Truly awesome creations

Just next door to Smug is Loop, and if I thought Smug was a dangerous enough shop, then Loop takes that and doubles it. Its website tagline of “Gorgeous knitting supplies” does not lie. And their shop window is one that intrigues, delights and draws you in through the peculiarly small double shop doors.

Loop Islington Shop Window
EXQUISITE CREATIONS IN THE SHOP WINDOW, I HAD TO GO IN

EXQUISITE CREATIONS IN THE SHOP WINDOW, I HAD TO GO IN

Having spent the day at the Garden Media event and collecting goodies along the way, I arrived in the shop through the original half size doors none too elegantly. I’m sure I’m not the only one that makes such an arrival!

Once in the shop I was mesmerised. So many lovely colours, so much gorgeous wool. It was hard to know where to start. And once I’d worked that out, I learnt there was an upstairs too, and I really was smitten.

BASKETS OF WOOL
WOOL FOR SOCKS AT LOOP LONDON

Throughout the shop there were the most exquisite and awesome creations, which inspired and wowed as well as slightly scaring me at the same time. The level of work is stunning, and the throws were the perfect way to show off what’s possible.

THROWS IN AUTUMN COLOURS
THROWS WITH FLOWERS AND HEXIES.jpg

Just like their neighbour they are masters of the display, I mean a rainbow of ribbons by the till. It seems almost criminal for anyone to buy anything quite so pretty.

A RAINBOW  OF RIBBONS

But this was the shop I cracked in, I knew that I would leave with some wool. It was just a matter of which, and how much. And if I’d manage to get out of those doors again. You might remember that gorgeous wool I wound a few weeks back, yes it was here that it came from. If you’re wondering what’s happening with that, then I’m currently in a bit of a dilemma, but more on that another day.

In the meantime here’s a reminder of how gorgeous it was.

Beautiful+wool+-+the+colour+is+Aspen+Tree.jpeg

Sigh. So much gorgeousness. Let’s hope I can do justice to my own piece of gorgeousness.

Making pastel pom pom sheep

Today is University Mental Health Day, an important day for all university communities and the biggest day of the year for student mental health which as we know from reading the media is an increasing problem for not only students, but all in this age group. At our university we’re using the day to bring our university community together and make mental health a university-wide priority, showcasing ‘self-care’ and the support available in our community.

This post is one of the rare posts where my work-life meets my blog-life, and I’m happy with that because it’s such an important topic. I’m hosting a craft session where people can come along and try crafts such as knitting, crochet and making pom pom sheep or just bring along their own project and craft in company. Those of us that craft regularly know why crafting is good for our mental health, and this session aims to demonstrate that first-hand.

So I thought I really should practice making some pom pom sheep…

If you want to try these too, you’ll need:

  • Two toilet roll inners

  • Wool to make a pom pom for the sheep’s body (I used a pistachio green)

  • Wool to make a smaller pom pom for the sheep’s head, this works best as a dark plain colour (I used black)

  • Scissors

1 Take the two rolls and catch the wool for the sheep’s body between the two rolls.

Wind the wool around the two tubes until it’s about a centimetre thick.

The more wool you wind around the tubes, the more rotund your sheep will be.

Wrap wool around two toilet roll inners

2 Next you’ll need to tie the pom pom together using the darker, plain wool for the sheep’s head.

Tie the black wool loosely between the two tubes, and ease the tubes out carefully.

Tie loosely between the two tubes and ease the toilet rolls out

3 Now tie this tightly, this will form your sheep’s body.

Leave the long ends of the dark wool, you’ll need this to attach the sheep’s head.

4 Carefully cut the loops, forming your pom pom and sheep’s body.

If you want, trim the shape to form a sphere.

After tying tightly, cut the loops

5 Now make a smaller pom pom for the sheep’s head using the dark wool.

Wrap the wool around three of your fingers (not too tightly!)

Slip this off your hand and tie tightly as before, cutting the loops to form a pom pom. This time cut the ends the same length to match the pom pom.

Add a smaller pom pom as a head

6 Using the long lengths you use to tie the body pom pom, tie the head to the body, then cut the wool so it no longer shows.

7 Add a loop, for hanging up your sheep, and legs.

Cut two lengths of dark wool, one about 30cm and one about 20cm.

Tie a loop in the longer length and tie the length around the body pom pom about a third of the way along the body, closed to the head. Tie the shorter length about two thirds of the way along the body.

Trim the lengths which are hanging below the sheep’s body so they are the same length, adding a knot (for feet) if you wish.

Tie a loop so you can hang your sheep up

8 Now step back and admire your work!

I made five sheep - two pistachio, two pink and a black sheep.

Well, there had to be one didn’t there? The black one though was by far the hardest, most probably as it was hard to see where to tie the pom poms together.

I think they work better two-toned, and love the bright colours.

Tie in lengths of wool for legs

You can of course use more traditional natural colours, but I’m rather keen on the pastel versions which have been adorning my bookcase for the past week or so, and will be joining me at the craft session today.

Display and enjoy

What do you think? Are you giving them a go - send me your pictures if you are, tag me on social media - @lifeat139a - I can’t wait to see your flock!

Reflecting on my week #73

I had a day off on Wednesday, and couldn’t believe my luck with the weather. And while I was due to spend most of the day inside at the Garden Media Event, I did manage to find some time to spend some time in a couple of my favourite Islington shops and spend some time just sitting on the green (on a bench obviously) enjoying the weather. It was so, so good. I’ve realised that in the everyday busyness of getting things done, I’ve somehow lost the space to think, for ideas to percolate and filter through and my day at the Business Design Centre provided lots of inspiration, as well as some time to just be.

A sunny day in London

To notice the small things in our environment - like the patina on these chairs outside a restaurant in Islington. They’re the type of thing I love, and the type of thing that MOH would immediately start taking some wire wool to and rubbing down. Seriously. Remember this is the man that dusted a wine bottle that was purposely meant to have dust on, in the shop, much to my amusement.

It’s also probably not a coincidence that this day off was the day that I rediscovered my Gratitude Journal. The one I’d diligently been completing since our break in Norfolk. Of course I found it under a pile of papers too, all of which I probably should have done something with, but I can deal with them another day! You might have seen it in my Instagram stories, as this week I’ve also decided to explore those. I’m not convinced I’ve anything much interesting to say, but i’ve already noticed an increase in activity and engagement over on Instagram.

If you have seen them, you’ll probably also have seen my fight with the knots - all self-made - in this beautiful skein of wool. I’d popped into SMUG and managed to leave without any purchases, which is unusual and then popped next door into LOOP London, where no such thing was ever going to happen. It was always going to be a case of how much, or rather how little I could spend before leaving.

Beautiful wool - the colour is Aspen Tree

These colours are my colours, and I was keen to get started. I only bought one skein, and that was all I was about to buy, but I needed to be sure I could make something I’d wear. The ladies in the shop assured me it was plenty to make a wrap, and my current thinking is an oblong chevron, lacy kind of wrap. But to use it, it needed to be wound into a ball. The knowledgeable ladies in the shop, also said that these skeins were hard to wind on a wool winder and so winding it by hand was the only option.

And yes, I still bought it. I mean, those colours.

It did remind me though of wool my mum used to buy, that we would take in turns to wind onto cones using her wool winder. Or when the wool winder wasn’t an option it would be my dad who would provide the guide for the wool. Realising that I stood little chance of employing MOH in the same way, I looked for alternatives, and the clothes horse was my best option.

Starting to wind it into a ball
An alternative position - with a seat

And I was making great progress. I’d clearly not thought this through though and with washing in the machine I was up against the clock. Then I got a bit over confident and the much smaller skein slipped and ended up as a tangled mess.

It fell - and what a tangle

Eventually I got down to the final knot.

The last knot

This knot alone took plenty of time to unravel. I’m not known for my patience, and my persistence with this left MOH bemused. He was the one that suggested just cutting it, but from the look on my face he knew this wasn’t going to happen. Had he known the wool cost half the price of one of his more pricey cycling tops, then he might have been a little more on board with the care I was taking, but he didn’t need to know that detail.

He’s already realised that wool is expensive, I took him into a wool shop in Yorkshire where they specialised in locally sourced wool, and so of course it was more pricey than perhaps he thought, but as he’s a man that doesn’t skimp on quality and we both spend money on our hobbies, it was accepted for what it was.

Once I had the large ball wound, I wondered if I should have gone for smaller balls. But even though I much prefer variegated wool crocheted, rather than knitted, I’m still not a fan when the colour changes dramatically, and so having it as a continuous ball works for me and I’m hoping it will work well with the style I’ve chosen. I’ve got two patterns, both of which are very similar, now I just need to work out which I’ll tackle.

one very large ball of wool

I can’t wait to start crocheting, however my head’s still buzzing with all the inspiration I picked up at the event on Wednesday and trying to work out how to share all of that here. It was just what I needed, as it reminded me just how much I enjoy this space of mine on the internet.

It seems it took a day full of garden products, some sun and quite a few knots to remind me of that…