Thursday, 25 February 2016

A Picture-y One

I've had a busy couple of days. A lesson on Sunday (lovely ladies, lots of good crochet done). The Stitches trade show on Monday and a lecture on Tuesday. As I was walking down (in a rush because I was late) yesterday to the bus to get to the lecture I realised that this is me. As much as I complain about how much there is to do (and there is a lot to do) I only really work when there's a lot to do. I'm a procrastinator and I'm energised by doing a lot of little things hither and thither. Oooooooh. So here's lots of photos about all the little bits I've been doing, in no order, let's let the computer take the lead.

And what a photo to start with! This was one of the yarns I saw on Monday and fell in love with. The eagle eyed will see who it's from but you're getting no more out of me. ;)

This is my blanket for the shop as of Saturday - it's a different one to the community blanket - I'm having two in the shop! One to match the table cloth that Zoe Halstead bought and one that you lot have made and I've sewn together (no doubt I'll be knitting a few squares myself too). I'm excited about this one, I chose every colour of the Merino DK and then took out the ones I didn't like like the beiges and then had at it. It's actually quite hard to be random isn't it??! So I'm doing squares that I like mainly and when I'm feeling a bit more organised I'm setting them out in piles according to the outer edge colour. Then I see which colours have the least in their piles and make more of those. And then I get bored of that and go back to doing the ones that catch my eye. I'm taking some cream home tonight so hopefully I'll get some crocheted together and then it'll feel a bit less like a pile and more like a blanket. Well over 150 made already!

Hot cross buns for breakfast yesterday. I think these might be my favourite seasonal foods (apart from pigs in blankets obvs). I've tried making my own but they're never as light and fluffy. Help with that always welcome!

The entrance to Stitches. Somewhat daunting. Beautiful day.

Some woven wire bracelets at  Stitches. Definitely not my 'thing' but the technique was fascinating. I'll have to wait and see if the Bead Shop get them in. I only buy beads from them because the girls (and Robin) are so ridiculously helpful.

On the way to Stitches. Jem Weston was driving anyway so me and Steph tagged along. It was nice and lots of crochet was done. Jem wants me to point out that these are her driving gloves and her hands don't always look this weird.

The lecture hall yesterday at Uni of Nottingham before the rest of them turned up. I think there were about 15/20 students - all engineers in their fourth year. I really enjoyed it actually. Last year I planned really carefully what I had to say and had too much to say but this year I was so busy I just winged it and luckily they had loads of questions - as in, most of the lecture was questions which is unusual I think! My favourite bit was when somebody asked me whether school/college/uni had helped in the business and I said 'kinda yes, kinda no' but I said something like 'I don't think uni makes you any more clever than anybody else, in fact I know it doesn't'... I think they liked that after spending £10000 a year for four years. Ha. Hopefully I was of some use or at least not boring.

Cygnet's beautiful stand at Stitches. So lovely to finally put faces to names! Although I'll forget names again I know....

Damon from King Cole. He really is a lovely man who sells me too much stuff and understands when I won't take fluffy baby stuff. Spoke to the CEO again who was absolutley incredulous (and maybe a bit pissed off) that I told him what I actually thought about one of the yarns they've brought out... Ha. I love King Cole but I don't love everything that they do. It's like family, you know? Anyway, I made two orders, one to come any day now and one to come in the new shop. There's a couple of verrrrrrrrrry lovely new yarns coming and shades of old favourites as well as some fabulous patterns. Can't wait to get my greasy mitts on them all!

My face at six in the morning. Ugh.

Haha. This is the Trent building at Uni of Nottingham. It always makes me laugh how their main showstopper building is called 'Trent' as in the Trent Uni. I'm sure there's some person (*cough*bloke*cough*) that's involved with it all but I think it's weird. Anyway, lovely campus, lovely walk apart from I already had blisters from walking around Stitches for so long and that only made it worse. By the time I got back to Chris's I was hobbling...

King Cole are now on Instagram and their opening shot? That bloody hedgehog. Haha.

And finally! PLANTS! I know it's early. Veeeeeery early. I'd be happier doing it in March but I'm going to have so much to do in March that I just though, bugger it, let's plant. We'll see what happens. It can't go that badly wrong can it? And most of my seeds are leftovers from my mum anyway so nobody loses out if they don't grown and I think the cats will enjoy trying to shit in these tiny little garden pots....

And that's it. Bits and bobs. Good few days. I'm offski.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxxx

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Community Blanket

So, in the new shop we have space for a sofa. On this sofa we have space for blankets. I have a blanket in me that's getting going but when I mentioned it on facebook customers got really excited about making their own so I'm opening this up! I did do a vlog about it nearly a week ago - you can find that by clicking here but there have been many questions since so I thought a good faq would go down well. So here goes:

Can I can only knit/crochet - is that okay?
Yes! We are a knit and crochet friendly shop and this ought to be reflected in the blanket. Both please, and lots of them!

What size do they need to be?

I've chosen 10cm by 10cm which, coincidentally, is 4" by 4" so everybody's covered. I'm happy for them to be made up of smaller pieces say, four squares of 2.5cm (1") as long as they're sewn together. In fact, I think that'd be pretty cute.

What colour?
Green! All shades of green! Teal-y green, spring green, yellow-y green, forest green, mint green etc etc etc. I'm happy for there to be a little bit of other colours - have you seen lovely Phyllis's squares?

Love them! They're definitely green but they've got a good smack of an obnoxious colour - it's like all my favourite things together!

Charlotte made this:

 And I love it's simplicity. We need a mix of colours and textures and patterns.

Before I even launched the blanket quest I started a Pinterest board of all the influences I could think of - mainly colours but also textures etc. (I'm falling a little bit in love with pinterest but I'm finding I don't go back to it, I just like pinning, maybe that'll change when I've been on a bit longer, it's certainly not Ravelry...)

What pattern can I use?

Any! So far I have a lot of granny squares which I knew I would - they're easy and quick to make and the size is easy to mess around with. By all means, if this is what you can do then this is what you should do. But if you're able and interested I'd also love some more exciting and varied squares to mix it up a bit. I'm going to do a little bit of lace and some cables I think but moss stitch and variations of, basketweave, colour work, slip stitch knitting, the start of a sophie's universe? Hmmmmm!!!! Anything!!!!

You can by all means search ravelry for 4" squares (I've done that for you if you click here) but remember you can do the maths! Choose the right needles/hook to go with your yarn, work out your gauge per inch, times that by 4 so you get 4" and have at it! Some stitch patterns will affect your gauge - i.e. lace tends to make things looser, cable tends to make things tighter so you need to adjust your stitch count accordingly. 

Don't worry if you're a cm over or under - there's a bit of room for manoeuvre because whilst you're over somebody else will be under but they're fairly small squares so an inch will make a difference....

What yarn can I use?
Any! I'd avoid laceweight or super duper chunky but anything around 4ply to chunky should work out well enough and again they can be put together next to squares made out of something exactly opposite so balance it out.

Let's make it washable! You never know what will happen in a shop - all sorts of people, all sorts of kids. Who'd bloody have them?

When do they need to be done?
I've set the time limit as the 30th of April for squares to get to me. That's plenty of time and it makes sense because that's when Yarn Shop Day is happening (yes! it's happening!). You can drop them into the shop or pop them in the post any time until the 30th.

What will happen in you have too many squares?
One of two things - we'll either sew them together into a blanket/blankets for charity (maybe Framework) or, did the you see the thing at Liverpool Hopsital about 4" squares needed to help with breastfeeding? I'll get in contact with the Nottingham Hospitals (QMC and City) and see if they need it. I guess Liverpool will have been overwhelmed so I won't bother with them unless nobody else wants it. Yes?

I think that's everything - do let me know if you need to know anything and I'll update this faq.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxx 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

A Very Catchy Uppy Catch Up

Because I am still lacking in the blog department, but I tried this as a vlog and it just doesn't work... Too much to talk about.


Let's start with Yarndale - it's happening! I've even got as far as booking the coach (a big 83 seater!) but I'm not putting it on sale just yet. I'd like to use the new till to keep a closer eye on who's booked on. This is one of the biggest sources of stress for me when I do this coach thing - people cancelling and rebooking and swapping and eventually I'm absolutely confused about who's coming and who's not. So I'm going to use the full £2500 worth of the till and get my money's worth! Therefore, it wont go on sale until I'm happy that I've sorted all of the features. It doesn't necessarily have to be up and running in the shop (that'll not be until we're in the new shop) but I have to be sure I'm not going to bollocks everything up AND at the minute I'm checking that my barcodes work a lot so it's running in test conditions all the time. Last year Yarndale went on sale at the end of February so it will probably be a bit later but not majorly so don't worry. Also, because there are so many more seats everybody that wants to come should be fine. Boom.

The new shop! Is coming on a pace! I'm clearer with the dates now. I think the last day of trading here will be on Thursday the 24th of March which should allow us to open on the Wednesday or Thursday after Easter (30th/31st). Whatever happens, the VIP evening will be going ahead before the shop opens. The people that gave the most to the crowdfunder should get something special i.e. a first look. I'm also inviting the press there but we'll see if anything comes of that. And the business on the street will be there too. Hopefully. And there *will* be a chance to get more tickets at a more affordable price - I suspect I'll do a raffle-y type thing i.e. pay a pound to get a chance to win. I know a lot of people want to come on the evening and it will be good but I don't want to be overwhelmed so there'll be a guest list and if your name's not on the list, you're not coming in. ;) It's going to be a bit of a practice evening for the new till and the way that the shop works. There'll also be chance to have a nosey downstairs. And goodie bags.

After that, the shop will be open as usual for a couple of days before we have a big old shop party like we usually do on the Saturday. Really looking forward to that, it'll be nice and relaxed and with you lot there it's always good fun. Anybody's welcome on that day and I want you all there! :)

In terms of the till, I'm getting the products on there right now. It's not maybe as simple as I wanted it to be. When adding products you can do it either by scanning the bar codes or by typing them. But I don't necessarily have every thing in stock at all times so I don't necessarily have the barcodes to scan. Also, the setup is really too big for this little shop especially with our beast of a till which still needs to be set up because that's how we're doing the book keeping until the new till is going. So, the options are, take a ball of every yarn in every colour home bit by bit, scan, bring back. Or use the document that King Cole and Cygnet have sent me which doesn't have barcodes to scan but does have the actual codes to type in. It seems to be working so far, the numbers on there mean something so actually there is a pattern to it and you can get into rhythm. Once they're onto the till, you can set them out in a way that means that they're easy to find if the scanner doesn't work for some reason. The blokes at the shop warned me away from making that colourful but actually I think it's going to be useful so bugger it. The Pricewise looks like this now:


The colours are a bit difficult - especially beiges and browns but roughly the correlate and that should make life easier.

I've been through and done the majority of King Cole's DK yarns I think but I got tired of doing that. So tired. By like 8 o'clock on my day off. So I stopped and did something else, I forget what.

Last night I took three folders of patterns home to start getting them up on there because King Cole don't have those barcodes on a document, but when I started scanning the patterns in, all of the older ones were under the same bloody barcode! Once I realised I started putting all of the names of the patterns in but there's no enough space so I guess that will have to be called 'general pattern' and I'll have to keep an eye on it like I do at the minute but that's a bit annoying because patterns are my Achilles heel really, there's just too many to keep up with. Anyway, the newer patterns have different barcodes so as the old ones get discontinued/reprinted this should sort itself out. I feel like that's about £100 of till that I'm not making the most of though. Very frustrating. Haha.
The loyalty cards are a bit of a nightmare. So we can do that by giving out cards with barcodes on, scan that before we put the yarn through and then the computer works out your points. I could get plastic cards with barcodes printed. This is expensive but doable. I could get laminated card cards with barcodes printed. I'm waiting on a quote for these. Or I could get either plastic or laminated cards printed with space for me to print my own barcodes. I'm waiting on quotes for those too. I looked into getting a barcode printer but they're ridiculoulsy expensive, although the may be worth it in the end if I do have to print off lots. Either way, there's going to be a different way of doing loyalty cards in the new shop.

Another problem with it is this... and bear with, this is long and boring. So, at the moment you you get a stamp for every £10 spent and then when you have 20 stamps, you get £15 to spend in the shop. Easy right? On the till, I can get it to give you a stamp per £10 spent. No problem. But when you have 20 stamps, the till will only allow you to have £20. I can't make it give you £15. And what's more, neither can Chris... I'm looking at my profit margins, and how much more this shop is going to cost and I'm thinking I can't allow that to happen. £15 is the limit. So, if I can't make 20 stamps mean £15 then maybe I can make £200 mean 15 stamps. Mathmeticians, forgive me, this is based around 1.33333 but I can't remember how now. If I put 1.33333333 in somewhere, £200 turns into 15 points. Only, the till doesn't like anything past two digits past the decimal point which makes 1.33 and that doesn't make £15 but rather £15.38. Which is a weird amount. I guess, I could deal with that in terms of profit margins but how the bloody hell do I explain that to customers?!?!? Don't get me wrong, at any point we could go in and change the amount of points you have on there, i.e. we could take the 38p off or we could take the extra 5 off. But, the points will be written on your receipts to make it open for all to see, and how would you feel if I took five points off you or even .38 points? Rude! And then I'd spend my entire life explaining how that worked. Much better to used the full £2500 of till and get it right in the first place.
Another way to do all of this is to use the 'slice of the pie' option. Which means I can set it so that when you spend £200 you get £15 off. Brill right?! Only, you have to spend it all in one go. And I reckon I can count on my fingers and toes when people have spent £200 in one go in this shop. haha. Not going to happen. 
When we were first looking at this on Monday and realised we weren't able to sort it ourselves, I sent an e-mail to the till bloke, he seems to know what I mean and is thinking on the same lines that we are but he also has a job to do so it's taking a bit of time...

In terms of the other stuff with the shop, I now have two options for carpeting which is more than I thought I had last week! Part of the problem is that we're basically moving over Easter weekend which makes sense because we'd already be closed on the Friday, Sunday and Monday so we're only missing one trading day. But because of the date that we chose originally (the 25th) for swapping keys etc I wouldn't have been able to get anybody in to carpet until the Tuesday unless they could do the Saturday. We're now, as I said before, working towards the 24th which is the Thursday and leaves me a little freer because I have the potential to get a carpet in on Thursday. It's cutting it fine though but I've found a place that will fit on the Saturday and now, thanks to a customer, one that will fit on the Good Friday. So I'm just waiting for a quote from them and then we're good to go!

The signage is being designed as we speak - I've yet to decide whether I go for window decals - I deffo want some with the opening times, I'm hoping that might appease some people that tell me off when they come at 9 o'clock... I'm thinking of changing the opening times anyway. Sticking to a 10.30 opening - it works because I miss the traffic and I still get to do stuff like going to the bank and post office. But I think if I shut at 6pm I have a fighting chance of getting home for 7pm which gives me an evening. For example, yesterday I left at 6.50 and didn't then get home until 7.50. I still had to make and eat dinner, do some work and then try and spend some time with lovely Chris. That extra time I think will be worth a lot to me and very little to you guys, especially now that we're so much closer to town and you won't have to walk out of town for ten minutes to get to us. It also means that evening lessons are a bit more doable - with two and a half hour slots rather than two hours. We could also potentially have a late opening night or late opening by appointment. Still, I'm thinking through this all.

Hmmmm. What else have I got to say?

We've got more Gill Page bags! Including this beaut:

Yes, they are typewriters and yes, Gill has matched the insides beautifully:
Isn't she good!? Not only is that print on the inside of the typewriter bags, but it's also it's own little miniature zippy bag. Ahhhhhhh. She's good isn't she?! 

I think that's it!? Maybe? I'm sure there's more to say but I did tell you that I would keep you up to date with the shop to try and stop so many of the questions (I love you all but there's only so many times I can answer the same questions without wanting to murder you...). You're genuinely up to date with everything. LOVE.

Oooooh. I'm going with Jem Weston and Steph from Nettynot to the Stitches show on Monday - it's a bit like the Knit and Stitch show but it's for trade only. I'm feeling a bit apprehensive - I am genuinely not a people person despite what everybody thinks and spending all day with lots of people really takes it out of me. But I've got to go and see what's on the market. We have much more room now and I want to expand our range sensibly, not just based on who's been in contact or I've heard of. Any suggestions? Just to let you know where I'm going first - West Yorkshire Spinners, Stylecraft and Viridian who are a wholesalers who specialise in sock yarn, particularly Opal. I'm open to other suggestions though if you've got stuff you want to see (but do remember it's not as simple as just liking a yarn, I've got to like it, it's got to fit in with the range that we have i.e. not be replicating something we have, it's got to be something that we're allowed to sell i.e. we're not within a certain radius of other shops, and I've got to have the money on hand to make the minimum order with that stockists amongst other things but I am still curious to know what you'd like!).

That's got to be it, I'm going to the Lush evening with Vezza and she's due any minute, the shop's a mess and I haven't answered my e-mails and I made a mistake on the till earlier when I had like 20 customers in that I still haven't put right. Gah!

Love Eleanor. xxx

P.s. I haven't even got time to re-read this. Muchos apologies for typs and spelling mistakes.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

This is not the blog I was expecting to be writing.

WOW! Wow wow wow wow wow wow wow! I literally am in awe and I don't know where to start.

Perhaps I'll start at what I said to Toni when she was in the shop as I pressed 'go' on the crowdfunder:

'I'll put an extra week on, that'll give us a bit more of a chance'.

Or what I said on my personal Facebook page:

'P.s. If you're thinking about donating, apparently if I get 10 backers within 24 hours I'm 90% more likely to reach my target.... Just sayin'.....'

Or what I said to Chris a couple of days ago:

'It doesn't matter if we reach the goal, it'll all help and I'll just have to borrow a little less but maybe I should put the goal down a bit?'.

Honestly, this was not the blog I thought I'd be writing. And I don't know how to thank everybody enough. I honestly don't. You know sometimes, when things are a bit shit - say, you're in the middle of a big fight with the council and stuff's going a bit wrong at home and you have a lot of people (solicitors, surveyors, carpet people, signage writers) bothering you constantly whilst you're trying to get on and do your job - you need a bit of a kick up the arse. And this was it! Smashing the crowdfunding target in four hours was all the proof I need that Knit Nottingham is a little bit magic and means something to a lot of people and for that I am ridiculously grateful and immensely proud and just a little bit daunted at how I'm going to spend this money sensibly and not just buy ALL THE WOOL IN THE WORLD!

I have allowed myself this morning to dream big about the till system I could get if we reached the stretch target (the original was £2000 and the stretch is another £2000. We're actually half way to the stretch target already. Astounded). It didn't actually enter my head that we'd be into the stretch target at all, never mind within 24 hours! So the plan was vague with what I'd do with extra money - there are options, different wools, sorting out the basement, a nicer carpet in a knit print - but I think, sensibly, a till will make the most difference to the shop.

With the increased stock we'll have being able to take a quick snapshot of what's available will be useful, it'll also save me saying 'I'm sure I saw it the other day' and scrabbling round to find a solitary ball that I might have sold yesterday and forgotten about. And that in itself should save messing the shop up like I do now which will save on tidying. And the tills that I'm looking at have the automatic loyalty cad thing going so lost cards will be no problem. And it'll keep a record of what you've bought in the past if you want to do a signing in thingy so we'll never forget again! And I won't have to trundle through scrolls and scrolls of till receipts to do my accounts. And, finally, when we get an upgraded e-commerce site (which is a looooooong way off) it will mean that the stock can be integrated and therefore you'll know what you're buying and whether it's in stock and therefore it not only helps the internet customers but it also helps those of your that are shop customers checking out wool before you come in. Boom right?! So I think I've made my decision that any stretch target money goes towards that and if I have to I'll save more or borrow (sensibly) to make up the shortfall.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I set a good target, higher than I thought that we could achieve and each and every one of you that contributed or shared or talked about this thing has honestly just about made my life.

I haven't read all of the comments yet, I tried to when I was on the bus last night but I just couldn't get through them. It was making me feel all weird inside to have nice things said - I prefer tough love... ;) But I love them and I will read and respond when I'm feeling less emotionally drained.

And thank you.

And sob.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Tuesday, 2 February 2016


Ahhhhh the blog as an escape. If you've been following the vlog or the facebook and twitter over the last day or two you'll know that it's been quite a rollercoaster! I now have the biggest headache and the shop has been fabulously busy (thank you!) so, once again, tidying has been left to the side and I have a lot of shop to tidy!

Hopefully soon much more shop to tidy!

Which is where you lot come in. This crowdfunder wasn't my original idea but I've been absolutely taken aback by the response to the new shop and the offers of help I've had. In terms of physical help, I'll be putting calls out later, but right now we need a financial boost. I have saved a lot and I was intending to borrow (sensibly) but I've already had people sending me money via paypal and now I just need to put it on a more formal footing.

You can read all of the information on the crowdfunder itself as well as on the accompanying vlog and I'm sure I'll talk more about it as we get there but essentially, if everybody that follows us and has had help from us puts in a fiver, we're there. We're more than there. Put in what you can and if you can't then do what you can by sharing the crowdfunder and related posts and talking about us to your friends and family and buying from us and coming to workshops and hopefully, with a little help, we'll soon be the most central independent yarn shop that Nottingham's had for YEARS!

I love you alllllllllllllllllllllllllllll.

Love Eleanor. xxxxx

P.s. Once more - the crowdfunder is here!