A popular Penrith wool shop is to close at the end of the month after being a “friendly, warm and welcoming” part of the town centre for more than three decades.
Elaine Slessor has run the successful Shades of Wool business in Angel Lane for 32 years, but feels the time is now right to shut up shop.
“I was brought up with knitting. I learnt when I was six to knit. I have always done it,” said Elaine.
Having been a part of the textiles industry working at Linton Tweeds in Carlisle, Elaine opened up Shades of Wool in 1989 after there had been a fire at Margaret’s Wool Shop in Penrith, which left townsfolk wondering who was going to supply them with their knitting needs.
The outlet Elaine found in Angel Lane had been kitted out to be a wine shop.
What had been used to display bottles of wine was found to be just perfect to showcase hundreds of colourful balls of wool.
“It is my passion the shop,” said Elaine. “I love it. I’m a people person and I will miss the company.”
Elaine has seen three generations of customers come into the shop and has sold wool to people from all over the world, including Saudi Arabia.
But because of the COVID-19 situation, she felt that the time had come to give it up.
“If there is another lockdown again, I could not cope with locking that door and thinking about all this yarn here.
“But there won’t be much left after the end of the month,” said Elaine.
After notifying all her regular customers, Elaine said she has had a “sale”, without even having to put a sale sign outside the shop.
As well as selling Sirdar knitting wools, Elaine has also been a passionate supporter of the West Yorkshire Spinners, who make the Bo Peep range of wool.
Over the years, Elaine has also made garments for customers to order and has won a lot of prizes for her knitting, crochet and designing at Penrith show.
A quick count up of her winning tickets revealed she had 12 first places, 10 seconds and six thirds as well as having picked up the Marjorie Sayer Perpetual Cup for best in show for a crocheted shawl.
She also teaches crocheting and knitting and is looking at possibly doing some knitting and crochet workshops when the coronavirus situation settles down, but she has not yet got a venue.
During lockdown, the Shades of Wool knitting group made some baby gifts for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s baby and they got a thank you letter from Number Ten Downing Street.
The letter said: “Carrie and I were both grateful to receive the beautiful hand knitted items you sent. Your kindness is much appreciated.”
Elaine is married to Mike and last year they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.
They have a son, Matthew, who is a chartered financial planner for Armstrong Watson, and daughter, Emma Crane, who is a music teacher, plus four granddaughters, Charlotte, Libby, Hannah and Matilda.
Elaine said: “My daughter summed it up in one — she said you have turned a hobby into a business and now you are turning a business into one of your hobbies.”