Friday, 23 December 2016


I can't be the only one who is glad to see the back of 2016. In fact, I know I'm not. What a year. The hippies on the street tell me that mercury has been in retrograde for the entire year and to be fair it's felt like society has been for a lot of it. I look back at Christmas last year and cannot for the life of me think that I knew what was going to happen (even after the shit storm that last Christmas was...). I've spent much of the year wallowing - amazed that humanity can stoop as low as it has, fearing where we go from here, wondering whether what we thought was our community was ever our community, knowing that my privilege has shielded me from the worst of it for the longest time, wishing some people would just shut up. The overwhelming feeling for me has been bleakness, blackness - but that makes the best backdrop for the shining, twinkly moments. It's truly been the year where I've appreciated the few good bits viscerally and that's what I'll share with you here.

There's really only one true story for Knit Nottingham this year. The move. The big bloody move. It was needed. It had been on my mind for years. The old shop was overwhelmingly small. I sometimes felt like I couldn't breathe and I can't pretend that I was happy towards the end. I actually applied for a masters degree. I needed to get out of there somehow. How lucky am I that I didn't get accepted??? It was a long shot anyway but for the first time in a long time I now feel like I have a hold of my future and I certainly didn't then. I couldn't even sort out the orders that came in - they mainly sat outside the shop as I sorted through them. If they didn't the shop looked like this:


It was only a few days ago when Facebook memories popped up with this beaut:

The responses were mixed but positive enough that I followed them up. I couldn't believe my luck! I'd already offered on two other shops and been turned down or let down and this one seemed too good to be true. The landlord is a dream, the downstairs is big and nice enough to work from, the upstairs a manageable size but FOUR TIMES bigger (!!!) with interesting little nooks and crannies in a beautiful street.

 Can we all take a moment to understand how much I've come to love this little street? Seriously. I feel at home here now. I miss Mansfield Road and I often find myself wandering up there to see my lovely friends. Mansfield Road is rough and colourful and vibrant and full of different cultures - the people are grafters, mainly immigrants working hard for their families, living a life full of dullness, fullness, excitement, every day problems just like you or I. This street is more mundane, more British, and I found it difficult to adjust at first - everybody was lovely (mainly) - I found I had to live up to something (and when I find myself feeling like that I realise in the end it's only ever me that's making myself do it but still, it's a feeling). But I have a real fondness for it. There's a history here. Little windows in the buildings across used in the lace industry, a chunk taken out of my shop that nobody knows who it belongs to, a pipe in the loo that occasionally leaks because it relates to a drainage system built 300 years ago.We went on to a Christmas breakfast the other day at the Hilton (because we're all too knackered at the end of the day...) and it was wonderful! The people here are inspiring and funny. 

Running the crowdfunder was a shock to me. I'd had it suggested many times before and I'd dismissed the idea. I'm a business, I'm not a multi-national corporation here to rake in all I can get but I am here to make money and the idea of turning that somehow into a charity felt alien to me. But the more people that sent me dribs and drabs of money through PayPal or just in the shop because they were excited about the new shop and wanted to help made me realise that they're not paying me because I'm a charity but because I, and every person that is a part of this community, has built something quite special here. Sometimes when the right people are in the shop at the right time with the right amount of wool and chocolate, it feels magical. That's what they were paying for. I thought long and hard and spent weeks putting together the material that I needed and low and behold we BLOODY SMASHED IT! If ever I've been feeling down this year I just think back to that evening when I was on the bus home from work and my phone was ping ping ping ping ping ping pinging with all the donations and messages of support. Incredible. It still makes my eyes water, though I've gotten over the sobbing.... ;)

That money was incredibly useful. It took a strain out of moving that I'm not sure I even knew was there. My plan was to use my savings, borrow a bit, build the shop up bit by bit but that money meant that moving was plain sailing. Sure there were a few problems, but when you have cashflow in business most problems can be solved. Run out of storage? Instead of chucking it in bags down the cellar we bought the most beautiful baskets. Need a shelf in a specific place to keep the paperwork? Quick, Chris, nip down to BnQ. I can't actually put into words how that money helped. It was a security blanket that I didn't know I needed and I'm 100% convinced that it was that that stopped me having a breakdown through the move (and I'm not even exaggerating). The fact that we doubled the target and were able to buy a new till system may have caused some hassle in the setting up - especially the bloody loyalty cards (remember that!?!?) - but now we're VAT registered (because you lot have been spending so much!) it's an actual life saver.

The first few weeks here were a whirlwind.

 An actual whirlwind. The shop was SO busy. I can't even begin to describe! It was so lovely to see some faces that I didn't see very often, so lovely to share everybody's joy and have them share mine. It helped that the shop looked so snazzy because so many of my beautiful customer friends had helped. Moving was hard work. Long days and stress, a vomiting bug on the day I'd set aside for resting, a family health crisis, beautiful Versace got run over and we had to put her down. It all came at once. But the thing that kept me going was how quickly and unreservedly people offered help and then followed through. I hope I'm able to do the same for these wonderful people one day. I hope that no matter how stressful running this little shop is I remember the gratitude I felt then and now and pass it forward as easily and happily as they did.

It was good fun, as hard work usually is (even if it takes a few weeks to realise). I kept on top of everything for a long while. Stuff was getting on the internet, hoovering was done, pots were washed, lessons were taught, orders were sent, vlogs were made. But come June, with the result of the referendum, I gave up. I realised recently that the constitutional legal talk took me right back to my degree during which I was incredibly depressed. I'm still amazed and still reeling - this year has been about hard work in my business, confidence that we could pull it off, hope for the future - the referendum puts that in peril. Have no doubt about it. I believe we're in a good position to weather the storm and I'm doing all I can to put plans into place. I worry about other indie businesses that I speak to and admire. But all I can do is keep plodding on. There's some fight in me now, like there wasn't towards the end of the old shop, and I'll use that to the best of my ability but it's a dangerous place right now for businesses so I implore you, as I always do - shop small, we need you more than ever.

A sparkling twinkly moment was getting Zoe in!

This woman is a marvel. I put off getting anybody in for a long time because I was so scared about VAT (still am to be frank) but I couldn't put it off any longer. There were a few candidates but I can't tell you how grateful I am for this woman's steady, good-natured, hard work. Customers adore her and I trust her and I couldn't ask for more.

Of course, there's been new yarn. I've got rid of some suppliers who were hanging round my neck and got new ones in who have been a joy to work with. It's interesting the contrast between some suppliers and others - ones that can't do enough and appreciate the money, others that apparently can do without it. I've worked hard over the last two years in putting boundaries into place in all aspects of my life and that extends to suppliers. We're a big shop now, with a big turnover, I have some power over my shop and I vote with my money. King Cole as always, get a huge shout out. A joy to work with and constantly providing beautiful yarns at fantastic prices, with a rep who feels like a friend but is professional when called for and the women (and gent) in the office who know who I am as soon as I say 'hello' and go out of their way to make my life easy and are happy to share a joke (ladybirds with std's anybody???). Viridian are new to me and an absolute pleasure to work with too. They're the ones that give us the Opal wool, but something that you lot won't know about, they put a little packet of Haribo in every order and it's just the ticket after you've unpacked and put on the till and hung up hundreds of needles.

I'm going to avoid going into detail about all the yarn because I'm hoping over the next few weeks that I might get back to new yarn blog posts on here and given that I'm about four/five months behind getting stuff on the internet, there's a lot to talk about! But I am getting there with Zoe's help in the shop.

One more shout out needs to go to the Association of Independent Yarn Shop Owners. For me it mainly takes place around a facebook group for yarn shop owners but it's more than that - there's a newsletter, they organise meetings with suppliers, man a facebook group for yarn shops across the country - you can find that here. Many of these business people have become friends and it's my main port of call for a moan or to share a funny story or for advice or for moral support.

And finally, I ought to end with a massive shout out to Chris. My lovely Dr Christopher. It's been three and a half years now and I'm not sure how I'd have got through this year without him. In fact, I'm not sure that this would have happened at all without him. It's a strange feeling when you've found 'the one' (or at least 'one of the many potential humans to share a life with in this world') - people call it 'love' but actually I think it's just a form of confidence - not the only form mind - but the confidence that somebody's on your side, in your corner, or maybe in the corner that you created together. Chris has been more than in our corner this year, he's been in the shop, at the Post Office, at the hardware store, in the kitchen, doing the washing and most importantly sat next to me on the sofa whilst I'm knitting in the evening watching a history documentary with me. He's a good'un and I can't wait to start planning the #cabbagewedding with him properly next year. Look at him all dressed up when he became a doctor. That doctor face ey!?

Every year I say it's been a rollercoaster but it's never been more true than this year. It wasn't a write off was it? There were excellent bits in between. And examples of how kind humanity can be for me personally but also in the wider world. Next year we must get ready for a fight, we must be present and political, we must hold people to account and monitor their actions, but most importantly (and something that I've actually discovered this year instead of just paying lip service) we must find the time to nurture ourselves and our dreams because I'm the proof that hard work and a fantastic community around you gets you somewhere.

Thank you for all your support this year, in many ways, thank you for being kind and generous and understanding and thank you for your creativity.
Love Eleanor. xxxxx

P.s. here are some photos that didn't make it into the blog story but deffo needed to be on here:

THE BLANKET! I underestimated how hard this was going to be to sew together but I did and now every day it sits in the corner of the shop reminding us (and proving to the unbelievers) how much Knit Nottingham means to us all. Love it.  

She survived.

Elizabeth and Zimmerman came to live with us. The little characters. Ahhhh.

The shop on the opening day. I still look at it and can't believe it's mine. It looks so damn snazzy!

The beloved old shop. 

The beloved new shop. Quite a difference ey? :)