Abakhan, Manchester, so much to answer for

Hello everyone …thank you so much for the hearty comments in my last post & I’m sorry I haven’t replied to them en blog yet, I have not been able to, being away from home, but will be catching up with everything super soon.  There is another massive apology due – the photos in this post are dire!  They are camera phone pictures & as such look crappy ….but for once I thought the excitement generated might show through despite the poor quality.    Imagine …me in my new spotty bow top & red trousers fumbling around with phone “where is the ‘trackball’?! ooops, it moved”  & snigger OK?

So we went to Manchester.  We love going to Manchester, one good, or actually that should be two good reasons is that it is where the boys live now & so there have so far been 4 years’ worth of pilgrimages “up north”.  Oftentimes it is an extended group of us that includes the former Mr Scruffy Badger aka Mr Technical Pants aka extreme Morrissey fan.  Frequently a further good reason makes this a triple pilgrimage timed to see the aforementioned 53 year old & incredibly awesome Mozza himself.  This was one of those occasions.

It’s funny that photos make it look like you were far away … we weren’t. This was taken during Ouija Board Ouija Board – like you can tell!!

We always gravitate towards the Northern Quarter, vintage, retro heaven sprinkled with interesting bars & restaurants.  Slightly off the main drag near Piccadilly Gardens.  It’s funny that over the four years I can see how it’s developed – some of the rougher edges are decidedly smoothed & there are many more cafes & tea shops there than when we first started visiting.  We usually head to Affleck’s Palace, an emporium of collectables, vintage clothing, records, jewellery, computer games crafts & all that stuff you remember from the 70s & 80s arranged over ?4 floors perhaps occupied by lots of independent sellers.  We usually partake in a slap up breakfast on the third floor…Anyway this is a long way to explain that this time I easily managed to persuade the men in our group that Saturday morning in the Northern Quarter would start with a full English then “just 20 mins” in Abakhan for me whilst they had plenty of poster, record & design shop options to keep them occupied.

So what’s the deal with Abakhan you might ask?  It’s got a regular online shop & is frequently listed as one of the fabric suppliers for SewMag’s makes.  But for me it was my first ever thrilling & slightly scary fabric purchase experience.  You see whilst the upstairs are regular bolts of cloth measured out to your yardage, downstairs, on the ground floor you are faced with lots of this:

Lengths of fabric sorted into types & sold by weight.  I tell you the first time it really knocked the fabric shopping stuffing out of me because I was overwhelmed & more than a little worried about how much it would cost.  Have you ever weighed your fabric to know how much a length that might be a metre and a half would weigh so you could then apply some mental arithmetic to estimate the cost?  What kind of unrealistic extreme pressure is this?  Weighing & mental arithmetic?!

Excuse for fuzzy picture: excitement & embarrassment

So you get the flavour.  After I’d plucked up courage the first time, I discovered that it was a very fun & not expensive way to buy.  In fact you can pick up some real bargains & some really unusual pieces with a bit of rummaging.

Luckily I had a good strong man to lug a large sack back to the hotel (all 4.65 kg of it).

Which looks a bit like this

I bought 4 lengths of lovely quality plain knit fabric (1.3kg @ £8.59 per kg ); some poly wool knits to make cardigans out of (hmm, interesting don’t you think?)- three lengths (unfortunately only greys) including that floral grey in the middle (1.6kg @ £9.95 per kg), & more …

Here are my faves


Some vintage jersey ruffle / crinkle (£2.03) that will be a cute skirt; the floral print poly wool knit (for a cardigan ) was £7.26; a small piece of super hero craft cotton for boxers (£3.10 way hey!!); cerise butterfly print lycra (£4.63 for loads) and a small piece, 1m perhaps of vibrant green/ yellow stretch lace (£1.07);  So yes.  I am going to experiment with sewing cardigans, what do you think of that?  Plenty of room for failures as this is acrylic I’m working with, but no point in starting with posh expensive knits is there now?  Anyone sewn a cardigan?  I have Simplicity 2154 to draw upon, but think I might start from an old existing one….and cross it with Renfrew perhaps….

So just 30 mins after entering the shop, I deposited the sack in the hotel room & we went to the People’s History Museum which was totally interesting – looked at the events I remember from History lessons at school & made so much more sense, was so much more relevant as an adult.  (I must have been so  unenlightened as a child!) It covered two hundred years of the political struggles that have achieved the level of democracy & rights we take for granted these days: the Chartists, Tolpuddle Martyrs through to the suffragettes right through to the politics of the 80s.   As a history of how political messages were communicated, it was doubly fascinating: satirical 19th C cartoons, a huge collection of awesome banners for trade unions & the artwork & imagery used in the posters were inspiring.  Oh my camera phone let me down.  All I could manage were these & they can only give you an idea of the ones I thought you’d enjoy …

And this one

So the visit was topped off by the Moz himself.  I must say it was an awesome concert- he & his band were in top form, some of his songs nearly made me cry & I couldn’t look when they played “Meat is Murder” due to the PETA film footage behind.  Maybe there will be some veggie converts as a result.

Top weekend (much needed) & back to normal now …kind of.

25 thoughts on “Abakhan, Manchester, so much to answer for

  1. agirlinwinter

    I am SO envious you saw Moz. I’ve been a massive fan of The Smiths and Moz for years. I’ve seen him twice live and I’d love to see him again. Sounds like you had an ace visit to Manchester.

  2. Tanit-Isis

    Oh, wow, didn’t you have fun! Is that *Superman* fabric? Will you (gasp1!) be joining the club of superhero-dress-wearers? 😀 (Hey, a girl can hope…)

    My brother lived in Manchester for a bit over a year… we were all like “Why Manchester?” (he moved there from Edinburgh). I think now I get it. 🙂

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      He he ! I did think of you when I bought it, but sadly think there is only a metre & it’s kind of printed in panels …you never know though! A strange sleeveless shift dress may win out to join the ranks of sewing super heroes 🙂

  3. Sam

    Oooh, looks like you had a fab time! I think I would be totally intimidated confronted by the option to purchase fabric by weight – I can’t even accurately buy meat/veg by weight!!!

    I think I visited Afflecks Palace when my friend was at uni in Manchester in the late 80’s – fab place!

  4. Jane

    I like the fact that you had to deposit a SACK of fabric at your hotel before continuing your adventures! Ah Affleck’s Palace was my favourite haunt as a teenage northerner in the 1980’s. I once spent a week’s housing benefit (remember that?!) on a pair of 50’s dungarees because I couldn’t bear not to buy them! Glad you and your gang had a fab weekend. X

  5. Jacqueline

    I tried ordering online from Abakan, but the delivery charge was more than my order, so I didn’t bother!

  6. Roobeedoo

    Well now – where to start? Superman and Mozzer (same thing) AND fabric by the kilo?!
    But lets home in on the cardis. I am watching with great interest, because I have seen some (expensive) knitted wool at Ditto in many a lovely colour and thought “Hmmmm…. cardis?” but then couldn’t find a pattern other than those waterfall jobbies which make me feel like Grand Aunt Mildred out at the Bingo in Blackpool. So – impress me with your cardi superpowers! And be quick about it – it’s cold up here!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      You say the right things, dontcha!
      I too have ordered samples from ditto and there are some lovely knitted fabrics …so OK, I’ll bump it up my list,as it is also cardigan weather here too!!!

  7. Sarah

    Had to laugh about your Abakhan’s trip! I live about 20 mins drive from their first store in Greenfields, North Wales. It is my nearest clothes fabric store. Dread to think how much money I have spent there in the 11 years I have lived here…..

  8. Topstitched

    Our affectionate nick name for Abakhan is “El Kilo” 🙂 glad you had fun. Have scored a whole load of remnant bargains at Abakhan over the years (go to the Mostyn branch for the FULL experience). Can’t wait to see what you get up to with your treasure.

  9. MrsC

    Wow, looks amazing! I’ve just been watching all 5 series of Blue Murder set in Manchester and I really must give it a look in next visit (PLEASE let there be a next visit!)
    I await your cardi adventures with interest. If you are a good cardi making lass and tackle it in the acrylic, I may have to send you some NZ merino to make up 🙂 xo

  10. Kirsty S

    Yowee, fabric by weight, that would be a guesstimate adventure wouldn’t it? I’d start with a renfrew pattern because you’ve already got the fit sorted especially around the shoulders – I made a high round neck cardi pattern by splitting it down the centre front and adding an inch and a half each side for turn under, then used hooks and eyes on one to join, and a zipper on another cardi. Couldn’t get the ribbon I’d bought to face the front to sit nicely so I gave up on that. pics: http://tinyurl.com/bqk3fw6 and http://tinyurl.com/dxedxfq MrsC is right,NZ Merino is the perfect cardi knit once you’ve got your pattern sorted!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Kirsty this I think will be my starting point …thank you for your links – I shall visit & learn from your experiences (love the internet sewing community – love how we can learn from each other 🙂 )

  11. Alessa

    Sounds like you had an amazing time! I feel like I need to plan a trip around the UK at some point in the future. *g* Fabric coupons by the kilo sound like an amazing rummaging heaven!

  12. Deborah

    I used to work in this abakhan! As you can imagine I spent most of my wage on lovely fabric. The best tip I can give when buying by weight is bring your own tape measure (in case the queue is huge) and remember you can have the pieces cut to the size you want. They have to be left with a metre and a half on the piece so if there’s more than one piece and you want a specific amount, pick up the biggest piece you can and get it cut down. I’m moving back to Manchester soon, and I’ll be heading straight to abakhan, happy shopping! 🙂

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      That must have been full of temptation Deborah!! Great tips though as I know I’ll be back next time I go to Manchester, thanks! And happy anticipation to you for your next visit!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *