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19th July

Crazy Wool Lady Abandons Dog At Devonport New World!

 I can’t decide whether yesterday was a good day or a bad day. It all started rather well, it was my day off work and I planned to take Harry, my dog, to Takapuna Beach. Harry is a ‘change of career guide dog’. After 18 months of training it was apparent that he was just not cut out for the pressure and responsibility of being a Guide Dog. He is a sensitive fellow, the reason given for his withdrawal from the training programme was his acute anxiety. I adopted him two years ago, he is the perfect pet, and most days accompanies me to work. He is often asleep in his basket at the shop, and when not snoozing, he is extremely friendly and sociable.
 Back to our walk on Takapuna Beach…It was an extremely high tide, but, in my wellington, boots I was able to wade the last stretch that normally cuts off The Takapuna Beach Café. I know I can appear and act eccentric, and yesterday was no exception.  I waded through the water in my boots, clutching my coffee Keep Cup, sporting a handknitted beanie and feverishly gathering up all manner of plastic rubbish, adorable Harry gayly scampered alongside me. I am aware other beachgoers can give me a wide berth…’there’s Crazy Lady’ I loudly hear them think, ‘shame, she has such an adorable dog with her!’ I’m thick skinned and hell bent on saving the planet, and I own the cutest dog ever, he loves me unconditionally. Amongst my largish haul of planet endangering plastic was a tatty and torn New World single use carrier bag. Well you do have to laugh (or cry) at the irony of it. There is not a ‘New World’ available to move to once we have trashed this wonderful old world, there is no ‘plan B’. Yet to most beachgoers yesterday, I was the Crazy Lady taking a photograph of a New World plastic carrier bag.
By total coincidence I had to call in at Devonport New World for some fish.  This particular supermarket has allegedly made huge headway in reducing its single use plastic bag usage, and in encouraging locals to bring their own reusable bags. Prominent signs at the entrance, posters around the store and plenty of publicity in the local free newspaper leads us to believe this is the case. Such a stalwart pillar of the community certainly deserves my custom; however, all is not quite as it seems.  I tied Harry up at the supermarket entrance and he immediately attracted a fan club of young children who pat and tickle him. He was a little apprehensive as I  disappeared from sight, but I know he can cope with the impending five minutes of separation. I head directly to the fish counter, totally blinkered and determined. I only want fish and will not fall for any enticing offers and clever marketing. A young staff member asks me what I would like and I reply 500g of Tarakhi, and please pop it in my own Tupperware container as I do not want it sold to me in a plastic bag. WELL, you would have thought I had asked him to slaughter my first-born child, he was dumb struck and horrified. I could read his thoughts…’this is more than my jobs worth, why did I get the Crazy Lady, she’s not going to give up quietly.’ Dead right I wasn’t. I could see no reason why I could not have my fish in my own container, but the guy refused. He shook open a blue plastic bag and prepared to slither far more than 500 g of fish into the planet polluting blue plastic. (Just as an aside, why, when you ask for 500g do you always end up with 660 g of fish, cooked meat, olives or whatever. Call me cynical but I guarantee most of us would nod our heads and say ‘that’s fine’, clever marketing eh? Maybe I should try that old trick with balls of wool!) Anyway, by this time I had gathered quite a crowd around me. I know what they were thinking…who’s this Crazy Lady with a Tupperware container, threatening to throttle the poor guy on the fish counter. This is the part that really saddens me, not one person voiced their support for me, their astonished and inquisitive faces just said ‘Crazy Lady’ loud and clear. Anyway, I am unsure of what actually transpired as by this time I was shaking with indignation and rage and also realized that I was not going to get my way. As the fish slithered into the blue plastic bag I heard myself shriek “if you dare give me a plastic bag I will tip my fish out and stuff your insidious packaging back over the counter.” The rubberneckers behind me audibly gasped, they hadn’t reckoned that a quick dash around the supermarket on a Tuesday morning would turn into such a spectacular event.  Time seemed to stand still, blood was rushing around my head and I started to feel extremely overwhelmed. I was way out of my depth, and I wasn’t having fish for dinner. I had made a complete prat of myself and the ‘plastic bag guy’ had won. Then, another deli’ staff member sidled up to ‘fish guy’ and whispered something in his ear. Instantly my long-fought battle was over, the fish was carefully placed in my container and handed it to me. I can’t lip read but it doesn’t take Einstein to work out what the woman said. I am sure the words ‘Crazy Lady’, ‘fanatic’ and ‘JUST GET RID OF HER’ were whispered into the poor, fish guys ear.
 Golly, who would have thought doing the right thing would be so difficult, bordering on damn right traumatic. I needed fresh air and a few minutes of peace to pull myself together.  I headed down to Devonport’s beautiful waterfront and soon felt calmer and lighter. It became apparent that not only was I mentally lighter but also lighter physically. I had my precious Tupperware container of fish but I did not have my dog, he was securely tied up outside the dratted supermarket! I was amazed at how fast, in my middle aged, slightly chubby state that I could run so fast! Harrys face was a picture, and a pat and a tummy tickle soon reassured him that he had not been abandoned. It has since been pointed out to me that supermarket customers must ‘remember their bags’ but also remember their dogs!

 As an aside, I am saddened to learn that Devonport New World are promoting the fact that they have managed to reduce their single plastic bag usage from 10,000 to JUST 6,500 A WEEK. I am not sure those are the sort of figures I would be proud to publish. 15 years ago, when I took over ownership of Wild and Woolly Yarns I decided to only provide paper bags. We do have a couple of crumpled plastic bags tucked away somewhere, we save them for a really rainy day. So far this year I have handed out the grand total of one plastic bag. New World 6,500 plastic bags per week versus Crazy Ladies one bag in 7 months! Well you decide, but I love being a Crazy Lady!
  I forwarded a rough draft of this newsletter to my daughter Francesca. Some of you may remember her, during her university days working alongside me in the store. She now lives in Melbourne and is a Sustainability Coordinator for Veolia, a waste management company. Her job is extremely varied, one day she is sat in front of a class of primary school students explaining the principles of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot, and the next she is doing a waste audit at a big corporation, literally going through bins as a means to educate and improve their waste management systems. She adores her job, she is literally a ‘pig in muck’. Francesca thought my portrayal of my day hilarious, I know she was proud of me. She made an incredibly poignant comment. For her age group it is becoming increasingly ‘cool’ to pick up litter, to cause a scene and to voice an opinion, however my actions, at my age, are still labelled the behaviour of a Crazy Lady. My husband was not quite so congratulatory and supportive, he muttered something like “you didn’t cause a scene, did you?” and “I could report you for your negligence to our dog”
Now I do hope I haven’t scared you all away…

From left to right 
Back: Concrete - Mallard - Golden Olive - Normandy
Front: Smoky - Vintage - Linen - Surf

 I am aware that the purpose of my newsletter is to promote my store and to get you to all rush in and purchase wool. Well here goes…
  You may be aware that our plan for the imminent future is to be a leading New Zealand Rowan Yarns Stockist. The Rowan Brand began in Yorkshire 40 years ago, not a million miles from the small village where I was born. I have not met a single knitter whose eyes do not light up in delight at the mention of Rowan. Well…we are starting out slowly, very slowly, with just the Rowan Big Wool. Big Wool is the major player in the range it knits super quickly, is fabulously thick, yet soft and light and it is used knit fabulous garments and accessories in next to no time. At Wild and Woolly Yarns, we have managed to snag ourselves the very, very latest in Big Wool shades, shades intended the British Autumn Winter Season, so just for once we are actually ahead of the game! Just today we received a shipment of four brand new shades, Vintage, Normandy, Golden Olive and Mallard. We also have replacement stock of shade Smoky, the colour we used for our oversized ‘sloppy joe’ sweater that features in our window display. Oversized chunky sweaters ‘are all the rage’ (doesn’t my terminology sound middle aged?) Many stores source their sweater range from ‘overseas’ and cut costs in creative ways. These garments are cheap in every respect. At the other end of the extreme are a number of New Zealand retailers offering the real deal, handknitted with skill and care and in glorious pure fibres. If you can’t knit then I advise you to go and purchase an exquisite and enviable garment, the price will be in the region of $750 to $900. As this is a newsletter that goes to all my lovely knitting customers I expect you will wish to have the enjoyment of making your own garment and for a fraction of the above cost. Our Big Wool retails for $22 per ball and somewhere in the region of 8 balls are required for a garment. We have two fabulous pattern books Big Wool Knits and Big Wool Archive Collection and a selection of the highly sought-after Rowan Knitting Magazines. (We call these magazines ‘knitters pornography’) We are well stocked in The Rowan Knitting and Crochet Magazine numbers 56, 58, 60 and 62. and they retail for $27 each.
 In true shopkeeper style, I do advise you to be pretty speedy as these new shades are fabulous. I do not expect them to last very long on the shelf. We have no plans at the moment for a further Big Wool Delivery, our next Rowan delivery will be in September and it will, of course, be our lighter Summer range.

  Next month I am leaving the care of the shop to Marya and Olivia,  I am off on my annual trip to visit my elderly parents in England. My parents live in a tiny village on the edge of the Peak District and my visits home are incredibly special.  Luckily for me a ‘barrow’ sets up in the neighbouring village three days a week selling fish brought from the fishing port of Fleetwood. The barrow is a sight to behold, whelks, winkles, sardines, mackerel, cod and potted shrimps. Glossy, salty and crunchy samphire replaces the ubiquitous curly parsley, it feeds the sole as well as the belly. The fishmonger is a very cheerful chap, he waxes lyrical about his produce, calls me ‘dearie’ (beats Crazy Lady) and is delighted to fill my container. He would find my supermarket experience hilarious, but maybe I won’t tell him, I will just chat about the many wonderful aspects of living in ‘Clean Green New Zealand’

Well that’s all my rambling for now and I will leave you in peace.

Happy knitting, from Crazy Lady, Marya and Olivia.
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