Wild & Woolly Yarns Needs a New Owner

I’ve come to the end of my knitting,
‘retirement’ beckons,

and Wild &Woolly Yarns is in need of a new owner.

I’m ready for a new adventure
Well, I expect that grabbed your attention and jolted you out of that imminent ‘back to work after the holidays’, feeling’!

Please let me explain myself as I am sure this may come as a surprise to many of you. I’ve been the face of Wild & Woolly for the last 20 years, however, my face is getting a little wrinkly, the hair is definitely grey, and the red lipstick tends to feather at the edges.

My passion for my shop, for knitting and of course, my customers has not waned, however a new adventure is beckoning.
Some months ago, Neil and I bought a humble house in Nelson. Actually, Neil bought it, flying down for a quick look at the end of July. He assured me ‘I would love it’ and as the deadline sale was just 2 days later, I took him at his word, and we bought it. As an aside, Neil has uttered those four words before. In the late 1990’s I found myself, with two very young children living in war torn Sri Lanka. Neil had a job in Colombo and  went ahead of the family, to start work. Upon  landing he instantly telephoned home to reassure me that ‘I would love it.’ Me and the girls followed on from England some weeks later, looking forward to living on a tropical island in the Indian Ocean. Let’s just say our five years in Paradise were challenging, dodging suicide bomb attacks, dealing with the heat, a bout of dengue fever and giardia (a terrific way to lose weight!) along with  homesickness…it  wasn’t quite the experience I had signed up for! Only recently has Neil admitted, that when he first landed in Colombo his first thoughts were NOT ‘she’s going to love it,’ rather ‘She’s going to kill me.’
Anyway, back to my house. My house, is hopefully, still standing. You see it’s a ‘do up.’ It desperately needs  a new roof, and the chimney is about to fall down. Due to the events of the last few months we haven’t  been able to get to Nelson to start the work and I expect when we finally get down there, we won’t be able to get to the  door as the front ‘lawn’ will be six feet tall!
My lovely new house was built in the early 1950’s…and hasn’t been updated since. All the original features* are  intact, the kitchen is ‘interesting,’ and I would love to keep it, however, even I can see it’s just not going to work. Neil and I are going to do a sympathetic renovation, doing much of the work ourselves, however work may be slow, with frequent rest breaks. Our ‘do up’ is close to a good pub, a river with swimming holes is fifty metres away and the hills, with excellent dog walking tracks are at the bottom of our garden.
*Our bathroom has had a modern update.
This peach vanity unit was probably installed in the early 1980’s.
So, onto ‘Woolly.’
I have decided that now is the time to hand Wild &Woolly Yarns onto a new owner. The store has been in existence for 40 years, and I have had my  Dream Job  for almost 20 of those years. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every single day, I don’t class owning Woolly as work, every day is exciting, indulgent, and rewarding, there’s  never that dreaded Monday Morning feeling. I’m sure, those of you who know me, and are familiar with the shop, are in no doubt, that owning your own huge ‘stash’ of wool and surrounding yourself with ‘all things knitting’ is the most exciting job ever!
To help me find the next lucky owner I am working with Lester de Vere at ABC Business Sales, so if you are interested, please contact him directly (lesterd@abcbusiness.co.nz) and he will be happy to answer all your questions.
You can see the details of our listing here: https://www.abcbusiness.co.nz/business/retail-service/auckland/niche-business-150k-working-owner
And please rest assured I will ensure that any new owner will be assisted fully so that we have a nice smooth transition, and you, our customers, will see no difference in the ‘Wild & Woolly experience’
Well, after all that excitement, I thought I would finish by sharing this ‘selfie’ of me and Neil. I’ve knitted matching sweaters; I believe it can get a little chilly in Nelson. I’m clearly ready to embrace my new life, Neil, in his smart collar and tie, is looking a little apprehensive.
Of course, now Christmas and New Year are behind us, the shop is back to normal opening hours and Claire, Olivia and I are looking forward to seeing you all again.
Happy Knitting,
Fran, Claire, and Olivia 
March 11, 2022 by Neil Stafford

A Little Bit About Me

Hello Yarn Lovers, Claire here. Fran has been busy with her knitting needles and watercolour brushes so has asked if I could write a few words for the newsletter. Something along the lines of “all about yourself…your no nonsense, traditional British childhood, inspiration from your mum, family values…..how you came to NZ, applying to Woolly etc.”…..so here goes!

Growing up in the south of England, in a place called Totton, nestled nicely between the 'bright' lights of Southampton city and the wild heathlands of the New Forest National Park, my childhood was a joyous one. My dad was a Police Dog Handler, Mum was ex-police turned Learning Support Teacher and my brother was my first best friend (although he would deny it now) seeing as there is only 13 months difference between the two of us.

In the summer Mum and Dad would load the Land Rover up with all the kids from the cul-de-sac and take us out in to the middle of the national park. We’d find a rope swing and be content until it came time to pile back in to the Landie, soaking wet and exhausted and drive home, ready to do it all again tomorrow. If we weren’t in the forest, we were playing roller hockey in the street or waiting for it to get dark before starting a game of ‘9-9-In’ until Dad would call us in for bedtime. Rainy days were spent painting Warhammer, inventing new games or acting out our favourite parts of Disney movies. This was when my first love for crafting started.

My mum is a true artist. She is someone that can try her hand at anything and instantly be amazing. Painting, sculpting, felting, weaving, illustrating, knitting, cake decorating etc. We never really understood how lucky we were to have someone like her around, until later years when my brother would turn to her a day or two before Halloween and say “Mum, I need a dragon outfit for a work thing”. And she would come through, dragon feet shoes and all. So, I don’t really know why it took me so long to ask her to teach me to knit, but it wasn’t until 2014 that I eventually did. They were living in Spain at the time, and I had gone out to visit them between working as a stewardess on a private yacht and starting work as a ski chalet host. I was only there for a week, but she handed me some very yellow acrylic yarn and showed me the basics to knit a snood.

Needless to say, it wasn’t my best work. But that was that I was hooked.

Over the years, my jobs have been vast, and some have included a lot of travelling and not much time for knitting. But I would pick it up whenever I went home. I’d plan my next project whilst sailing around the Mediterranean, looking forward to the winter season when I knew I could sit in front of the TV, with Mum by my side to help, and get those needles out of storage. Starting small, with beanies and a baby blanket, then getting a little more adventurous with a VW campervan inspired cushion cover. That’s when I really started to get addicted. I started taking my knitting needles with me when working on the private yacht, spending my weekend watches onboard looking after the boat and starting a Wool and the Gang chunky cardigan kit. Around this time, I started to develop feelings for the quirky Kiwi Chief Engineer I had been working with for the last 3 years and before you could say ‘Bob’s your uncle’, I was applying for a Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand.

I spent 2018 in New Zealand, living between Tauranga and Hawkes Bay, spending time with Richard between his job, doing the touristy thing such as travelling around the South Island in a campervan for three weeks and visiting the very North of the island. However, the sea called us back to it and we spent the summer of 2019 sailing around Italy, Turkey and France. Richard had at this point been working on the yacht for 6 years and was ready for a change. So, in February 2020, he handed in his notice and flew to the UK to meet me and spend some time with my family. Whilst there, we decided to spend a long weekend in Copenhagen, Denmark, and were in our hotel room one morning when we heard the news that Donald Trump was closing the borders to anyone flying from Europe. Panic filled us as my flights to New Zealand were to stopover in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks’ time. Quickly we packed up our things and got on the next flight out of Copenhagen, back to the UK. We made it back to my parents’ house on the Friday and by the Monday we were on our way to New Zealand, landing just two days before the NZ borders closed.

Those first months were spent, like the rest of you, knitting my way through lockdown. Tauranga has only one knitting shop, so I briefly dreamt about starting my own online wool shop to fill a demand I felt must be there. But life got in the way and before I knew it, I was working at Mitre10 (much to Richards delight). Richard then accepted a new job which meant we had to move to the ‘big smoke’, Auckland. One day I was searching for knitting groups in Auckland, thinking it would be a great way to meet new people and keep my addiction going, when I happened to find a job advert for a wool shop in Milford. “What’s the harm in applying?” I said to myself, sending off my cover letter and not thinking I would hear back. Cut to a couple weeks later, I’m sat in the most beautifully stocked and well thought out wool shop I’ve ever seen, trying to impress this lovely couple from the North of England, whilst trying not to appear too eager. Questions fly around and I’m asked how I would rate my knitting skill, on a scale of 1 to 10. I gave an honest 6 out of 10, thinking that, without my Mum by my side, I haven’t knitted anything too extravagant or complicated.

I think Fran thinks I was being modest, but honestly just working in the store, talking to you lovely ladies all day and listening to the constant stream of advice coming from Fran, I have gained so much knowledge and experience. I am completing patterns that I would never have even contemplated before. Circular needles, top down, raglan increase, Italian bind off etc. How could I not be inspired by the yarn I am surrounded by each day, by the patterns I see each one of you attempt.

My addiction could not be any stronger; I am a knitting addict.

I did not mean to waffle on for too long, however I do hope this has filled some time whilst we sit through another lockdown. Cindy is doing the right thing and hopefully we will be out of danger before you know it!

Keep calm and carry on, as us Brits would say.

Or should I say Kia Kaha.


September 04, 2021 by Neil Stafford

Grin and Bear It!

So, Old Bear is back in solitary confinement at the shop whilst we all sit out Level 4 in our comfy homes.
We are, unfortunately, closed until further notice and any online orders will not be processed until a move down through the levels. As soon as we are allowed, we will be back in the store to process your orders, so please, sit tight.
I know many of us were ‘caught short’ with this Lockdown. Jacinda is a ‘Fast Lady’ and she doesn’t always give us knitters time to prepare. If you only have a few miserable scraps of cotton in your knitting bag, maybe you could make use of our easy dishcloth pattern.  Use your imagination, an assortment of shades could make a very jolly and eclectic dishcloth, maybe don’t choose a shade of vibrant yellow though…Let’s leave Covid Yellow out of this!

Cotton Dishcloth Pattern
Each dishcloth takes about 120 metres (approx. 1 ball) of pure cotton.
Our shop samples are made in Rowan Summerlite DK Cotton.  
You will need a pair of 4.0 mm needles and a knitters blunt sewing needle, to secure your 2 ends.
Design 1. Garter Stitch.   Shown in Rowan Summerlite shade Pickles
Cast on 60 stitches loosely. Knit until you have a perfect square. Cast off loosely. Sew in ends.
Design 2. Moss stitch. Shown in Rowan Summerlite shade  Black.
Cast on 59 stitches loosely.
Row 1. Knit 1 stitch, purl 1 stitch, repeat across the row.  Row 2 and every consecutive row, repeat row 1. Work until you have a perfect square. Cast off loosely. Sew in ends.
Design 3. Stocking stitch with a garter stitch border.
Shown in Rowan Summerlite Cecily.
Cast on 60 stitches loosely. Work 8 rows in garter stitch (every row knit) Row 9 Knit across the row. Row 10 knit 5 stitches, purl 50 stitches, knit 5 stitches. Continue repeating rows 9 and 10 until you are 3 cm short of a perfect square, ending after row 10. Work 8 more rows in garter stitch.
Cast off loosely. Sew in ends.
*Now you have a neat pile of knitted dishcloths please do NOT fill the extra time that this Lockdown has given us by doing kitchen chores. Keep those dishcloths pristine, pop them aside as a potential gift, maybe take a photo’ for Instagram, but leave all kitchen mess for another day and enjoy this sunny Sunday afternoon.

Stay safe, wear those masks, wash your hands and start knitting your way through that stash!
We look forward to seeing you all on the other side. 

Fran, Claire, Olivia & Old Bear
August 27, 2021 by Neil Stafford

Knitting Is Officially And Olympic Sport…

Knitting is Oficially an Olympic Sport!
And a fellow Brit has won the gold medal!
Best concentrate, even an Olympian can drop a stitch!
Claire and I, both being Pom’s, would like to congratulate the diver, Tom Daley, on his recent gold medal win at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

However, whilst Tom’s diving ability is undisputedly the best in the world, it is his talent for knitting that has caught ours, and the world’s, attention.
Shortly after his gold medal win, Tom was spotted in the stands cheering on fellow athletes, and at the same time, knitting a doggy jumper.
The following morning, at a press conference,  he produced his knitted medal cosy, describing it as follows…”It’s got a Union Jack on one side and the Japanese flag on the other. The medal and the ribbon tucks in nicely and I can carry my medal around without getting scratched” Tom goes on to explain “knitting has become my way of finding calm, mindfulness and relieve stress, it’s the one thing that has kept me sane through this whole (Olympic) process”. And…most importantly Tom revealed he had packed a large amount of wool in this Tokyo bound suitcase. The wise knitter knew, due to Coronavirus restrictions’ he would not be allowed to leave the Olympic village, and any trips to a Tokyo wool shop would be totally out of the question. What a very smart boy!

If you would like to see more of Tom's creations he has a designated knitting Instagram account which you can follow here
Wool Sale Alert!

Like Tom Daley, all true knitters have a sizable stash of wool, and, in these turbulent times having a very sizable stash is more important than ever.
Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, has successfully guided us through the Covid 19 Pandemic, however she is rather a 'fast woman' inflicting Lockdowns on us with impressive speed. No knitter would want to face unexpected downtime without a little extra wool to keep them occupied. No, us knitters would never be caught short, drop a stitch, or become unravelled, and we'd definitely never be a ball short of a sweater!

So, if your stash needs a little replenishing, take a look at this this fabulous Italian Merino.
Just a small selection of our sale Merino Wool

This yarn is available at the very special price of $12 per ball, the retail recommended price is $18 plus. Click here to go directly to the SALE section of our website.  Maybe I could knit an Olympic gold medal and award it to the knitter with the biggest ‘stash’…"on your marks, get set, GO shopping." 

As an added bonus, there's an interesting 'twist' on this yarn which results in a beautifully, even knit, with superb stitch definition. Even the most novice of knitters will achieve amazing results.

At our incredible sale price you can afford to make everyone in your family a sweater, however I really love using this yarn for exquisite babies’ garments. Grey, in all shades, is my predictable choice of colour. From soft dove, to slate, to deep charcoal, this wonderful neutral shade is always available in my knitting bag, it’s a super ‘all round’ colour. I suppose I’d better grab some before it  sells out!

So, a short and sweet newsletter, I’m off to do a spot of knitting. I’ll never need a case for  an Olympic medal; however a Union Jack tea cosy would be rather useful!

Happy knitting,
Fran, Claire, and Olivia
August 27, 2021 by Neil Stafford

It’s Her Majesties Birthday…

Her Majesty is ‘tickled pink’ at the thought of her upcoming family birthday party.

 We’re all looking forward to this coming long weekend, courtesy of Queen Elizabeth, who is celebrating her 95th Birthday on Monday. I suspect this year’s celebration will be rather low key, what with Harry and Megan over in California and Prince Andrew keeping his head below the parapet. Fergie would love to be invited to the afternoon tea party, never one to refuse a bit of free nosh, however she’s still not welcome in the Royal Fold, despite her scathing critic, Prince Phillip, now off the scene.

 Andrew’s also not on the guest list, he’s rather miffed. Having trawled through his Little Black Book he’s made alternative arrangements and secured a second date with the journalist Emily Mathias. Their first date, last November, got off to an uncomfortable start, Emily asked too many questions and Andrew believed he’d over shadowed the evening by talking far too much. He plans to take her to Pizza Express in Woking, where over a low-key dinner, he hopes he can express his true self and show Emily what a genuinely extraordinary ‘gentleman’ he really is. (I don’t think the date will go well for Andrew, and I suspect he’ll come out in a cold sweat)

 Harry and Megan have also been struck off the guest list.  Harry has quietly acknowledged the snub, mentally adding it to his long of gripes. Megan’s sent a birthday card to Granny, along with a heartfelt letter, she’s keen to heal the family rift.  The Dutchess has invited Her Majesty over to Montecito for a Baby Shower, along with a request that if Her Majesty isn’t too busy could she please knit some pink baby bootees.  I don’t have inside knowledge but may I be so bold as to predict The Queen will ever so politely decline the knitting request, claiming she has a backlog of projects and it’s imperative that she completes a knitted full-face balaclava for Prince Andrew, who’s desperate to leave the confides of the Palace without being recognised. 
 All is not lost.  The ever diligent and totally dependable Kate, is in charge of baking the Birthday Cake. Adorable Charlotte’s been given the job of beating the butter and sugar together and gently adding the organic eggs, George is sifting in the flour and Louis is licking the bowl and the wooden spoon.

 Charles and Camilla are expected to drop in for a swift drink and a slice of cake. Charles doesn’t wish to hang around but Camilla’s got her feet firmly under the table. She’s planning to get her mother-in-law tipsy on sherry and has organise a hearty game of Charades. Camilla’s got a few ‘gems’ up her sleeve. Under the category of dramas, documentaries and TV shows there’s some ‘right royal pickings’…’The Crown’ a certain Netflix documentary, and a number of blockbuster television interviews from the 1990’s. Oh dear…I suspect the Party may not go too well and could turn out to be a Birthday Horribilis.

Now, on a far more serious note…

  You may think I spend all my time writing rambling newsletters and lapping up the Royal Gossip. Not so, I do have a lovely little wool shop to run and I do need to do a little promotional work to ensure the till keeps ringing.  However, self-promotion is NOT my forte, I am ignorant of many aspects of social media, preferring to delegate this modern form of technology to Claire and Olivia, (they are 30 years younger than me) I don’t take endless selfies, and the photographs I do take, and share with my close family members, result in hilarity and ridicule all round. (I can’t suck in my tummy, pout in the socially acceptable way and I don’t believe a photo of my morning bowl of porridge is quite as ‘sharable’ as an artfully arrangement image of smashed  avocado on toast)

 So, in my own unique way I would like to promote myself and my little store. I wish to share one of my own exclusive knitting patterns. Entitled ‘Harry… A Right Royal Hottie’, this simple project will certainly bring a smile to your face and is rather useful.

I’d also like to offer a 10 % discount on any purchase you wish to make over the long weekend…Saturday, Sunday and Monday. If you are calling into the shop, please mention you received my newsletter and I’ll be delighted to hit the discount button on my till!
Our online customers will need to enter the code Lizzies Birthday Party at the checkout, we’ll be sending all online orders out on Tuesday.
  So, please pop your feet up with a cup of tea and read through our rather ‘tongue in cheek’ hot water bottle cover pattern. Joking aside, having a knitted cover for your hottie ensures that your bottle stays hot all night and feet stay cosy and warm. In my case it’s a real marriage saver as my husband abhors me poking my cold feet anywhere near him in bed. This nugget of relationship advice comes free of charge with this month’s newsletter.

Click Here to download the free pattern
'Harry…A Right Royal Hottie' is made by combining two yarns, Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Sesia Nordica. Knitting the yarns together is not difficult, once cast on, the yarns automatically stick together as one stitch. This project is especially suitable for a new, novice or nervous knitter and takes little more than a couple of evenings to complete.
I have suggested a number of rather lovely shade combinations, but feel free to be extra creative and choose your own.
Left to right: Nordica Branches, Kidsilk Haze Branch
Nordica Chalk Pink, Kidsilk Haze Grace
Left to right: Nordica Artichoke, Kidsilk Haze Hurricane
Nordica Euphorbia, Kidsilk Haze Eve Green
Kidsilk Haze Steel Nordica Pebble
Click the following links to view the yarn's we recommend, 
Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Sesia Nordica
Very warm regards and happy knitting,

Fran, Claire & Olivia
August 27, 2021 by Neil Stafford

Keep Calm & Carry-On Knitting

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.


Heavenly Blanket

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!  

 Chaska Alpaca Air

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.
Get knitting:
Cast on 155 sts stitches loosely.
Bottom Border:
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)

Main Section:
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
Top Border:
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.

May 02, 2021 by Neil Stafford

Here We Go Again...I'm Sure I've Used This Title Before!


  I know Jacinda has our best interests at heart, but I for one, am coming to the end of my tether. The snap Auckland Level 3 Lockdown means that my little wool shop will be closed for the next few days.  Of course, our  online store remains open, and we will be processing any Click and Collect Orders with lightening speed. I aim to get all such orders ready and waiting at the shop door within  of a couple of hours. Heaven forbid you have no knitting wool and have to resort to housework!   

  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'
  Well, having absorbed this evening dismal news,  I'm now going to guzzle a large glass of wine and attempt a few rows of knitting. I say 'attempt' as I know full well that if I have as much as a sniff of wine my knitting suffers. Actually, I'll ditch the knitting and give the bottle of wine my full attention!

 So I'll repeat those familiar words, stay safe, be kind and keep knitting.

Happy Lockdown knitting,
Fran and Olivia.


May 02, 2021 by Neil Stafford

Three Wise Men...Yeah Right!


  This is possibly the briefest newsletter ever, (phew I hear you say) and it's just to let you know that I'm closing the shop at 2pm on Christmas Eve and reopening at 10am on Tuesday 5th January. Our online store will remain open, however we will not be sending out orders until 5th January.

   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! 
 So, all that's left to say is massive, heartfelt thank you for your support over the last year,  and please have a safe and peaceful Christmas. 

Happy knitting Fran and Olivia
May 02, 2021 by Neil Stafford

It's Been A Topsy-Turvy Year!

...but I'd like to thank you all by offering a 20% discount both online and instore.

  Let's start this newsletter off with the really important stuff, and then if you want to continue on to my middle aged rambling, please feel free!

  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.
Here's just a 'taster' of what's new and rather lovely...

  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
Our Baby Haven, a New Zealand pure merino 4 ply, is literally 'flying out of the door', apparently we are having  a bit of a Baby Boom at the moment...funny eh! Baby Haven is one of my  favourite merino baby yarns, available in a glorious range of modern shades. I've just finished this little cardigan using shade 'Wishy Washy' and we think it's perfect for keeping precious babies wrapped up nice and warm. 
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
May 02, 2021 by Neil Stafford

Finally...I've Got Round To Writing A Newsletter!

Quality not Quantity
  I like to think I run a classy joint... top quality yarns, beautifully displayed, along with great customer service and oodles of knitting inspiration.

  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!
  A few years ago, when my shop was still located in Devonport, an extremely important lady came into my store. Her visit was preceded by two immaculately dressed  gentlemen who quizzed me and thoroughly checked out my shop, including the store room and any large cupboards. The gentlemen informed me that I had to immediately close my store to all customers as Peng Liyuan, the wife of The President of The Peoples Republic of China wished to do a little shopping, while her husband, President Xi Jinping, was attending highfalutin meeting at Devonport Naval Base. I was given strict instructions, I should address the First Lady as Mam, should not look at her, or engage in any conversation unless she addressed me.  Well, only moments after my induction on Chinese etiquette there was a fluffy of activity at the door. Firstly, the two aforementioned gentlemen hastened up to me and stood menacingly close, I wanted to say that a knitting needled would not be used as a threatening weapon, but thought better of it!. Then, like a swarm of flies, black suited men and women entered my store in a protective circular arrangement, in the middle of this arrangement was The First Lady, beautifully dressed and immaculately made up. The entourage moved around my shop in an almost vulture like manner, my knitted sample garments were plucked from their display and deposited on the counter.  My heart dropped, my samples take hours and hours to knit and are an incredibly important part of my business...quite simply, samples sell wool, they are NOT for sale.  How on earth was I going to say to the wife of one of the most powerful man in the world that she could not have my garments? A large knitted cushion was also placed on the counter. I had only just completed this project, written a pattern and had the accompanying hand painted New Zealand  wool all ready for selling. I had hurriedly made a cushion pad, but had improvised the filling. My meagre amount of wadding did not give the required plumpness so I stuffed a handful of plastic bags into the cushion, a slight rustling noise would only be hear if the cushion was actually used as a cushion, and that clearly was not my intention. The shopping spree was almost complete, precious sample garments and my rustling cushion were piled up on the counter, a suited gentleman was preparing to pay. The First Lady gestured, with her pale and manicured hand, in the direction of my buttons. In an instant a black suited lady had added colourful plastic  train buttons, some sparkly flower buttons and most importantly the delightful smiley faced buttons to the pile of goods on my counter. Ever the optimist, I decided to not think about the many hours of knitting required to replace my precious sample garments, after all, I had managed to sell a rather tidy amount of Jan's dratted buttons!
What's happening at Woolly?

The Softest Baby Blanket In The Whole Wide World
  This is the section of the newsletter where I am supposed to entice you with 'all things lovely and woolly', both in our store and online. I find my inspiration dries up at this point, I can ramble about many subjects but presenting a sales pitch is not my forte.

  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?
 Now I know I have mentioned our Knitted Dishcloths and also our Face Cloths in previous newsletters. Small, inexpensive and useful knitted projects are always popular and in response to customer  demand I have rehashed (tastefully re issued) our Knitted Oven Cloth Kits. I featured these kits on our Facebook page last week and so many of you called into the store or ordered online.  We do have a limited number of kits left so do be quick if you feel a little knitted joy is required in your kitchen!

  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
  Many of us have family members overseas, and without stating the blooming obvious, we won't be seeing loved ones and friends any time soon. I for one, am so concerned for my elderly, but feisty mother, living alone in the north of England.

 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.
  Well, I am running out of steam now, but I really can't end this newsletter without a final mention of buttons. I have way to many to display on our online store, however I have added a concise and rather tasteful selection for those customers not able to get to our little shop in Milford. Click on Interesting Extras to take a peek. 

  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!
October 22, 2020 by Neil Stafford