Writing funny blog posts is tricky when things go well. It’s easier when your day turns belly-up and you leave your dignity somewhere up a tree in the supermarket car park, but there’s nothing hilarious about things working out as intended.
That’s why I’m finding it hard to write this post about Saturday’s Yarn Shop Day event. I can just about work a World War Two air raid shelter and a Victorian actress’s underwear into the story without stretching the truth, but beyond that, I got nothin’, other than fun, yarn, mint tea, and thoroughly lovely people. See my problem?
Anyway, Saturday was Yarn Shop Day. In my opinion, every day should be Yarn Shop Day, but I suppose there are people whose minds sometimes stray away from the subject of knitting/crochet, and those folk need a reminder to go and show their nearest fibrous retailer some love.
Via the Stylecraft Blogstars program, I was invited to spend the day at Lady Sew And Sew, a yarn and fabric shop in Henley in Oxfordshire. (They have a shop in Marlow, too.) “Hmm,” I said, scratching my chin and making a mental note to tweezer the age-related hair I found sprouting there, “You want me to spend several hours in a place dedicated to beautiful yarn, chatting with interesting, creative, people? I’ll need some time to think about that…”
0.1 seconds later, I emailed back to say YES PLEASE.
I’d been to Lady Sew And Sew (let’s call it LS&S, because typing is tiring) once before with my friend Jo, so I knew it was a good’un.
It’s large and informal and friendly-but-not-pushy, and it’s inspiring and it’s filled with temptations that span the scale from budget to OK-so-I’ll-just-go-without-food-this-month. Down a few steps from the yarn area is a vast room filled with fabric, and quilting/sewing equipment.
LS&S had organized discounts and Stylecraft goody-bags for the day, as well as a colour pooling demonstration and a visit from Erica Pask from Rowan. My job was to try not to scare off too many of the customers. They’d asked me to bring some samples of my knitting/crochet, and things that I’d designed:-
Plenty of people came, and we chatted happily. People told me about what they were knitting/crocheting, and quite a few were wearing some piece of loveliness that they’d made. I spoke to a woman who said she long ago started designing/making a colourwork jumper inspired by Clarice Cliff: I may have been a bit too assertive in my attempt to persuade her to finish it, because it sounded amazing.
People said kind things about my designs, too, especially the knitted pictures of Oxfordshire seasons. They were nice about The Hiking Reindeer cowl as well, and far too often I found myself perching on my soapbox, haranguing them about how they were QUITE WRONG in their assumption that stranded colourwork is difficult. Oops. As I said, my job was supposed to be to avoid scaring off the customers…
The day galloped by, and then suddenly all of the customers were gone and one of the owners was presenting me with a gorgeous bunch of flowers whilst another was querying why we weren’t yet drinking wine. Hang on, I’ll just pop into the kitchen and get a photo…
Judy (one of the owners) offered to show me a bit more of the building so, glass in hand, I followed her down a staircase into the cellar. Despite looking unprepossessing from the outside, the building boasts some history. This is Judy, surrounded by some (!) of the wadding stored ready to be sold to quilters. 🙂 :-
Long ago, this building was a commercial laundry, taking in linen from the big London hotels. A LS&S customer with inside knowledge once told Judy some of the tales she’d heard from the building’s laundry days, including an anecdote about a famous Victorian actress’s underwear…
Below ground, there’s also a WW2 air raid shelter. Heaven forbid it’s ever again needed for its original purpose, but you could at least grab some yarn and a pair of needles as you fled downstairs…
I have no financial incentive for saying this (although I did steal a bourbon biscuit from the staff kitchen because I’d forgotten to bring any lunch), but LS&S is a pretty perfect yarn shop. Not only do they sell the stuff, but they regularly host superstars like Kaffe Fassett and Arne-and-Carlos, who come and offer talks or workshops. Maybe my fickle head was turned by the deliciousness chocolatey-ness of the stolen bourbon biscuit, but trust me: you’d like this yarn shop. 🙂