A couple of weeks ago a chap came in the shop to read the meter – he glanced around, sniffed and said “I didn’t think anybody knitted anymore”. “You’d be surprised” I retorted, my hackles up.

This weekend I joined the crowds of people converging on Skipton and Yarndale. As my husband dropped me off he said, with a touch of awe – “I didn’t realise it was this big”….

The market was full of enthusiastic traders, keen knitters, expert crocheters, spinners, fibre experts, pattern writers, hand-dyers, weavers, felters and much much more – and lots of wonderful yarny things. Mostly women, but with a significant minority of men; mostly my age but with a deeply pleasing amount of substantially younger fans of wool.

lovely wool on a lovely sheep

I bought some bits and bobs of course (ok, I spent a small fortune) but the best thing about Yarndale was to feel part of a lovely tribe of fans of woolly things.

In the past when I’ve admitted to a love of knitting there has been a few typical responses –


  1. ‘I don’t have time for knitting’…. says the Celebritycomedancingwithxfactorbakinggear fan whose knowledge of the minutiae of Coronation street/Casualty/Hollyoaks is profound and slightly scary…
  2. ‘I’m not clever enough to knit’ – says the person who holds down a responsible job, takes care of the family, drives and lots of other clever stuff.
  3. ‘My granny tried to teach me but I never got it’  – says the person who went back to Open University to learn astro-physics, or the one who learnt how to use a computer in their 30’s…yep, you definitely can’t learn new skills after you are 12…
  4. ‘You can buy socks/sweaters/shawls at M&S you know….’ no comment.

In the end I tended to keep my guilty secret to myself – being a knitter clearly meant that I was a wee bit odd…

…Or so I thought until I owned a small yarn shop which is visited by lovely and very normal people every day – in fact I’d go as far as to say that being a knitter/crocheter almost certainly means that you are a good person.

If you need proof – go to Yarndale….







I discovered the Great British Bake Off last year: spending a week away with a friend she insisted (quite rightly) that we had to watch the last episode of the series. I settled down to finish a pair of socks. But the socks languished as I was inexorably drawn into the drama.

I’m not sure why I never got into the programme during one of its previous incarnations: I love the Sewing Bee, for example, which borrows the format, and Mary Berry is everyone’s favourite grandma. And I’d enjoyed a baking programme Paul Hollywood had done a few years ago. I think I was just a bit suspicious of the hoo-ha that surrounded it. But by the end of last years final, I was hooked and weeping along with everyone else when Nadiya won.

This year’s is in its early stages – my husband (who is a keen Sewing Bee fan) and I are just getting conversant with all the names and characteristics of the contestants: Andrew and his blush, Selassie and his easy-going or dangerously casual approach, Val (annoying or loveable? Still not sure) and Candace and her lipstick. So I was upset to hear that the Beeb was losing it to C4 due to an unseemly squabble about cash. Sigh. It always seems to come down to money in the end doesn’t it?

So when GBBO heads off to C4 (and most likely the sunset of its TV life) what could replace it? I have a suggestion….

grey wrap detailHow about the Great British Knit Off  – GBKO has a ring to it already. We can have technical challenges with the perfect cable or picked up stitches for a crew neck. Themed showstoppers with particularly hazardous dropped stitches or lace, a sock heel innovation that changes the world or a game changer woolly hat. The contestants would be experienced old hands, plucky youths and the occasional ex-army chap who confesses a love of intarsia. I can see it now……What do you think?




It’s not Autumn yet but I think there’s a hint of that brief and beautiful season in the air.

  • The first clue is the nights: suddenly it’s dark before you know it in the evenings and my sons are reporting that it’s still basically midnight when they get up to go to work, poor lambs.
  • It’s not cold but the nights are cooler: although as a woman of a certain age I’m basically “4 seasons in one day” at the moment so maybe you shouldn’t take my word for it. I got home yesterday from a hot and humid walk around the Trafford Centre and a sultry drive home to find that my husband had put the central heating on. I nearly cried.
  • There’s a bit of colour in the trees already: a smudge of gold, a hint of scarlet and a whisper of bronze.
  • The BBC is rolling out decent telly and the schools are back. Well, the Great British Bake Off is on anyway.
  • Marks and Spencer/Next/ etc have stopped selling t-shirts and the shops are full of woolly coats in various shades of wan, drear and ‘meh’.
  • Casseroles are almost appealing again.

I love Autumn and its short lived glories, the last hoorah before we lock-down for Winter. The colours, those occasional misty, frosty but beautiful sun-lit mornings, crispy piles of leaves to stride through, Harvest festivals, Halloween and Bonfire night, the wood and leaf smells in the air….

And it’s time to do some proper knitting!