It has been so long since my last posting that I shall briefly explain why and then talk about a new show we exhibited at, and what new shows are later in the year. I shall also share new products!
I must confess that I am no PC expert, I did extra studying whilst working, but although I can find my way around Microsoft office and the internet, with any issues that my PC may have, I am lost! Thank goodness for my very clever and helpful expert – Dale Sigley, my nephew! Every time the website software changes or updates, I am once again struggling to make sense of it all. Web design and the other stuff that goes along with it is like another language to me. So here is a big thank you to Dale, for keeping me going and sorting out my problems. I wonder if he can sew in ends? No seriously, he is amazing and very patient with me!
My last post was in March when we were helping Mum to get settled into her nursing home. At the time of writing this it is July and summer is well and truly here!
We were absolutely delighted to be given the chance to exhibit at Wonderwool in April. What a fantastic show it was. So many vendors, such a wealth of expertise and talent, so much to buy! Mike came with me and he is a natural born seller. He managed to source some bespoke hooks which were perfect for hanging the gridwalls from, making setting up and breaking down very easy. We were opposite Nicola Diggins and her Seraph Sweater was on show which was already on my list of things to do! Needless to say, I ordered a kit! When I saw it the first time in The Knitter magazine I fell in love with it and I knew I would love knitting it.
I found the whole experience of Wonderwool brilliant. It was great to meet new people, catch up with old friends (not that we had much time to talk as we were so busy). I had a few things on my list of things to purchase and one was a skein of Gillian’s beautiful yarn from Mothy and the Squid. This became a shawl for Mum with my first ever bead work – and she loved it. I loved making it so much that I am now doing another one with a few changes.
I had a very interesting conversation with Meg Crowther, designer who gave me some excellent advice about sizing patterns. Basically, she suggested that instead of just reading your size on the top of the chart, read what the finished measurements are. Measure yourself accurately and then decide on whether you want to have a couple of inches of positive ease (a bit bigger so that it is not a tightly fitting garment), and then look at the pattern dimensions. When you find the measurements that suit your needs, knit that size! Meg has lots of patterns on Ravelry and her designing is wonderful. She explained that she uses a spreadsheet to design, and so my knitting companion books were just the job to help her to write out the patterns for her customers.
I put some photographs of my purchases and our stand on Facebook so you will see that I indulged myself! We hope to exhibit there again next year so fingers crossed!
The last few months have been a whirlwind of activity and I have had weeks where I haven’t been able to get near any designing or sewing for “The Knitting Companion”. I have power of attorney for my Mum, who still has capacity but is very frail. She has complex health issues, and I am delighted that she is being looked after in our local nursing home. The care that the residents receive here is wonderful and it is a weight off my shoulders to know that if she becomes more unwell, they are there to care for her. I have had to do several lengthy assessments, have interviews by social services and liaise with goodness knows how many different care providers and other services to settle things.
Whilst doing this, my youngest sister has complex health needs too and has a learning disability and physical disability too. She can’t speak up for herself, doesn’t have capacity, and I am also thankful that she is in a brilliant, supported housing placement. She has also had numerous issues which have run alongside Mum’s needs. It’s just the way things are. There won’t be any recovery in Julie’s condition, but every year her needs must be assessed to see if she is still appropriate for continuing care. This involves meetings with social workers. She recently had a financial assessment done too which involved 3 days (literally) on the computer. The power of attorney role was transferred from Mum to me because of our situation and this involved a visit from a social worker. He was great and gave me some excellent advice about funding etc., for Mum’s care. My career was in mental health nursing and so completing assessments and attending meetings etc., is nothing unusual for me, however it does take me away from my normal routine. As there is an emotional involvement, there is an element of stress with it too. I have tremendous support from my husband Mike, other sister Helen who lives in Greater Manchester and my friends. Mum has excellent neighbours who are also very supportive. One in particular, Cheryl has been very supportive to us for the time that Mum lived independently.
Mum has decided to stay in the nursing home as she is too frail to live alone, even with regular carer and family support. This means that her house has been standing empty for over six months. We obviously had to empty her fridge and cupboards of any foods that could perish. Over the past few months we have had to organise repairs to her chimney, and see to some general maintenance. She has instructed me to sell it and so after a massive job of clearing out years of collected art materials for Julie, and other items of Dad’s passions – mainly photography, we are now ready to put it on the market. It has been a very sad experience and I refused to even think about sorting their things for about 3 months. Mum was adamant from the start that she wouldn’t be going home, but I wanted to make sure that she was settled.
Sorting through their things, it makes you realise how much they valued little things that we did. It was a bit heart-wrenching going through birthday and Christmas cards sent by some people who are no longer with us. It made us realise that one day, our home will have to be sorted out too! Panic! I have SO MUCH yarn, books, patterns, needles, fabric, art materials, etc. That we decided that in 5 years time, we will start to thin it out. Instead of buying more yarn, I will actually use what I have in stock (did I really just say that???) But not yet!
Through all this emotional turmoil I thank goodness for knitting! I have a project on my needles all the time, and so this is how I relax and escape. I find the sensation of knitting to be soothing, and it comforts me. If I am dong a complicated pattern it brings me joy as I see it unfold. I have to have a clear mind to do some types of knitting such as Marie Wallin’s intarsia or fairisle. I am saving my Seraph sweater for when all the extra pressures on my time have gone. Designing new products and sewing project bags and knitting needle and crochet hook cases is also my escape. Mum always encourages me and is interested in the shows we do, what we see, how we get on and so I am now more able to focus on things now that she is settled in.
We are doing two new shows this summer and I am really looking forward to them. One is the “Pop up Wool Show” at Port Sunlight on 19th August. This is a one day event and is within driving distance of our home. The other one is the “Southern Wool Show” at Newbury Racecourse on September 2nd & 3rd. We are looking forward to this one as it involves a weekend away as we will be staying in a hotel!
We will be bringing our usual popular stock and have next year’s diaries on sale too! These are focused once more on your favourite craft, either knitting or crochet. They are even thicker this year with lots more content, some new items and even a self-reflective exercise which helps you to look at your current situation from your perspective, whether you be focusing on your knitting skills, or how you spend your time. This is a solution focused brief therapy activity that I used when I was a Community Psychiatric Nurse with my clients, and I have used it for myself on numerous occasions. I include an example of my recent use of this tool to give an example of how it works. These will be available at the wool shows that we attend, and also available from our Etsy shop from mid August. We are having a three week break from 22nd July, and will re-open our online shop afterwards.
I have found knitting to be very relaxing and rewarding over the past few months. I had some beautiful Wensleydale Longwool Dk in Moonlight, a beautiful pale blue lustrous yarn. I decided to knit another lacy cardigan with it and am delighted with it. This cardigan will be one of my best! I also do a lot of travelling in the car as our eldest son Paul lives in Lincoln. I love to pass the time as a passenger by knitting and so knitting small, 7 month old grandson sized garments is perfect. As they are a bit smaller, they are very portable and soon get knitted up! I look after him for one day a week and so it is handy to have a few to pull out when he needs to get changed! You might think the design of the knitting diary looks familiar. Yes, if you follow The Knitting Companion on Facebook, you will have seen my Wednesday cardigan designed by Jaki Bogg, of Hot Butter Yarns.
More recently there has been another significant change in my life! My hubby has dropped a day from work. He is working towards retirement and now has Fridays off! Marvellous, but I have lost a day in my week! He always finished at lunchtime on a Friday so that meant that I would do the food shopping in the morning, and whizz around cleaning until he arrived. Now that he is “off” he feels that we should do something special with the time. This could be going out for the day, having lunch out, going for a walk, visiting a National Trust place. Lovely, and I am really enjoying it. But I have lost some time and now must cram it in the other days! Part of the philosophy behind his thinking is that time is to be enjoyed. He nearly died last year when he ruptured his appendix causing peritonitis and septacaemia. There is an awareness now of how precious time is and so we are making the most of it! Another factor was that prior to Mum going into the nursing home, I was spending increasing amounts of time there, doing her shopping, chores, taking her for appointments, taking her meals down, doing her washing & ironing, checking that she was ok and just being with her. Now that I don’t have all that to do, life is a lot easier.
Where did the time go?
It is now August and I continue to be busy, preparing for the Southern Wool Show.
We went to Port Sunlight for the Pop Up Wool Show and what a success it was! It was a new experience for us doing a one day event where you have to set up and pull down on the same day! We decided to drive up the day before and have a hotel stay, giving us the chance to relax and explore the area the day before. This enabled us to visit Port Sunlight’s museum and worker’s house. As it was an hour before closing when we arrived, we didn’t have time to visit the gallery and other historical interests. We did walk through gardens and see the beautiful houses with wide open spaces and statues. I was so interested in the place that I bought a book to read about its history.
I had visited the Lady Lever Gallery as a student nurse back in my teenage years and I remembered some of the story from then. We were telling one of our customers about our positive impression of Port Sunlight and she smiled, saying that she lived in one of the houses and affirmed our impression, that it is indeed a beautiful place to live.
The show itself was very well organised. The venue was Hulme Hall and the interior was rich in original features. We had help in unloading which was tremendous. There was a café onsite which was very popular, and the entire environment was beautiful. There were chairs to rest on and some of these were opposite our stand. It was lovely seeing people showing each other their purchases and hearing them share their plans. We both acknowledged that the visitors to Pop Up Wool show were very warm and friendly and would stay for a while after making their purchase to chat. Lovely people! We had a successful show and were shattered at the end of it! Now I only have two weeks to restock ready for our next new show – based in Newbury Racecourse on 2nd and 3rd September. The details for this are on the internet and there are some fantastic vendors and some that are new to me, there are a lot that are based in the South, so it will be interesting to explore!
After the past 3 years, due to the situation with Mum’s health, the loss of my Dad, Covid restrictions and Mike’s health scare we hadn’t even given a thought to holidays outside of the UK. Now that we don’t have the same worry about Mum being alone, Mike fancied going somewhere new. We went to Holland for almost 3 weeks with our touring caravan. It rained most of the time as indeed it did here, but we had a fantastic time. What a friendly people the Dutch are.
I fell in love with Holland and we agreed that we will return when Mike has retired and visit the bulb fields and Keukenhof Gardens in the spring. The Dutch are extremely environmentally aware and they put our country to shame. It was great going around on bikes on safe cycle lanes that had either a canal or grass area between it and the road. The holiday was very relaxing and just what we needed!
I won’t make any comment about when I intend to post again. My life is a bit hectic and family take priority. I hope you enjoy reading this and catching up with us!
Our two remaining shows are the Southern Wool Show in Newbury, September 2nd & 3rd and Bakewell Wool Gathering, on 14th & 15th October! Maybe I will see you there?