'It doesn’t matter who we are or where we’re from' - the Derbyshire shop that knits people together

“Because we’ve got the yarn in common, whether it’s knitting or crochet or other making type things, it’s an equaliser.”
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Liz Grec, along with her partner Simon Edwards, run the Nibbles, Needles and Hooks wool shop and cafe in Lower Pilsley. And between them, they have created a stand-out community go-to that hums with warm welcome and inclusion.

“It doesn’t matter who we are or where we’re from or what we do,” says Liz. “Everybody sits, and everybody is equal with everybody else. People have got different skills in different areas. Everybody is very generous with their time and knowledge, and willing to share.”

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“But what we do here is more than what you see,” says Liz with a smile. “What we do here is provide something for the community. We’ve got a lot of people that have made friends. With social anxieties, or have not found their place in space until they’ve walked in the door here.”

Simon and Liz at Nibbles, Needles and Hooks in Lower PilsleySimon and Liz at Nibbles, Needles and Hooks in Lower Pilsley
Simon and Liz at Nibbles, Needles and Hooks in Lower Pilsley

“And they’ve now got their own community, with their own friends. They’re socialising outside the shop and six months ago they didn’t know each other. And that’s the bit we’re so proud of.” Simon nods, adding “That’s the things we do. We do yarn, we do coffee, we do amazing cakes, and we’ve built a community.”

We chat surrounded by shelves of cosy colourful wool, the soft smell of coffee, and a subtle suggestion of cake. By the window sits Julie, a regular, who is quietly absorbed in her knitting. This place feels busy on the eye, yet strangely calming.

When asked how Liz and Simon would describe what they’ve made here, they both chuckle.

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“We are a wool shop where you can buy coffee and cake. We’re a cake shop where you can buy wool. And it works both ways,” says Liz. “If you come in for a coffee and you sit for too long, the wool will be talking to you. If you come in for some wool, the coffee will say to you ‘Well, might as well have one while you’re here’.”

Nibbles, Needles and Hooks, Rupert Street, Lower PilsleyNibbles, Needles and Hooks, Rupert Street, Lower Pilsley
Nibbles, Needles and Hooks, Rupert Street, Lower Pilsley

“The combination works brilliantly,” adds Simon. “From lunchtime onwards every table will fill up.” On Wednesday and Thursday nights, they also host knit and natter get-togethers. “We have a wonderful mixture in here,” says Simon.

“A couple of weeks ago at the table where Julie is sat now, there was a couple of youngsters on the comfy chairs, another youngster at the table. One of our elderly customers came in, sat straight down with them, started nattering, because they do.”

“And the regulars know,” adds Liz, “if somebody new comes in, it’s a come and sit with us type thing.” Simon nods. “It’s just that welcoming place where you can come in and leave everything outdoors.”

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Liz agrees. “People will walk in, take a big breath, and say ‘Okay, I’m alright now’.”

Liz and Simon with their birthday cakeLiz and Simon with their birthday cake
Liz and Simon with their birthday cake

Nibbles, Needles and Hooks is celebrating its first birthday. Liz and Simon have been together since 2012. “Moved in together in 2013. Moved up here in 2014. Started this in 2023,” smiles Simon.

Liz’s journey to this has even more of a backstory. From Australia, “I came here for a holiday. Lived down near London for a while. This March it’ll be twenty years that I’ve been on holiday… 25 at the time and just did it. Just came with a rucksack. And it was only going to be a two-year working visa.”

When asked ‘why knitting?’ Liz smiles, says “Mum taught me as a kid”, adding “It’s something you can do when you need to switch off… You have the satisfaction of turning a couple of sticks or a hook and some string into something that’s wearable.”

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“Something that somebody else will say ‘Oh, where did you get that from?’ And you say ‘Oh, actually, I made that’. And that’s really cool.”

Julie and Liz, knittingJulie and Liz, knitting
Julie and Liz, knitting

The question is put to regular Julie, who looks up from her wool as though brought out of a spell. She smiles. “I’d not knitted for yonks. Thirty years probably. And then last year, coinciding with something that happened in my personal life, I was off work for a bit.”

“I challenged myself to learn to crochet. So we had an evening, myself and my teenage daughter came along, and picked up the passion again… I enjoy coming here. It’s a nice comfortable place to be. It’s welcoming, warm. It’s part of my life now. I’ve met new people. Everybody gets embraced in the community.”

Inclusive is in every stitch here. The shop using local makers for yarn, coffee and cake. Even the snacks have anti-allergy in mind, “Why shouldn’t you have a choice?” says Simon. Liz adding “Our birthday cake is gluten-free, so people aren’t going to miss out on having some of our birthday cake.”

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So, aside from knitting, community, coffee and cake, are there any other answers to life? Liz: “Be kind”. Simon: “Create without care. Too many people care about the result. It doesn’t matter. Just create.” Regular Julie: “Treat others as you’d like to be treated”.

At Nibbles, Needles and Hooks, the pattern is clearly more than knitting yarn together: it’s people.

“There’s been a few people unsure if they’d be made welcome,” says Liz, “just based on their own personal life experiences. And they’ve very much found their home, which has been really nice to see. Watching that grow has been lovely.”