8 May 2016

Open














Hello my lovely friends.  I do hope this long overdue post finds you happy and well?

Well, I only bloody did it!  I only opened my very own little yarn shop!  It's been exactly one week now and, truth be known, it still feels a bit surreal.  I can't really remember the details of the first few days; they were a bit of a whirl.

I will warn you, I'm struggling to articulate myself at the moment.  I suppose my mind has been so frantically busy for three solid months, it's taking a little time for it to slow down enough to allow me to enjoy calm, structured thoughts.  I've had a lot to deal with in my personal life recently on top of starting my own business, not to mention moving house, so please forgive me if this post is a little sketchy.

Anyway, the sun streams in through the front window for most of the day which is a complete joy but it makes taking photographs of the entire shop quite difficult - it's quite a long space and the pictures make the back area look deceptively dark - but I am really keen to give you a flavour of what it looks like.  I think my next post will concentrate a little more on the actual yarns and products I've chosen to sell.

From the offset, I knew I wanted to create a space that was light, pretty and colourful.  It had to be a space that made me happy.  That way, I knew it would have a jolly good chance of making anyone who stepped over the threshold happy too.  You will notice quite a few personal touches if you look closely.  I have my favourite Sascalia and Katie Daisy prints framed and up on the walls and, dotted around, there are a few of my precious bits and bobs.  I've been lucky enough to receive some wonderful good luck cards and they sit along the top of one of the display units so that I can see them.

I've had to be quite clever with storage.  I have a little kitchen and a loo but no stock room.  Strategically-placed boxes and cupboards conceal my surplus!

I have a large table at the rear of the shop which extends to twice the size where I hope to hold classes and get-togethers.  For now, it's a lovely area where I can sit and work and friends and customers can take a perch and have a natter.

There's still quite a lot of tweaking to be done.  For example, since these photographs, I've changed the positioning of quite a few things.  The display on the table near the door is now quite different and I'm expecting the arrival of even more stock on Tuesday.

You've all been so incredibly kind and supportive and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I will return next week when I am hopefully far less poleaxed!  It struck me only yesterday that one of the most blessed opportunities that my little yarn shop will offer now it's up and running is routine.  That and the chance to sit, take a breath and let it all sink in.  Perhaps then there will be room for a little pride to creep in?

xxx

25 March 2016

Best Laid Plans


I fell over on Wednesday.  Splat!  Just like that.  It was my own silly fault; I was running with Bertie on the lead.  He zigzagged in front of me and down I went.  My right knee has swollen up like a purple tennis ball and my left hand is covered in scrapes and cuts.  It's a bit of a shock when you fall over as a grown-up.  It's not supposed to happen.  Luckily, (though not for him), my seventeen year old son was with me.  He picked me up, gave me a big hug and helped me hobble home while I blubbered like a child.

It came at the end of a very difficult week so it was quite nice to be able to have a self-indulgent sob while my lovely boy fussed over me.

My little shop has taken a bit of a back seat this week.  Several things out of my control have frustratingly stalled proceedings - the wood on the outside of the shop is rotten in places and is having to be removed and filled before it is painted, I'm still waiting for the sign, an electrical issue needs to be addressed, etc.  I'm a little disappointed because I really hoped to be open by Easter but I remind myself that it's not even been two months since I received the keys and so much has been achieved already.  You've all been so kind and your vicarious excitement and support have boosted my confidence no end.  Thank you.

To make things ever so slightly more complicated, we will be moving house in the next couple of weeks.  I know, right?!  I don't do things by halves my friends!  We had planned for it to happen in the summer but the right property has become available and circumstances have dictated that it should be sooner rather than later.

I have been reluctant to set an actual opening date for my shop before now lest I should end up having to change it and let people down but I have now decided to cite Friday 29th April 2016.  If perchance I am ready before then, I will quietly and without pomp and ceremony, open my door to the public.

Forgive me for sounding a little flat, will you?  It's not my usual way at all but I wanted to pop by and say "hello".  I'm battered and bruised and a little overwhelmed at the moment but will re-emerge like a butterfly of positivity very soon, mark my words.

Have a truly wonderful Easter break my lovely friends.

Back soon.

xxx


14 March 2016

This And That And Shop Chat













I've been testing out my "hellos".  There's a slightly high-pitched one that is bordering on desperate, there's one that's a bit sing-songy and makes my children curl up with embarrassment, there's one that makes me sound like an 8 year old and there's my slightly husky one that is, frankly, a touch creepy.  Oh dear.  I'll keep practising.  The last thing I want to do when you come and visit my little shop is to frighten you off!

I've had the 'armed robber' discussion with D.  He asked me what I'd do in the event of a hold-up.  I assured him I have a pot full of very pointy knitting needles ready and waiting.  I don't think that was the right answer.  He looked more than a little bit horrified.  Pfft, he really has no concept of just how precious yarn is.

My card payment machine was installed last week.  It terrifies me.  It's now sitting rather smugly on my counter with its silly green lights and air of self-importance.  May I apologise in advance for getting a bit of a hand-stutter and charging you £1,000,000 for a ball of Rowan Handknit Cotton?

My world continues to be full of yarn and shop-related things my friends.  I haven't even noticed if there is blossom on the trees yet.  Is there?

Quite often, in the middle of the night, a thought or idea pops up from nowhere and jolts me wide awake.  Last night's was a mirror.  I need a mirror.  Before you think I'm going slightly bonkers, just think - how lovely would it be, when considering yarn for a scarf or shawl, to be able to hold it up to your face and see how the colour suits?  The night before it was the idea to take my stockpile of Simply Crochet magazines to the shop for browsing purposes.  I really must subscribe to a knitting magazine too.  Do you have a favourite?

I've thoroughly enjoyed selecting my stock.  I will be selling yarn by Debbie Bliss, Rowan, Patons, Rooster, Manos Del Uruguay, Jupiter Moon Farm, Coop Knits, Fyberspates, Regia, Mondial.  I'm also particularly thrilled to be selling hand-dyed yarns by the lovely Shadow of Felt Fusion.  Those you see pictured are some of her dk delights.  And the glorious pink?  Well, that's a colourway she has dyed exclusively for meeeeeee!  I've called it I Wanna Be Adored after one of my favourite songs.  I cannot wait to see how it knits and crochets.

I have opted for Knit Pro needles and accessories and I've finally managed to acquire a range of my beloved Tulip Etimo Rose crochet hooks.  They were the very first item I wrote on my 'Things I'd Like To Sell' list and they've been by far the most tricksy to source.

I also received delivery of a delicious array of crochet hook and knitting needle rolls, craft bags and sewing pouches this week, made by my magic-fingered friend, Rachael, of SewRayMe.

I must just tell you about something I treated myself to this week too.  I bought a project bag from Betsy Makes' Etsy shop.  Oh, it's just gorgeous.  So beautifully made.  It has the cleverest integrated knitting needle holder inside.  Sam also included a pretty felt flower brooch in the parcel because she's the sweetest girl.  And ... she's only gone and uploaded her very first podcast episode!  Do go and watch if you haven't already.  She's so natural in front of the camera and her knitting/crochet makes are sublime.

Do you ever invent scenarios in your head?  I do it frequently.  My latest one makes me laugh out loud.  I imagine you opening the door to my little shop, stepping over the threshold and casting your eyes around only to be met with completely empty shelves.  You'll then notice me sitting cross-legged on the floor, perhaps rocking a little, surrounded by a huuuuuge tangle of yarn.  I'll have a wild look in my eyes and will be manically crocheting the longest and most colourful scarf you've ever seen in your life ...

xxx

28 February 2016

Yarn Shop In Progress









Slowly, slowly my little shop is starting to look how I imagined it might.

It's been such hard work and I haven't been this tired for ages but, hand on heart, I've enjoyed every single minute.  Well, almost.  There has been the odd grotty bit.  That floor has been in a pain in the posterior.  I've had to chisel ancient blobs of paint and some very suspicious-looking crusty patches off it.  I'm not allowed to replace it so I've steamed and cleaned it within an inch of its life.  I get a little pernickity when it comes to spillage that I suspect might be other people's DNA.

It was a bit of a day of firsts yesterday.  I placed my first pack of yarn on a shelf and I did my very first wee in the tiny little toilet which is right at the back of the shop, just beyond the kitchen.  Both moments were equally emotional but in different ways!  Only one of them involved lots of bleach!  ;-)

I was quite desperate to start putting packs of yarn onto shelves, just to see.  I've found it quite impossible to tell how much I've actually got without physically seeing it in situ.  I haven't put them in any sort of order yet.  I'm saving that bit.

Oh but there's still so much to do.  In the back half of the shop I'm having a table and chairs.  It will be more of a social area where I hope to host workshops and knit and natter sessions.  Other than being painted, I haven't really started on that area yet.  I want to wallpaper one of the walls and make it really pretty.

The outside of the shop hasn't been touched yet either.  The paint is ready.  The sign is being created.  I rather fancy the idea of leaving it all until the very last moment.  It gives me a bit of an air of mystery.  One of my very kind neighbours took delivery of a parcel for me and told me that she'd decided I was about to open a milkshake shop!


Do forgive me if I'm a bit 'all over the place'.  My mornings start at 6am and I seem to run out of steam by 7pm each day.

I wanted to pop by, say 'hello' and show you a few photos of the work in progress.  Oh, and above is my new logo and address for those of you who have asked.  I'm about 15 minutes from Junction 21 of the M1 if ever you're passing.  Or, if you hail from further afield, plonk a pin right into the middle of a map of England and I'm not far from there!  I'm aiming to open by Easter but it may just be very shortly after.  I want everything to be just-so, you see.

You've been so kind.  I've read every comment and good wish you've taken the time to send.  Thank you.  Really.  Thank you.

I'll be back soon with news of what I'm actually going to be stocking.  Some old favourites and some new loves.  Plus, I've been tugging at the sleeves of some of my most favourite and talented bloggy/Instagram/Facebook friends ...

xxx

6 February 2016

The Adventure Begins ...


Back in December, I eluded to an adventure I was about to embark on.

It sort of started with a stroll down a road close to where I live in Leicester, on a very wet day.  This road is lined with 19th century terraced houses, most of which have been converted into small independent shops and eateries.

When I was a child, I used to spend my pocket money on glittery stickers, torn from a large paper roll, and fruity fragranced felt-tipped pens from one of the gift shops.  It's still there.  When my own children were little, I would occasionally buy coloured beaded bracelets and painted wooden yo-yos from the same shop.

One of my first Saturday jobs was working behind the sweet counter in the post office at the top of the street.  I loved that job.  The elderly chap who owned the post office frightened the living daylights out of the 15 year old me though.  He was a no-nonsense man, quite small with tightly curled hair and a furious expression.  The shop remains but is now a newsagent.

Anyway, back to this stroll.  Halfway up the road was an empty shop.  I honestly couldn't tell you if I'd ever noticed it before but I certainly did on this occasion.  It was perfect.  Well, that's not strictly true - it was a bit shabby and very unloved but it had so much perfect potential.

A chat with the lady owner of a nearby shop led us to discover that the previous tenant had done a moonlight flit and the gentleman who lives in the flat above was going to take it on.  I can't begin to tell you how disappointed I was.  You see, if I closed my eyes, I could clearly visualise how it could look.

There then followed what I can only describe as a chain of 'meant to be' events.  A lot can happen in a month, as I'm sure you know.




My lovely friends, may I introduce you to what will eventually become the newest yarn shop in town, Pink Milk?

Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!  You can't see me I know but I'm grinning like a mad thing!

This is how it looks right now.  I only took possession of the keys yesterday.  As I type, D and a friend are in there with tools and paintbrushes and I will soon be setting-to with my bleach and steam cleaner!  I've chosen the colour for the outside.  (Surprised?!)

I'll be totally honest with you, I'm ever so slightly terrified because I have never done anything like this before.  Over the last few weeks, I've had to get my head around taxes and insurance, costings and forecasts and all the nitty-gritty stuff that comes with running a business.  I am also designing my own online shop.  I'm putting absolutely everything I have into this little venture of mine.

I've had a few wobbly moments where my bravery and self-confidence have temporarily deserted me.  On those occasions, I sit and crochet a bunting triangle.  Does that sound a bit bonkers?  The truth is, I haven't had much opportunity to do a lot of crochet or knitting recently and the ten or fifteen minutes it takes to select a colour and make one soothes me.  It acts as a sort of 'time out' when I can take a few deep breaths, remind myself that we only live once, and all feels good and positive again.  My Simple Bunting Tutorial was the very first crochet pattern I published here on my blog, four years ago.  It remains my most visited post of all time.  For me, it sort of heralds where my journey began and it seems fitting.  The bunting will then be strung somewhere in my shop.

Most of all though, I cannot begin to tell you just how excited I am.  I have so many plans and ideas, sometimes my head feels like it's going to literally spin right off my neck!  I've been spending hours with yarn samples and colour charts.  I've been squishing and stroking, sniffing and poking like you wouldn't believe!!!  I've also been working on a few secret projects and have made some lovely new talented friends in the process.  Aargh, I cannot wait to show you everything!  I will only be selling yarn and products that I love.  I hope you'll love them too.

You have all played such a massive part in giving me the confidence to do this.  For that, I cannot thank you enough.  I feel so lucky and proud.

I will be keeping in some pretty tea cups, just in case you call.  The kettle will always be on and the shelves filled to the brim.


xxx

22 January 2016

Next Week Might Be Awesome, Right?









Hello my lovelies.  I hope you're well.

Apparently last Monday was 'Blue Monday', the most depressing day of the year.  What a load of old rubbish.  Marketing ploys like that really irritate me and serve only to further deflate those of us who find the whole month a battle.

I've come to the conclusion that January isn't, in fact, the best month to implement changes.  No, January should be a hunker down and be gentle on yourself month.  Resolutions are best saved until February.  I'm sure the success rate would be far greater.  So that's what I've decided to do.

I'm glad this week is over.  On the likeability meter, it rates pretty low.  No particular reason, I suppose my heart's just not really been in it.  I started the year with so much positive-thinking and gusto that I think, three weeks in, I've gotten a little flat, like a deflated balloon.  But, it's Friday!  Hurrah!  Next week might be awesome, right?

I have a random selection of photographs to share with you today.

A little knitting.  I made a Handbrake Cowl using the now-free pattern by Kay Jones, of the Bakery Bears podcast.  I'm so proud of it and am wearing it right this minute.  If you're a newbie knitter and fancy tackling your first grown-up pattern, I can't recommend it highly enough.  It's a real confidence booster.  The pattern also includes links to a number of YouTube how-to clips which are excellent.  I used exactly one skein of Madelinetosh Vintage in 'Posy' which I bought from Loop on my birthday.

I'm also working on a simple garter stitch scarf using Madelinetosh Vintage in the 'Sugarplum' colourway.  Its uncomplicatedness is helping my tension hugely.  I'm particularly pleased with the neatness of the edge too.  Do you see that lovely chain effect?  After the penultimate stitch of each row, you bring the yarn forward and slip the last stitch purlwise.  Clever, huh?

A little stash enhancement.  Ahem.  What can I say?  I'm experiencing a Madelinetosh yarn crush.  I've bought two skeins of Merino DK in 'Pretty In Pink' and I'm planning to knit a simple shawl.  It's gloriously soft.  I know it's not cheap but I subscribe to the theory that using good quality yarn when learning to knit or crochet actually makes the process so much more enjoyable.

My daughter's best friend bought her The Little Book of Positivity for Christmas.  Oh, it's the dearest little thing.  In fact, I had another flick through it this morning.  It's full of handy tips to boost your happiness and includes some wonderfully uplifting quotes. ..

"If you love life, life will love you back."

"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you."

"Look at life through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror."

It includes advice on how to deal with negative thoughts and helps you to be positively assertive and stresses the importance of a good diet, me-time and quality sleep, etc.  All things we may know but can overlook sometimes.

Hyacinth bulbs in latte cups.  Just because.  I'm missing my anemones though.

Snowy trees from last Saturday.  Useful for when D and I have the "when did it last snow?" conversation!

Have a wonderful weekend.  Crochet chat next time, honest.

xxx

15 January 2016

Absolutely Lovely Giveaway Winner!

Thank you so much for all your entries and comments.  There were over 300 of you!

I selected a number via www.random.org and the recipient of my parcel of goodies will be ...


I'm so thrilled to see that you have a blog Ania!  I'll be sending you a message a little later this evening.

Wishing you all an absolutely lovely weekend.

xxx

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