Christmas is Coming - I'm Freaking Out!

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Okay, okay, I know it’s ridiculous to be stressed out by this, and in real life terms (ie: mommy and wife terms) I haven’t even given Chrimbo a second, or third thought (perhaps that’s part of the problem?!) For those of us in the retail world Xmas 2018 is launching right about now. Remember all those hot summer weeks we had? Smart retailers, or those in the ‘know’ were quietly working on their winter collections whilst the rest of the world enjoyed the heatwave. Now I know how to manage my time next summer because right now I’M FREAKING OUT! Majorly freaking out. I’d take a photo showing my real state of play but I quite frankly don’t have time for selfies.

Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Perhaps. I mean with a major four day posh shopping event coming up on November 21st that will require about 75 retail worthy items to make, on top of my eight workshops between now end of November, along with the online Christmas photoshoot & launch, developing a baby line, processing new orders that are coming in daily, launching new collaborations with festivals, hotels, venues webshops, I’m going cray cray - oh yeah and today - I got to attend a speed awareness class that has eaten into my child free hours leaving this day production free. On top of the work demands (which I do love by the way) I’m still a full time mum to 4 year old twin boys, a furry baby, a husband and have house guests arriving this weekend, a haunted house to erect and dismantle on the 31st and a house-full of kiddos, parents and sleepover guests on the 3rd-4th November for our BonFire Blow Out! My housework has fallen by the wayside and I have piles of laundry all over the house. It’s total chaos at Chunky HQ, but I’m on it. Kind of.

The 1st Chunky Christmas will launch on 12th November. I feel Christmas retailing should begin after 11th November, Remembrance Day. As a Canadian, we commemorate the 11th of November every year formally and as such it deserves its own season/day of recognition. Christmas chatter takes away from that season, so, I will not launch until after that date. This year there won’t be a lengthy list of Chunky bits/bobs as I’m still exploring which direction I want The Chunky Needle to evolve in and need to observe what works and what doesn’t. But stay tuned.

So for now that’s where things are at. I’ve launched with the Tudor Farmhouse in Clearwell, Glos this week and will bring you some lovely workshops into the New Year. Exciting opportunities are abound.

Parent teacher interview, now; must run. Barely a minute to stay up-to-date with you lot.

Speak soon!

Cx

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Why The Terms?

 Credit: BeCozi

Credit: BeCozi

Hello lovelies happy Monday and Happy October 1st! WOW! It really is October, how did that happen so darn quickly? October is probably my favourite month of the year. Still on British Summer Time our evenings still have a sliver of light. The mornings crisp and the afternoons warm enough to not need several layers. The colours around us are striking with the clearest of blue skies, and forest greens, yellows, reds, oranges emerge deeper each day. Living close to the Forest of Dean brings a sensory overload and I’m grateful.

October will see a very busy month for The Chunky Needle. 5 workshops are planned and will see me travel several miles in all directions. Alongside the marketing, planning and prep for these great events, I am still busily prepping for the Stonor Park show in November. Building stock has become my prime daily focus. I’ve been told that there is ‘no such thing as having too much’ so I’m beavering away everyday making this and that.

Speaking of workshops however, I wanted to touch on the reasoning behind The Chunky Needle’s terms and conditions as this past week they were queried and I want to explain. Fundamentally, workshop tickets sold are non-refundable. Transferring tickets to future events is a possibility, however, refund is not and here’s why. Wool is ordered from a supplier at the time of your booking. At times the supplier runs out of stock in particular colours, so The Chunky Needle orders your wool early to ensure it’s safe and secured for you upon your event. Naturally, my supplier also has T&C’s that customers must adhere to, and mainly, once wool is dispatched The Chunky Needle is unable to return it for refund, thus making it impossible for my customers to request refund after their wool has been ordered. Does that make sense? In addition, in order to keep costs lower (merino wool is a luxury fiber and therefore expensive) I always need a minimum of 10 students per course. Should this number drop below 10 due to an individual requesting refund, it will impact the cost of everyone’s ticket price. I know, boring stuff eh? Once I’m at it, I’ll remind that bespoke orders (blankets, cushions, wreaths, scarves, etc) are also non-refundable for obvious reasons - these items are bespoke to the buyer. It’s all rather dull I know but I want to be transparent. When booking onto a course please do take a moment and click the TC’s link on the booking page.

Oh yeah, an awesome night was had in Newnham-on-Severn last week making arm knit blankets. Super proud of the world these ladies produced. I hope they are loving their new Chunkies. Stay tuned for further dates in Newnham to be announced this week.

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So that’s all for now. Kids are off to school and I’m heading up to the studio to start work on today’s projects. I’m growing a wee bit concerned by how few steps I make each day but I’ll save that for another blog post in the future.

Have a lovely start to the week and enjoy the new month.

Cx

Another Successful Night

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Another fabulous night was had last evening at Meggie’s in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire. 8 fantastic ladies joined me for a night of crafty chunky knitting resulting in eight beautiful blankets. This was a first for me, teaching an arm knit class and I must say, I absolutely loved it! The smiles and enthusiasm was infectious. I must say I’ve had a cracking few weeks with The Chunky Needle. I don’t want to jinx my new found confidence, but I’m super excited.

The Chunky Needle has been building over the last year. I was knitting in the late 80s and then again in the mid 2000s but rediscovering my knit vibe took place August 2017 when I saw these amazing colossal chunky knits on Facebook. An Australian friend of mine shared a chunky knitting video and I was immediately transfixed. I’ve lived, breathed chunky knitting ever since. Finding myself where I’m at today is incredible. I now have eight knitting workshops in the books between now and November and have two amazing markets that I’ll be attending closer to Christmas. Coming off a successful mega-sale and a few media enquiries, I’m buzzing. It’s not been easy, however. Issues have arisen between myself and other Makers of similar craft. I’m not going to devote any energy into these issues however, as I feel they don’t serve me nor the work very well. I’ve always said I’m not looking for a global take over in the world of knit. I’m just happy carving out a little sliver of success in my immediate geographic area. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake. With that said, I’ve had my first “insta-spot” in real life over the last few weeks, where someone who followed my Insta-Stories, spotted me shopping In Reading, Berkshire. That was pretty cool.

On the back of last night’s success I’ve developed a Chunky Events page where you can have a quick view of where I’m at and when. Truth be told, it’s really designed to help keep me focused and on track. Check it out here.

Aside from hustling to get workshop tickets sold, I’m still working hard on new Christmas stock. Christmas hats, cushions, blankets, etc. are busily being made for the Christmas markets I’m attending. It’s alot of work for one person, but that’s what sets me apart from others - I make everything by myself. No helpers. No staff. No one. Just me.

 Working on the Winter Collection

Working on the Winter Collection

So time ticks on. I’m super excited that I sold 10 tickets to the workshop in my home village today. I woke up with only 3 out of 10 sold and I ended up selling 13! I was afraid we’d have to cancel this event but for some reason today all the stars aligned and the order poured in. I can’t wait to do this one on 27th September.

So I’m off to bed. It’s been a long day. Thank you everyone for your kind words, support and encouragement. I love what I’m doing with my life right now and can’t thank you enough. Night night all and have a lovely weekend.

Cx

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SEPTEMBER is here!

 All going to new homes!

All going to new homes!

Woohoo!  A new season dawns - okay, not technically, but almost.  The shadows are longer and the days shorter.  Autumn is here!  The Chunky Needle has now been 'in concept' for a year.  It was last August when I saw an Australian Facebook post on chunky knitting.  Seeing as I had a knitting background, I was totally transfixed.  Fast forward 12 months, here I am feeling really excited about where The Chunky Needle is going. 

I've just had a rocking sale.  The sale I held last weekend exceeded all expectations.  6 out of 11 blankets sold and 6 cushions found their way to new homes.  As a new company with not the greatest Google presence, this was a major result for me, so a major THANK YOU goes out to those of you that shopped, but also those that popped by the website to have a gander.  It all counts.  The weekend also saw a significant result in workshop bookings.  I'm so excited by the events that I have upcoming.  7 now on the diary between now and 17th November.  I'm branching into The Forest of Dean, The Cotswolds and my old stomping grounds of Berkshire.  When I launched The Chunky Needle I never thought workshops would be on the radar, but now they seem to be what I'm most involved with, and I LOVE IT!  I launched an exciting collaboration with The Blockley Cafe in Moreton-in-Marsh which sees me hosting two workshops (Oct 10 and Nov 17) with more planned for the new year.  These dates will be different from others I run as dinner & drinks will be involved - how lovely indeed!   Thank you to all the venues that have brought me on board; I love working with you and thank you for your support.

The one thing I want to stress more than ever is that every blanket, cushion, throw, pompom etc made, has been made exclusively by me alone.  When you buy a Chunky Needle knit, you are getting my love, perfectionism & attention in each piece.  I get asked all the time "did you make that yourself?" and I laugh as of course I did!  I even had one lady this week ask if I was just the front person and was buying stock to sell from overseas.  Never, ever would I do that.  Nor would I put my name on something I didn't make myself.  I'm super proud of what I've achieved and will shout it loud and clear.

So, as the calendar moves into the last months of the year I look forward to what the coming weeks will bring.  Workshops, Christmas markets and stock building will see me through this new season.  I'm super jazzed by it all and can't wait to see what the end of 2018 brings. 

Have a great weekend y'all!

Cx

 I made this! Yep, me!

I made this! Yep, me!

Time for a Clear Out

 Sale Launches Friday 9AM August 24

Sale Launches Friday 9AM August 24

It's that time of year where the days start to draw in and thoughts begin to turn to Autumn and eventually - dare I say it?  Christmas.  Yikes!!  As a former secondary school teacher, I always viewed September as the 'un-official" start of the new year.  January 1st never had that same newness for me.  Perhaps it was the buying new school clothes, the new textbooks, new school diary that brought with it a fresh beginning.  I don't know about you but my fitness regime always kick starts in September when everyone is back into their weekly routines and the hazy, lazy days of summer gradually fade away, along with that tan! 

As we come into our last Bank Holiday long weekend, The Chunky Needle will be having a super sale where our Ready Made stock will be marked down by 40-50%  That's a whopping discount on our luxurious Merino wool blankets and cushions. It's time to clear out our studio and make way for the new products which will be launched coming into the holiday season.

The sale kicks off at 9am on Friday August 24th and is first come first served.  This will be an amazing opportunity to bag yourself an awesome deal.  Start thinking about the gift-giving season ahead and maybe get a head start on your shopping list.

As for other news my workshop calendar is quickly filling up over the next three months.  With arm knitting workshops fast selling out and the ever popular round cushion tutorials taking place, I'm becoming one very busy lady.  I'm pleased to say that two new venues have been launched this week in Cheltenham and Moreton-on-Marsh alongside the popular sessions at Meggie's in Stow-on-the-Wold.  Stay tuned for Forest of Dean classes announced shortly.

So to conclude I wish you all a very productive start to the new season and hope your remaining days of summer are sunshine filled and full of rest and relaxation.  Don't forget to set your alarms for the super sale this Friday.  Once they're gone, they're GONE!

Until September....

Cx

Workshop Complete

 Photo Credit: @daniellehanno

Photo Credit: @daniellehanno

Happy Friday lovelies and a warm welcome to the much needed rain here at Chunky HQ. 

After returning home from a lovely family holiday in Cornwall, the weather has turned just in time as I push full steam ahead preparing stock for the markets I'll be attending in November and December.  I'm looking forward to the cooler months already (am I nuts?!) 

Last night I hosted my first cushion workshop at Meggies Lifestyle and Gifts in Stow-on-the-Wold.  A fantastic group of 10 ladies came together all in the name of Chunky goodness.  The colours selected were beautiful and the finished products looked lovely.  My only regret is that we didn't get more photos of the finished products. 

Keep an eye out for more workshops coming into the Autumn/Winter months.  Attending these workshops is a great opportunity to not only learn a new skill, but coming up to Christmas these cushions make really thoughtful, original gifts for the friends in your life that seem to have it all.

I'm going to dash for now but just wanted to share with you the great evening had last night.  As a former classroom teacher, I loved getting back in front of students.   I love teaching and sharing knowledge with others, it's really the greatest gift. 

Thank you Meggies and to all of you that attended last night.  I loved every minute.

Until next time,

Cx

 Photo Credit: @daniellehanno

Photo Credit: @daniellehanno

It’s All Me

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The Chunky Needle has had a cracking few weeks, going from strength to strength. Our social media and website views this week hit a new record.  I’m so grateful to all those that pop round and check out all things Chunky Needle.  Your feedback and positivity is infectious and offers so much encouragement to develop and create new projects. My head is swelling with ideas and plans for the Autumn/Winter and I can’t wait to get back into Chunky HQ after our Cornwall holiday.  

Going back to the market I attended a couple of weeks ago, I was amazed at how many people asked me if I personally made all the products I was showcasing. It was an unexpected question. I assumed that others naturally saw me as the Maker behind the cushions and blankets I was selling.   I’ve had time to think on this.

People want to support individuals, artists and craftspeople. They want to meet the very person that puts their name and “stamp” on the final product. Those that buy local want to know where their contribution is going and want to make personal connections to that Maker.  At The Chunky Needle I am the sole face behind the name and brand. I’m not a limited company employing staff and you can be assured that every Chunky Needle product you purchase has been carefully crafted by me. Me alone. I don’t have the financial overheads that other sellers may have to absorb into their pricing structure, namely: employees, premises, PR teams, managers etc.  As a result my products are costed more affordably than those of my competitors.  

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Luxury and quality are never sacrificed despite affordable pricing. I always use the best merino wool available to traders in the UK. Responsibly sourced from South Africa, the merino wool that goes into Chunky Needle homewares is of the highest grade available. 

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I pride myself on the “details” so when you purchase a Chunky Needle product nothing goes without thought all the way down to presentation and posting.  Care has gone into each package with each parcel being dropped off personally to the shipping depot 40 minutes away from the Chunky studio. It’s my personal commitment to you, the buyer.  

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So as I reflect on the Chunky Needle’s growth since the website launch nearly 5 months ago, I’m so proud of what has been accomplished and the direction my small business is moving toward.

The Chunky Needle is all me. No “helpers” or additional knitting staff. Just me, making it personally for you.

Keep cool lovelies and enjoy the sun.  

Cx

PS: A few tickets remain for the cushion workshop at Meggie’s Stow-on-the-Wold on August 9th. Last day to secure your wool colour choice is July 31st so don’t delay. Follow the banner link on the homepage to secure your spot.  

Training and Selling

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Hello lovelies how are you all?  I've been a bit off the radar as of late whilst I've been sweltering away in a very rare British summertime heatwave, buried alive under kilos of merino wool.  I must tell you that knitting up a superking blanket with 7kgs of wool in a studio that doesn't seem to get lower than 25 degrees has been quite an experience indeed.

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In any case, I've been beavering away over these hot days building up stock for my first market experience that was held yesterday in Cheltenham  - but more on that later.

It's been a really informative week for me in ways that delve way beyond my chunky needles and into the stratosphere that is 'running a business.'  Last week I was treated by a fellow and local Maker to a "Preparing to Sell" seminar hosted by the fine folks at The Contemporary Craft Festival.  The day saw four industry experts share their tried and tested knowledge to a room of lovely Makers.  Not only did I have a great day meeting some very talented people, but the lectures on PR, Press Releases, Pricing Your Craft and Preparing for Market Selling were particularly beneficial as I was about to 'set up shop' for the first time outside the cyber world.. The timing couldn't have been better to help build my confidence.

Market Day was yesterday 15th July and was hosted by Willow & Rose and held at the Cheltenham Town Hall.  I learnt several things about setting up your market stall:

1) Do not go to a drinks party the evening before without already having your car (ahem cars) fully loaded with your swag.

2) Do not go to bed the night before without loading your car(s) with swag.

3) Do not wake up Market Day with only 90min to spare and think you can get yourself, husband, kids fed, dressed with needs met and THEN load your car no matter how simple it seems to just put all those bags/boxes into the boot.

4) Be prepared for your "stall vision" to not necessarily live up to your expectations. #rollwithit

5) When setting up your stall in 30 degree weather (indoors!) perhaps have a quick change of clothes prior to opening or at a minimum bring deodorant or perfume to freshen yourself up, and if you 'glow' as much as I do, a cosmetic powder compact would be most useful.

6) Surround yourself with friends, peers and a dedicated husband to boost you up when you fall down.

7) Refer to number 1 .  Just don't drink the night before period!

Yes the day got off to a bit of a rocky start and I lost a bit of confidence but I have to tell you, the organisers of the Cotswold Market were just fabulous, as were my stall neighbours.  The encouragement and support offered to me was incredible.  When I arrived and saw the volume of my stock, size, weight, amount, etc. next to that single 6ft table, I just didn't know how it would physically work.  But with the support of those behind me I was able to pull together something quite special in my opinion.

 "We loved your stall. Looking forward to choosing what to order!" Lisa D.

"We loved your stall. Looking forward to choosing what to order!" Lisa D.

We had the super hot weather against us with footfall, but I can honestly say, over that 4 hour period, I didn't sit down once and never had more than 5 minutes wait between talking to another shopper.  Everyone was quick to B-line over to the blankets and cushions to feel them and give them a good stroke.  Everyone was gobsmacked when they saw my supersized custom made needles.  I had amazing feedback and it really bolstered me.  In the last hour I was able to sell 3 cushions.  I was so excited to use my card reader for the first time.  A big shout out to Sarah at Muddy Stilettos Gloucestershire for her support as well as my other buyers. So many cards were taken and everyone had a giggle at my marketing tag lines, "nothing comes between me and my Chunky" and "no one puts Chunky in the corner." I loved getting out there in the real world.  I think I've got a market bug now!

This week I've learnt that it's really important to support each others businesses and to encourage one another.   I witnessed on Sunday the truth to this.  I've spoken to so many women in business and have been so impressed by their ethic, vision and drive.  It's been a real inspiration and the feedback I've received has been so very encouraging.

In a country of 70 million and a planet of 7 billion, there is enough room for us all.

Thanks for reading guys and my continued appreciation for your support, kindness and love.

PS: a special thanks to @casa_interiors @illustries and @blantons - you know why. xx

Cx

 Sweaty and probably smelly but loving every minute.

Sweaty and probably smelly but loving every minute.

Christmas in June

 It's still wedding season.  Why not a beautiful cushion/throw combo as a unique wedding gift?

It's still wedding season.  Why not a beautiful cushion/throw combo as a unique wedding gift?

So 10 days ago I was all about wedding season and how blankets and cushions are the best, original wedding gift you could give the happy couple.  Well this week, my thoughts are now turning to winter (albeit a few months late!)  I've signed up to my first two market shows, the first coming up in July in Cheltenham at the Town Hall and the second, biggie, will be at The Country Homes & Interiors event in Oxfordshire this coming November.

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 November 22-25, 2018 Stoner Park

November 22-25, 2018 Stoner Park

I'm super excited about attending these two events but am a little blown away by the organisation that is required to attend one of these events successfully.  Every little detail needs to be considered, even down to, "who will look after the stall if I need to go to the loo?"  Seriously! The stock I'm going to need to produce for November is quite intense as well.  I'm aiming to include scarves, snoods and beanie hats as well as my cushions and blankets, so seriously, I need to get busy.

So despite the warm weather and a much needed family vaycay to Italy this coming week, as soon as I get back I'm down to proper winter prep!  My first winter season - I am nervous but super excited.  Stay tuned for updates!

Oh yeah, a few other things:

1) Meggies Gift and Lifestyle in Stow-on-The-Wold, Gloucestershire has just started stocking my 14" round cushions in the most wonderful colours.  Ash, Candy Floss, Glacier and others are now in stock so do pop round and take a look and pick one up?   Wonderful gift items or bridesmaids presents (see, still on the wedding kick....)

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2) On August 9th at 1830 I'll be hosting my first workshop at Meggie's and will show you how you can make your very own 14" merino wool round cushion.  We can only host 10 students so numbers are limited.  Go to the  Workshop and sign up today.  Until end of July you can select your very own colour, so don't delay! 

Ok that's it for now.  It's been a busy week of cushion and blanket making but so worth it.  In July The Chunky Needle will be online 4 months, and I feel really excited and encouraged with how things are progressing so far.  Thank you for your continued support.  See you next time!

Courtney x

It's Wedding Season!

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Ok, ok, I admit, this picture is somewhat self indulgent and a bit weird haha, but with all the Royal Wedding hoopla from a few weeks ago, I couldn't resist digging out a few of my old wedding accessories and style them up alongside my Granville blanket. Ahhh, June. The month of brides, love and marriage.  A summer of weddings, invitations, parties and gifts.  Oh yes, a summer dominated by one gift giving occasion after the next.  I got to thinking, "what kind of wedding gift would the modern couple that has everything love to receive?  What would you give Meghan or Harry say?" 

Like so many couples these days, the couple no doubt cohabit prior to walking down the aisle, therefore they've likely collected a few good years worth of home appliances, gadgets and decor items.  Aside from giving a cash handout (or a donation to charity as M & H requested) it can be difficult to buy for that couple that have simply acquired all the homeware once given as wedding presents.

 Images of Ms. Meghan Markle's Toronto home as seen in Hello Magazine.

Images of Ms. Meghan Markle's Toronto home as seen in Hello Magazine.

I had a cheeky look back at Meghan's interior style as showcased in Australian Vogue and Hello Magazine late 2017 and noticed her love of textiles, layering and texture.  Quite simply her aesthetic is screaming out for a chunky knit blanket. Soft neutral colours such as Glacier, Bisque, Sandstone, Cotton Candy, Opal or Pewter would look amazing against her interior scheme.

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Soft, feminine and timeless this colour palette doesn't steal the show from the colour pop of her loved peonies but would simply add another dimension to her effortlessly chic staging.

Quite simply, for the couple that has everything, a chunky knit blanket or cushion would be the perfect choice for those snuggly newlywed moments.  Beautifully packaged, handcrafted, artisan luxury will without doubt make the most memorable of gifts.   The Chunky Needle always uses 100% responsibly sourced, merino wool.  If looked after properly, these items will last a lifetime. 

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So if you are looking for a unique, bespoke and entirely original gift to give that happy couple this summer wedding season, don't hesitate and drop me a line today on info@thechunkyneedle.com and I'd be happy to discuss options with you.  Orders can be delivered in approximately 10 working days. Happy Wedding!  Oh and congratulations to the new Duke and Duchess ;-)

 The Hastings Blanket in Opal.  Double Rib stitch in Double Bed size.

The Hastings Blanket in Opal.  Double Rib stitch in Double Bed size.