Knitter’s Delight

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Red, red wool

Red swatch at night, knitter’s delight….

The picture above captures yesterday in my household.  The electricians were here fitting an extractor fan in my bathroom and I was either knitting or reading.  The red swatch is to see if this wool would be suitable for a Debbie Bliss pattern I have my eye on.  Right stitch gauge, but my row count is a little out.  I shall ponder.  The book, Restoration by Rose Tremain, is very engaging.  Bit of a romp, in fact.  I think I will be retiring to bed slightly earlier than usual tonight with the book and a mug of hot chocolate.

Today I visited the John Lewis sale and looked at the yarns and pattern books, but came away without purchasing.  As has been well documented, I am not a fan of the offerings of Debbie Bliss and Rowan on the yarn front and that is mainly what John Lewis had.  And the pattern books in the sale were all for cotton yarns.  Are they going out of fashion?

Anyway, today I’m returning in spirit to Ely to finish off my reports on yarn shops I visited during the spring.  Today I’ll be telling you about Ely Wool Shop run by Sandra Cox.  This was the first of the two yarn shops I visited on my trip to the city.  I had already located Yarn on the Square, but knew I’d be returning to the market square so carried on to find this other shop which I’d read about.

Ely Wool Shop is set slightly apart from the main shopping streets, opposite Oliver Cromwell’s House.  Not far to walk, but I did start to wonder if I was heading off in the wrong direction.  On my way I saw some lovely shoes in a shoe shop window which I bought after my visit to the wool shop – I don’t always find it easy to get shoes in my size (British 4½) so when I see ones I like I tend to buy then and there.

In contrast to Yarn on the Square, Ely Wool Shop is small and dark, a bit of an Aladdin’s cave of a shop.  Being in older premises, it has less frontage, and the small window display was an eclectic mix of knitting and embroidery.  This continued inside where both walls were lined with knitting and embroidery materials.  The shop was split about 50-50 between knitting and sewing/embroidery/haberdashery.

On the knitting side the yarns included Katia (a Spanish brand which I used for one garment which I’m still rather fond of), Stylecraft, Rico and Wendy, but also Malabrigo, Artesano, and Manos del Uruguay.  So they seem to cater for the lower and higher ends of the market, but the mid-level “usual suspects” were noticeable by their absence.  Once again, they had some Knit Pro needles, but only the wooden and interchangeable offerings, not the single point metal ones I was looking for.  They had a decent selection of pattern books, including one of Ysolda Teague’s which I think is the first time I’ve seen her’s in real life.

The lady serving in the shop was very friendly and we chatted whilst I surveyed the yarn.  It was not the owner (she arrived a little later), but a very nice assistant.  The atmosphere in the shop was much more to my tastes than that in Yarn on the Square which I visited later.  I can’t really explain it other than to say I felt more at home at this shop.

Perhaps the main reason was the back wall of the shop where what I would consider the most intriguing yarns were nestling.  These were skeins of hand-dyed sock and laceweight yarns and there was a nice selection.  I plumped for a lovely sock yarn from a dyer called Boo’s Attic.  This is “Divinely Darling” sock yarn in a shade called Electric Eel Teal.  The fibre is 75% superwash merino, 25% silk.  I’ve thought a bit about this yarn since buying it and toyed with what to knit with it, but I am leaning towards trying a pair of socks with some small amount of patterning on them – perhaps a lace cuff.  This was definitely in the ‘luxury’ purchase bracket for me and I only bought the one thing there.  Had they stocked the needles, I would have bought those too.

If I lived in Ely, or even nearby, I think I would tend to frequent this shop as it covers the types of yarns I like to buy in bricks-and-mortar shops – either budget yarns or luxury yarns.  I am loving the woollen-spun Scottish yarns which I’ve been ordering online for my main garment knitting and am not likely to be buying middle-of-the-range yarns from shops in the near future.

I would definitely recommend a visit to Ely Wool Shop if you’re in the Ely or Cambridge area, or heading that way for a visit.  Next time I go, I’ll make time to visit Oliver Cromwell’s House whilst I’m in the vicinity.

Drop by tomorrow for an update on progress with the Slope Rib Cardigan and a tip for making your basic sultana buns extra-delicious.

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