Thursday, 24 November 2011

I promised...

a positive blog today. And here it is. I'm feeling much better (though I still haven't heard from who I need to...).

So, last Sunday we went to the wonderful Bead and Craft Fair organised by our friends over at The Bead Shop, Nottingham and oh me, oh my it was wonderful! Didn't we have a grand time!?

This was the stall:

Our stalls always look a mess compared to the bead stalls. I think it's because beads are so much smaller, they fit nicely into packets which fit nicely into boxes or baskets or onto frame kind of things. That's my excuse anyway! If you've ever been into the shop you'll know it really is an excuse...

So, June and I set off at around 7.30am... maybe a bit later than that... that might have been my fault... and we were there for something like 8am. The whole thing started at sort of 10 to 10.30am but I knew from last year it'd take a little while to get ready. Much longer than you'd expect. At about 9am we were looking to be ready and I had the sudden daunting realisation that for the second year running I'd forgotten my bloody teaching materials. Luckily, I printed the stuff I needed the night before at home so that was in my hand bag but all the little balls of yarn that I needed for the lessons were waiting patiently back in the shop. Cue half an hour of frantic tiny ball winding by me, Sue and June.But that got sorted.

Then the hordes arrived! And I really do mean hordes! It could have been hundreds, it could have been thousands but either way it took ten minutes to wade through to get a much needed cup of coffee! Blimey.

Things went swimmingly, we sold tonnes and tonnes of the Woolcraft Tango, it really went down a storm. We sold out in fact! So around midday we sent June off in a taxi to get some more. And that went down a storm too. I guess the clever Bead Fair customers know a good Christmas present when they see it.

I taught two lessons on the day. Well, I say two lessons. Nobody turned up to my bloody Learn to Knit lesson! So I sat there looking like a tit for about quarter of an hour whilst every other teacher had a full table. Not for long. I had a project stashed under the table so I sidled back to the stall and got some serious sewing in ends done. Lovely. The crochet class was a lot more successful! 10 on the table! And I'd spent the last year telling Robin how I was only going to accept six people. I couldn't say no when they all turned up though.

Then, as I showed you yesterday, I splashed out on a little beading kit. I can't help but be inspired when I'm there and I wanted to see what their crafty world was like! I bought a snowflake kit, loved it too much so I bought a Christmas tree kit and a bracelet kit. I thought the snowflake and the Christmas tree might be lovely attached to the packaging of Christmas presents and I think the bracelet might end up being a Christmas present, the colours are a little too muted for me but the idea is a stunner. I think I might make two smaller versions and put them on earrings for me. I do like a good chunky earring.

Here's the photo again because I'm inordinately proud:

But this blog isn't about beading. Even if I might shut the shop and start a bead shop. Joke. Not really.

Anyway, I'm offski. Plenty of work to do today, and tomorrow. And the day after. Ahh the life of an LYSO. ..

Love(ly) Eleanor. :)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Saga (doesn't really) Continues...

So, big bad council want to charge us money for getting rid of waste that we don't actually have. Only, my bad, we do have waste. We hoover up every other week, or every week if I'm feeling virtuous (housekeeping really isn't my forte). So we'll buy the bloody bags. That's £1.96 per bag and the minimum order is 25 of those and there's a £5 fee per year for getting a 'Duty of Care' statement which is what the Community Protection people want. Not too bad really.

Only, as a business nobody ever adds VAT on for you. When you're VAT registered (you can opt in to this but there's a threshold above which you have to be registered and I believe that's a turnover of £72,000. Needless to say we're well under that and I don't want the paperwork that being VAT registered makes.) you get to claim your VAT back, so that the only people who actually pay VAT is the consumer and tiny businesses. So they give you a price without VAT and if you pay VAT, like we do, you work it out yourself. It's not too hard to do and when I'm buying wool, for example, I add up the total of what I've bought, divide it by 100 and times that by 120. It gives me a rough estimate. Only a rough estimate because some companies charge VAT on each item and some charge VAT on the whole lot and that changes things by a couple of quid. But whatever, I need wool, I want wool, we wouldn't be a business without it.

We would, however, be a business without rubbish collections that we don't need. So I asked, when I talked to the council how much that would work out at for each bag and when they didn't understand that I asked if VAT was added on the individual bags or on the whole order and they didn't know so somebody was going to ring me back. I won't even write the next sentence, I think you know what didn't happen... So I'll be ringing them today, again.

So things have moved on a bit since the last time I saw you, I'm now dealing with another incompetent component of the local council and hating every minute. The more things change the more things stay the same. Blurgh.

Oh, and I mustn't forget to tell you about the visit from the Community Protection Officer. He came. Which was a start I guess. He didn't actually say anything, didn't write anything down and certainly didn't bring any forms for me to fill in. He sat there looking a bit gormless whilst I explained why I wasn't tip top happy chops about the way that this has all panned out. He said he'd pass it forward to his supervisor, I said 'brilliant, so I can have a written confirmation that that's been sent forward?', he has a bit of a paddy and tells me his supervisor will call me because I'm obviously finding it difficult to work with him (news to me, I was enjoying myself!). Supervisor hasn't called.

Yowser - this makes being a small business owner a lot easier and more enjoyable. Brilliant.

Right, I was going to say a load of positive stuff right now but frankly, I'm a bit pissed off with a lot of minor things and I'm too busy to allow myself to be inspired or excited about much at all really. So if it's alright with you lot I'm going to crawl back into my hole, ferret about and get a load of work done and reappear refreshed and reinvigorated tomorrow with a run down of what happened at the Bead Fair on Sunday.

Until then, I'll leave you with a little photo of what the Bead Fair ended up being all about for me - it will put a smile on your face:

Little pretty sparklies that were dead easy to make. The kits are available here and these are both the 'Miyuki' ones but when I went in to buy stuff to make more it turns out some of the components are unavailable there so I bought a Snowflake Crystal Kit (no idea what size) and it turns out it was written by my friend Steph who runs Knit in Notts the knitting club at Lee Rosies! How exciting! And all of those components are easily gettable at the Bead Shop and the instructions are pretty fabulous if you ask me, even for a complete beginner.

And what do you know, I've finished the blog on something positive! Isn't life odd, ey?

Love Eleanor.

P.s. I nearly wrote 'lovely Eleanor' then, which is my go to finger movement when I've typed 'love'. Maybe I should have left it to cheer myself up. But then I'd look a tit.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Alright, alright

I'm just showing off now, but look!

A customer bought me this! She said it wasn't much but I have literally no money to buy things like this for myself and I've wanted it for about forever and I didn't know but the first pattern is an aran using a stitch from Gladys Thompson's Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys and Arans which I love but just couldn't do when I tried it a long, long time ago. Lovely.


Cakes! Christmas ones! From the girls upstairs!

This next bit isn't showing off:

it's commiserating...

Sort of. These little dogs, as a commission for two different people. Blurgh. I was going to do a blog post about them playing in a field or something like that, I thought the incidence rate of four knitted dogs together at one time has got to be pretty small unless you're a mad wo/man so I was going to take advantage. But no, I tent to get a bit frustrated with fiddly knitting after a while and this has been a bit of a marathon. But now they're done I love them. That's a pug, a jack russell, a British bulldog and a miniature schnauzer. I never knew that miniature was spelled like that - weird.

This is why I don't like knitting small fiddly things:

Look at my angry face. Haha.

It's over now and I'm pleased.

That's what life has been like in the shop this week. Sort of good, sort of bad and ridiculously busy. Forgive us our absences.

And then - finally - we'll be at the The Nottingham Bead and Craft Show run by our friends at The Bead Shop, Nottingham. We went last year too and it was great so we're really excited. Apart from the early morning... Here's a photo from last year:


And I'm taking three boxes full this year. Three and three only.

Finally. I want to have a bit of a moan and a whine. About the council, of course.

T'other day I was outside the shop having a chat with a customer when a Community Protection Officer came and asked about our waste practices. Now, I've been brought up to be a bit of a hippy. I hate waste and nothing gets chucked here apart from my fag ends and the occasional crisp or biscuit packet. Normal things that normal people throw in normal bins. No? Well, apparently not if you're a small business. I have to pay money to get that collected. Not part of the business rates (which are the equivalent of council tax as I see it).

Now, this would not be a problem except that since we've started we've been treated to "small business rates relief" which means essentially that business as small as ours don't pay the business rates. Brilliant! Great idea! More of that please! Only, the council obviously aren't making enough money so they start harassing us for more money from other places. I'd so much rather pay the bloody rates that have to pay bits here and there for whatever services they think we ought to use.

Right, so, ignoring how frustrating that is - we'll pay it. No problem. The Community Protection Officer promises to come back later that day. Does he turn up? I think you know the answer. Okay, fine, I'll ring in the morning. And I did, I started ringing at 11 o'clock and I didn't stop until somebody finally put me through to an appropriate person at HALF. PAST. TWELVE! The incompetence is staggering. Staggering.

So I get through to somebody, who speaks to me like I'm five explaining that 'the law says this' and 'the law says that'. So I ask, 'which statute is that?' - I'm a lawyer, I can look it up. I'd quite like to in fact. The answer: 'well, the law says this' and 'the law says that'. Don't make me rip my own eyeballs out now, Mr Policeman. Jeez. Anyway, he can't do anything, he'll get his colleague to call me back. 'Oh, is that the kind of calling back that's a lot like the 'coming back' that your colleague didn't do a lot of yesterday?'. 'Well, the law says this'. Oh piss off!

Anyway, he didn't call me back, I had to call him. Finally somebody came around with an idiots guide to waste management and nothing to fill out. Somebody will come and 'help me fill out the form on Monday'. The saga continues...

That feels better. How frustrating! I feel like becoming one of those busybody business owners who starts a petition about some ridiculously minute issue. But honestly, how am I supposed to run a business when I spend half the day running after people who should be the most efficient workers out there? And how the bloody hell am I supposed to run a business when I'm spending all of my money on waste services that I really don't need?

Bravo council!

Now I'm going to do some knitting and some reading Elizabeth Zimmerman to cheer myself up.


Monday, 14 November 2011

The Seami(er) Side of Life

I don’t like sewing up, I just don’t. In fact, I would say I hate everything about it – from threading a needle to making sure my seams match. And, to be honest, I’m not very good at it. For years, I just matched up the bumps on the edges of my knitting and ended up with a seam that looked something like this on the inside, and the outside

Not great, I think you'll agree.

Then, a few weeks ago, I decided to teach myself how to mattress stitch. And this is how my side seams turned out on the inside and, of course, the outside

Much better, methinks. And shoulder seams have given me problems for years. Even if I backstitched them together, they always looked as though the seam was pulling apart, but now – look

They look so much better. And this is a great little tutorial for mattress stitch

I suppose, what I’m trying to say is that, after 25 years of knitting, all of a sudden my finished garments have a more professional finish. And I like that!

Of course, if you want to learn this and other finishing techniques in person, you can sign up to our class on 12th February 2-12 here


Friday, 11 November 2011

An update of sorts.

Salutations, lovely Knit Nottinghamers!

It struck me that I haven't done a proper shop update in a while - just musings about my projects and Sue's spinning which must be truly riveting for you given that you'll all have your own bits on the go. Christmas presents I don't doubt...

Well, the big exciting news is that we have two new lines of yarn!!

The first is a blingy, glitzy, in-your-face-fabulous yarn from King Cole, let me present to you:




The gorgeous Galaxy DK

And no, your eyes aren't deceiving you, there really are sequins in there! Soft, luscious, toned to match the yarn sequins. And blimey, I'm smitten! Who'd have thought I'd fall for a glittery yarn? The girls, and couple of blokes, at my knit club will be as shocked as I am!

Currently these are the four colours that we have in stock - I tried to get the others but it's just too popular. In my humble opinion nobody would ever need another colour but the purple anyway. Apart from June, she likes the fuchsia.

My thoughts are, a plain, low necked jumper with gorgeous lacy sleeves. Something a bit delicate. Naturally, I think we all want to make scarves with something so beaueaueaueaueaueautiful too.

It's 50g, 175m, 31% wool, 65% acrylic and 4% soft payette (that's the sparkle). Spun similarly to the Riot DK, if you love that it'll be worth your while giving this a go. Almost forgot to say it's £3. And I hereby promise to get it on the internet asap!

Next new yarn - not any less lovely but quite a lot less sparkly - is the Big Value 4ply.

French Navy


 Now I've got them in some sort of an order I'm leaving it at that - sorry they're placed a bit randomly...

Again, I've made a selection from the colours available for this yarn. Mostly because I don't want to completely blow the budget but also because I want to see the reaction from you guys. I get quite a lot of feedback that we don't stock enough wool yarns. Personally, I think we have a tonne, three commercial 100%'s, six commercials with over 50% and all the handspun and felting yarn. On top of that, if they're talking about naturals we have cottons to peruse too. You can see I'm a bit frustrated. Lately, I've been asked for more acrylics. It seems we might have gone too far the other way? So here's my attempt at an acrylic, in an interesting weight (lovely vintage jumpers, socks or shawls for the sheep-opposed anybody?). I've gone for colours that are most popular in our shop: black, mustard, deep pink and teal and a couple to brighten things up a bit and that I like - mmmm to the French Navy Oh yes!

The yarn comes with patterns and I couldn't make up my mind so I bought them all. That's two male patterns and four female patterns and they all have a lovely, vintagey, elegant feel to them.

There ain't no way I'm not knitting that sweet little sweater in the camel colour. Though I'll choose a more interesting colour...

So, 100g, 4ply, 100% acrylic, 439m (yes, that's four hundred and thirty nine of your metric metres!). In my size (big if you're wondering) that's going to mean four balls. Four balls!? And the best bit is - it's only bloody £2.75. Who cares about the double dip when the wool's that cheap?

So, tell me what you think folks.

In other pattern related news, we now have:

 Oh yes, it's the 'Magic Dolman Jacket' and it's also available in a 4ply and DK version. Eagle eyed readers will note that this is exactly. the. same. as. the. BSJ written by the indomitable Elizabeth Zimmerman. Apparently, according to my yarn rep, I was the only LYSO who noticed this. Quite chuffed with myself! Now, I questioned them about the legal validity of selling this pattern, apparently it's all wrapped up but he was about as willing to talk about copyright issues as that one rav busybody who always says 'and now to sit down with popcorn while you all battle in out' smugly in a copyright thread. So I bought it - just for your dear readers! I think it'll be a lot cheaper/quicker to get it here and I'm guessing there's some sort of arrangement with Schoolhouse Press that means we're not squeezing them out of money.

Nice ey?!!?!? :)

We have more new patterns too but if I chat about them all like this, it'll turn into a novel. Just. Shut. Up.

So, the shelves have gone down well. I think everybody's a little sad that the other one has gone but I forgot to say that it went to The Art Room in Long Eaton which both Liese and I believe to be a worthy cause so don't be too sad. It's funny to see the reactions. One lady who comes in about week didn't notice until a couple of days ago and she literally jumped out of her skin when she realised as if something had just piddled on her grave. Haha!

I have a throat infection. It's not my fault. Treat me kindly please.

I've also started another Ripple Blanket. It's not my fault. Treat me kindly please.

And now I'm going to try and get on with the knitting that I was meant to start at 11am-ish today but haven't actually touched. Thank you lot, and the internet buyers, for making this such a busy winter. We're just getting over the few money troubles we've had - gah to unexpected bills! - and then we've got to start saving for the possibility of moving into bigger premises next year! How very exciting!

Finally, I'd like to say hello to the two regular readers from the Ivory Coast - hello, what brings you here?


Eleanor. :)


2 blog 143Drop spindle workshopLast Sunday we held another of our occasional spinning workshops aimed at brand new spinners. During the day we looked at fibres and learnt how to use a basic drop spindle. There was great excitement when the students were allowed to investigate the contents of their project bags which contained fibres and the spindle together with some secret ingredients.
Drop spindle workshopDrop spindle workshopDrop spindle workshop
After grasping the basics and realising that dropping the spindle is really part of the learning process, they went on to create their own yarn using a drum carder to blend their own choice of colours into a batt ready for spinning.
Drop spindle workshop Their first yarns were beautiful, brightly coloured and textured and I am sure that they will be treasured.
Drop spindle workshopLater everyone had chance to play on a spinning wheel although some thought that it was too much like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time!!
We all had a great time, including Pete and myself and we thank everyone for coming ( and for bringing the biscuits!!!)

Monday, 7 November 2011

All Right, Sunny Jim?

Whilst on holiday recently in Cornwall we visited Flambards, a small theme park with a very good display about about war time Britain and I spotted this amongst the displays. The gloves and scarfs I could cope with but the knitted vest? no way, would never have the patience or the time.

HOLIDAY 2011 273

I also spotted this in the wartime exhibition,really miss shops like these

HOLIDAY 2011 279

somewhere to buy your knitting patterns along with the groceries

HOLIDAY 2011 275

Until I saw this, I never realised that Sunny Jim was an advertising slogan! always thought it was just a saying/nickname.

HOLIDAY 2011 278

Sunny Jim cloth doll, you would save the coupons and send away for him.