Shops, ducks and snow

Do you recognise the feeling that a day after returning from holiday it is hard to remember that you were on holiday? Fortunately I took plenty of pictures to remind me of all the lovely things we’ve seen and done over the past week while we were in the Scottish Borders.

From a stitcher’s point of view, some of the most memorable things were the pieces of needlework that we found scattered around various museums and stately homes – including a beautifully embroidered waistcoat that was never put together, some lovely colourful beadwork, a multiplication table sampler worked by a six-year-old girl in mind-bogglingly small cross stitches, and the tiniest cutwork baby’s cap that I have ever seen. It’s a shame (though understandable) that I couldn’t take photographs of those items.

Before going I’d also done my homework and had pinned down two shops I wanted to visit. One was The Grassmarket Embroidery Shop in Edinburgh, which according to its website carries a good selection of speciality threads and other delectable goodies; the other was The Haberdashery & Craft Shop, which calls itself the smallest shop in Alnwick. Edinburgh came first, so after a lovely walk through Princes Gardens and around the town I dragged – I mean, gently led – my husband to the Grassmarket, and started looking for number 19. I found number 19. This is what it looked like.

No needlework shop where one should have been

We asked in the Milk Bar, and they told us that the lady running the shop retired last April. Oh well. There were plenty of other things to see in Edinburgh …

In Alnwick I did find the shop in question, and yes, it was tiny! Lots of Texere threads with interesting colours and textures, but not really suitable for my sort of needlework. Lovely to see them, though! My husband then found out from the wool shop next door that in a nearby street there was a needlework shop having a closing down sale. Aren’t husbands wonderful? It is always sad to see a LNS closing down, but as there was very little I could do about that I thought I might as well see if there was anything interesting in the sale. Some useful fabric was, alas, not included, but I did find Mill Hill beads at 60p, Kreinik braid at 60p, Au Ver a Soie metallic at 60p, perle cotton at 61p, and some Caron threads at 75p – I was very pleased with my bargain!

Result of a closing down sale in Alnwick

While in Alnwick we visited the Garden, too. We gave the Castle a miss, having heard from several people that it was rather overpriced, and definitely the lesser option of the two. Anyway, the weather was lovely and so being outside in a garden with lots of water features sounded very attractive. We’d bought some lunch at the farmers’ market, and after a while decided to sit down in the shade of some trees overlooking a rather magnificent duck pond (with an oriental pagoda duck pavillion) to have a bite to eat. The ducks thought this was a marvellous idea, and before we knew it we were practically trampled underfoot by various assorted waterfowl including some impossibly cute and fluffy ducklings. One kept running under my skirt and out between my feet. Fluffy ducklings tickle terribly when they do that. Trust me.

Coming for lunch Is there anything under that skirt? Ducklings tickle the toes

When we got home, I had another stitching treat – my order from Margaret at the Little Thread Shop had arrived, without my having to pay import duties or Royal Mail’s extortionate handling fee this time! 11 skeins of Caron Snow for about 2/3 the English price; and don’t they add a bit of sparkle to the day!

Caron Snow from Margaret's Little Thread Shop

And now it’s back to work, the day job as well as Mabel’s Fancies; I did hardly any stitching while on holiday, so I’ve got to finish a few projects before the next Counted Wishes Festival, and of course it’s nearly August, and time for another instalment of the Song of the Weather SAL; some stitch photographs still needed for the SAL blog. Isn’t it good to know that I won’t be bored this summer?

One comment on “Shops, ducks and snow

  1. Sorry about the Edinburgh shop — my James Watt stitching pal was in it probably just days (in hindsight) before it shut. Well, phooey. Not that that old bit of Edinburgh isn’t quite interesting, and there are some wonderful places to eat, and if you came down Victoria street, you’d have passed Mellis the cheesemonger… so perhaps there are compensations.

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