Where to start?
Honestly, I can't even begin to describe what I'm feeling right now. Knackered might be a beginning. Overwhelmed. Emotional. Blimey.
Maybe I ought to say that Knit Nottingham is two years old today and I cannot believe it. It's just not even believable. Especially since the first birthday party feels like just a few days ago. It's like somebody's playing a big trick on us. I don't know who though.
I think the reason I can't quite believe it is that when we first started we just wanted to beat Knitty Gritty - the old yarn store on the market. They were open for 11 months and we got through that though it felt quite slow. Soon after that, after we'd reached one year, the next big marker was going to be being open for two years because most small businesses (something like 50%) close within the first two years and because Hana from the Bead Shop said that all of a sudden cash flow just gets easier then (I'm waiting on that one...). Now we've made it and it feels sort of under and overwhelming.
Underwhelming because, really it's just another day and I reckon most of the customers through today won't even know it's our birthday and then what do I say 'Oh, it's our birthday today, be happy for us'. And because it's just become part of my life - I can't even think what life would be like without the shop - it's everything I do and I wouldn't know how not to do it. When I went on holiday all I could think about was taking photos for the blog or finding interesting knitty bits for you all to see. It's really hard to explain to almost everybody else.
Overwhelming because, really? The universe has let me own and run a shop for two years without smiting me. That's quite a wonder. I'm not sure if I were looking down that I would let me run a shop. In charge of things! That's quite a thought.
I've enjoyed this year so much more than last. I've felt more in control. I've let less people take advantage of me (not customers so much as the drunks on Mansfield Road even though they were very kind to me with the hostage situation and one even got me some lager...). I feel a lot more on top of things. There are a couple of things left that I just want to get down - bookkeeping for one but on the whole I'm comfortable with where we are.
One highlight of this year has been learning how to use Twitter - many thanks to Viv and Lynsey on the Learn to Knit lessons for that. It's opened up a whole new world. This time last year I'd spent the evening horrendously terrified 'watching' the riots move further and further down Mansfield Road on twitter but it wasn't until I learned about the '@ Connect' button that I actually knew how to look at where we'd been mentioned and retweeted etc. It makes such a difference.
I've also loved getting to know new customers - I won't mention many names because everybody's special but watching little Alfie growing and now talking and even asking for food has been wonderful. And gossiping with the ladies from the Building Society...
And keeping up to date with old ones. I'm looking forward to a date with Rachel (the designer of the marvellous Rainbow Fibonacci Blanket) tomorrow. She comes all the way from Sheffield to see us a few times a year and this time she's literally just got married!
Babies have been born this year! As they have every year but I'm most privileged to see them grow - even if I hate kids I can still appreciate a good wool-wrapped bundle of blubber and snot.
We got a new cupboard, I updated our website, we got shortlisted for the best local yarn shop by Let's Knit(!!!!!!!!!), we saw the bloody Queen - or rather she saw our shop, I went to Bristol, forgot about shoulders, posted a blog a bloody day for one whole month, got tear-y eyed about colour combinations... , come up with the best idea for a blanket ever and finally, dyed my hair green, then blue, then green, then blue - and you put up with it. :) On a personal level, I spent a lot of early this year drunk in town and then I went on holiday. These are both brilliant things for my mental health.
What a year it's been! What a year! I was a bit miserable when I started this post but looking back through what we've done - I'm actually amazed! We're going okay aren't we? Still here. Phew!
Plans for this year are wide ranging. In the short term I want to get through Christmas and pay off a small loan that we owe somebody and I want to get a good system in place for my figures. Longer term we really want to be moving to a bigger place. I've been to see somewhere today which was lovely but I didn't get 'the feeling' and I'm not moving for anything less than magical. I remember walking into this place and just knew it was right. It was like a weight in my stomach that I now know to be nerves - all of a sudden it became real because I knew where we were going to be, it wasn't a just a generic yarn shop anymore. I'd love, when we move, to be more organised. I suspect I will be when I have my own little office space that isn't damp and dismal. But where it'll be, I know not. And then I can start thinking about taking a proper wage and maybe employing somebody (!??!?!). It's a goal.
Anyway, I want to give a big, fat, gushy thank you to you guys. I hope you know how much you all mean to us and how exciting it is to be with you on the good days when you're excited about a new idea and buying beautiful yarn to make it a reality and how heart breaking it is when I hear about what you're going through. I hope our yarn can be with you through the good times and bad for a long while yet. I look forward to the journey.