Hi, I'm Elise and I'm a bit handy with a pair of knitting needles. But you already knew that, didn't you? The thing about being someone who's always thinking one (or five) craft projects ahead is that they tend to take over my life a bit, seeping into everyday plans until I realise I've been hunched over the sewing machine for three days straight. In other words, it was time to get outside, so Tam and I went off to wander around New Lanark again. Last time the crowds put us off going into the mill but this time, it was a toasty Tuesday morning and the perfect time to explore more. However, I wasn't really straying too far from my natural habitat because, as you're about to find out, New Lanark is the perfect place for a crafter's day out.
Everywhere you look, there's another colour palette.
From the miles of bunting strung around the buildings for Lanimer Week, to the cans in the window of the village shop, to the infinite shades of green around the Falls of Clyde walkway, inspiration really is everywhere at New Lanark. I've already come up with a few ideas for all the knitted hats I'll be making this month!
The chance to see where those squishy balls of wool come from...
I don't know about you guys but I love to see behind the scenes of anything. It's not often the opportunity comes along for a glimpse inside the world of wool spinning but at New Lanark, it's happening all week long. The mill dates all the way back to the 18th century, although it was spinning cotton then - wool production began in the 1990s. The mill floor is part production, part exhibition, with plenty of interesting displays to look at and read while the machinery whirrs away in the background. On the tour, there's also the Annie McLeod Experience. a ride that tells the story of manager Robert Owen and New Lanark back in 1820 as it glides through history, and a handful of other buildings relating to the time when production was at its peak.
...and where they end up.
In my bag. Eh, I mean, in the giant mill shop! We've all seen the little gift shop at the end of the tour, but New Lanark does things on a whole other scale. Peruse the vast array of merchandise, much of which is made right here in Scotland, or just head straight to the wool annex. All tastes and needs are catered for here, although the main sections include 25 shades of chunky yarn, 45 of Aran and 48 of double knitting weight. Don't expect to leave this section in a hurry, unless you're shopping for a man who knows exactly what he wants - I'd promised Tam some wool to make a birthday scarf and within a minute he was thrusting a couple of Aran balls into my hands. Job done.
As well as wool, there's also a selection of knitting kits, patterns and tools on offer and, if you can't make it to the mill, they even have an online store that can ship your purchases around the world.
With a new picnic area and a sprinkling of benches everywhere you look, there's hardly any need to think up an excuse to sit down, pull out the knitting needles and dig into the cool bag. As well as wool, New Lanark has its own ice cream, so it might just be the most awesome place ever. Look out for the bicycle-powered ice cream cart that sits outside the shop on sunny days! If the weather isn't playing ball (and let's face it, that's a likely possibility) the cafe is well stocked with tables, cake and, yup, more ice cream.
This summer, the forecast predicts crafting fun
For the first time, New Lanark is hosting an event for World Wide Knit in Public Day this June. What better way to meet fellow craft enthusiasts from the area and learn some new skills? The kiddies are even more well catered for in the school holidays with a timetable of great craft sessions every week - there's a chance I might try and sneak into that monster puppet-making workshop...
Who's been to New Lanark? Any tips for my next visit?
*I was provided with a couple of guest passes for the mill for the purpose of this post*