Tag Archives: shopping

The Knitting and Stitching Show, Harrogate

Although the north of the UK has been battered by storms for the past week or so, last Saturday started off chill but calm as we headed off to Harrogate for the Knitting and Stitching Show.  The ‘we’ comprised Ma, her best friend Pauline, Hubs, and The Boy.  We set off early as we were meeting our friends Sue and Dave who were up from Surrey for the week and whom we hadn’t seen since our wedding, 5 years ago.

Our rendezvous was an Italian cafe restaurant opposite Harrogate International Centre.


Stuzzi is a complete find and highly recommended if you’re ever at a show at the HIC.  We had excellent coffee and pancetta or sausage on delicious bread rolls with homemade tomato sauce.  The Boy inhaled his doughnut and proclaimed it the best he’d ever had. Praise indeed as that boy loves his cakes!

Replete and happy, us womenfolk bade goodbye to the men and turned them loose on Harrogate whilst we headed off to the show.

It’s been 6 years since I last came here (I can’t believe how quickly time is flying) and things were very different to my last visit.

Whereas last time the queues for entry were halfway around the building, even for those of us who’d purchased our tickets in advance, this time we were in through the door in minutes.

Last time the halls had been jammed with folk and their wheelie trolleys, all anxious to get to the next stall and oblivious to who was on the receiving end of their sharp elbows.  This time the crowds were manageable and the whole atmosphere much more genteel.

Whilst this undoubtably makes the shopping experience much pleasanter, this can’t be good for the exhibitors.  Which might explain why there were fewer actual stalls than when we last visited.

Which has got me thinking.  Is the mega craft show (like Harrogate, Alexandra Palace, or the NEC in Birmingham) in decline?  Are the new specialist shows like Yarndale, Wool Fest or Wonder Wool Wales taking over?




Click on any of these logos to go straight to each show website.

These boutique shows seem to be happily maintaining theirs crowds and exhibitors. Or could it just be a North/South divide thing?  And if that’s the case for yarn, will we ever have niche events here in the UK for fabric and sewing too?

I’d be happy to hear your take on this.  What do you think?


Image courtesy of Curio Skincare

Image courtesy of Curio Skincare

Have you seen Kristin’s new venture, Curio?

It’s a carefully curated collection of handmade “potions for skeptics”.  I definitely fall into the category of skeptic where skincare is concerned, so when Kristin sent me a care package of some of the items, I was in equal parts thrilled and cautious.

I have a history with skincare of getting not very good results.  In fact the majority of products decidedly disagree with me and end up being returned for a refund. Even the really pricy stuff like Eve Lom!

But I still like to test them, so dove straight in. I was very pleasantly surprised!


The first product I tried was the Immortelle Salve.  The parcel arrived whilst I was in the middle of a head cold, with the resultant Rudolphesque nose.  The salve turned out to be my salvation (did you see what I did there!).  A gentle dab brought instant relief and continued use as necessary was soothing and healing.

I love this product.  It doesn’t sting but gently becalms irritated skin. It’s also really effective at taming irritated and irritating cuticles that have been badly treated.

Definitely a star product.

Next up…lip balm!


Now I don’t know about you but I loathe and detest most lip balms.  They are thick and greasy and taste appalling.  Not so Lip Balm A.  This is a light balm that is quickly absorbed and leaves your lips soft and kissable.  It’s great for use under lipstick so you get a nice, even coverage, but I also use it (a lot!) over lipstick as a simple gloss.

It’s gentle enough for the kids, and not too girly for my most manly of husbands, who I forced into trying it when he was bitching and moaning about suffering from chapped lips. Any product that can stop that happening is a winner in my book.

The product that caused me most trepidation was Serum A.


My history with serums is more than chequered.  Even the fashionista’s favourite, Estèe Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair, brings me out in a spotted rash.  But, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Especially as Serum A has my two fave skin healing ingredients, rosehip seed oil and vitamin E.

I’ve been known to spilt vitamin E capsules and apply the oil mixed with a little moisturiser.  This is a much nicer way to get the good stuff onto your face.  Gently carrot coloured this has a subtle rose fragrance that is a delight.

And, it works! Without causing a reaction!  Woo hoo! And at a third of the cost of the Estèe Lauder stuff.  My skin is smoother and this absorbs quickly so you can use it in the morning under your makeup.  Who has time in a morning to wait 20 minutes for lotions to absorb?  Not me, that’s for sure.

Last but not least is Roll-on Fragrance A.


I know…it’s all a bit blurry…Kristin’s own picture at the top of the post is much better.  But you can clearly see that this has been getting some use!

Oh my stars this is lovely.  A subtle blend of ylang ylang and grapefruit, just roll it on your pulse points for a little burst of happiness.  I’ve already told Kristin that I want this in All. The. Things.  Body butter…yes please! Bath oil…swoon! Hand cream…ooooooh!  Room spray! Scented candles!  Everything.  It’s sublime. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

You may have worked out by now that I love these little pots of potions.  I wasn’t expecting that to happen.  I love the French apothecary feel of the little bottles and tins.  In fact the only fly in the ointment (sorry…couldn’t resist) is the labelling, which fades a little with handling.  BUT, the joy of small businesses is that they can be responsive to feedback, and Kristin is already on the ball with this and organising new, non-fading labels as we speak. She’ll even ship you new ones if you’ve got the old ones and need to replace them!

It’s wonderful that what started off as an experiment for her own use, has blossomed into a collection of delightful, useable, useful potions that don’t cost the earth and don’t mess up your skin.  That are beautifully and subtly fragranced, naturally coloured, and not overly packaged.


Image courtesy of Curio Skincare

If you need a wee treat for yourself you could do worse than head over to Kristin’s shop and pop something in the basket.  My next purchase is the body oil to match the roll-on fragrance.   I’ve already placed the order, which is surely the best recommendation of all!


Antiquing v. Gardening

Renovations have come to a grinding halt Chez Stitches.

My poor cousin/builder has had a grim time of it recently.  Firstly the tenants in his house absolutely destroyed it before they were, finally, evicted.  Understandably his number one priority is cleaning up a godawful mess and repairing the damage.

Then he managed to drop his motorbike at speed.  Thankfully he was thrown clear before the bike wrapped itself around a tree.  Small mercies and all that.

He’s fine but obviously otherwise engaged for a little while.

So on Saturday, as it was sunny, I figured it was time we started to tackle the weeds in the front garden. They were threatening some sort of military coup on the actual plants.  The Little Shop of Horrors wanted Audrey Jr back.

The husband had other ideas.  He wanted to go antiquing for tables for the sitting room.

Hmmmmmm….tough call!  😉

Grubbing around in the dirt…..or lunch and antiques.

You know which one won. This is what we scored.


First up, a vintage mixing bowl.  My old one of these had developed a nasty crack so needed to be replaced.   If you buy these in the fancy vintage shops they can cost you upwards of £45, but GB Antiques in Lancaster has a kitchenalia stall that always has a great selection at reasonable prices.  This is a big one and only cost £14.  Result!

Next a little telephone table that will sit on one side of the big sofa.


This is great little piece that needs just a little TLC – hello chalk paint – to really bring it to life.



And last but by no means least is the piece that set my heart beating just a little faster and which Hubby wouldn’t let me leave behind.  Love that man!

IMG_0923 IMG_0920 Singer_3

This beautiful table just begged to be brought home.  She now sits on the other side of the sofa from the wee table above, and is just the perfect piece for the sitting room. She makes me very happy indeed.

We are so close to having this room done.  I’m ordering the bookcases this week, need to remake the roman blind (the interlining has shrunk and pulled it all out of shape), paint the mirror to tone down the garish gold, and hang some picture.

It’s going to be lovely!

Apologies for the slightly blurry photos.  Mr was insisting I hurry so he could get the furniture in place before we had to dash out to collect the kids!  Not an unreasonable request, I suppose. 😉

Thwarting tears with Tangle Teasers

Ok…this is a totally random post, but these brushes are so fecking amazing it would be churlish of me not to share.  Honestly, I’m totally converted.

The thing is, I am mean to my hair. . Really, really unkind.  I am to hair care what Cruella De Vil is to Dalmatian puppies.

I colour it.  A lot.  I use the hairdryer and GHD’s with abandon.  Half the time it’s in a pony tail.

I am terribly harsh on my hair.

And because it’s so fine it pays me back by being fluffy and knotty and splitty and generally unruly.  You can’t really blame it!

Button, whilst she’s not got to the stage of highlights and heat, also struggles with knots and twists and glue tangling up her hair.  I’m not entirely sure I want to know what exactly she gets up to at school, but, goodness, she looks like a bird’s nest at the end of the day.

So every time we go near a brush the usual response is grimaces and cries of “ouch”. Button is the same….

For a while now friends with little girls have told me I should try Tangle Teezers, but I’ve always thought they were just an overpriced gimmick.

TT1Oh how wrong I was.

They are…..how can I put this….bloody marvellous.


We now have quite the collection of them.  Even hubby uses one to coif his quiff.

TT3The thing is that they swoosh through tangles without tears, work wonders on knots and leave your hair feeling super smooth and shiny.  And….mines not splitting every two seconds any more either.

I feel like such a dope.  I wish I’d bought these earlier.  So does Button.  She has that flowerpot one.

Now….if they’d just develop a styling brush with the same technology but adding in a handle, I’d be in heaven.

Note….the good folks at Tangle Teezers don’t know me from a pile of hair trimmings.  I just love these brushes and think you might too!

Lotta love

I recently mentioned that I’d finally bought myself a pair of Lotta from Stockholm sandals. Having worn them pretty much constantly since they arrived I’m confident that now is the time to give you a review.

To remind you I bought the Peep Toe Clogs in Red Leather in a size 39.

lotta 1


To back up a bit, I have to tell you that, as with so much other ready to wear shopping, I have a love/hate relationship with shoes.  I love shoes…too much if you ask The Husband, but what does he know?…but, as a UK size 6.5, with a surprisingly narrow foot, buying shoes is oftentimes a depressing experience, as very few stores in my price bracket offer half sizes in shoes.

lotta 2

Add into the mix a dodgy knee that will need to be replaced at some point, a compression of vertebrae in my mid-spine and a recurring problem with my neck that we’re still trying to get to the bottom of, and the other thing you have to factor in is heels.  Or lack of them.

lotta 3

It seems beyond the wit of man, or fashion shoe manufacturers anyway, to produce cute, comfortable shoes, in half sizes, with a low heel, and a sole that isn’t so thin that you feel like you’re walking with your feet in sacks of nails.

Enter Lotta.

lotta 4

First up…they are half the price of their stylistic cousins, the Hasbeens.  This isn’t a criticism of Hasbeens, but when you’re trying something new for the first time, a more wallet friendly alternative is always a good thing.

Secondly…they have a heel and a substantial sole…obviously.  Compared to ballet flats, which I love, but which sometimes have heels and soles so thin as to be almost non-existent, this buffer between tootsies and the cold, hard pavement is a wondrous thing.

lotta 5

So far so good.  But…they don’t do my tricksy 6.5 half size.  Well, you’ll have noticed that I ordered a 6.  And they fit me beautifully.  The size 6 also fits my friend Himmlebjeget.  She actually is a size 6.  The lovely Lara Croft is a size 5.5.  She tried mine on and, yep, the 6 is the size she’d order too.

Now both H and L have wider feet that me…it’s not difficult to have wider feet than me. But the leather is so supple that this isn’t a problem for them.

The supple leather also ensures that the shoes are super comfortable to wear.  Yes, the hard sole takes a little bit of adjusting to because you have to walk properly.  But my notoriously abysmal posture is ballerina straight when I wear them, and you can feel the workout in your tush.

I am, shall we say, a convert.

lotta 6

And lets not forget that shopping with Lotta is a delight.  Prompt service.  No hidden costs.  And the best courier service I’ve ever encountered without exception.  On the day of the delivery I received a text telling me the name of my driver, what number on the list my delivery was (number 7), that delivery number 1 was currently being made and my shoes would be with me between 8.34 and 9.34am.

Just when I’d be out on the school run.

No problem.  A quick text and arrangements had been made for the parcel to be left for me in a secure place. Which it was when I got home from school.


So…comfy shoes, that look super cute (The Husband, an inveterate stiletto man if ever there was one, loves them), fit like a dream, support my ridiculous back, give my butt a much needed workout, go with everything and don’t break the bank.

What’s not to love?

Nothing…that’s why I’m ordering this pair this week!

lotta 7

They’re a slightly higher heel, but I think they’ll be ok.  This could be the start of a beautiful, and comfortable, relationship!


All pictures are from the Lotta from Stockholm website, used with the kind permission of Lotta and Jonny.  Other than letting me use their images, this post is not sponsored…I just love my shoes and wanted to share.


Craftsy sale

carousel_D1Oh…you know you want to!  It’s on until tomorrow.  Click on the picture to link to Craftsy.

I may have purchased Stefani Lincecum’s class:

pattern drafting

For £12.50 it’s the cost of a pattern so I think it would have been rude not to…especially as I have a RTW top and dress I’m desperate to copy.

Have fun! 😉



Well, this post is just a little bit ridiculously late, so I do apologise.

I’ve been rather poorly.  The chest infection I had at the beginning of the year has been back with a vengeance and it’s floored me.  10 days of antibiotics didn’t shift it…I’m currently on a dose of steroids.  Not thrilled by them but at least I can breathe a little easier than I could. Although the cough sounds like I’ve smoked 60 Woodbines a day since I was 3!

I was coughing on the day we went to Yarndale, but, like the trouper I am I put on my big girl panties and set off for a yarny adventure. 😉

The sun shone and whilst we’d heard tales of traffic chaos and huge crowds on the Saturday, for our Sunday visit we swung straight into a lovely parking space and walked into the venue to be greeted by the sweetest woolly faces.

2013-09-29 11.18.21

Now at this point I’ll ask you to excuse the crappy smartphone pictures and focus on that wee adorable face.  I tried desperately to get my partners in crime travelling companions to agree to a shared ownership of an alpaca, in much the same way as you’d share a racehorse, but with built in lawn mowing and yarn.

They weren’t buying it.

And as the deeds for our house limit livestock to chickens and goats, neither did I.

Nor did we smuggle this beauty out in our handbags!

2013-09-29 14.21.54But enough of the cute and fluffies…I suspect what you’d like to know is “how good an event was Yarndale?”

I have to tell you it was amazing!  I haven’t been to Woolfest so I can’t compare, but I have been to the Twisted Thread extravaganzas at Harrogate and Alexandra Palace, and I’ve been to The Festival of Quilts.  Yarndale is by far my favourite event.

Yes it’s smaller, but we still managed to spend the whole day meandering in and out of stalls, stroking yarn, coveting spinning wheels and looms, and generally squeaking and swooning at all the loveliness.

I also feel it’s far better curated than the bigger shows.  Less tat!  More of the good stuff.  This is a Very Good Thing.

I cannot tell you how much yarn I nearly bought.  I had set myself a limit of some sock yarn for The Husband, some yarn for Aislinn v2.0 and nothing else.

Yeah…that really worked!  As it was I bought:

Drops Fabel Uni Colour

Drops Fabel Uni Colour 

baby alpaca silk

Drops Baby Alpaca Silk in Red

Rowan Felted Tweed in Seasalter

Rowan Felted Tweed in Seasalter

And that was restrained.  There were a couple of patterns too.  And maybe some dpns.  But that was the yarn.

It was hard though. The crocheted Alpaca blankets were calling my name.

I could have bought my body weight in beautiful patterns.

And the yarns were, if you’ll excuse the pun, to die for! Titus from Baa Ram Ewe, anyone!


Yarndale is a knitters and crocheters paradise.  I made sure to buy a programme, which has a list of all exhibitors, for future reference. 😉

For sure there needs to be some improvements for next year.  The tea and coffee arrangements were nothing short of hopeless.  It took at least 15 minutes for Lara Croft to buy 3 cups of tea…and, as is always the case at these things, the lack of seating caused some people to lose all sense of how to behave in polite company.

But it was their first rodeo, and they did an amazing job.  I’m not in any hurry to go back to the big shows, but I’m already looking forward to next year’s Yarndale.

2013-09-29 13.45.12

And, I’m hoping they’ll keep the bunting and it will become their trademark. Because its really beautiful, and kind of sums up this lovely, homespun but delightfully yarny event.

3 simple ways to blow your sewing budget

Life chez Stitches hasn’t reached the point of routine yet.  Between odd school hours and trying to catch up on six weeks of abandoning the house in favour of family time, I’ve been so busy and tired I have hardly knit a stitch this week, let alone do any sewing.

I have however had time sitting around waiting for kids when I’ve been able to browse the interwebs and have found some new lovelies that I thought I’d share.

First up is a new indie pattern company, Named,

a Finnish clothing pattern label founded by sisters Saara and Laura Huhta…Named garments are a combination of Scandinavian clean-lined simplicity and interesting details. The aim of the collections is to bring a new perspective to making one’s own clothes and to support ethical and ecological consuming in contrast to a clothing industry focused on fast fashion.

The clothes are really cool…crisp, clean, modern lines.  Although I’m not sewing much for myself at the moment whilst the CrossFit does it’s work, I do have some Named patterns in my crosshairs:

Just click on any image for a bigger picture.

Named has also put out a full Fall/Winter collection of patterns which is a great idea, I think.  It’s a cohesive collection too. I’m happy that there is a slightly edgier pattern company out there.  I love retro styling, but I’d also like some more modern pieces in my wardrobe too, something that has been lacking for home sewists.

Saying that I like retro styling, thanks to the gorgeous Roisin (who got engaged to her handsome man last week…congratulations!) I’ve discovered another new pattern line, Pauline Alice.  Her first pattern, a vintagey shirt dress, is gorgeous.

Cami dress

Cami dress

Roisin has made a really cute version (you’d expect nothing less):

Picture shameless pilfered from Dolly Clacket

Picture shameless pilfered from Dolly Clacket

I am all over shirtdresses at the moment. This one’s on my list too!

It’s fabulous that the indie pattern scene is so healthy.  Not only does it give designers, who are usually women, an opportunity to express their creativity and support themselves outside of the normal corporate template, but it gives home sewists an every growing and increasingly diverse range of styles to choose from.  It’s just a “win-win” for everyone.  Long may it continue.

Up till now, however, this opportunity has really been limited to pattern designers, but at last, we have an indie fabric designer too…20th Century Cloth:

the home of new retro inspired fabrics…designed in London and printed in the UK


At £14 per half metre these are not cheap…but you are paying for the craftsmanship that goes into these amazing designs and, I’m hoping, a good quality fabric.  Although, really, you need a couple of metres for a dress, plus notions, so you’re still a damn site cheaper than some nasty High Street tat that’s made in a sweat shop in Bangladesh.

To be fair, though, you won’t need need to justify a purchase…just look at these gorgeous fabrics:

konabambusa_crimp-400x400I would so love this as a wiggle dress for Christmas parties (I know, I said the C word, but I did buy my first C present this week…).

modestonoir_crimp-400x400And I know I swore off black, but really, I think I could make a happy exception for this.

And whilst we’re heading into autumn here in the UK, this print is perfect for you southern hemisphere gals, just heading into spring.


Now that I’ve encouraged you to bust the sewing budget this month, don’t forget that my lovely Simplicity giveaway closes tonight.  Free patterns…woot.

I’ve got a crazy busy weekend (lots of activities with kids and dog, I need to clear the sewing room ready for my next project…box cushions for Lara Croft’s ma…and the pattern to set on the front of Aislinn). So if I don’t get to pick the winners until Monday, please don’t worry…I won’t forget.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend too.

The bags made me do it

Today we had to go and look for a new fridge freezer.

Ahhhhh, the glamour.

I can think of a bajillionty things I’d rather do on a Saturday, but our old one has been on the blink for ages and is finally giving up the ghost and leaking like a sieve.

We’d already looked them up on line but I wanted to check it out “in person” before parting with The Husband’s hard earned cash, so we headed off to the local retail park. Thankfully it wasn’t too busy, and a decision on the fridge freezer was quickly made.

A few doors down from the electrical store is a TK Maxx.  It’s a store that I normally avoid like the plague as it’s a bit too jumble sale-y for my taste, but we decided to pop in to see if we could get some cheap workout gear. They didn’t have any, but what they did have was these two beauties:



I couldn’t resist!

IMG_8981_edited-1And yes…they really are Osprey!

With 60% off the retail price it would have been rude not to.

So I didn’t.


Lovely Loop

Yesterday I ordered a little thank you gift for a friend from Loop.

Image source: http://www.loopknittingshop.com

Along with Brownberry yarns these are my go-to gals for delicious gifty loveliness.

I’ve got to tell you that with this order the Loop ladies excelled themselves.

They rang me three times yesterday before I noticed that I’d inadvertently switched off the ringer on my phone.  When I rang back it was to find that they were concerned as a couple of people who had purchased the yarn had commented that it leeched colour whilst knitting.  As it’s dyed with indigo I kinda expected this and the colour was too perfect for the intended recipient to worry about this.  It will stop after a wash or two.

I thought this was pretty brilliant, especially as they offered me a discount which made the postage costs more palatable.

Even more amazing was that even though it was gone 3pm when I finally spoke with them, the gift arrived in today’s delivery.  They had packed it up and got it ready for last night’s post collection.

In my book, that’s how you do it.

Ladies from Loop, thank you so much.