I can’t believe Woolfest has come and gone. So much preparation goes into big shows such as Woolfest, Yarndale, Edinburgh Yarn Festival, etc, and then, in a flash, it is over. I have to admit, though, that when I see my stand set up I do feel a sense of pride knowing that everything on the stand has come out of my tiny dye shed in Assynt, and more to the point the whole stand has been transported in our tiny Fiat Panda and trailer!
Thank you to one and all who came to Woolfest and who made a point of coming to say hello. It was lovely to see you all, and I am sorry if I don’t remember names. Part of the problem with names is many fibre folk have 3 names – their real name, their Ravelry name and a Twitter name, and so it is easy to get muddled! And a big thank you too to Dorothy and Lizzi who, once again, helped on the stand.
Since returning home I have dived straight back into work again as I have a couple of special custom orders. One is still under wraps, but the other is for Knockando Wool Mill. If you’ve never visited the Mill I would urge you to do so. It is a fascinating place and set in the very beautiful Spey Valley. I have been dyeing for Knockando for a couple of years now, and love the rustic feel of the yarn. My hands are extremely soft at the moment as the yarn is full of lanolin. It is a non-superwash yarn, and so it takes the dye very differently to the Ripples Crafts range of yarns. Colours are much more muted, but really in keeping with the surroundings of the Mill and the beautiful tweed which they produce. The first batch of dyed yarn will be heading back to Knockando next week and I look forward to seeing it on their shelves.
As with any independent business it always feels like there is a lot of juggling of tasks going on. Dyeing, of course, is the main focus for me most of the time, and Stevan takes the load off by doing many of the tasks I don’t have the skills for such as maintaining the IT side of things, and writing the notes for the Yarn Notes from Assynt Yarn club, as well as more practical tasks such as the PO run each day. Besides the dyeing there is always the need to think ahead, plan, ponder on whether or not to add different yarns to the collection, admin, accounts, and so the list goes on. But even with all the juggling, I still think I have one of the best jobs!
I know many small business owners are feeling unsettled by the outcome of the recent referendum in the UK. I certainly am. All of those UK indie businesses in the wool world that I know work hard to provide a living for themselves and, in many instances, their whole family. From yarn spinners, to designers, to dyers – we love what we do but we haven’t chosen the easiest of lives. We need our customers from all over the world, including Europe, in order to keep the business sustainable. To be very personal for a moment, I certainly did not reject the EU and I very much regret the outcome of the referendum. But it will be many months before the way forward becomes clear, and so, in the meantime, I will keep on keeping on, and I look forward to continuing to trade with and in the EU. From a business perspective, some of my yarn bases are sourced in Europe (Reliable Sock and Doubly Reliable Sock), and it is inevitable that prices for these will rise given the fluctuation in the UK Pound at the moment, but I stocked up on these bases before the Referendum, and so there will not be a price rise in the immediate future. I have spoken to the suppliers for my other bases and they have assured me that there will not be immediate rises for these either. All of which is good news. And in the current climate I am trying hard to focus on the good news!