Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas


I'm sad that I haven't had the time to do a proper round up post this year but I think I'll do a similar thing to what I did last year, or rather this year, where I do a series of them in January so that they each have the proper time and love put into them.

This year has ended on a massive high with the potential of a new shop on the horizon (offer went in yesterday) and Chris passing his PhD (yes, I am one step closer to being a doctor's wife!). The year has been incredible - hard work at times (in fact, most of the time), busy and full of life and creativity to I'm here to say a massive thank you to each and every one of you for supporting this tiny little business and being part of our lovely community. Here's to next year when we get bigger, hopefully a little less messy and maybe, possibly, more organised (no promises...). And let's win some more awards!

And more full of wool, obvs.

Love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love you!

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, 21 December 2015

Christmas Opening Times

Ahhhh, poor neglected blog. Sorry! I've been veeeeeeeery busy and I'm writing a blog today to explain that, but before I do all of that I have to do this which should have been done last week or even the week before. Blurgh.

Christmas Opening Times 2015/2016:

Up to Christmas Eve - as normal.

Christmas Eve - 10.30 to 3pm.
Christmas Day, Boxing Day, 27th and 28th - Closed.

29th, 30th, 31st - 10.30 to 3pm.
1st - Closed.
2nd - 10.30 to 3pm.
3rd - Closed.
4th onwards - open as usual, 10.30 to 6.30.

There's a little confusion about the 2nd - June's in you see and I can't remember whether she said she would but it's not a special day or a bank holiday so I think she'll be in 10.30 to 3pm. I'll let you know if she's not.

That's it.

Love you,

Eleanor. xxxxxx

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Small Business Saturday!

So, American Express put on this thing (or maybe somebody else but it's well advertised by American Express) every year where the idea is that you celebrate and support small businesses. I like to think that I do this every day and I'm sure I'm preaching to the converted so I just though I'd share a beautiful little story that happened to me as a small business owner this week:

I'd popped next door to get a cuppa tea from the independent coffee shop owner there (see what I mean? Every facking day Amex, not just once a year...). I always stay by the door in there because I have to lock the shop up and I end up chatting to Sandra and her husbeast. She makes the tea and he brings it to me and bish bash bosh, dead easy. I see a customer coming to my door and trying it so I walk out and say 'hi, sorry, I got chatting, silly me... blah blah blah'. She says 'have you got some black wool?'. I say 'can you be more specific?'. She says 'thick'. I say, have a look at the Cygnet Seriously Chunky'. She says ''Ow much?'. I say '£2.50'. She says 'too expensive'. I say 'have you looked at the Cygnet Chunky?'. ''Ow much?'. '£1.75'. 'Too much. I've seen it in the Poundshop. It's a pound'. I say, 'have you seen the Dolly Mix, it's 75p. Or the Pricewise which is twice as much yarn for less than twice the price'. She says 'no, I think I'll go to the Poundshop'. I said 'brill, they need all the support they can get'.

This is what we're faced with people. Haha. Happily, I popped back to the cafe next door to grab my tea and was able to let off some steam but there are people that would rather shop in the Poundshop or Lidl or Aldi or Asda or whatever shitty shop has decided to sell wool than come to a proper shop and generally because they think it's cheaper. Never mind that it's usually not or that you don't get the service or the options or repeated orders of the same yarn (the amount of times I've had to explain that I can't 'just get the Aldi wool in' because they've run out of it, ugh).

At the same time as dealing with this woman, I was uploading a vlog, designing for a lesson that I'm teaching in a couple of weeks (crochet edgings - still space if you want it) when chatting to customers, e-mailing back and forth about the 'thing' for the Christmas boxes, planning the Christmas window, and thinking about when or earth I'm going to fit in doing my accounts before Christmas. On a daily basis I'm writing blogs, tidying, sorting, making orders, sorting accounts, paying people, reaching out to potential indie makers like Gill, Helen and Jem, helping customers who've got problems, helping customers choose wool, speaking to customers 5000 miles away about design options, adding more stuff to the website, answering facebook messages, e-mails and phone calls, dealing with the advertising, designing the advertising, making stuff to sell, cleaning the toilet, making designs, social working, counselling, being friendly to children, cashing up. I love it! I genuinely love it. But the bigger we get the more work there is. Obviously, the easier some of it gets - getting shit on the internet is now second nature, finding time to do it.... not so much...

I don't want this to be some sort of sob story, because it isn't. I know for a lot of you it's a dream job and in a lot of ways it is. But you don't get the flexibility of a lot of self employed work when you're in a bricks and mortar and the overheads are much more than say a wahm. We're stuck somewhere in the middle between big businesses who have people doing stuff and tiny businesses who have more options. It's a difficult position to be in but also exciting because what I want to do, if I put in enough effort, I can do - Christmas boxes, going to Yarndale (remember that only started because I was desperate to go and couldn't afford to so I made you lot pay for me... ;)), boozy birthday parties...

In return for this I get an incredible insight into your knitting and crocheting lives, a chance to celebrate when it goes wrong and the chance to help when it goes wrong. I'm there for new babies and divorces and birthdays and Christmasses, new jobs, new partners and and and! It's hard work but it's not all doom and gloom. It's a fucking community, isn't it? That's what we're building here. Love it.

So, today, we're celebrating, a little. Not a full on party but a nice relaxed day where I hopefully finish these bloody socks for Chris (his birthday falls on Small Business Saturday, fancy that!) and make a bit of money. The weather has not been great for us this year. I'm still in summer dresses, albeit layered with winter cardigans. We're making more than summer but this is the time of year when I get to get up to date with all of my suppliers and this year that is later than usual. Blurgh. The Daily Mail promised me snow goddammit! Anyway, I have two brilliant reasons for you to spend your money:

The first one is that when you spend £30.00 tomorrow, in the shop or online, you'll get a £5 voucher to use in July or August. Where you spend your £30.00 will be where you can spend your voucher i.e. in the shop will be a shop voucher and online will be an online voucher (I know I'm great but I just can't work out how else to do it, or rather, I can but I know I'll not get round to the admin involved... Just another reason to love small businesses, we're honest... ;) ). And, just as an insight into what it is to be a small business, the £30 cannot include the beautiful bags from Gill or the gorgeous pins from Helen because we only make a tiny profit on those because we're trying to give as much back to the makers as possible. Hope that makes sense.

And the second one is a new pattern from another small business - Jem Weston! Most of you will now Jem, she's a regular at Knit in Notts, a regular here and a general all round good egg. She used to work for Rowan, becoming my rep for Coats for a year or two before deciding to go it alone and become a full time, freelance designer! And here we are supporting her supporting us! Love it!

She's designed the beautiful Dice Cowl which is available from us, in print, for £3.00 but for a little while (probably until I run out to be fair, I expect this to sell well) you can get it for £1.50 if you buy one of the colourways that me and Jem chose when we filmed this vlog a few weeks ago. Have a click here for the internet version of this offer or just come into the shop, it's good to chat. :)

And that's your lot! Really excited about both of these things! But, being a small business owner, I can't sit around chatting all day, I got shit to do.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxx

P.s. I don't think I've said THANK YOU enough for allowing me to be a small business owner. This shop could so easily have gone down the pan so many times and yet, you keep coming in and fawning over our wool and attending lessons and celebrating at parties and generally being bloody fantastic. Love love love.

P.p.s. Just as I was writing this, somebody came in to put a poster up and asked if I'd like a free ticket to the event, I said nope because 'I hate people' he said 'I hate to tell you this but you work in a shop' and I said 'yeah but, they're knitters, they're not like normal people'. Applies to crocheters too.

P.p.p.s. LOVE.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

King Cole Zig Zag

Oh I do feel like I've neglected this little blog but I'm coming back to you! I have stuff to say, I just feel like I've had no time to say it! It also helps that I worked an 11 hour day yesterday on my day off so I'm kind of up to date with the time sensitive stuff that I need to be, well as up to date as I can be before other stuff turns up, so today I've been nicely relaxed, chatting away to customers, doing a bit of knitting and listening to podcasts (naughty, shouldn't do that in the shop...). I've also eaten a lot of skittles and here I am, full of sugar, ready to talk about the King Cole Zig Zag as if it's a new yarn! Well, it kind of is... let me try and explain.

Zig Zag was one of the things that I needed to get from King Cole when we first opened. I'd tried it before and was blown away by how well it knits and wears and the colours and the price. It was, in fact, the first thing that I wrote on my first order form to King Cole and we've had it ever since. King Cole have really got it right on this one, you get it in packs of six rather than 12 and this is great because mostly, people want one ball (occasionally two and some brave people take more for garments etc.), and as King Cole (mainly, gah!) sell to independents they've really got it right because most of us can't store that amount of wool for that amount of time. I love it as a knitter/crocheter and as a retailer. Brill!

Over the years they've come up with new colours and designs. It's called Zig Zag because all of the original colours ended up looking like this:

I went on rav to see if I could find any examples to borrow photos of (linked and requested obvs) but I found loadsa photos of the Zig Zag made by my regular customers so now I don't need to request because I know they'd say yes and they'd bloody better or they're banned from the shop. haha. Anyway, these are Sarah's Zig Zag socks in the Rhapsody colourway which is one of the ones that has recently been discontinued and I am so sad because it's the first Zig Zag that I ever bought and the reason I fell in love with it in the first place.

It deffo shows why the yarn is called Zig Zag in the first place. Lots of short sections of colour that build up on top of eachother in slightly mismatched ways and create and actual Zig Zag. Until you reach a heel where the stitch count changes and all of a sudden colours are on top of other colours and it looks like a whole different yarn. This will make you feel very excited (me) or horrified (Sue... haha).

Anyway, then they started making stripes, I think when the cottoned on to how popular socks are, the first set of those was released around the time of the Jubilee so we ended up with this:

By Ollie aka Joxter on Ravelry (who is sadly no longer a customer because he moved to London and hasn't updated his Rav acount since summer 2014 - he'd better still be knitting, such a talent).

This stuff sold really well for us and I was very pleased that they'd come up with new colours after so long.

And then! Out of nowhere, they came up with six new colours that look like this:

Again borrowed from the lovely Mrs Hirst. Can you see how different these stripes are? Love them! This was also the point when they changed the make up of the socks from 50/50 wool/nylon to 75/25 wool/nylon. I actually quite liked the 50/50 stuff, I couldn't tell a difference in the wearing or washing and it just somehow made it a little different to the other stuff on the market but bringing it up to a 75/25 mix does make it a very definite, identifiable sock yarn. Meh. Not much in it. What was important to me was that the price didn't change. Yes. 25% more wool and the price didn't change. Another reason to love King Cole - good to the knitter, good to the retailer (kinda, sometimes, unless you're bothered about them being in John Lewis. Gah!).

Anyway, at the time when they brought out that, they brought out five other colours all beautiful. AND THEN THEY DISCONTINUED THEM! GAH! King Cole! But it's okay, don't worry, they brought out six more new colours one of which was this beauty:

Beautifully knitted by the lovely Claire. The stripe sequence changed again and I loved it!

AND NOW THEY'VE DISCONTINUED THIS LOT! But it's okay! They've brought out this lovely lot:

Calypso - Stonewash - Caribbean
Crush - Majestic - Camouflage
Now, I suspect that the Crush, Stonewash and Camouflage will be stripe sequences that we've never seen from King Cole before, very subtle, very soft, perhaps not even striped. And I suspect that the brighter colours are BACK TO THE ORIGINAL ZIG ZAG STRIPE THING! Which I have missed and I'm excited about.

If you've followed the many, many links through to the Zig Zag over the blog you'll see that some of the older colours are still around. I have a theory. King Cole are doing what I do with the Regia Sock yarns; getting a certain amount of stock in and once it's gone, it's gone. I imagine they're doing it on a bigger scale than I do though, hahah. This works for sock yarn because once you're a sock knitter, you're a sock knitter but it'd be rare for you to use the same colour more than once (apart from like reasonable colours like black) and therefore, you can go a bit wacky with the colours, sell it all through and then get more in. It makes sense and it keeps it fresh and exciting! If only we could do the same with marriages ey? Much less divorce if we all did it the Knit Nottingham way. I haven't been told any of this, I just have a hunch and I think it's a good idea so I hope I'm right. It does mean though, if you're in love with any of the older colours then you need to get in there quick sharp because they'll almost certainly be gone at some point. And it also means you want to get the new colours in sharpish too. However, King Cole obviously take a lot longer to sell through their sock yarns because the last time they released colours was in Spring 2015 and it's only just run out (ish) so you have a little time.

I just want to share this one photo of the new Crush colourway:

How fit is that? King Cole should totes hire me as a photographer.

And finally, I should tell you, I just can't resist my own yarn. Everything I sell here I'm desperate to work with. Everything. I don't just write these blogs or film the vlogs to tell you about wool to make you spend money on any old shit, it's always stuff that I love. Anyway, shut up and show:

This is the new Majestic colourway in the Zig Zag and it will be a pair of socks for Christopher for his birthday... on Saturday... what's the betting he'll get socks still on the needles? It's suitably bright but boyish but I know he would have preferred the Crush, it's just that those will be mine all mine. Ahhhhh. So excited to see how this works out!

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxx

p.s. I forgot to tell you that every ball of the Zig Zag comes with a free pattern for ladies small socks through to big ol' mens socks. How cool is that?