Friday, 13 March 2015

Blergh :(

Since July last year (specifically after our holiday) I started to feel a little run down. It happens with me, being an ignorer of my fibromyalgia. I thought nothing of it, and continued on my merry way.

In December I started having small panic attacks, and thought I was just worried about travelling back to Kent to meet Adam's friends at a wedding in a place I'd never been to before... Most people will know I hate travelling, I'm a bit of a control freak and travelling means things outside of my control.

It all went well, obviously, and I thought that would be it.

Well, when we went on holiday in February it started up again, less panicky, but still little ones. We got engaged which was the best day of my life so far, then I got a cold and things haven't been great since.

I feel tired, but I can't sleep properly. My whole body aches. I constantly feel sick, and I'm struggling to eat anything. I have IBS symptoms again. 

But mostly I just feel numb. I mean, seriously, I just got engaged and we've booked the registry office and the reception, and I'm kinda oh alright about it now. I was so excited at the time, but now... Meh.

I was very brave and went to the doctor on Thursday. She made me fill out a quiz type thing and I have mild depression and moderate anxiety (scores of 9 and 14). Well, I knew that already! I'm going for a butt load of blood tests on Tuesday.

I'm really hoping its just my vitamin D dipped again. I can't understand how it could really, after the massive mega dose I was on a couple of years ago, but maybe my maintanence isn't enough and I've used up my reserves. Or my B12 isn't absorbing properly and I'll need injections forever. 

Those things I can handle! But I'm very much a person who looks on the bad side and I constantly worry that its something more... 

I feel sorry for Adam the most. I have no energy outside of work, and he's doing all the household stuff. He's even encouraging me to take showers and helping me wash my hair and stuff. He's the most amazing guy ever, he told me that no matter what happens he is here for me, and he loves me and will do whatever it takes to get me better. Even if it means closing my shop. 

Oh the plus side! I've lost 6lbs and my blood pressure and pulse are perfect :P

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Don't be *that* business owner...

I saw on Twitter that there was an indie dyer trying to guilt trip people into supporting theirs and other indie businesses by saying that cold sheeping (giving up buying yarn for a determined length of time) harms their businesses. 

I will admit, I always feel a little sad when people come in to my shop and tell them they are not buying right now, but I'm not there for everyone to buy from (as lovely as that would be!). I'm there to provide inspiration, guidance and support. If you're not buying yarn right now, maybe I can help you find the right pattern/book to use up some of your stash. Maybe I have an item already knit up that would be the perfect pattern for that special skein of yarn. Maybe they don't know about Ravelry and I guide them there...

Yes I will get annoyed when people constantly come in for free advice with yarn bought elsewhere and never buy anything from me. But I won't make you feel guilty if you are cold sheeping.

I understand having a stash. I have one myself. I've barely bought any yarn over the past year because I am concious of my stash. My money situation is low (I've taken on a second job now though so thats getting better and I can keep my shop a little longer yay!), and time has been precious for making shop samples using shop yarn rather than my own stash.

So I get it. And I will chat to you about what types of yarn you have in your stash, and what types of items you like to make and whats currently on your needles rather than trying to guilt you and make you buy yarn.

I want my shop to be a safe place for people to come and talk to me about their stash! Sometimes they are hiding the full extent of it, but they can come to me and tell me what they have, as there is no-one else to talk to about it. I want people to enjoy their time in my shop so that when they are looking to buy more yarn, hopefully they will remember what fun they had chatting to me, and come back to see what might inspire them.

As my readers here will know, I'm not happy with my shop sales at the moment. But the shop is paying beautifully for itself, and in fact, sales are starting to pick up (its cold, people want to knit, its new year, new hobby time!). If a customers asks me, I'll say its ok. I had one customer ask me today if I'm covering costs and I told her I don't talk about things like that. She doesn't need to know the details! The only people that do are me and the tax man!!! 

Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh yes. Don't be stupid and start making people mad because you are trying to make them guilty. I think what it all boils down to is this: Take responsibility for your own actions. If your sales are down in January/February, why? Did you run a promotion to try to keep your customers interested? Introduce new colours/yarn bases? Its one of the reasons big stores kick of January with a sale! Sure it gets rid of slow moving lines, but also it draws people in to your shop, they will look around (and this goes for bricks and mortar and online stores), and will more than likely buy something full price as well as some sale items.

I've got MillaMia on sale at 35% off. I've barely sold any! Most people are buying full price yarns. But its the sale thats bringing them in (consumer behaviour, did you know I have a degree in Retail Management?!). 

And be nice to your customers. Thank them, tell them to have a nice day! I always tell them to enjoy their project, and ask them to bring it back and show me when they are done if they'd like too. 

I think I'm starting to ramble here, but yeah. I'm trying to be more positive, and I do feel more positive right now!

Shall I tell you about the second job? I've gone back to my old job at the sustainable supermarket on Sundays, and its going to make things that much easier (even just a Sundays worth of pay!) that we can start saving for wedding (which still isn't official yet, but we've decided March 2017 hahaha!).

Smile everyone! Go and hug your stash! Go back through it, find that forgotten skein of yarn that made you feel all kinds of wonderful when you got it, and remember why you knit/crochet. Because you want to! 

Have fun :)

Monday, 5 January 2015


One of my goals this year is to learn embroidery. Not only can you get some really awesome designs to stitch, embroidery can also be used to jazz up knitted items. So win win for me!

I made a heart just before Christmas, and tried out back stitch, french knots and lazy daisy. I already knew the first two stitches as I was a major cross stitcher when I was younger. I really enjoyed it, and started looking for more designs. 

I had a browse through Pinterest and saw a really cute tree design. I have a recipent in mind, but I also want to display it in the shop for a while first. Pinterest took me to Urban Threads where I found the design and a few others I liked - and they are all just $1! Which is like 65p! 

I found a tutorial to transfer the design on  to the fabric using tracing paper. Basically 
you print out the design, trace it and then turn the tracing paper over on to the fabric (so pencil side down) and then trace the design again on to the fabric. Its a little labour intensive, but it worked really well.

As you can see from the above picture! I'm using multicoloured Anchor threads.

I finished stitching today, and I really enjoyed it. I've done it all in back stitch, and my stitches are really tiny, but smaller stitches give you a better curve. 

I need to decide how to finish it for display now, and I'll show you what I do for that! But I've already started my next design - a crescent moon! Pictures soon!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Don't be *that* customer... Please...

After the wonderfulness of yesterday, as soon as I saw that it was raining today I knew it would be bad. This town is very much a fair weather town and you can pretty much guarantee that rain = no customers.

So the ones that do come I always make a fuss over and give them a little extra help coz I'm so happy they came out in bad weather! 

Well this customers had come in before christmas and told me about this yarn she'd bought elsewhere and wasn't sure what to do with. I told her to bring it in and I'd have a look and see if ai could suggest anything.

She bought it in and it was boucle yarn. I've never knit with boucle yarn, no experience with it and I told her so. It was unlabelled, no yarn weight or any details like that, which is usually given on yarn labels so its easier to work out how to use it! I told her the best thing to do was a few gauge swatches with different needle sizes and see which fabric she liked best and then we could find a pattern to match her gauge.

She clearly wasn't happy with this answer, and said she never did gauge swatches because she was didn't like doing them, I tried to lighten the mood by saying I didn't like them either, but they were needed to make sure our projects would work out correctly.

The next question came with a commercially made cardigan. She said she could work out how many stitches to cast on, she just needed to know what the yarn was. Now from what the little I know about machine made garments, the yarns aren't the same as our standard hand knitting yarns, and machine knitting creates slightly different tensions. I said it was difficult to know without unravelling part of it as when yarn is knitted it can look thicker or thinner, but that it could be a DK weight. I was about to suggest we find a pattern that looked similar and use that, but she huffed up that I couldn't tell her exactly, told me she was going to a yarn shop elsewhere and that she had intended to buy everything from me. 

Now I could easily have said yeah thats a DK yarn, you'll probably need about 600g of it, and sent her on her way. But I know it wouldn't have worked, and that she would have been back yelling at me and demanding a refund because I sold her the wrong thing to copy this comericalky made cardigan. I'm not in the habit of selling things to people that won't work, as much as I want to make a living wage from my job, I'm also not going to fleece people. I want them to enjoy knitting and come back because I'm helpful and guide them in the right directions.

So trying to explain this to the customer I grabbed a DK yarn off the shef and held it to the cardigan and showed her how difficult it was to tell. She said "You don't need to get so defensive!" to which I replied "You don't need to be so rude when I'm trying to help you!". And then she left.

And I cried. Because I'm a human being, I have feelings, and I'm trying to help you to the best of my ability.

I ate ice cream, and cried on my next door shop neighbours shoulder, and then on my friends shoulder, and I just couldn't stop crying for about an hour. Luckily there were no customers for that hour, otherwise things would have been awkward.

But I just want to say that I would never not help someone unless it is beyond my skill set. At which point I will find someone who can help. And I was just trying to save this woman some money and time for an idea that wouldn't have worked. 

So please, please, please don't be that customer ever. Try to think about what someone is telling you. Sure you'll be disappointed that its not going to work, but when someone with a lot more experience is trying to explain why its difficult... Listen to them. Don't just huff, listen to them, understand, and remember we are all human beings trying to make a living! 

Not so bad a day

OToday was the first day back in the shop after Christmas. I was a little nervous after everything I've been talking about, thought it might be really quiet.

But it was really busy! Thought I'd have a chance to call my nan (she's been really ill over Christmas), and had just started chatting when the first customer walked in. She's a regular and I always seem to be on the phone! She signalled that she was fine browsing, so I chatted a little more to my nan, telling her off for not going to the hospital for an IV drip when she was soo dehydrated. Then another customer came in (another regular) and I said goodbye to my nan and started chatting to my customers.

After they left I had a steady stream of regulars and new people, most bought items and I was left thinking if every day was like today then this could really work. It really could! 

In amongst the custoners I managed to knit a little bit, and finished these socks that I started before Christmas. 
They are Regia 6 ply, and my standard 3x1 rib pattern. I generally stick to 3x1 riv now as they show off the self-patterning yarns really well for shop displays.

At home tonite I've had a lovely relaxibg evening. We booked some activities for our holiday in February using the refund from our lowest price guaranteed in booking initial holiday, which meant I could have three spa treatments! I'm goinv to have a luxury manicure which will include paraffin wax, and a paraffin wax pedicure (not as luxury as no nail polish included), and a rythmic massage. Not sure what that involves yet but it was the cheapest one! A full hour massage was £72, and I'm a qualified holistic therapist and wouldn't charge that much for an individually designed treatment!

I spent the rest of the evening with my embroidery. Its a design from Urban Threads, and I used tracing paper to transfer the design onto a piece of cotton material. I'm using Anchor multi coloursd threads to stitch with, and being very adventurous and just using backstitch! Heres my progress so far:

Thursday, 1 January 2015

2015... Bring it!

In light of my last blogpost (which was written at about 2am with tears streaming down my face), I've decided I need to start being a little more open about things, stop storing them inside me and stop trying to do everything by myself.

I read a blogpost from Joeli's Kitchen about her aims for 2015, and it was fearlessness. I'm adopting this goal for myself. 

Towards the end of last year my anxiety kicked in big time. I went back to Kent for a visit as one of Adam's friends was getting married (we're both from Kent you see, but we never knew each other when we both lived there). It was the first time in 3 years that I'd been back for a visit, and we were staying with A's mum in an area I didn't know, going to a wedding in a place I'd never been to meet people I'd never met.

Cue anxiety with crying, feeling sick constantly, just wanting to hide in a hole! I was convinced I wasn't going to go, and even on the day I freaked at the train station and insisted we got on a different train and went a different way to get where we needed to go.

But it was all fine, and I got through it. Fearlessness. I knew I had to do it otherwise I'd be crippled with fear for everything, and we've booked a holiday in February which is going to involve the same travel pretty much and I really need this holiday! I don't want to be freaking out about it.

So I'm going to grab things by the horns and run with them! I'm going to do everything I can to make my business work by being fearless, and asking for things, be it discounts from my suppliers, support from my friends or whatever. I'm going to make sure my relationship has everything it needs to stay good and happy.

And along side this I've decided to be happy with who I am. After my break up with the ex I lost weight, and with him I was already on the borderline of being underweight, the break up pushed it further. Well, since Adam and being insanely happy I've put on 3 and a half stone (I've lost half of that now), and have boobs and a nice shape and you can no longer play music on my ribs. I've decided to embrace this larger me and be happy with her, rather than freak out that I'm fat, and stop eating like I've done before.

But, I'm going to eat better. I'm vegan and gluten free for health reasons, and oh its so easy to be an unhealthy gluten free vegan! Chips are going bye bye coz I eat them too much. Crisps on occassion. Going back to the more expensive but better for me bread which I'll be able to afford by giving up the chips. More vegetables. Fruit at work. Better forms of protein, with more nuts and seeds. Use my slow cooker better.

So thats the plan for 2015. In terms of crafting I'd like to make at least two cardigans for myself, and another one for Adam, plus more socks for both of us. I also want to spin more yarn, and maybe get a little bit more work/fun knitting balance and use my stash!

I'll end with a picture of the socks I made Adam for Christmas, and a picture of us from new year.

The yarn is Laughing Yaffle and the pattern is 3x1 rib with numbers from my head.

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