exciting things in the planning stages will hopefully appear at the end of summer!