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.

Chunky Tool Shop

"So how can I make one of these chunky knits? " That's a question I'm asked quite regularly.  So long as you know how to do a knit and purl stitch, you are halfway there.  Available now at The Tool Shop, you can purchase your very own pair of Chunky Needle supersized knitting needles!  Responsibly sourced pine is used to create your very own pair.

 1m x 40mm

1m x 40mm

Alongside the colossal chunky merino wool also available in The Tool Shop, you can quickly whip up your very own chunky knit blanket or throw.  Contact me at info@thechunkyneedle.com for advice on how much wool you would need to purchase in order to complete your project.  Let's get knitting!

The Chunky Needle is a FINALIST!

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I'm super humbled to announce that The Chunky Needle has qualified as a finalist in the Muddy Stiletto 2018 Awards in the category of Best Interiors Shop.  I've been shortlisted along with four other amazing Gloucestershire retailers and I am so blessed and grateful.  Voting begins today May 14th at 10:30 am and will conclude this Friday May 18th.  VOTE for the Chunky Needle HERE.  Thank you so very much for your support in my inaugural year. 

We've been NOMINATED!

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We are super excited to share the news that The Chunky Needle has been nominated in the Best Interiors Shop category in the annual Muddy Stiletto Awards Gloucestershire.  What an honor to be nominated - seriously!  Please take a moment and support us clicking on this  LINK and nominate us further.  By voting for us now it will hopefully see us get to the next round of competition.  Thank you so much!

Why So Expensive?

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Right!  So I get asked this question often, and if not asked, I'm quite certain people do wonder why or how The Chunky Needle can command over £200 for a blanket!?!  It's a fair question, and I too would have wondered the same thing.  As an unknowing person, all one sees is the finished product, carefully displayed or demonstrated and the hours (sometimes days) that went into producing the product is never considered.  I get it. Some will say, "hey, I can make that myself!" to which I think, "go, do it, knock yourself out," but I can pretty much guarantee the quality, finish and presentation will not match the standard The Chunky Needle can produce in creating your bespoke chunky knit product.

When starting the business I had to sit down and do days of research considering costings and what to charge my customers.  I have no desire to gouge customers and I can pretty much promise, there isn't a considerable income to be made off the back of a blanket or cushion.  What I wanted was to create a luxurious product, using only the best wool available (no synthetics or acrylics here!) and wanted to present it in such a way that was worthy of the time and quality of the product.  So I started from the beginning.  First raw materials needed to be factored, the merino wool, the volume needed to produce a product at a certain size.  If making a cushion, the inserts need to be sourced and purchased. The equipment is required - a variety of needles at varying sizes to produce the gauge of chunky knit.  As unspun, merino wool is prone to shedding, I hand process the wool by using an extensive felting system that can actually take days to complete, start to finish.  Knitting the product is the easy part, it's the process the wool goes under after knitting that can take days to finish.  Each stitch needs to be fluffed and smoothed post production, and when you consider the size of a superking blanket, this can require significant time commitment.

After knitting and post production, the presentation is then considered.  Branded ribbons, tags, postcards, notecards etc. all cost money but I feel are essential in building a worthy luxury brand.   Postage is a cost I cover personally and I even subsidise international postage considerably. 

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So you see, what may appear to be a quick knit product, actually can take days from start to finish and requires several stages of production prior and post knitting.  Your chunky knit product has been made carefully and lovingly and each stitch has been considered.  Merino wool is a luxury fibre.  You won't be able to source a 100% merino wool blanket or cushion in the shops or department stores.  These products are rare and individual.  They can last a lifetime with considered use.  So when people ask, "why does it cost so much" I hope the finished product will speak for itself. 

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The 'How To' Guide

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So after a few weeks away in Canada on holiday, I'm back and raring to go with orders to catch up on, and copious amounts of laundry to do, ugh.

Before I left however, Muddy Stilettos Gloucestershire & Wiltshire did a blog article on us and how to style your chunky knit blanket or throw.  Here is the article in full.  You must check out Muddy if you haven't yet.

 

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Courtney, aka The Chunky Needle, is our new interior design guru. Yes she is, for when we visited her Georgian home in Newnham-on-Severn, everywhere we looked we fell in love with her style – and it was the huggable chunky-knit blankets, throws and cushions she makes that were stealing the show (although we did also rather fall in love with her 1950s drinks trolley). Her gorgeous home looked like it had been styled for a magazine shoot – and she’s got twin toddler boys!! How does she do it?? We pinned her down and went room to room picking her brains for tips.

SITTING ROOM

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Texture is everything and with the trend for bringing the natural world indoors in the shape of driftwood, pinecones, shells and antlers, this is the room to go big on contrast. If you have wooden floorboards, a sheepskin rug will instantly add Alpine style and cosiness, while velvet will adds a touch of opulence – you can go the whole hog and cover an entire sofa or just add notes with cushions. Throws are great on leather sofas, as again they create a texture contrast. A brightly coloured merino on the back of a sofa or armchair will make the room feel warm and comforting. And they’re quite handy on chilly nights too! It’s an easy way to give your sitting room a seasonal upgrade – swapping the patterns, colours and textures of throws and cushions is far less hassle and money than a new wallpaper or paint job! While you can neatly fold blankets and throws over furniture, draping creates the image of a lived-in room, that elusive hygge look. It might take a few attempts to get the designer feel, but keep throwing, it’ll come!

DINING ROOM

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Family-friendly benches are great for getting lots of little ones settled at the table, but they can be a bit rigid to look at and hard for small bottoms to sit on (and big ones come to that). A chunky knit throw softens both the look and the feel, adding a nice cosy touch to mealtimes. You could even let kids choose their own mini throw in their favourite colour which they can drape over a seat and mark their territory.

STUDY

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Workrooms, reading corners and dens are perfect places to integrate a chunky knit or cushion. Lap blankets will just make you want to cosy up with a cup of tea and read a book or get creative. They’re great for kids’ reading corners, too, encouraging quiet time, phew!

BEDROOM

 

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Throws in the bedroom add instant luxury and warmth. A blanket can either be neatly folded as a runner at the base of your bed or draped to create a just-got-out-of-bed feel. Mix up faux fur throws, velvet cushions, sheepskin rugs and chunky merino blankets to create an inviting, sumptuous feel. And don’t worry about size. I have a super king-sized bed but draping means I don’t need super king-sized throws which can be pricey. It’s all about layering. And, as in the sitting room, you can change the mood with the seasons, swapping heavy knits for linens and chenilles. My tip always though – keep things looking a bit messy as folding can become too bulky.

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A cute chunky-knit cushion in the bedroom

HALLWAY

A folded blanket in the hallway is a great way to soften a shelf, introduce a pop of colour and make a feature out of storage space. They’re also handy on chilly evenings or for impromptu picnics as you head out the door.

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GARDEN

As the weather starts to get warmer (ed – you listening weather, that’s what you’re supposed to be doing!), the garden becomes an outside room to enjoy on long summer evenings, but with the British weather as it is, you may just need a blanket to hand! Bright colours look great on alfresco sofas next to the fire pit as the sun goes down and they’re also the perfect shawl to team with a floaty maxi dress!

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The Chunky Needle can create bespoke blankets in five sizes from cot to super king size, in a choice of five stitch options and 42 colours, from £60, and cushions from £35. Lovingly pre-made blankets and cushions are also available in the Ready Made Shop for reduced prices. thechunkyneedle.com