32 - Soul Solutions
A handwritten sign above the window with a treble clef for the initial S reads “Soul Solutions”. Above this, a red printed banner reads “Tone n Trim”. From the side wall of the window display, a pair of big black eyes in the head of a large white crocheted unicorn with a long blue mane peer out at me. His companion, a handsome crocheted lion’s head, can be seen within, above a row of grey couches. Medical couches? Therapy couches? I’d walked past and been intrigued by this shop since moving to the neighbourhood a few years ago, not least by the sign taped to the door offering custom-made orders and, of course, by those beds.
Each one was slightly different in design from its neighbour. What could they be for, and how did this fit with the crocheted lion and unicorn, and the sparkly resin domino game next to a costume domino and fringed by an avenue of decorative wire trees? On the window ledge next to them, a jewellery-bedecked display-hand gestured upwards. On a side shelf, a white polystyrene head sported a softly colourful knitted hat – just what I needed for my freezing ears. I accepted the invitation on another handwritten sign above the door, and went inside.
Lorraine, crocheting industriously behind the desk, on which also sat a large circular knitting loom, was equally welcoming, and it wasn’t long before I was rifling through her handmade knitwear, TikTok beanies, pompom hats with ingenious button-on-and-button-off pompoms, hand warmers and earwarmers and beaded creations. I resisted the temptation of a lovely turquoise beaded ring, but succumbed, not only to the soft hat I’d seen in the window, but also to a mustard-yellow ear warmer which was nice and broad and beautifully knitted.
“Everything I do feeds the soul” said Lorraine. I asked about the row of couches, stretching right to the rear of the shop and around the back wall. “They are toning beds”. I perched on the end of the nearest while Lorraine obligingly took me through the various functions of each one. These beds provide gentle exercise for the muscles while reducing the risk of strain – everything from side stretches, thigh, bottom and stomach exercises, a rocker plate for the upper back and shoulders with a final bed to invigorate the circulation.
Sadly, the pandemic has reduced demand for toning sessions, though Lorraine seems to keep very busy with her handmade wares, with many orders giving her hands little time for idleness, and perhaps, with the revival in crocheting and other crafts among a new generation, workshops and other ventures could well be on the horizon. All the goods in her shop have been created with love by Lorraine, and she is eager to pass on her passion and enthusiasm for her craft. She started at the age of 14, and while her friends and siblings got little further than granny squares, she continued to learn, and went on to acquire ever more stitches and techniques from the elderly ladies who used to crochet as they waited at the Bingo hall where she worked at the time.
So, if your ears, like mine, suffer from the cold, or other parts of body and soul need toning, Lorraine at the top of Ryde High Street, may well have the solution you are looking for.