Finally...I've Got Round To Writing A Newsletter!

Quality not Quantity
  I like to think I run a classy joint... top quality yarns, beautifully displayed, along with great customer service and oodles of knitting inspiration.

  A number of years ago, Jan, my lovely button rep', commented that my shop was too tasteful and predictable and that I was far too pedantic. Jan, along with being a sales rep' was also a good pal, she could be brutally honest but she knew I would laugh and ignore any changes she suggested.  I decided, on this occasion, to go along with a particularly ridiculous idea of hers.
  Just as a bit of background information, I'll give a brief description of  the buttons I sell. I have a fairly small but incredibly well thought through range. I go to great lengths of get natural shell buttons dyed to match many the colours of my wool, how pedantic is that?  Many of you ask for  wooden buttons and toggles, they look so good on woolly garments for busy and boisterous toddlers. I have Swarovski Crystal buttons for those  of you attracted to anything bright and sparkly, they are  often bought with no particular purpose in just want them! I have  New Zealand paua shell buttons made by a local conservationist and I could write a whole newsletter about these buttons and the extraordinary gentleman who makes them. The vast majority of my buttons are made from natural materials and our hand made ceramic buttons have a good social enterprise story behind them.  Very occasionally a customer will hover over my buttons and retort "Is that all you've got?" I bristle slightly, and, if I think I can get away with being a little cheeky, I will explain that in my shop I choose  to have a selection quality buttons rather than quantity. 

  So, I will try not to digress to much.  Those of you who are new to my newsletter may not be aware that I do ramble on rather. Back to Jan's interesting exercise. I would  order a small range of buttons...there would be  colorful plastic train and car buttons, sparkly flower buttons, buttons in the shape of rugby balls, and most importantly, we would have a whole assortment of smiley face buttons. Jan and I then took bets on how long it would take me to sell my new range, she predicted 12 months, I set a time line of 10 years. Well, I'll just let you know that my prediction was the closest, I still have plenty of the dratted buttons and for your information these buttons were ordered in  2008...12 years ago! 
If you have a preference for any of the above buttons PLEASE call in and buy some!
  A few years ago, when my shop was still located in Devonport, an extremely important lady came into my store. Her visit was preceded by two immaculately dressed  gentlemen who quizzed me and thoroughly checked out my shop, including the store room and any large cupboards. The gentlemen informed me that I had to immediately close my store to all customers as Peng Liyuan, the wife of The President of The Peoples Republic of China wished to do a little shopping, while her husband, President Xi Jinping, was attending highfalutin meeting at Devonport Naval Base. I was given strict instructions, I should address the First Lady as Mam, should not look at her, or engage in any conversation unless she addressed me.  Well, only moments after my induction on Chinese etiquette there was a fluffy of activity at the door. Firstly, the two aforementioned gentlemen hastened up to me and stood menacingly close, I wanted to say that a knitting needled would not be used as a threatening weapon, but thought better of it!. Then, like a swarm of flies, black suited men and women entered my store in a protective circular arrangement, in the middle of this arrangement was The First Lady, beautifully dressed and immaculately made up. The entourage moved around my shop in an almost vulture like manner, my knitted sample garments were plucked from their display and deposited on the counter.  My heart dropped, my samples take hours and hours to knit and are an incredibly important part of my business...quite simply, samples sell wool, they are NOT for sale.  How on earth was I going to say to the wife of one of the most powerful man in the world that she could not have my garments? A large knitted cushion was also placed on the counter. I had only just completed this project, written a pattern and had the accompanying hand painted New Zealand  wool all ready for selling. I had hurriedly made a cushion pad, but had improvised the filling. My meagre amount of wadding did not give the required plumpness so I stuffed a handful of plastic bags into the cushion, a slight rustling noise would only be hear if the cushion was actually used as a cushion, and that clearly was not my intention. The shopping spree was almost complete, precious sample garments and my rustling cushion were piled up on the counter, a suited gentleman was preparing to pay. The First Lady gestured, with her pale and manicured hand, in the direction of my buttons. In an instant a black suited lady had added colourful plastic  train buttons, some sparkly flower buttons and most importantly the delightful smiley faced buttons to the pile of goods on my counter. Ever the optimist, I decided to not think about the many hours of knitting required to replace my precious sample garments, after all, I had managed to sell a rather tidy amount of Jan's dratted buttons!
What's happening at Woolly?

The Softest Baby Blanket In The Whole Wide World
  This is the section of the newsletter where I am supposed to entice you with 'all things lovely and woolly', both in our store and online. I find my inspiration dries up at this point, I can ramble about many subjects but presenting a sales pitch is not my forte.

  Visitors to our store will have seen our glorious Pure Baby Alpaca Bassinette Blanket, and purchased the MUHU Baby Alpaca for this gorgeous project. Although the soft grey shade used from our sample is not available at the moment we have secured plenty of natural undyed cream, beige and charcoal. These three colours  are totally dye free, they're simply the natural shade of the alpaca fleece, and are utterly gorgeous. With the warmer weather in mind I'm making a second blanket from this pattern. I have chosen the Chaska Takama Organic Cotton and Alpaca. The five natural shades are sumptuous, ranging from an unassuming cream, through to buttery and fudge-like beiges to gentle greys with a little more 'attitude'. My new summer weight blanket won't take too long. (sleep isn't important when there's knitting to do.) I expect my lovely new sample will be on display in the shop in a week or so, and of course I will make a bit of a 'song and dance' about it on our online shop. there's also have a classic summer sweater on display in our shop window, using this delicious new yarn.

Chaska Takama Organic Cotton and Alpaca...isn't the label lovely?
 Now I know I have mentioned our Knitted Dishcloths and also our Face Cloths in previous newsletters. Small, inexpensive and useful knitted projects are always popular and in response to customer  demand I have rehashed (tastefully re issued) our Knitted Oven Cloth Kits. I featured these kits on our Facebook page last week and so many of you called into the store or ordered online.  We do have a limited number of kits left so do be quick if you feel a little knitted joy is required in your kitchen!

  So, to recap, the dishcloths, face cloths and oven cloths are extremely simple knits and without mentioning the CHRISTMAS word, they make excellent handmade gifts. 

 Pretty oven cloths for a joyful kitchen
  Many of us have family members overseas, and without stating the blooming obvious, we won't be seeing loved ones and friends any time soon. I for one, am so concerned for my elderly, but feisty mother, living alone in the north of England.

 Every morning Mum and her octogenarian neighbours gather at the end of their respective driveways and dance and do exercises to the music blasting out from an ancient cassette player. Abbas's Greatest Hits from the 1970's is a particular favourite. This exercise class has taken place daily since mid March. Mum informed me that the days of the exercise class may well be numbered. Boris (Johnson) has brought in his Rule of Six, which explicitly says gathering are limited to a maximum of six individuals, Mum's exercise class regularly draws a crowd of upwards of eight elderly residents. I told Mum to take no notice of Boris, as who on earth would disapprove of such a spectacle on a quiet residential street in a sleepy North of England village. Mum wasn't convinced, she informed me that one of the non participating neighbours disapproved of the morning dance routine, apparently the music was far too loud and it frightened her dog. Let's hope The Disley Dance Group doesn't make the headlines of the UK's newspapers for disobeying Boris's Rule of Six!

  I will be sending mum some beautiful New Zealand Possum yarn. Her knitting days are not quite over, although she has refused to make me any more socks. I'll send her a couple of hanks of the Duck Egg Blue Possum yarn and she can make herself a Tarras Poncho, which s lovely and light, but super warm and cozy.
  Well, I am running out of steam now, but I really can't end this newsletter without a final mention of buttons. I have way to many to display on our online store, however I have added a concise and rather tasteful selection for those customers not able to get to our little shop in Milford. Click on Interesting Extras to take a peek. 

  Finally please remember that our physical store will be closed on Sunday 25th and Monday 26th October, for the Labour Day public holiday. Neil, Harry (Dog) and I are heading off to Rotorua for a couple of days in our motorhome. Harry has packed plenty of doggie treats, Neil has a new book and I have a large amount of  knitting wool. Bliss!
October 22, 2020 by Neil Stafford

13th August 2020

I bet Jacinda was in The Brownies!

Old Bear is prepared

  48 years ago I joined The Brownies. My Mum was Tawny Owl, a figure of great importance. I wasn't the model Brownie, although I remember I was awarded a cloth badge for knitting, or it may have been sewing a button onto a square of cloth. I was a headstrong little girl, and along being totally disorganized and always ill prepared, mum decided I was an embarrassment. She  instructed me to stay at home with dad on Wednesday evenings. That suited me fine, Dad was a pushover, and always had a secret stash of sweeties. I do remember he let me go into his shed and have a puff of one of his cigarettes...thank goodness mum doesn't read my newsletters!

August 22, 2020 by Fran Stafford

23rd April 2020

Phew, I'm Back In Business!

Self Portrait
slopping around in my slippers and spending quality time with my kids

It's  been a long wait, but finally, our online shop is open, you can now indulge in a little retail therapy. I'm sure  many of you have worked your way through your 'stash' and would like a lovely new project to get you through the next few weeks.

June 06, 2020 by Fran Stafford

8th April 2020

I Need To Get This Off My Chest!

Harry The Courier Boy.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have deemed him an essential worker
I have just asked my daughter, Francesca, (who's in Melbourne) as to the best way of writing this newsletter. Should I be very diplomatic and rather 'vanilla' or stay true to form and be rather opinionated and outspoken?  Her reply was, 'Hmm that's a tricky one...maybe somewhere in the middle.' There does come a time, when, as a parent, you realise your children are actually way more sensible than you,  and with that in mind I will ' play this one down the middle.' 
April 10, 2020 by Fran Stafford

29th March 2020

Working from home ain't all it's cracked up to be...

My co workers aren't knitters!

The shop security guard.
 Our shop and online store are now fully closed down and I've left Old Bear on security duty. You can never be too careful, I wouldn't want desperate knitters  looting the store! 
On a serious note, I want to say a massive 'thank you' to all of you who came into the shop, and those who shopped online, over the last week or so. I guess we all had a gut feeling that we were heading for a lock down, and an emergency ration of knitting wool would definitely be required.
April 10, 2020 by Fran Stafford

23rd March 2020

Keep Calm and Carry on Knitting

  Ladies...Just to let you know tomorrow is our final day in the shop, and the cut off day for mail orders. I will be open from early and close when the last of you leaves. Jacinda has asked us all to be kind to each other and I really do want you to work with me tomorrow as I help you with your urgent last minute knitting requirements. There will only be me working, I'm tired andI am as stressed as all of you...
March 25, 2020 by Fran Stafford

5th March 2020

Priceless doctor's advice...and a rather cheeky sale this weekend

Mother and Daughter..
  My Mum lives in England, she's totally alone now that Dad has ascended to that football pitch/whiskey distillery/veggie garden in the sky. Mum is a little lost, there's no family support, all three children left England many years ago to bring up our families  'Down Under'.
March 25, 2020 by Fran Stafford

10th December 2019

The Wool Shop Is Closing...for a few weeks over Christmas and New Year.

I've lived in New Zealand since 2002, having moved from England, via Sri Lanka, and settling in Devonport. I took over ownership of my wee wool shop the following year, knowing only the rudiments of knitting, and having absolutely no business experience...
December 10, 2019 by Fran Stafford

25th November 2019

Black Friday...the day everyone goes mad
please take this newsletter 'with a pinch of salt'

I'll explain this photo later
  We are counting down the final days and hours until that rather relatively new, and rather curious phenomonen, known as the The Black Friday Sales. Many of us will feel a gradual rise in panic and anxiety, money is tight and Christmas, with all it's self inflicted physical, mental and financial pressure  is just around the corner. You aim to be strong willed and resist all incidious Black Friday marketing, BUT can you honestly afford to NOT purchase a sofa bed for the spare room, a second  vacume cleaner, just in case your current one stops working, and, if you purchase your 'other half' a leaf blower, then of course your entitled to a new lipstick. Hmm!
November 29, 2019 by Fran Stafford

12th November 2019

'Thank you for the (HUGE) donation you made online'

said the e mail I received today from the breast Cancer Foundation NZ.
This really is a brief, almost ramble free, newsletter. I just want to let you know that we managed to raise  $4000 for Breast Cancer Research NZ last Thursday, Friday and  Saturday. Our sale yarn was severely depleted come Saturday and within 15 minutes of opening the store, we were totally cleaned out. I feared I might get lynched by annoyed customers, thankfully, that wasn't the case. Here's a  photograph of Kate, who had traveled down from  Kerikeri early Saturday morning. She managed to grab a few balls to add to her stash; that  bag really is filled to the brim with wool.
November 13, 2019 by Fran Stafford