Our friend Carol McNicoll invited Mollie Makes to tea. Carol's friend Polly Eltes is a photographer, and Carol brought over Polly and their friend Jeanette, to tidy up Prick Your Finger and make it look glossy, and ask about how it works. Amazingly they liked the mess, and I didn't have to actually clean.
Here I am pouring tea from Mrs.G - For those of you who didn't take a class at PYF and have tea, Mrs G. is a 75% acrylic tea pot cosy lady, who once lost her head and arms in a tragic kitchen incident. Being an ethical yarn shop I re-knitted her arms and head in a mixture of pure wools, but then I forgot that as a consequence, her machine wash temperature had changed. So Mrs. G post makeover has a rather startled look.
Here she is... Mrs. G poured 10- 20 cups of tea on average per day - more when there was a party or workshop.
It was lucky that Lisa Anne Auerbach was showing her Chicken Stricken jumpers in the shop when Mollie Makes came for tea. Her protest knitting exaggerated everything that the shop was about. As Lisa left to go back to LA, I remember she said I needed to make more of an issue about the shop being a protest. It was a very freeing statement, because it actually meant that I could close the shop and do something else instead...I'll talk more about that later.
The funny thing with a shop, is that as you are working the till, customers often ask you if you live upstairs. There are probably hidden clues, like I am wearing pyjamas or eating cereal or something. I did live upstairs. I lived on the roof in a house I built out of scrap wood, found on the streets of east London. There were several reasons for this. Firstly, it enabled me to rent out my bedroom for some extra dough when times were tough. Secondly there was a space on the roof where the sky was open, and I was lacking the outdoors. Thirdly, I just starting building it without realising what I was doing. It started by camping on the roof in summer thinking I was sleeping in a roof garden, and then gradually it turned into a house where I lived for 6 years, all year round, in my kind of luxury. I was lucky to have such understanding neighbours. The whole thing cost me under 200 quid. More about that later too...
What they never show you in these casual visits from Magazines, is the chaos behind the scenes. This is the back room which had to hold the weight of all the projects, workshop tools, stock, dye pans, knitting machine parts, accounts, and general stuff which was important but had no where to go. It was impossible to organise, and took 3 years to clear. Carol and Polly were so inspirational they almost had a go at styling it, but we ran out of time.
One day I'd like to make a photographic collection of creative back rooms, lofts and garages called 'Guess Who's Mess'
I think I shall stop with that pull quote
'I have to stop myself from dabbling in too much at once.'
Running a yarn shop gives you an enormous window on the world. It is the most fantastic education in human beings, creativity, process and materials. Inspiration would strike many times a day and I was never bored, just over dabbled.