A popular Cumbrian wool shop is to close this week after being a “friendly, warm and welcoming” part of Penrith 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 trained as a burler & mender out of school and been a part of the textiles industry working at Linton Tweeds in Carlisle, Elaine opened Shades of Wool in 1989 after there had been a fire at nearby Margaret’s Wool Shop, which left townsfolk wondering who was going to supply them with their knitting needs.

The Angel Lane-outlet had been kitted out to be a wine shop, what had been used to display bottles was found to be 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, this pulls on my heart-strings and I will miss the company.”

The 73-year-old has sold wool to people from all over the world, including Saudi Arabia and Australia but because of the COVID-19 situation, 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 any left after Saturday,” said Elaine.

After notifying her regular customers, Elaine had her first-ever “sale”, without even having to put a sale sign outside the shop.

She sells Sirdar, Patons and West Yorkshire Spinners wool, who make the Bo Peep range, among others.

Wife to Mike and a grandmother, Elaine has also made garments for customers to order and won 28 prizes for knitting, crochet and designing at Penrith show, winning the Marjorie Sayer Perpetual Cup for best in show for a crocheted shawl.

During lockdown, the Shades of Wool knitting group made gifts for PM Boris Johnson’s baby and got a thank you letter from No.10.

The letter from Downing Street said: “Carrie and I were both grateful to receive the beautiful hand knitted items you sent. Your kindness is much appreciated.”

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.

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.”