Tea & Company

craft tea

Overheard at a tea house:

Lady One: “Hey! Sorry I am late traffic.”

Lady Two: “That’s ok. I brought my knitting and I got a cuppa.”

Lady One: “Oh my days! What are you knitting now? Tea towels?”

Lady Two: “No, no, this one is for charity. It’s for preemie babies!”

Lady One:“Are you sure it’s just not another excuse to knit???”

Me over on the next table: The penny drops.

I am one of those kinds of knitters who will accept any opportunity to knit. Why not use my talents to give back to the community? Why not hone my skills with each project?

All kidding aside, there are so many benefits to donating your knitting and crochet work to charity. In addition to helping others in need, it also gives knitters and crocheters the chance to get more involved in the community by discovering new volunteer opportunities. In addition, there is the opportunity to learn a new skill, increase your skill base or teach others the skill. There are patterns that challenge all skill levels. Mastering the skill gives me such a feeling of satisfaction. However, knowing that I am making something precious for others makes the experience richer.  It brings me an amazing feeling of self-worth, helps me relax and practice mindfulness and gives me joy. What’s not to love?

Here are some guidelines to knitting or crocheting for charity:

  • Follow the pattern. The pattern is there for a reason. They have been tried and tested.
  • Make sure the garments are big enough (unless you are knitting for premature babies.
  • Don’t use a free pattern to sell your stuff. These are intended for charity
  • Ask your local yarn store for help either with the pattern, finding a suitable/affordable yarn or with the pattern instructions. Yankee Yarns is the nerve centre of all things yarn. Any of the Knitteristas that come into the shop to knit can help out.
  • There are many charities out there that rely on the generosity of knitters to help them raise funds and awareness of issues. Check the details of the charity and make sure it is a reputable one. You can click on the UK Handknitting website to help you with this.

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The vintage poem appeared in an Australian newspaper in 1918 for the war effort. And if you think about it, there were knitters from the US, Canada and the UK all clicking away to ensure “our boys” had warm things to wear on the front. It looks like we are still doing this only now it is in remembrance of all who fought and fell in the wars. We have had a load of knitted and crocheted poppies come through the door. It is impressive and heart-warming to see all these ladies come through the door to drop off their donations at Yankee Yarns. There are Plenty of Poppies!!!   Wouldn’t it be great if we could see 150,000 Poppies??? We are working on it!!!

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Read the post from the Mansfield District Council Facebook page below:

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Ready, Steady… KNIT!!!!

“I just want to finish work today so I can go home and speed-knit!” said Sam Wibberley as she came out of the staff kitchen with her first cup of tea of the morning. She is expecting the arrival of her cousin this weekend with her brand new baby in tow. Well, newish baby.

Sam started knitting a floppy teddy bear for the new-born four months ago. For one reason or another, meeting the new arrival had been postponed and for the last week she has been “speed-knitting”. I loved hearing how Sam was already looking forward to going home to get more progress on the floppy teddy bear (95% complete at this point) and it was only 8am on a Thursday morning.

This is a common phenomenon. Even I have two projects on the go right now for people who just had new arrivals. One became a new dad of a three-year-old boy. He and his wife adopted the wee man and I excavated my pattern book from the many pattern tomes in my Yarniverse and decided on a lovely cable jumper for him to wear through the winter. So far I have the back done and am now moving on to the front so still, only 25% done and it is middle October… tick tock.

road knittingThen I have another more immediate speed-knit I felt compelled to do for another work for someone who just became a new dad. This was a surprise birth that not even HE knew about! One day, He and his girlfriend were just a couple, and then BOOM! Parenthood. To quote his manager when he called in to let her know he could not come into work that day because he was at the hospital with his girlfriend in labour, “WTF?” Anyway, he and his girlfriend wheeled the wee lassie in to show her off in their quickly bought pram. All I could think (after I got all broody and dreamy about what a pretty baby girl she was) was, “She needs a bonnet!!!!!” So here I am flicking yarn like a maniac whenever I have my hands free as I listen to Grime or heavy metal music.

lullabyeIt’s all about the babies, isn’t it? So is it any wonder, Yankee Yarns is promoting knitting hospital hats for King’s Mill ICU babies. The hospital has adopted a new safety initiative to help keep the babies warm in the first crucial hours after birth. A traffic light system of red, yellow and green hats on these babies will help staff and parents understand the changing temperature of the babies, ensuring they are kept at the right temperature and being aware of any signs of developing an infection.

Our Fearless Leader Sara wrote a pattern to go with the Stylecraft Lullaby DK yarn we have at Yankee Yarns so you can knit up these little hats for the babies.

“Yes ma’am,” said Sara when I asked her if this was her own design. “I made the whole thing up. Like my lavish lifestyle!” LOL.

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Stylecraft Lullaby DK knitting yarn is the perfect yarn for babies, especially the brand new ones because it’s super soft! This truly is a speed-knit because it takes a 4mm needle to knit up these gorgeous little hats, and the colours are absolutely beautiful. The yarn is functional, too. It’s a blend of acrylic and nylon so it can be machine washed and tumble dried on a low setting. It feels lovely when you knit it up, too.

Have a look at our FREE pattern in aran .   There is one in double knitting, too! Come and get your yarn! Have a coffee with us! Alternatively, you can knit up the traffic light hats and send them to us at 185 Westfield Lane, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, NG19 6EH UK. We will make sure they get to Kingsmill Hospital!

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Bell, Book, Needles and Hook

It’s the New Moon and time for all good things to start! The air has a chill to it and the seasons are changing colourfully from the nostalgic glow of long summer days. The wind combs through trees. Some of those trees have already started to turn into the rustic reds and bronze of autumn. It is the end of September and garden fires everywhere are lit as if purifying the end of the month to make way for October.

When it gets cooler, the knitters and hookers come out of their Summer Slumber, unless you are one of the die-hard Yarnistas that knit for all seasons. My friend’s Mum once advised me to “Knit your winter things in the summer and your summer things in the winter.” She is a fantastic planner and always made sure she plotted her projects on the calendar according to season and event. All Halloween crafting should be well underway in September, she would always say. There are so many beautiful and fun things to create for Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos

Speaking of Halloween, Our Resident Designer Jen is a volunteer editor on Ravelry and they needed a picture of a crocheted pattern that had been made into a knitting pattern. It’s a pumpkin top for Barbie!

“Great for design adaptation, but not the pattern that people were expecting!” She said.

We have another yarn for you. This one is called Tweedy by Stylecraft. It comes in Moss, Bracken, Heather and Thistle. All Autumnal feeling yarn!

The recommended needles for this yarn are 4mm and we have a lovely pattern to show you at the next Workshop which is called, The Dewdrop Cowl Workshop. It’s on a Saturday in October. We will be publishing the date soon! Check out our Yankee Yarns Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

All Who Wander Are Not Lost

 

17-09-13-13-04-55-490_decoIt was one of those rainy days where I sat at my desk having five minutes with a coffee before the next big meeting. A part of me went into a slight melancholy as I mentally began to tick all the things I still had to do in the day. I noticed I was headed into a dark little place in my head. In order to change the direction my head was going in, I picked up two pencils from the pen pot on my desk, took out a bit of yarn I had stashed in my handbag and casted on a few little stitches. I knitted about 10 rows of a tiny little scarf, just for fun. That one little action must have released endorphins or something because I was able to finish my coffee, pick up my notes and head into the meeting with a much clearer head. This little exercise was an act of Mindfulness and something that I have been quite passionate about for a long time. Too many times we forget to stop, look around and see what we actually have in our lives. This kind of pattern leads to blue days. I’ve heard people lament about how they are in some kind of way because they “don’t have much” in their lives at that moment. However, I notice how often they forget to take stock in what wonderful gifts they possess in that current moment.

I have noticed how often people forget to take stock in what wonderful gifts they possess. So many of these gifts are everyday, basic needs we take for granted. It is easy to forget how privileged we are when we are able to take basic needs like sleep, nourishment and safety for granted. I have come to understand how gratitude for all the gifts, both large and small, is what keeps us from the melancholy.

20170825_122628-ANIMATION-1We were talking about this in the shop the other day. We get into all manner of conversations there. Our eclectic natures encourage topics from the esoteric to downright bawdy. There are so many times I wish we could have been recording our discussions. We went from arguing a theological point then somehow segued into whether I could be paid in wool rather than cash and something about a sheep…

It was decided that I could be paid in wool and I chose a skein. Our Fearless Leaser Sara all of a sudden got a twinkle in her eye and asked me if I wanted her to wind it up for me.

“I got a machine!” she said. I remember how her daughter stood by, squealing in absolute glee as she watched her Mum set the winding machine up. I felt the wonder of it all as I watched my yarn spin round and round on a clever little machine. I remember the gratitude of looking at the neat little cake of yarn Our Fearless Leader Sara presented to me. This is the kind of thing that will forever remain as a snapshot of joy is in the scrapbook of my mind.

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That little episode inspired me to document the memory and commit it to something that would stand the test of time. This could be something tangible. This would be something I could take into my hands and look over when and if those blue days ever threaten my inner peace again, There are so many ways to keep these treasures. It seems everyone has a blog, iPhone, online Ravelry account etc… but I decided to make an old-fashioned scrapbook.

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The scrapbook will also serve as a kind of project log for me to look back on. It can be a place for little bits of yarn, description, maker, patterns, thoughts and what inspired me to make the things I do. I decided to have a bit of structure to it.

Stash – A documentation of the yarn. I could keep a list of things left over in case I need to buy more to make something else without buying too much. That way I have more money to buy other yarn!

Tools – Again, this way I don’t spend money buying multiple of the same needles, hooks or patterns.

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Current Projects – Who doesn’t work on multiple projects? It’s just something that happens when we are so lucky to have the skill and desire. But sometimes we do bite off more than we can chew and we kind of lose the plot when we pick up a project we have not touched in ages. A journal documenting certain nuances of projects would be really helpful.

Goal Projects – I love to plan. This section would be where I can list the things I need for the next big project, keep track of all supplies I need and have and jot down any notes  to help me achieve it. It could be a tracker complete with test square or a sample of the yarn.

Events – Lists and pictures of yarn events, yarn bombs, charity knitting, crochet/knit-alongs, workshops and speciality visits like the trips to see Valaise Blacknose sheep flock in Dumfrieshire, Scotland or Hooligan Yarns in Bilthsthorpe

Skills & Techniques – This is the section where I will list stuff I need to learn like pattern making, entrelac knitting and spinning!

Frequently Used Measurements – This is where I would record how many stitches I usually cast on to make that favourite baby blanket, the top-down jumper or the dice bag I always make for people I love. It may need a pocket for the sock templates.

Inspiration– This is a great place to paste colour swatches of colour combinations that you might find at the DIY store in the paint section. The last time I went to decide on a colour for my living room, I planned on using the colours on the swatch for an afghan that would look perfect draped over the comfy couch. I also made some throw pillow covers.

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Of course, what is a scrapbook without pictures. There will be lots of these with random quotes, mottos, lyrics and poetry. It would be a wild and rambling place for my mind to wander and collect those little bits of life that I am so grateful to have!

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Mellow Yellow

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We never need a reason to yarn bomb a thing so it was no great surprise to walk into the shop last Friday to see the Yarnistas of Yankee Yarns wielding their crochet hooks. The color yellow was everywhere.

“It’s for the Tour of Britain,” said Our Fearless Leader Sara. The bike would be one of many yellow bikes on the trail for the Ovo Energy Tour of Britain which is a multi-stage cycling traversing the roads of Britain. There are 10 stages with Mansfield being the start point of Stage 5 on 6th September.

Cyclists have been competing for the best time since the first British stage just after WWII. So it was a thrill to be amongst those who rallied to support the event by adorning the race route with yellow bunting, flowers, painted bikes and our yarn-bombed push bike.

 

 

Starting in Mansfield, the route took cyclist on a 6 km odyssey around the town centre before starting the sprints and hill climbs out towards Sutton in Ashfield. The eight-day event was televised on ITV and attracted an estimated 1.6 million spectators. The people of Mansfield and surrounding areas turned out in form to cheer the cyclist on waving banners and shirts.

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Being a part of the community spirit is a big deal to Yankee Yarns. We like to support others. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But decorating the bike for the event went a bit deeper than that. Designer Jen explained it best when she remarked at how important it was that so many people contributed a small piece to the finished yarn bomb. She added how each chain, each inch, each link reflected each individual person. Because of this, the finished piece was better than we ever imagined it would be.

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“For example,” said Designer Jen, “Angela made a little bow which in itself would have looked quite small and insignificant (albeit beautiful). However, this was one of the final pieces to go on, atop the handle bars, and totally finished off the bike!”

Designer Jen went on to say how the collective creativity, common cause and community spirit mirrored the community effort of the crowd who came out to support the cyclists along the Mansfield to Newark route.17-09-07-16-32-20-436_deco

Thirty-six hours in total went into yarn bombing the bike. This time includes the time making the pieces and putting them together. Knitting and crochet are a bit like a race. There are times we find ourselves feverishly working against the time clock— trying to get just one more row in before (insert your road block here.) There are quick wins like baby booties, small toys and dishcloths. These are like sprints— quick and exhilarating. Then you have those leg races that keep you going for hours taking turn after turn. These are like making jumpers or ornate garments. Finally, there are the contests of endurance. These bring you the adulation of the crowds when you roll out a patchwork quilt or multicoloured blanket.

Trials and tribulation aside, being able to be a part of something bigger than ourselves— either as a participant or a spectator— and come together to appreciate the talent of others, it is a celebration of life.

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Hiya!

A beautiful thing was said in the shop the other day. It was one of those quintessential “Narrrrr how lovely” moments. Our Resident Experimenter Nori was working on her newest project using a seriously sumptuous yarn.

“That is gorgeous!” I said. “Where did you get it?”

hiyahiya2Quietly– reverently— she said she got it from one of our favorite customers. She had it in her stash for ages and gave it to Resident Experimenter Nori, most likely to make room for some of the newer yarns. Then she smiled angelically and said, “Janet always makes things for other people. So I am making something for her out of her own yarn.”

We all sat there beatifically looking on; as you do when you think of what a beautiful world we live in.

hiyahiya3It is the labor of love that binds us to a strange kind of joy. When you find something you enjoy, anything to do with it makes any endeavor feel as if it is what you were meant to do. When you love something so much, you will work tirelessly to create something that not only you will enjoy, but will be enjoyed by countless others.

The Shanghai designer, Qianer Huang loved knitting and designing beautiful creation so much, she wanted to design special tools to work her craft. With the help of her brother and father, who are both engineers, she worked to design the distinctive knitting system called HiyaHiya. hiyahiya1

HiyaHiya is a China based company founded in 2002. It developed into an international brand and built a solid reputation for pioneering design. Knitters all over the world have become enthralled with the needles.  At first, the needles were only available in the United States but now they are gaining in popularity here in the UK!

Yankee Yarns joined the “knitting revolution” starting with stocking the DPNs during the recent sock clinic but we now have a range of HiyaHiya needles in the shop.

hiyahiya5I was able to work with the small cable needle. These are perfect for small circumference knitting. I felt the same way with the DPNs when knitting the toe-up socks. I tried using some other DPNs as a comparison and quickly decided that I am now rather spoiled. HiyaHiyas just felt better in my hands and did the yarn did not slip all over the place. This really helped with my “Knitting Mindfulness.”

 

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What I think I look like when I am in my Knitting Mindfulness trance…

 

Yes, they make you feel a bit like some kind of knitting hero with a knit-purl superpower. Speaking of knitting superpowers, I found a lovely new stitch for you to experiment with when you get your new HiyaHiya needles. It’s called the Chinese Wave. Have a go!

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DISCLAIMER: We know anime is Japanese. But we are geeks. We wanted an excuse to post these cool anime memes. Just play along. It’s more fun this way.

I Want Candy

 

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. There was nothing better than when we were kids and running down the street to old candy shop with my friends. Half of the time we spent outside counting up the change we had between us and the other half of the time was spent arguing about what we were going to buy with our money before we even entered the shop. Once we got into the shop, our eyes went wide with wonder as we stood transfixed with an overwhelming colour spectrum of choice.

 

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Courtesy Woolly Wanderer

Our Fearless Leader Sara and I grew up in the States and the sweets we went mad for included (but not limited to) Pop Rocks, Candy Cigarettes, salt water taffy, candy corn, Atomic Fireballs, Wax Lips, jawbreakers and candy swirl lollypops. The stuff was just so addictive. It’s a very good thing my mother had such a great dental plan because I still have every tooth I was born with!

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. There was nothing better than when we were kids and running down the street to old candy shop with my friends. Half of the time we spent outside counting up the change we had between us and the other half of the time was spent arguing about what we were going to buy with our money before we even entered the shop. Once we got into the shop, our eyes went wide with wonder as we stood transfixed with an overwhelming colour spectrum of choice.

These days, I have to be careful with my sugar intake. Don’t we all? But that feeling of falling in love with colourful sweetness is still there. Only now, that feeling of wonder has been transferred to the newest yarn in the shop.

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Another Stylecraft sweet selection has made it on to the Yankee Yarns shelves and favourites list! It is Special Candy Swirls.  You can choose from these nine delicious colours: Apple Sours, Very Berry, Fruit Salad, Coconut Ice, Strawberry Taffy, Blueberry Gum, Sugar Plum, Liquorice Whirl. These come in 150g balls with 484yrds/443m in them. The yarn is 100% Acrylic so garments you make are durable and washable. It takes a 4mm needle or hook.

It is a very versitile yarn and knits up well giving you a soft, wearble item.

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Yvain modelling the Shawl & Poncho made by Jenny Newman in Stylecraft Special Candy Swirl Apple Sours

We also have a selection patterns for you to look at. Resident Designer Jen whipped up the Special Candy Swirl DK Pattern 9417 Shawl & Poncho just this week! This gorgeous Poncho is done using a Cluster Stitch. In the words of The Mighty Boosh’s Vince, “It’s impossible to be unhappy in a poncho!”

Of course, Resident Designer Jen cannot is rather addicted to the yarn and already has another project on the needles!

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Come on in or contact us for more information. Or just send us a nice message. It’s so nice to hear from you all!

Please Like and share to everyone you know!

Unravelling The Mystique

Every now and then we come upon something new that is based on something old. It’s like the feeling you get when you hear a re-make of an old song. The memory is there but just out of touch. Sometimes you feel yourself searching in the catacombs of your mind for that one small glimpse of times long past. All at once, you might find yourself becoming rather nostalgic and playing through long treasured memories. It’s easy to go to those lovely regular memories that forever keep you suspended in a feeling of love. But some memories are bittersweet. Even so, they are hard to let go.

I discovered two absolutely odd but wonderful yarn related treasures recently. I stumbled upon a mystically glorious puzzle platform video game called Unravel. The video game was developed by the Swedish company which lends to it’s sublime forgeign feel. It’s a story about a doll made of yarn that comes to life. The doll’s name is Yarny and the mission is to mend broken bonds. The write up states “the yarn represents the love and connection between people.” Isn’t this just what yarn does? How many times have you gone into a shop, reached out to touch a ball of yarn and instantly transported yourself into a sentimental reverie? Perhaps you think about wearing a crocheted poncho your auntie made for you in the 70s. Or you think to how you knitted your expected baby socks only to remember that baby was now having babies of their own? Or you just think of a place. A long ago time. An afternoon. Giggling and cotton candy.

This brings me to my second yarny find! When I went into the shop last weekend to speak to Resident Designer Jen, I came upon a strange and interesting donut ball of wool that lookedmystiq3 like the ribbon-like laced I used to on my rollerskates when I was nine years old. These were so pretty and flat but if you laced them right, you looked like a floaty little princess with ribbons flying off the tops of your skates at the roller rink. Mine were a strange Pepto Bismol pink with a white gradient. I longed to find some in baby blue. I never did. But that day when I walked into Yankee Yarns, there it was— and wasn’t.

mystiq4The yarn is from Stylecraft and it’s not called Mystique for nothing. It has been dubbed as “an industry first.” Unlike my rollerskate ribbons, this wool is light and airy because it is made from a polyester and viscose blend. Resident Designer Jen is making a light summer cardigan out of it.

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“It knits up so quickly, ” she said. “I could have finished it in a couple of evenings if other stuff did not keep coming up.”

Mystique comes in 50g balls in six colours it washes well and dries super quick. You only have to knit a few rows to see it’s unusual texture work it’s magic. It can be used for Knitting or Crochet. While it is unlike a regular yarn so not as easy to compare, Mystiquue generally works to a chunky/bulky or 12 ply gauge. You would need 8mm needles or hook. The yarn length is 110m (120yds). It calls for a tension of 12 stitches, 16 rows to 10cm/4″.

This is definitely one for my stash. This yarn eureka moment was a bit like Yarny lassoing an almost forgotten memory for me. Mystique reminds me of something else that I just cannot put my finger on. All I know is I would love to make a spring / summer top and maybe even dust off my rollerskates and have an afternoon on some long pavement by a beach… Lots to think about now!

Knit-Talkers- Cryptanalysts Of Yarn

Ok. So it is not that we are breaking codes at Bletchley Park penetrating the secret communications of the Axis Powers huddled up in the cold

Nor are we making sure the Marines could take Iwo Jima with Code Talking. But boy do we know how to crack codes!

Novices and Non-Knitting/crochet folk often look upon patterns with a mixture of fear and awe. There are abbreviations, symbols and charts all thrown together in some kind of alchemy to create gold out of a sheep.

It is not only the novices that get the fear when they look at a pattern. Recently, I seemed to stumble at each step of the Cherry Lace Shawl pattern we did in the recent workshop at Yankee Yarns! In an effort to make progress and understand the pattern, I enlisted the aid of one of our talented regulars, Angela.

“So,sloppy, purl, normal,normal, sloppy, purl, tight…”coached Angela in my attempt to read the chart before me and keep track of my stitches. I agree, it is an unconventional and slightly controversial approach. But we were dealing with a complicated lace design and sometimes it just comes down to this… ANARCHY.

We do need to consider, besides the runic feel of the abbreviations, how we seem to “wrap and turn” our heads around the slang we acquire along the way from other knitters, You Tubers, Ravelry and blogs. There is a brilliant list of this on Stitch & Unwind. 

We are mostly familiar with handy terms such as WIP and frog. There is also OTN (on the needles) and my favourite one (for all the wrong reasons) UFO aka an abandoned, neglected WIP!  There are some terms I have never encountered like “vanilla”. This is an easy or plain pattern. Another one is the acronym SEX. This means “Stash Enhancement Experience”, which is the act of buying more yarn.

 I need to let you know, the yarnies that attended the Cherry Leaf Shawl cracked the code and cracked on with learning how to block their lace shawls. You will be able to see this soon on the You Tube chanel.

Yarn Of Wonder

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I walked in to see Our Fearless Leader Sara’s happy little face. She was looking at her iPhone and beeming.

“Dude,” she said. “This lady came in earlier this week and she’s just posted us such a nice review!”

“Cool, dude!” I said as I pulled up a chair and took out my current WIP (one of…). “What did she say?”

“She said we were an Aladdin’s Cave!”

I sat there and thought about it. I know the story. Heck, I read the book to my kids and have seen a few versions of Aladddin and the Lamp including the panto in Nottingham with everyone shouting IT’S BEHIND YOUUUUUU! But I had never heard someone describing a shop in this way.

“It’s a saying,” said Resident Designer Jen. “You have never heard it before?”

So I did what any good writer and former journalist would do….

I looked it up.

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The shop is small. It’s no bigger than most people’s front room. It used to be a green grocer. But now it has all the colours of a magic spectrum as well as other treasures.

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It is a place of knowledge, ideas, charity and “phenoenal [knitting skills] in an itty-bitty living space.” The shop has become the regular haunt of an ecclectic mix of people who come together in community. Yankee Yarns welcomes everyone and anyone to come in, browse, chat and become part of the furniture.

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Yankee Yarns supports community events and champions charities and community programmes such as the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme.aladdin5

I will say, time really does stand still when you stay at the shop to knit, crochet or just talk. All of a sudden, you look at your time piece and BOOM! Hours have flown! In the words of the Genie of the lamp (the Disney version): “Ten thousand years in the Cave of Wonders oughta chill him out!”

It will. It will chill you out. Come on in.