Let me run this idea by you, it isn’t Rocket Science, and maybe it's a proposal Jacinda may be interested in.
Here goes...Instead of meeting up with unwell family friends, frequenting fast food outlets, or even going to the gym (especially having had just having had a Covid Swab) we all just stay home and knit! Maybe there could be a Financial Government Knitting Grant, applicable for all those who prove they can knit, purl, cast on and cast off. I could be the Government's Minister of Knitting and be responsible for sending out soothing knitting updates and inspirational advice. Let's face it...I have plenty of time on my hands this week!
I expect Jacinda's a little busy at the moment, so I'm going to bypass protocol and red tape, I am the new self-appointed Minister of Knitting. I'm taking my job extremely seriously, and settle right down to work.
Snapshot of my office at The Beehive
Enough frivolity, let's move on to more serious matters. Many of you are asking if I’ve managed to secure enough stock for the busy knitting season ahead. As we're all aware Covid has disrupted the production and distribution of goods around the world. Rest assured, there's no shortage of wool in my shop. The vast majority of our new season’s yarns are now piled high on the shop shelves, and my store room is pretty crowded. There's absolutely no chance of me being 'a ball short of a sweater' this winter.
Many disconcerting knitters have become addicted to our Alpaca Yarns. Working with superb quality alpaca really is taking knitting up to the very highest level of luxury. I am pleased to say I have highly greedy stock levels of our Brushed Alpaca Air. Many of you will be familiar with my complementary brushed alpaca blanket pattern. I have just completed my tenth blanket and the latest version is photographed below. As an aside, my 21-year-old cat has her own pink version.
Our Chaska Alpaca Air is available in the most glorious range of colours: soft chalky shades, cheerful brights and classic neutrals. Have a read over this complementary blanket pattern, at the end of this newletter, feast your eyes on our range of colours, and maybe purchase a few balls of loveliness!
There is a designated section on our website for all our Chaska Alpaca Yarns, showing the aforementioned 'Brushed Air', the MUHU Baby Alpaca 8 ply, our Takama organic and dye free Cotton/Alpaca, and a for those of you who knit socks, there’s a superb Alpaca Sock yarn.
Our 8 ply Chaska MUHU is the softest yarn available for babies knitting, and we all know there's a bit of a baby boom at the moment...Covid does have a small upside! We have new colours available, including the softest of shell pinks, a gentle praline and a robin's egg green. If you wish to knit a bassinette blanket for a special baby, take a look at our Exclusive Pattern.
Our Chaska Alpaca yarns and shades are just a fraction of what is new instore, however I am not going to ramble on too much, us Government Ministers have a habit of that! I may send out a news brief later in the week, as long as my Ministerial Knitting Commitments don't take up too much time.
Happy Lockdown knitting,
Fran and Olivia.
Many of you will have, fondled and cuddled our Brushed Alpaca Blanket that we’ve have had on display for many years. Over time, I have ‘shop lifted’ our sample for my own personal use and knitted a replacement blanket in a different colour for the shop. From memory this will be my tenth Brushed Alpaca blanket.
My latest creation has a lovely textural moss stitch border and even more voluptuous fringing. It was rather warm knitting it over the summer, but I know as soon as the cooler weather arrives, this blanket will go missing from the shop and find itself much appreciated in my home!
10 balls of Chaska ‘Air’ Baby Brushed Alpaca
6 mm knitting needles. The number of stitches will fit on a full-length pair of straight needles, or if you prefer, use circular needles.
Crochet hook to attach the tassels.
Size: approximately 105 cm x 105 cm, excluding tassels
Abbreviations: k - knit, p - purl, st(s) - stitch(s), rs - right side, ws - wrong side, rep-repeat.
Cast on 155 sts stitches loosely.
Row 1: k1, p1 rep across the row.
Row 2: p1, k1. rep across the row.
These two rows form moss stitch. Repeat last 2 rows 5 times more (12 rows in total, you will end after a ws row)
Row 1: (rs) k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, knit to the last 10 sts, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1.
Row 2: (ws) p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, purl to the last 10 sts, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1.
Repeat these 2 rows until your work is almost a square, but less the 6cm or so of your bottom border. Finish after a wrong side row
Row 1: k1, p1 across the row.
Row 2: p1 , k1 .across the row.
These two rows form moss stitch. Rep the last 2 rows 5 times more (12 rows in total, you will end after a ws row)
Cast off loosely. Sew in ends.
You will have approximately 1.5 balls left over; these are for the tassels. I always make voluptuous tassels; I find that trying to economise on the amount of yarn used in the fringed border looks a little frugal and rather ‘make do and mend’ We want ‘full on’ luxury! I aim and use up all my remaining yarn.
Cut a piece of stiff card to 12 cm. Wrap the yarn around the card and cut along one length. Tassels are attached with the use of the crochet hook, in groups of 2 strands along the top and bottom border. I cram the tassels close together; it takes ages to do but is well worth the effort. At this stage a cup of tea and a few biscuits may be required!
Now you are almost finished. I trim any straggling lengths of yarn, as I want a lovely even row of tassels.
I normally have a finely tuned sense of humour, however I really am struggling to find anything remotely amusing or upbeat about this current situation...well actually there is a a little amusing story I will share with you.
My daughter and her partner have recently arrived 'home' having lived in Australia for the last few years. They are currently on day 11 of their Managed Isolation at the Sudema Hotel near to Auckland Airport and will, hopefully, be released on Tuesday evening. It was a relief to leave Melbourne, as the Victoria Lockdown had been particularly harsh and I know my daughter was missing 'home' and the freedom that all of us were enjoying. Managed Isolation is not something any of us would wish to endure, however Francesca cannot praise the staff and the facilities at her Isolation Hotel highly enough. Room service has been exemplary, with tasty and plentiful meals delivered to their door, dirty laundry was collected and returned pristine and pressed within a matter of hours and staff were attentive, helpful and informative. The medical team were particularly vigilant, watching out for any guests discomfort, and swooping at lightening speed with a thermometer and a nasal swab. Most importantly, the hotel grounds were spacious, allowing guests unlimited outdoor exercise during daylight hours. Francesca will be posting a glowing review on Trip Advisor, I suspect it will go something like this..."Hotel so fantastic that we felt little need to leave our room for the entire fortnight. Spacious grounds, with plenty of room to exercise, other guests kept their distance and did not engage in bothersome conversation. Only one gripe on an otherwise amazing experience...what's with the NO VISITORS ALLOWED POLICY? My mum and sister wanted to visit but were unable to scale the double fence. Mum said it would have been a miracle if she were able to 'jump the fence' and, had she succeeded, I reckon she'd have made the front page of the New Zealand Herald!"
A really bad 'Selfie'
So I'll repeat those familiar words, stay safe, be kind and keep knitting.
Happy Lockdown knitting,
Fran and Olivia.
Neil, myself and Harry, our Labrador are heading off in our motorhome, we have no route planned or schedule to keep. I've packed more than enough knitting, Neil has a pile of books and Harry will be happy snoozing most of the day with a little light bunny chasing thrown in for good measure. Harry doesn't look quite his handsome self at the moment as he had a little accident a couple of weeks ago. Whilst playing with another dog on North Head he managed to misjudge the cliff edge and went hurtling over onto the sharp volcanic rocks a fair way below...and yes, events like this really do happen in slow motion. He spent the remainder of the day fast asleep at the vets and woke to discover he had a number of shaved patches and some rather impressive stitches. We are Harry's adoptive owners, he was destined to be a Guide Dog but was withdrawn from the Training Program at the age of two. Given Harry's eagerness to jump off the edge of North Head, that was probably a very wise decision!
Happy knitting Fran and Olivia
...but I'd like to thank you all by offering a 20% discount both online and instore.
I am not going to mention the 'C' word at all in this newsletter. We are all mentally and physically exhausted with everything that has been thrown at us this year, I for one, am at 'saturation point', so, rather than waste time and energy on this year's challenges, I'll rapidly go on to some way more cheerful news.
Firstly I would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU for all your support this year. I know it is a bit of a cliché but supporting your small and local retailers is so important, I am so appreciative of your support and encouragement this last year. Of course, us retailers do have to put in the effort...it goes without saying that we must offer our customers products they want, but most importantly we should provide top quality service and build a caring and genuine relationship with our customers. I recently read a short paragraph that summed this up way better than my naïve words. 'If you support an independent business, online or offline, you are supporting much more than you can imagine. You are backing a dream, creativity, and a family business. You are lending your support to a person who has been brave enough to make their own path and to bring colour to our lives'
I truly hope I have brought a little colour to your lives and as a token of my appreciation I would like to offer all of you a 20% discount on absolutely everything, (apart from Gift Cards) over the next few days both online and in the shop. Starting right now both online and in the shop and continuing through to the end of day on Tuesday. Please take advantage of this early Christmas Gift. To those of you who are 'local' please do call into the shop, we are stocked to the gunnels and I would love you to spend some much deserved 'me time' sniffing, snorting, fondling and cuddling a few balls of wool! Please mention this newsletter and I will very happily give you 20% of the price of whatever loveliness you want.
If you are from 'out of town', make yourself a cup of tea, or pour a glass of wine, and settle down for a little online shopping. Please enter the code THANKYOU2020 at the checkout for your discount to be applied.
Now, I always find this part of my newsletter difficult, how many times can I say something is lovely, gorgeous, a 'must have' and please buy now? I can't 'hard sell', I will simply welcome you into my lovely shop or invite you to peruse my cute online store.
However I will suggest you take a peek at the Interesting Extras section, Baby Knitting and Rowan just for starters.
The Interesting Extras section of our online store has a carefully curated selection of damn useful and rather lovely knitting paraphernalia... I don't sell anything that I don't like, is bought from a company or individual I don't respect, or an item I consider to be useless!
My particular favourites are our new 'Little Bo Peep' Boots and Beanie Kits, our exclusive Oven Cloth Kits and my joyful and ever so useful knitted Retro Dishcloths... especially those knitted in my 'Ugly Cotton'. There are so many goodies in this section we insist you must take a peek!
Browse the collection here: Interesting Extras
A HUGE Rowan delivery arrived this week. It should have turned up 3 months ago but apparently some worldwide catastrophe effected the shipping of goods in a timely manner around the world! My very important and essential summer yarns were a little delayed. Anyway, if you are wanting Rowan Summerlite DK Cotton, Cotton Cashmere, Handknit Cotton and the iconic Kidsilk Haze I have rather a lovely stash and am happy to share some with you! I've also stocked up on Rowan Pure Wool Worsted, a new yarn for me and filling a gap in our 10 ply range. We have a rather fabulous stash of Rowan Magazines and pattern books. Rowan Magazines, in particular, are so desirable, the early editions are now 'collectors items' and we like to give these glorious books the tongue in cheek title of 'Knitters Pornography'.
Browse the collection here: Rowan
To keep life easy we have compiled a new section on the website called 'Baby Knitting'. It has all of our favourite baby patterns and yarns... it does look quite handsome and it is where you will find both the Baby Haven and cardigan pattern.
Browse the collection here: Baby Knitting
That's enough about the shop, now for the rambling!
If you are new to my newsletter you may not be aware that I am from England and am very English. If you cut me in half I would have 'Made In England' written through me, much like a stick of pink Blackpool Rock!
I am so glad I live in New Zealand but I do miss my homeland terribly. My mum still lives in a tiny village in the Peak District, with absolutely no family left, she is alone and struggling somewhat. We talk on the telephone regularly and I keep in touch with the situation at home by reading the Daily Telegraph Online. Mum is a Daily Mail reader, the 'Mail' is rather a low quality newspaper, although, the once redeemed middle class paper, The Telegraph, seems to be heading in the same downward direction. Mum has managed to stay safe all year, diligently following Boris Johnson's rules, guide lines, ambiguities, U turns and hocus pocus. She did raise an eyebrow when Boris declared that he trusted the public to use good old fashioned common sense in staying safe and beating the virus! Mum is a little tired and confused now, and isn't quite sure which level of Lockdown her village is in. I'm not sure if I should be alarmed or relieved that Mum recently declared that she is not hiding herself away and is going to 'take her chance' and continue to live her life. (I do believe Jacinda could have written her rules on the back of an old envelope, they were simple and straightforward...and they worked!) Boris, on the other hand, is a law unto his own. Mum voted for Boris, she staunchly supports him, and believes 'hook, line and sinker' everything he says. We did have a good laugh when I read a less than flattering article on Boris, which wound up by saying he appeared at a press conference a little tired and deflated with the appearance of having brushed his hair with a toffee apple!
Just this year Mum has reunited with a friend she used to go swimming with almost 50 years ago. They bumped into each other at a local National Trust property in the early New Year. They agreed that they hadn't changed one bit, and both of them being recently widowed, rekindled their friendship. They have met up weekly for a half day of socially distanced rambling in the surrounding countryside. During August they decided to go for lunch at a local garden centre. Lockdown restrictions had been eased, Boris was encouraging The Great British Public to support the hospitality industry and to go out in droves and purchase substantial meals, even going to the extent of issuing half price meal vouchers for a 4 week period. Now, masks were still required to be worn in a shopping environment and to get to the garden centre café Mum and Audrey had to walk through a large retail section. Garden Centres in England don't sell much in the way of sturdy gardening equipment and plants other than 'summer bedding', rather they are stacked floor to ceiling with books, leisure clothing, plastic flowers, Crocs footwear, greetings cards and an eclectic range of soap, body lotion, hand cream and air freshers. To get to the all important cafe a mask needed to be worn, although once seated it could be removed. Mum had a mask, we had made her some pretty cotton floral ones and posted them over to her. Audrey did not have a mask but she have have some Great British Common Sense. She whipped her fold up umbrella out of her handbag (the Brits always carry a brolly) and removed the yellow nylon case. She ripped the case almost down the length of one side and fashioned herself a face mask by placing the pointed end over her nose and mouth and tucking the other ends down the back of her cardigan. Had I been with them, and 30 years younger, I would have died with embarrassment, however, now, I do wish I could have been with them. I would have found their escapade hilarious and probably made a quacking noise as Audrey boldly walked through the garden centre in her yellow, beak shaped face mask. The pensioners lunch of cheese and onion pie, garnished with a lettuce leaf and half a tomato went down a treat and leftover pie was carefully wrapped in a paper tissue for taking home for tea! (dinner)
I am going to wind things up now. To those of you new to my newsletter this is relatively short edition so you have escaped lightly! I haven't finalized our shop opening hours over the Christmas period, but I'll send out a very brief newsletter nearer the time.
Just remember the magic code is THANKYOU2020 and by placing an order you will make me an incredibly happy independent small retailer!
Happy Knitting, Fran and Olivia x
A number of years ago, Jan, my lovely button rep', commented that my shop was too tasteful and predictable and that I was far too pedantic. Jan, along with being a sales rep' was also a good pal, she could be brutally honest but she knew I would laugh and ignore any changes she suggested. I decided, on this occasion, to go along with a particularly ridiculous idea of hers.
Just as a bit of background information, I'll give a brief description of the buttons I sell. I have a fairly small but incredibly well thought through range. I go to great lengths of get natural shell buttons dyed to match many the colours of my wool, how pedantic is that? Many of you ask for wooden buttons and toggles, they look so good on woolly garments for busy and boisterous toddlers. I have Swarovski Crystal buttons for those of you attracted to anything bright and sparkly, they are often bought with no particular purpose in mind...you just want them! I have New Zealand paua shell buttons made by a local conservationist and I could write a whole newsletter about these buttons and the extraordinary gentleman who makes them. The vast majority of my buttons are made from natural materials and our hand made ceramic buttons have a good social enterprise story behind them. Very occasionally a customer will hover over my buttons and retort "Is that all you've got?" I bristle slightly, and, if I think I can get away with being a little cheeky, I will explain that in my shop I choose to have a selection quality buttons rather than quantity.
So, I will try not to digress to much. Those of you who are new to my newsletter may not be aware that I do ramble on rather. Back to Jan's interesting exercise. I would order a small range of buttons...there would be colorful plastic train and car buttons, sparkly flower buttons, buttons in the shape of rugby balls, and most importantly, we would have a whole assortment of smiley face buttons. Jan and I then took bets on how long it would take me to sell my new range, she predicted 12 months, I set a time line of 10 years. Well, I'll just let you know that my prediction was the closest, I still have plenty of the dratted buttons and for your information these buttons were ordered in 2008...12 years ago!
If you have a preference for any of the above buttons PLEASE call in and buy some!
The Softest Baby Blanket In The Whole Wide World
Visitors to our store will have seen our glorious Pure Baby Alpaca Bassinette Blanket, and purchased the MUHU Baby Alpaca for this gorgeous project. Although the soft grey shade used from our sample is not available at the moment we have secured plenty of natural undyed cream, beige and charcoal. These three colours are totally dye free, they're simply the natural shade of the alpaca fleece, and are utterly gorgeous. With the warmer weather in mind I'm making a second blanket from this pattern. I have chosen the Chaska Takama Organic Cotton and Alpaca. The five natural shades are sumptuous, ranging from an unassuming cream, through to buttery and fudge-like beiges to gentle greys with a little more 'attitude'. My new summer weight blanket won't take too long. (sleep isn't important when there's knitting to do.) I expect my lovely new sample will be on display in the shop in a week or so, and of course I will make a bit of a 'song and dance' about it on our online shop. there's also have a classic summer sweater on display in our shop window, using this delicious new yarn.
Chaska Takama Organic Cotton and Alpaca...isn't the label lovely?
So, to recap, the dishcloths, face cloths and oven cloths are extremely simple knits and without mentioning the CHRISTMAS word, they make excellent handmade gifts.
Pretty oven cloths for a joyful kitchen
Every morning Mum and her octogenarian neighbours gather at the end of their respective driveways and dance and do exercises to the music blasting out from an ancient cassette player. Abbas's Greatest Hits from the 1970's is a particular favourite. This exercise class has taken place daily since mid March. Mum informed me that the days of the exercise class may well be numbered. Boris (Johnson) has brought in his Rule of Six, which explicitly says gathering are limited to a maximum of six individuals, Mum's exercise class regularly draws a crowd of upwards of eight elderly residents. I told Mum to take no notice of Boris, as who on earth would disapprove of such a spectacle on a quiet residential street in a sleepy North of England village. Mum wasn't convinced, she informed me that one of the non participating neighbours disapproved of the morning dance routine, apparently the music was far too loud and it frightened her dog. Let's hope The Disley Dance Group doesn't make the headlines of the UK's newspapers for disobeying Boris's Rule of Six!
I will be sending mum some beautiful New Zealand Possum yarn. Her knitting days are not quite over, although she has refused to make me any more socks. I'll send her a couple of hanks of the Duck Egg Blue Possum yarn and she can make herself a Tarras Poncho, which s lovely and light, but super warm and cozy.
Finally please remember that our physical store will be closed on Sunday 25th and Monday 26th October, for the Labour Day public holiday. Neil, Harry (Dog) and I are heading off to Rotorua for a couple of days in our motorhome. Harry has packed plenty of doggie treats, Neil has a new book and I have a large amount of knitting wool. Bliss!
I bet Jacinda was in The Brownies!
Old Bear is prepared
48 years ago I joined The Brownies. My Mum was Tawny Owl, a figure of great importance. I wasn't the model Brownie, although I remember I was awarded a cloth badge for knitting, or it may have been sewing a button onto a square of cloth. I was a headstrong little girl, and along being totally disorganized and always ill prepared, mum decided I was an embarrassment. She instructed me to stay at home with dad on Wednesday evenings. That suited me fine, Dad was a pushover, and always had a secret stash of sweeties. I do remember he let me go into his shed and have a puff of one of his cigarettes...thank goodness mum doesn't read my newsletters!
Phew, I'm Back In Business!
slopping around in my slippers and spending quality time with my kids
It's been a long wait, but finally, our online shop is open, you can now indulge in a little retail therapy. I'm sure many of you have worked your way through your 'stash' and would like a lovely new project to get you through the next few weeks.
I Need To Get This Off My Chest!
Working from home ain't all it's cracked up to be...
The shop security guard.