Friday, November 4, 2011

Treacle following CallumJohnLowe, Fashion Design Menswear, Northumbria Uni, #2

Greetings from Northumbria University - the time in 8:08pm and I'm still going ...

From the beginning of time we have used clothing to protect ourselves from the environment and to showcase our own individual style.  From a young age I have watched programmes like Tintin and read about great explorers, people heading out into the great abyss of culture and adventure. I have always wanted to explore, whether it was in the local woods or on trips around the world. I am a curious fellow, always wondering what is around the next corner.  I have a great interest for all things British - maybe it's something I was brought up to believe but British products to me stand for a mark of quality.

The story behind my Collection Concept and the problems I would like to solve
Britain is currently a trillion pound in debt and the UK unemployment rate is at its highest for the 17th year running. I am reminded by my family that “when I was young there were so many jobs you could leave a job on the Friday and get another job by the Monday”. There were a lot of apprenticeships, especially for the young and just out of school. The shipyards and mines in the North East were massive employers but now a lot of young people only have a choice between higher education or the dole because there are so few jobs available.
So why start production of British-sourced British-made products like clothing now?

Everyone will know someone who used to work in a textile factory, sewing, cutting or knitting some form of textile (my Mam used to work at the Dewhirst factory in Ashington). That kind of skill is now very hard to come by - it’s a dying art, nowadays everything is cheap and is thrown away after a month of wearing it. Personally I would choose a well made garment than an item a quarter of the price – buy cheap, buy twice.

My passion is to create a collection of garments, sourced and produced in Britain - made of the highest quality and catering for the wearer's needs. collection is travelling/exploring. My concept behind my collection is that whilst on this trip into the unknown I am an ambassador for Britain promoting everything British and hopefully bring some form of revenue to Britain. The selling point will be the story and the clothing which I will be wearing to show the quality and the functionality of the collection.

The Idea behind it is to produce more jobs and give Britain that push toward to self-sustainability, don’t misquote me Britain will never be self-sustainable as it is not possible because of the amount of people and the restricted land mass.

Britain has such a massive history of not only designing textiles but also PRODUCING textiles. So lets keep that history flowing for as long as possible. I know in my heart this is something which I care dearly for and something which I would like to change. So im going to pour my soul into it and hope you like the end result.
What do you think of this concept? Have I hit the nail on the head or missed and hit my thumb? If you have a related story to tell from your past, I'm all ears. Comment below and follow me on Twitter @CallumJohnLowe

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Treacle follows Callum John Lowe, Fashion Designer Menswear #1 September 2011

Treacle first met Callum John Lowe (CJL) earlier this year when he approached us to have two of his designs knitted. This is just the kind of project we like working on and had just the knitter – our fabulous Ann (who has produced many many garments, both designed and knitted, for many top fashion houses over the years).
At our first meeting, we were intrigued and impressed by CJL – at just 23, he has a drive and passion for vintage design that is both exciting and quirky. CJL is in his final year of fashion design at Northumbria University in Newcastle and we will be blogging about his final collection, his ideas and influences and finding out who the man with a passion for design really is.

Our first blog gets some background from CJL:

A lot of people who meet me say that I'm an old man trapped in a young body. I am a outdoor type, always on walks, who smokes a pipe and loves the history channel, beauty sleep and a cup of Bovril. Not forgetting my great love for fisherman jumpers.”

  • I was born in Ashington, Northumberland in 1988
  • I attended Ashington High School and then Newcastle College to study a National Diploma in General Art and Design. This helped me grasp the essence of creativity by trying a range of different paths in the design industry among them 3D design, fine art, textiles, interior and so on. I decided that my strongest and most enjoyable subject was fashion design, along with a keen interest in texture and knitwear. Whilst travelling from Ashington to Newcastle and back everyday, I often knitted on the bus.
  • I had always intended to go to university, just like my older sister who also studied fashion at Northumbria and had inspired me from a young age. I got offered a place at Northumbria and accepted.
  • Northumbria is where I really got into design and honed my skilled by learning to use a industrial sewing machine, and pattern cutting garments from scratch which was a lot more to do with the process of fashion rather then drawing garments from my head which could never really be made.
I remember there was a project which included knitting with renewable materials. As my mam's garden is like a tropical rain forest I decided to use one of her plants that had long leaves which I cut up and knitted with which I thought fantastic until my mam came home from work and found me cutting up one of her prized expensive plants - she was not happy!
  • In Year 3 there is the opportunity to do a placement - I thought there would be no better place than London, one of the fashion capitals of the world. I secured a year placement at Dunhill which specialised in luxury menswear and has a wealth of history dating back to 1893 when it was established. And this is where a real love for all things old and historical really began to inspire me.
  • One of my favourite things to do was on a Friday morning, going down to Portobello Market to look round the vintage stalls and draw inspiration form the clothes. The last 6 months of my placement I personally worked for Kim Jones, the creative director of Dunhill, which help me grasp the commercial and eccentric sides of the market - as important to any catwalk show or selling of a collection.
  • Back at home in the North East I am embarking on the adventure of designing my collection around things that inspire me. If I used one word to describe the collection it is Functional - it has to evolve around its user.
  • I am a firm believer that knitting and knitwear should be a part of everyone’s life. It is such a diverse skill that has been handed down generation to generation and should never be forgotten.
  • My collection involves a lot of bespoke and one-off knitwear pieces which need involvement from experts who have a wide knowledge of knitting without following a pattern.
The next blog will tell you about my Design Philosophy giving you a much more in-depth understanding of the collection I am currently producing.

Treacle Wool Shop
01670 504045      

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A great start to the new season

It's been a great week!  The first Knit2gether on Wednesday at the shop was full again with 3 newbies, one of whom was a visitor to the area and had been in the shop earlier in the day.  She was keen to learn how to knit socks on 4 needles so we taught her at the Knit2gether - a happy lady.  

It's exciting to see what our lovely customers are working on and to inspire them for their next project - Rico Galaxy went down particularly well, a divine gently-shaded chunky weight yarn sprinkled with sequins - what's not to love about that combination?! 

At the moment, we particularly fancy knitting a vintage-pattern aran cardigan in Louisa Harding's Ianthe, to give that modern twist.  Or perhaps a simple two buttoned tunic in 100% merino - being surrounded by fantastic yarns and many many patterns on a daily basis can make it hard to choose just one project to work on!  Our wonderful team of knitters are working hard creating another 100% Angora vintage bolero, a Merino fan-backed jacket and a 1940s fairisle jumper for our customers - such a diverse range of garments, we are thrilled we can fulfil their wants!

To close our week, we ran two Let's Crochet workshops yesterday, beginner in the morning and next stepper in the afternoon.  It felt lovely having the upstairs of the shop full of people keen to learn and concentrating hard.  Next Saturday is Let's Knit 130-4 (if you'd like to come, let us know!) followed by felting, finishing techniques and much more -

There are new projects in the pipeline, not least the brand new Treacle Online Shop, which we are launching at the end of the month.  ALL our stock will be available, to buy online or reserve to collect in store.  It's a mammoth task and we are very excited about launching Treacle globally!

And now, as its such a beautiful blue sky, it's time for a walk!  Enjoy your Sunday, Treacle

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New ideas from tricky times

It's been a tricky few days for half of Treacle. Some of you may have noticed the shop was closed on Friday (something we rarely do!). My 5 year old daughter fell down a flight of stairs and fractured her skull. She's home now and well on the mend but it was a strange few days entering the world of children's hospitals and medicine.

We started our journey at the Children's A&E in the Wansbeck General in Ashington. I am so impressed at the level of care we were all shown, the calmness of the (rather cute!) doctors, the compassion and chirpiness of the nurses. One in particular struck a chord with Connie (the patient) – he gave her a drink of water with a black straw, now forever known as a nightclub straw (his words, reckon he must be a party boy in his other world).

Mother and daughter were transferred by ambulance to the North Tyneside Hospital near Whitley Bay by ambulance (another thrill) by two fantastic paramedics, one of whom came by two days later to see how she was doing. We stayed in Ward 10, the Children's Ward, for 3 days and are bowled over by how well we were both looked after (not least being made the most amazing cup of tea I have had since having Connie all those years ago).

So of course, whilst I was sitting, worrying, feeling anxious about what was happening inside her tiny head, I was knitting (beautiful Araucania Azapa if you need to know). This, as ever, proved an ice breaker with various people. And I got to thinking, we must be able to help the Ward via Treacle Cares.

So as well as needing mens socks for the homeless in Newcastle, we now would also like jerkins for babies – from newborn upwards – little buttonless, sleeveless waistcoats the nurses can put on the poor little mites whilst they have cannulas in and need to be warm.

We have a pattern – please help if you can. Usual set up applies – knit the items, get them to Treacle and we will ensure they get to where they need to be. Get in touch if you need more information.

So we are home, Connie is sparky again, Mother's anxiety levels are getting less by the day and calm is returning. Thank goodness. And Treacle is open 10-4, Mon to Fri, 9-5 Sat. See you soon, lots of gorgeous new things in store!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A way to help people in need?

Earlier this year we launched Treacle Cares.  The project came about after wondering what the heck to do with the ever-growing amount of stash we have (from shop samples, donations, commission knits).  We are thrilled about how this has turned out.  No money changing hands at any point.  The idea is we provide the yarn and a simple pattern for our customers to knit an item.  They return it to us and we pass it on to whoever needs it.  We are supporting the homeless charities in Newcastle with hats and gloves - they have since asked for socks too - the local hospitals with preemie baby things and beautiful chemotherapy hats, a local Care Home with leg blankets and fingerless mitts and more.  We'd love to be able to support Women's Shelters, perhaps with toys or sweaters for kids - basically anyone who can use our knitted items, take when they need, for free and without fuss.

As someone who lived in London for 8 years (very near to the Croydon troubles), I wish I could help in some way.  I thought perhaps by sharing our success project, some of the other yarn shops who are feeling the troubles at first/second hand, might be able to get something similar to Treacle Cares running in their area.

If we at Treacle can help, or you want more information, please get in touch.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Treacle Cares ...

We had been wondering how to put our growing yarn stash to good use. What could be done with half balls of this and quarter balls of that? Then the greatest idea was born – launch a new branch to the Treacle business called Treacle Cares and support local North East charities by asking our customers to knit the stash into items people will actually use.

I felt passionate about helping people undergoing chemotherapy after watching my wonderful mum go through 3 cycles of chemotherapy and all that entails - having her hair shaved off, losing what little was left and then struggling to find good headwear that made her feel feminine that didn't involve learning how to tie scarves or put up with just whatever she could get hold of. I wanted a selection of beautiful beanie hats made in gorgeous yarns – it seems such a simple thing that can make a real difference to how someone feels about themselves.

I visualised a wicker basket in chemotherapy units, for patients to take whatever hat took their fancy, to lift their hearts a little in what must be a frightening and difficult time. For them to choose something without cost or embarrassment – just a simple “Oh I love that” and its theirs.

Packs were made with the loveliest, natural fibre yarns we had in the stash and a simple pattern for our customers to take home to knit. The results have been amazing – our knitters have made some of the most divine beanies. We ran out of the huge amount of stash we had within 2 weeks but that wasn't the end – our customers were coming into Treacle to buy yarn to knit and using their own stash to produce items, really excited to be helping people in their local area.

From start to finish, with all the people who helped along the way, no money changing hands and everyone wanting to contribute something, it has been a humbling and heartwarming project. It goes to show that in our fast-paced world, there are many people living their lives in a kind, thoughtful, giving way.

We now have over 200 items (ranging from wristwarmers for the homeless, preemie baby hats as well as chemotherapy beanies). We have met interesting people along the way such as a lady who has a craft trolley in the Freeman Hospital selling to the patients raising money for the hospital, and the inspiring lady who works at the East Riding Care Home, supporting the elderly and entertaining them by hosting Italian and Chinese nights (getting the food from local restaurants!) amongst other things.

A big thank you to all involved – this is certainly not the end of Treacle Cares, just the start of a simple way to not waste yarn and help someone in need too. The People's Kitchen have asked for mens socks for the winter - if you can help, get in touch.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gorgeous new things & we are in the news!

It's been a great week already and it's only Wednesday morning!  We took our first delivery from Adriafil, an Italian brand, on Monday.  Gulio their rep came to visit us a month ago with so many divine yarns and we were very restrained in our purchases - we won't forget his promise to bring us some delicious Italian cioccolato next time he comes!

We have KnitCol, multicoloured merinos perfect for baby blankets and tank tops with a modern funky twist, and simple adult cardis to wear with summer dresses (ours have come out of the closet for the new season now together with the birkies).  DuoPlus is another varigated cotton mix, a palette of more adult shades to make a special simple garment for a special summer party perhaps.  100% angora - sigh - need I say more about that?!  And our favourite, Giada, a cotton mix adorned with tiny sequins - more sighing - my next WIP is going to be a little black cardi knitted in Giada, to wear whenever I need a cheer up - beautiful.  And certainly not to be missed is Regina, a fantastic 100% wool DK - one of the most sumptuous yarns we have squished in amazing colours.  Great for an everyday knit.

Tuesday brought more good things - Treacle features in an article in the Newcastle Journal about the resurgence of knitting.  We are so proud of what we have achieved, we feel so happy to be here, love that we are making a difference to our local community, and hope we can be an inspiration to all women who have the urge to set up on their own after they have had a family - it's so very important to celebrate achievements and we feel the article reflects what we have achieved.  Oscar speech over, dabbing of eyes!

After the amazing success of Treacle Cares, our charity branch to the business, we are onto the next thing.  Incidentally we smiled yesterday at a call from a lady called Jean from the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle (a tip off from a customer) - she has for the past 25 years been taking a Craft Trolley around the wards selling all sorts of lovely things to  patients raising funds for whatever the Hospital may need.  Jean is now on our list of recipients for some of the wonderful knitted items we are getting back from our customers.  We are doing our first handover in June to Jean, St Oswalds Hospice, The Cyrenians, The People's Kitchen and the RVI.

The Next Big Thing is in the pipeline - it's Top Secret and seriously Hush Hush but be rest assured, our New Idea is going to be FANTASTIC!  Be a Friend on Facebook, join our mailing list and keep following the Blog for updates. 

And finally, we want to thank Waterstones in Sanderson Arcade, Morpeth for putting our Wills, Kate and Corgi as part of their Royal Wedding window display and helping to spread the Treacle word! 
Happy Knitting everyone.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Easter, sunshine and springy feelings

Easter is fast approaching and the sun has returned to our skies.  School is out for two weeks and my youngest asked me this morning at 630 "has the bunny been?"! 

Treacle opening hours over Easter are:
915-415, Mon-Thu next week
Closed Good Friday
9-5 Easter Saturday
Closed Easter Monday
915-415 Tue 26-Thu 28
130-330 Royal Wedding Day Fri 29
9-5 Saturday 30

During the weekend of April 29-May 1 the Morpeth Gathering is taking place in the town, with lots of fun events happening from Songwriting Workshops to Maypole Dancing!

The shop is looking so pretty - we had a delivery of Lang Alpaca Superlight (£4.25/25g/199m) in hot pink, deep turquoise, sea green and slivery grey - a feather-light mix of superfine alpaca and merino DK, and Louisa Harding Ianthe (£4.95/50g/100m) in lime green, rose pink, french navy and soft grey - a squishy mix of merino and cotton DK.  What's not to love!

Happy weekend and happy knitting!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New workshop and first sock!

Even though the sunshine has gone and it's actually jolly cold today, Treacle are happy and busy as little bees.  I am so proud and excited that I have just finished my first ever sock on 4 needles - and that's it, I am hooked.  As a knitter who ordinarily cannot even contemplate knitting on anything finer than a DK, I am now thinking perhaps socks in 4 ply may be a new passion ...  What is it we tell our customers about starting early for Christmas gifts!!

And to go hand in hand with my new found skill, Treacle has a brand new workshop, Knitting in the Round.  It will be on June 26th, 10-1230, £20.  Come to this half-day workshop and learn how to knit on 4 double-pointed needles, and on a single circular needle using the Magic Loop method. Look at examples of in-the-round knitting, including socks, mittens, cowls, hats, colourwork, and sweaters.

Go home with a pretty coffee cosy and a new skill that will allow you to knit seamlessly, with no sewing up and no endless purl rows!  If you'd like to book a place, call the shop on 01670 504045 or email us

And I could do with finishing the other sock pretty darn sharpish if the sun stays hidden ...  Happy Knitting.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Treacle's Tuesday thoughts

Morning all, after the rain yesterday, it was great to see perfect blue skies this morning,although it's a bit chilly (it IS April of course!).  The shop is open, looking beautiful and Treacle's mind is buzzing with ideas.  We're listening to the lovely Lauren Laverne on 6music, drinking Early Grey, plotting and planning more new projects!

We also put a discussion point for Monday out to our Facebook friends yesterday, inviting them to tell us what their WIP (Work In Progress) is at the moment.  The posts were so diverse and interesting, we really do have a wealth of crafters in our world!  If you haven't joined as one of our Friends, please do -, search treaclewoolshop.  If you invite on of your friends and they are our 200th Friend, we'll give you both a Knitting Kit FREE!

One of the WIP was using our lovely Katia Dolce Merino 4 ply - the colour palette is fantastic, the yarn make up is 50% merino/50% acrylic and it's so soft to work with.  And at £2.99/200 metres/4 ply tension, it makes it great value for any 4 ply pattern!  This is a new range we stock and feedback from our customers has been great.

Treacle has also been in the news.  The Morpeth Herald featured Prince William and his bride-to-be Kate Middleton, who are visiting the shop at the moment, helping to promote their book, Knit Your Own Royal Wedding (£9.99).  A great stash buster and patterns for the whole family, from the Queen to Camilla!  Lots of fun!

Happy Knitting, Treacle

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sunshine, weekends & pretty things

It's been a while since we blogged so Hi!  We have had a bumper Autumn/Winter season and now Treacle is chock full of spring shades, cottons, silks, linens and merinos.  We have to admit it is a VERY pleasing place to spend our time!  We are really pleased with what we have sourced for Spring/Summer - excellent high quality yarns at fabulous prices to suit every budget.  We have a new selection from Katia and are just about to take delivery of a brand new line from Adriafil, Italy.

The gifts section is growing all the time with the most adorable crocheted baby shoes, a perfect gift for a new baby, in a rainbow of colours, divine cotton knitting bags from Hortensia,  and a new line of knitting bags in all shapes, sizes and fabrics.  We love to support local crafters and give them an opportunity to get their wares into the marketplace.  We are very pleased that we have gifts for every occasion so let us know if there is something you need!

Treacle Cares has just been launched - this is the charity side to our business.  We have been wondering for a while what to do with our stash and came up with the brilliant idea of getting our lovely customers to knit items for local charities.  We asked The People's Kitchen, the Cyrenians, the RVI and St Oswalds Hospice what items they could actually use and pass on to their users - they said fingerless mitts, chemo caps, baby hats and beanies.  So we make up packs, our customers come in and ask for one, knit the item, give it back to us and we will pass directly to the people who can use them!  Perfect, all round feel good project we think!  Knitters can get patterns directly from us or use their own patterns/stash - we really don't mind!

We also have our New Big Idea in the planning stages so what this space for news on that - here at Treacle, there's is always something on the boil!

Remember we are an old fashioned wool shop with a modern twist - without you we wouldn't be here so thanks for your continuing support and we will be blogging much more from now on!