6 February 2016

The Adventure Begins ...

Back in December, I eluded to an adventure I was about to embark on.

It sort of started with a stroll down a road close to where I live in Leicester, on a very wet day.  This road is lined with 19th century terraced houses, most of which have been converted into small independent shops and eateries.

When I was a child, I used to spend my pocket money on glittery stickers, torn from a large paper roll, and fruity fragranced felt-tipped pens from one of the gift shops.  It's still there.  When my own children were little, I would occasionally buy coloured beaded bracelets and painted wooden yo-yos from the same shop.

One of my first Saturday jobs was working behind the sweet counter in the post office at the top of the street.  I loved that job.  The elderly chap who owned the post office frightened the living daylights out of the 15 year old me though.  He was a no-nonsense man, quite small with tightly curled hair and a furious expression.  The shop remains but is now a newsagent.

Anyway, back to this stroll.  Halfway up the road was an empty shop.  I honestly couldn't tell you if I'd ever noticed it before but I certainly did on this occasion.  It was perfect.  Well, that's not strictly true - it was a bit shabby and very unloved but it had so much perfect potential.

A chat with the lady owner of a nearby shop led us to discover that the previous tenant had done a moonlight flit and the gentleman who lives in the flat above was going to take it on.  I can't begin to tell you how disappointed I was.  You see, if I closed my eyes, I could clearly visualise how it could look.

There then followed what I can only describe as a chain of 'meant to be' events.  A lot can happen in a month, as I'm sure you know.

My lovely friends, may I introduce you to what will eventually become the newest yarn shop in town, Pink Milk?

Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!  You can't see me I know but I'm grinning like a mad thing!

This is how it looks right now.  I only took possession of the keys yesterday.  As I type, D and a friend are in there with tools and paintbrushes and I will soon be setting-to with my bleach and steam cleaner!  I've chosen the colour for the outside.  (Surprised?!)

I'll be totally honest with you, I'm ever so slightly terrified because I have never done anything like this before.  Over the last few weeks, I've had to get my head around taxes and insurance, costings and forecasts and all the nitty-gritty stuff that comes with running a business.  I am also designing my own online shop.  I'm putting absolutely everything I have into this little venture of mine.

I've had a few wobbly moments where my bravery and self-confidence have temporarily deserted me.  On those occasions, I sit and crochet a bunting triangle.  Does that sound a bit bonkers?  The truth is, I haven't had much opportunity to do a lot of crochet or knitting recently and the ten or fifteen minutes it takes to select a colour and make one soothes me.  It acts as a sort of 'time out' when I can take a few deep breaths, remind myself that we only live once, and all feels good and positive again.  My Simple Bunting Tutorial was the very first crochet pattern I published here on my blog, four years ago.  It remains my most visited post of all time.  For me, it sort of heralds where my journey began and it seems fitting.  The bunting will then be strung somewhere in my shop.

Most of all though, I cannot begin to tell you just how excited I am.  I have so many plans and ideas, sometimes my head feels like it's going to literally spin right off my neck!  I've been spending hours with yarn samples and colour charts.  I've been squishing and stroking, sniffing and poking like you wouldn't believe!!!  I've also been working on a few secret projects and have made some lovely new talented friends in the process.  Aargh, I cannot wait to show you everything!  I will only be selling yarn and products that I love.  I hope you'll love them too.

You have all played such a massive part in giving me the confidence to do this.  For that, I cannot thank you enough.  I feel so lucky and proud.

I will be keeping in some pretty tea cups, just in case you call.  The kettle will always be on and the shelves filled to the brim.


22 January 2016

Next Week Might Be Awesome, Right?

Hello my lovelies.  I hope you're well.

Apparently last Monday was 'Blue Monday', the most depressing day of the year.  What a load of old rubbish.  Marketing ploys like that really irritate me and serve only to further deflate those of us who find the whole month a battle.

I've come to the conclusion that January isn't, in fact, the best month to implement changes.  No, January should be a hunker down and be gentle on yourself month.  Resolutions are best saved until February.  I'm sure the success rate would be far greater.  So that's what I've decided to do.

I'm glad this week is over.  On the likeability meter, it rates pretty low.  No particular reason, I suppose my heart's just not really been in it.  I started the year with so much positive-thinking and gusto that I think, three weeks in, I've gotten a little flat, like a deflated balloon.  But, it's Friday!  Hurrah!  Next week might be awesome, right?

I have a random selection of photographs to share with you today.

A little knitting.  I made a Handbrake Cowl using the now-free pattern by Kay Jones, of the Bakery Bears podcast.  I'm so proud of it and am wearing it right this minute.  If you're a newbie knitter and fancy tackling your first grown-up pattern, I can't recommend it highly enough.  It's a real confidence booster.  The pattern also includes links to a number of YouTube how-to clips which are excellent.  I used exactly one skein of Madelinetosh Vintage in 'Posy' which I bought from Loop on my birthday.

I'm also working on a simple garter stitch scarf using Madelinetosh Vintage in the 'Sugarplum' colourway.  Its uncomplicatedness is helping my tension hugely.  I'm particularly pleased with the neatness of the edge too.  Do you see that lovely chain effect?  After the penultimate stitch of each row, you bring the yarn forward and slip the last stitch purlwise.  Clever, huh?

A little stash enhancement.  Ahem.  What can I say?  I'm experiencing a Madelinetosh yarn crush.  I've bought two skeins of Merino DK in 'Pretty In Pink' and I'm planning to knit a simple shawl.  It's gloriously soft.  I know it's not cheap but I subscribe to the theory that using good quality yarn when learning to knit or crochet actually makes the process so much more enjoyable.

My daughter's best friend bought her The Little Book of Positivity for Christmas.  Oh, it's the dearest little thing.  In fact, I had another flick through it this morning.  It's full of handy tips to boost your happiness and includes some wonderfully uplifting quotes. ..

"If you love life, life will love you back."

"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you."

"Look at life through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror."

It includes advice on how to deal with negative thoughts and helps you to be positively assertive and stresses the importance of a good diet, me-time and quality sleep, etc.  All things we may know but can overlook sometimes.

Hyacinth bulbs in latte cups.  Just because.  I'm missing my anemones though.

Snowy trees from last Saturday.  Useful for when D and I have the "when did it last snow?" conversation!

Have a wonderful weekend.  Crochet chat next time, honest.


15 January 2016

Absolutely Lovely Giveaway Winner!

Thank you so much for all your entries and comments.  There were over 300 of you!

I selected a number via www.random.org and the recipient of my parcel of goodies will be ...

I'm so thrilled to see that you have a blog Ania!  I'll be sending you a message a little later this evening.

Wishing you all an absolutely lovely weekend.


13 January 2016

Thank You

I just wanted to pop by and thank everyone who has entered my Absolutely Lovely Giveaway so far.  I'm absolutely gobsmacked by how many of you there are!  Blogging is a funny old business; you sort of forget people might actually be reading what you write.  Thank you too for all the kind things you've said.  I'm feeling terribly pink-cheeked and thrilled, believe me!  I've been thoroughly enjoying reading all of your positive comments and have decided that perhaps January isn't so bad after all.

Incidentally, just for the purpose of the giveaway and so that it is fully inclusive, I've changed my blog settings in order that anonymous users are able to leave a comment.  Unfortunately, I will have to switch the filter back on when it closes as I have been inundated with some very dubious messages and offers!  Don't forget, you have until this Friday, 5pm GMT.

This has also been the perfect opportunity to share my anemones with you.  They're my all time favourite flowers.  I pounced on them in the supermarket yesterday.  This happy tangle has been giving me so much pleasure.

Oh, and is it just me or are the nights drawing out ever so slightly?  *big smile*

Back soon.


7 January 2016

Absolutely Lovely Giveaway

Hello and a very happy shiny New Year to you!

I'm a little late to the party I know but, to be perfectly honest, it's taken me a while to get back into any sort of rhythm after the festive break.  My sleeping pattern seems to have gone totally to pot over the last week or so and I've been waking up at 3am each morning with a manically busy mind.  I really need an uninterrupted eight hours every night or I get ever so discombobulated.

Anyway ... before anything else, I thought I'd kick off the year on a positive note by holding an Absolutely Lovely Giveaway.  It's been a while since I've hosted one and I love the idea of bringing some prettiness to somebody's January.  I've had such fun putting these bits together.  They include:-

❤️ 100g skein of hand-dyed alpaca/merino/silk in dk weight (approximately 210 metres).
❤️ Sunshine & Bloom colouring book for grown ups.
❤️ Cath Kidston notepad and pencils.
❤️ Cath Kidston pencil/notions case.
❤️ Cath Kidston pocket mirror.
❤️ Absolutely lovely postcard.

I will also be including a couple of other surprise bits.

If you fancy the chance of winning this parcel of loveliness, what I should like you to do is simply leave a comment on this post, citing one absolutely lovely thing about January.  Let's share a bit of joy with each other.  Ooh, please also include your email address or Facebook/Instagram name if you are a 'no reply commenter' so that I can get hold of you.  That's it.  It's open to anyone, anywhere in the world.

You have until 5pm GMT on Friday 15th January 2016.


Edited to add : I'm so enjoying reading your comments, thank you!  I forgot to mention that I will wind the skein into a ball for the winner if they'd prefer.

15/01/16 17:00 GMT : Entries are now closed. Result announced shortly!

17 December 2015

A Very Happy Christmas

Well, I think we're almost there.  The children finish school tomorrow and we're all really looking forward to the break.  We are, of course, going to Cornwall for Christmas so it does make life easier in some ways.  In some ways it doesn't.  Two grown-ups, two teenagers and one daft spaniel don't travel light.  Essentials and pressies aside, we have a very impressive buffet of Apple products between us!

So my dear friends, this will more than likely be my last blog post until after the festive period.

As you know, 2015 has been a pretty emotionally turbulent year for me but, with hindsight, necessarily so.  Now that my children are growing up and my role as a mother isn't quite as all-consuming, I have found myself at a bit of a crossroads.  I've had to do a lot of soul-searching in order to discover who I actually am and what and where I go from here.

Finally, I think I now have a jolly good idea.

One thing I have realised is just how precious the Pink Milk part of my life is.  The creative outlet, the soapbox, the mental stimulation, the community, the witty repartee!  It brings me more pleasure than I can say and I thank my lucky stars for the opportunity.  I also thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your friendship and your support.  I would fight fire for you lovely lot, really I would.

So ... my Pink Milk adventure is about to step up a notch and start getting interesting.  That's all I'm divulging for now but I do hope you'll stick with me for the ride?

I wish each and every one of you a Christmas filled with love, laughter and creativity.

See you on the flip side!

Much love,



6 December 2015

Loop … A Cautionary Tale

A Julie Arkell figure.  The first I've seen 'in the flesh'.

Oh beautiful cardigan.  My wardrobe needs you.

That outfit, right there.  Oh yes.

Flowers AND yarn?  Really?  Be still my beating heart!

Misti Baby Alpaca.  Like clouds from heaven.

If I am ever lucky enough to own a yarn shop, I should like it to be exactly like Loop in London.

If you ever get the opportunity to visit, I promise it is extremely well worth it.  I would, however, suggest that you exercise the following cautionary measures ...

♥  Don't go on a Monday.  It's the only day the shop doesn't open.

♥  Use public transport to get there.  It's a very short walk from the Angel at Islington underground station.  Do not, under any circumstances, turn up in a car with a roomy boot or, worse, a van or lorry.  Knowing that you will have to carry your purchases along the streets of London and through thronging crowds will help deter you from buying too much.

♥  Browse the website and write a shopping list before you go.  Believe me, on crossing the threshold, your mind will go blank.  It will then take off like a rocket and you'll suddenly be overcome with the need for absolutely EVERYTHING.  And when I say 'need', I mean really need, like your life depends on it!

♥  Have a thorough browse and then LEAVE the shop.  Seriously.  Go and have a cup of coffee and a little 'time out'.  Perhaps enlist a shopping buddy who is bigger and stronger than you and have them physically drag you out if needs be.  Allow your heart rate to return to normal and your mind to clear before you venture back.

♥  Familiarise yourself with Madeline Tosh yarns BEFORE you go to Loop.  If you don't, the positive kaleidoscope of colours will render you incapable of making any rational decisions.  Not only is their founder, Amy Hendrix, a colour genius but I have a strong suspicion that she sprinkles each and every skein with magical 'wanties' dust.

♥  Familiarise yourself with the feel of baby alpaca BEFORE you go to Loop.  (Preferably Misti Baby Alpaca Chunky.)  The temptation to grab an armful, hurl it onto the floor and writhe around on it is almost too much to bear.

♥  Take only the money you can afford to spend.  A credit card with leeway is a definite no-no.  A small photo of your children/partner/pet in your purse (preferably looking peckish) will act as a handy reminder that they will actually need feeding for the weeks ahead.

♥  Ask a non-yarny type to accompany you and instruct them to whisper sensible and rational thoughts in your ear as you look around.

Just saying …!