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Artwork by Patrick DolanMore Information

Guest Blog – My Workspace.

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When I was first asked to do this blog I had no idea what I’d talk about – my work is run-of-the-mill to me. Turns out I’m a right natterer and can go on forever but this first idea took hold and I even got my lovely friend to take some photos for me so I’ll go ahead with this and hopefully make it interesting…

I’m going to talk about my work space and what’s in it. Here’s the first photo:

I guess the first thing you notice is what a bloody mess it is! I’ll confess, I’m about the messiest person I know – you don’t want to see my room – it’s clean and all, no rats (hopefully), but there are piles and piles and piles all around. Wool mainly, patterns, material, books full of inspiration, magazines, tax forms, receipts, half-finished projects, needles, cups and saucers, tea pots… oh gosh, the list is endless! It’s getting ridiculous but with the small amount of time I have off I like to spend it on nice things, or at least on things to benefit the shop.

So, it’s a mess. Mainly, customers say it’s not a problem, they can get to what they want and can see it’s creative mess. Half finished projects often end up selling the yarns so I like to make sure I’m only working on shop yarns and patterns whilst I’m here. Somebody once said my shop reminds them of their French grandmother’s living room. I liked that a lot. It’s important for me to make sure the shop doesn’t look sterile, customers should be able to feel like they can get the yarns out and look at them in daylight and together with other colours. That’s mega important. So I’m not too worried about the state of the shop.

But just worried enough to purchase a ‘storage solution’ of which I am awfully proud:

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I bought it from Daphne’s Handbag just up the road and it cost me maybe a little too much but the lovely Judd carried it up the road for free so who am I to complain?! Not that it’s really made anything tidier… Next door also gave me a free pancake that day with sugar and lemon juice (it wasn’t pancake day) so maybe that’s why I like it so much. The storage solution that was the bringer of free pancakes!

There’s our little laptop there too. Cute thing it is. Nine inches wide, seven inches deep and seven inches high. I’m sure it’s called something other than a laptop but it’s got a screen and gets me onto the internet which is the same stuff that my actual laptop does so that name will have to stick.

Computers are really important to us. It’s our access to free marketing especially facebook and Ravelry (which I’ll talk about in another post). Facebook is fabulous, though I feel like I’ve sold my soul by buying into it so much. I love the fact that I can post a photo like this:

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and my customers can ‘like’ or comment or ask questions. It’s a good way to get customer-to-customer interaction which is important for us because so often selling yarn is about how it is to work with and with the best will in the world I can’t work with every yarn. The same applies to patterns. So it means that one customer can say ‘I’ve seen this lovely yarn in the shop but I’m not sure about working with acrylic, what do you lot think?’, somebody might talk about why acrylic is the devil’s work and that there’s a better alternative in the shop and somebody else might talk about how much they loved that yarn but be careful about the colour. Or whatever. All of that interaction and sales patter is happening whilst I’m sat happily oblivious, reading the paper in the sun outside of the shop. What a smasher!

I also use the computer to look up yarns. There’s been a lot of interest lately in vintage patterns but if a pattern’s over five or six years old, chances are that the yarn’s been discontinued and any stock has been knitted up. So I need to find out basic information like what thickness it is and what colours it came in so that I can offer a suitable alternative. Ravelry, the website I mentioned before, also allows you to look up a pattern and see who else has made it and what alterations, if any were made. That’s great, especially if the customer isn’t a standard size.

Maybe I’ll talk about the knitting which takes up much of the photo… Gorgeous isn’t it!? But not mine sadly, it’s being knitted by Jazz, our lovely helper, out of our Bamboo/Cotton yarn which is the smoothest, drapiest most jewel-y toned yarn this side of the equator (though that’s not a great shade to show you how jewel-y the tones are I guess, but it is a beautiful shade). Wow, what a long sentence!

Believe it or not the yarn is actually made out of the bamboo plant, it’s blended with cotton to finish it off. Bamboo on its own stretches, and stretches, and stretches. Unbelievably so, the cotton works against that and also means the price can be kept down a little. One company even made a yarn out of milk – bloody milk – can you believe it?!?! It boggles the mind. For the most part, I’ll stick with wool and cotton and maybe a little bamboo.

You can see the camera too. We got that (for free!) second-hand from one of the partner’s Mums. We’re grateful but it’s a temperamental little thing! The focus almost never works, it eats batteries like I drink tea and it’s developed the charming habit of telling me it’s full after taking only one photo. Mostly I cope with that, I only need one photo for a quick facebook update but it’s always been on my mind to do little how-to’s on the shop’s blog and it sort of spoils the flow when you have to take a photo, upload it, spend ten minutes wrestling to delete the photo and start again. But we cope. I’ve developed a relationship with it now, sort of like a troublesome stepchild, I must like it anyway or we’d just get a new one…

The pink spiky thing in the background is ‘Mr Octopus’, also known as Octavius Celaphopod for the slightly less cretinous among us. I call him Mr Octopus… He’s the cutest crochet octopus that ever there was and is on sale for just £15!

Finally, you see just a little bit of the view. Directly opposite us is Nottingham’s branch of Relate and I must admit I do a fair bit of people watching sat in my little shop keeper’s spot. Mansfield Road is a real melting pot and I love being immersed in cultures that I would otherwise have no part of. Jamaica’s a big influence for us, not least because our favourite little helper Jazz hails from there. I think it’s Jamaica that’s sent me on my crochet bent – not much call for woolly jumpers out there. My, my, I’ve seen some sights down here but this is a family blog – I’ll not go into that…

That’s enough rambling folks, see you next time!