A needlework shop – with a tea room!

You may have noticed that Mabel’s Fancies has been closed quite a lot recently, and is closed again this week. This is partly due to family circumstances, partly business (the vintage cars, not Mabel), and partly the fact that my husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary last week by going on a second honeymoon in the Peak District. We had a lovely, relaxing time driving and walking around beautiful countryside and visiting Haddon Hall and Chatsworth, and while at our cottage the absence of our usual feline was made up for by these friendly visitors.

Relaxing at Chatsworth Visiting chickens

Whenever I’m on holiday, I always try to find a local needlework shop. Very often, alas, there isn’t one, even if research beforehand suggests that there should be – remember the one I was hoping to visit in Edinburgh, which turned out to have closed about four months earlier? This time I didn’t do a lot of research; I found out some time ago that Wye Needlecraft in Bakewell had closed (or rather, it’s been taken over and moved) and didn’t look any further. Then, one day, we needed petrol. And as we went on a little detour to get it, I noticed a shop called White Peak Embroidery. A needlework shop!

Later that day we met up with local friends and while the husbands talked cars, Mary and I talked countryside, walks, and of course Needlework Shops. Did she know White Peak Embroidery? Yes she did and it was a lovely shop, with a tea room, and besides embroidery supplies they did quite a lot of knitting yarn as well. I wasn’t too interested in the knitting yarn, but the tea room certainly sounded interesting smiley.

A few days later we visited the shop, and I can’t praise it highly enough. Not only for the wide range of beautiful threads, fabrics, buttons, books and kits, and the lovely stitched models on display, but for the friendly welcome and knowledgeable service – this is the sort of needlework shop where you could easily spend most of the day, stopping only for a light lunch and afternoon tea at the attached Grace’s Tea Room (which also houses the knitting supplies). I took a few pictures but they really don’t do the shop justice, so do visit their website for a closer look or better still, visit them in person!

White Peak Embroidery The tea room at White Peak Embroidery Fabrics and threads Threads, ribbons and tools Speciality threads and kits

Of course I couldn’t leave without getting a few bits and bobs. The haul is two silk perles by Rainbow Gallery – these are Elegance, their #8 perle – and some silk ribbon which I think is YLI but I forgot to make a note so I don’t know the colour numbers. I may have to go back just to check…

Silk perles and ribbons from White Peak Embroidery

Support your LNS

I haven’t written in absolute ages, for which my apologies. In my defence I will say that we’ve been away for a week, visiting the Lake District, and that the time before and after a week away tends to be taken up with "getting everything done before we leave" and "dealing with the backlog".

We made the most of the beautiful scenery by going for plenty of walks (the friends we were with have a dog, which makes walkies even more of a joy), and we joined the local church for a very moving Remembrance Day service. We also found the most gorgeous pub which did very good food indeed (check out the Kirkstile Inn when you’re next in Loweswater), and if it wasn’t for the many walks we’d have gained at least a stone. Each.

You may wonder what all this has to do with the topic of this post; you may even wonder what an LNS is (it took me some time to find out when I first saw it mentioned on stitching forums!) Well, LNS stands for Local Needlework Shop, and there are precious few of them left, so if you’re lucky enough to have one, please use it! I realise that the prices of these independent shops may be a bit higher than those of online shops, and that if you want something special they may have to order it in and you won’t be able to HAVE IT NOW! but there is something about being able to see threads and fabrics in the flesh (or should that be "in the fibre"?), chatting about your next project while choosing materials, and asking advice from a fellow enthusiast which you just don’t get online.

Unfortunately there is no LNS where I live (although there is a fabric shop which does stranded cotton and the like) so I am reduced to supporting other people’s LNS. Smuggler’s Needlecraft in Ilfracombe springs to mind, and Stitches Coven in Shanklin, Isle of Wight. This time it was The Silver Beaded Needle in Cockermouth.

The Silver Beaded Needle, Cockermouth

My husband will tell you that whenever I spot an as yet unknown needlework shop my eyes start to sparkle and there is a distinct spring in my step as I walk to look at the shop window before going in. Often it turns out to be mostly sewing machines or knitting wool or quilting fabrics. Occasionally it surpasses my wildest expectations. As it did here.

Stranded cotton, yes. Aida, yes. But also beads, sparkly fabrics, Caron threads, Thread Gatherer threads, Sweetheart Tree kits, Pearsall’s silks! I was beginning to feel quite giddy, and then the lady behind the counter, who saw me looking at the Pearsall’s silk perles, said "the Pearsall’s stranded silk is on offer, there’s a whole basket of it over there". You will not be surprised to know that it took me about a second and a half to get "over there", where a treasure trove of pretty silks at a 40% discount was waiting for me. In the end I got six (3 pairs of shades), which I hope to use for Hardanger on 28ct or 32ct fabric.

Pearsall's silks

What better souvenir of your holiday than threads you will be using later? You can enjoy the threads and remember the holiday at the same time! But I did get another souvenir as well. I have two (three if you count a broken one) Victorian stereoscopes, with which you view stereoscopic photos; these consist of two photos next to each other, and seen through the viewer they become three-dimensional. I had hoped for a local view – the Lakes must surely have attracted many stereo-photographers over the years – but unfortunately I didn’t find any. I did find a souvenir, though; of my own country. It shows the Dutch fishing village of Marken, showing people in traditional costume. Who would have thought I’d find that in the Lake District!

Stereoscopic photograph of Marken