A Long Overdue Newsletter

Harry being a van guard dog. Yeah right!
 
  I will try not to ramble on too much in this newsletter so here's a quick brief. You can choose what's of interest to you and maybe skip all my nostalgic and nonsensical ramblings.

   Let the rambling begin...I have been rather tired this last few months. If I can be serious for a moment, can I tell you that it is extremely hard work running the store and ensuring that it survives, thrives and grows in this challenging retail environment. Now don't panic, this isn't leading up to me selling or closing the shop down, I have just decided that a few changes are needed. I have owned and worked full time in the store for 15 years, rarely had two consecutive days off in a row, and even more rarely spent a Saturday at home with my family. Through necessity I have to go to England each year for some weeks, and, as my husband travels overseas regularly with his job, we rarely spend time together, and never take a holiday.One casualty of this hectic lifestyle is my wonderful Labrador Harry. He is an anxious fellow, who was destined to be a Guide Dog, but the training program was a little too taxing for him. He was withdrawn from the training program, given the official title of a 'change of career  dog' and now we are his adoptive parents. His anxiety, although manageable, has increased in severity, especially with the constant comings and goings in our household. The  appearance of a suitcase  puts the Fear of God in him as  it signifies that one of us will shortly be disappearing  into thin air. So, with such a delicate dog, how on earth were we to take an overseas trip together or even contemplate a few days away in this country?

   Despite living in New Zealand for almost twenty years I have seen very little of this beautiful land. When my lovely customers call into the shop to collect some 'holiday knitting' I ask where you are heading off to. You mention some  unrecognizable and unpronounceable location, I haven't the foggiest where it is. I rarely venture over the bridge, and to go further north than Orewa requires a passport, full vaccinations and a rather large picnic, doesn't it? 

  So, for the sake of my dogs mental health, my marriage and my own well being something had to change. AND IT HAS! After a short discussion, a little research (I research what to cook for dinner for more time) we bought ourselves a camper van. In the past month we have been to Taupo, Stillwater, Snells Beach and a  quick visit just down the road to Devonport. This coming weekend we're off to Maraetai for two nights.  Harry will be packing his bone and a teddy. Harry loves the van, its his kennel on wheels and he is well settled and relaxed. We jokingly say he is now travelling with us in a rather large mobile suitcase!
 
  So now I suppose I had better tell you whats new and lovely in the store. I always struggle at this part of the newsletter. All my yarns are lovely, soft, cuddly, luxurious, there's only so much lyrical waxing I can do.

  First of all I have two new 'interesting extras' in the shop and on our website. The first is the German made battery operated  Addi Lint Remover. This super little contraption revitalizes all your woollies and may I just point out that any wool shop owner who says their wool once knitted will not pill, bobble, fluff or shed is FIBBING! All wool, over time will shed fibers, which then accumulate in to scruffy bobbles. I thoroughly recommend you treat yourself to this brilliant device. My second interesting extra is our New Zealand made knitting needle gaugue. Made from premium marine ply in the image of the fantail-Piwakawaka. What a joyful addition to your knitting bag and a unique gift for any knitting pals.

  And finally, we have secured a rather interesting new yarn. Made from nettles and pure wool, this 10 ply yarn, aptly titled Wild Wool, by Erika Knight, fits in perfectly with our stores philosophy. Eco friendly and sustainable. Rather than me bore you with any more technical details please click on the link. below. Do take a peek  at the yarn if only to have a chuckle at the names the colours have been given. A rather lovely and fashionable patterns for adults accompanies this yarn, which are also on our website.
 
Erika Knight Wild Wool and a rather lovely pattern
 
  For some reason many of you think I am an expert knitter. Nothing could be further from the truth. I call myself a Garter Stitch Girl, a Cast on and Go For It chick, and if a pattern cannot be followed while glued to watching The Crown on Netflix I am not interested. I hate sewing up and have been banned from making anything requiring more than a couple of balls of wool...I never finish my project. I have been fiddling around with some vintage babies patterns, wanting to breath new life in some exquisite 1950's designs. Well, in those days patterns were written so basically, I suppose women were supremely knowledgeable and proficient in their knitting skills and just fathomed it out.  I soon grew frustrated at the fine wool, the toothpick thickness needles and incredibly vague instructions. I stuffed the half finished babies vest well out of sight, an grabbed some lovely alpaca yarn and some decent sized needles. About ninety minutes later I had created the Cowl in the photograph below. 
 

  Now I had planned to 'insert' the pattern directly into the newsletter, HOWEVER I haven't a clue how to actually do it! Even my husband couldn't figure it out, he just made me a cup of tea and said "just do the best you can". I am a technological duffer and I am most amazed that I have actually got this far with the newsletter without  Olivia's expertise. This cowl  uses our Alpaca based yarns, four different strands are worked together in moss stitch on 10 mm needles. 
 
  Now, I know I started this newsletter rambling on about how tired I was, please do not think I am turning into a grumpy shopkeeper. I know that so many of you look forward to a visit to my shop, you find it joyful, exhilarating and relaxing all at once. I want you to indulge and have a lovely  time. I too, feel the same.Every day, as  I drive to work I can feel the excitement rising and as I unlock the front door my eyes widen as I take in the glorious site. I  can then take a moment to say to myself "it's mine, all mine"! And, yes, it is all mine but as my husband constantly reminds me that to make the business a success I have to sell wool and lots of it. I do know that, but here's how it really works. You, my lovely customer choose and buy (thank you) a whole load of wool. I am momentarily very pleased with myself, yippee, I am a mature, sensible, real  shopkeeper. This feeling of elation evaporates as I stare at the empty shelf, a feeling of anxiety and unease washes over me. I  need a little retail therapy, I grab my shade charts, have a little think and a ponder, and then tap into my computer a large order for some more wool. Voila! That's how you run a wool shop!

  And finally...many of you do call in or contact me to say that you do enjoy my newsletters. I hope you are genuine in your compliments as my confidence does take a knock as, after proofreading my latest prose, my husband rolls his eyes and snorts "You do go on a bit". I also send a copy to my daughter Francesca who now lives in Melbourne. Many will have met her, as for a number of years she worked alongside me in the store. I expect Francesca to drop everything, devour my prose and send a complimentary and congratulatory e mail back within minutes.This does not happen but I know that while she LOVES proofreading the newsletter, she's just leading a busy and very exciting life, and massaging her mum's ego is not on her immediate agenda!

*Francesca has replied after performing her obligatory proofreading. She says ..."I do absolutely LOVE my mum's newsletters. When they arrive in my in box in Melbourne I DO drop everything and read them. They remind me of home and are often the highlight of my day. I do miss my mum immensely and thoroughly enjoy hearing her voice in these little updates. Please drop into the shop and give her a hug from me!

  Well, that's it apart from me letting you know that Olivia, my lovely young 'helper' in all things technology has now gone down to university in Wellington. I miss her so much. My computer skills and website knowledge is appalling, but having being thrown in at the deep end I have realized that you can teach an old dog new tricks. #$@!+_)"?t!!!!!  She will be back in store during the uni' holidays, probably spending many hours correcting my techno errors. Michele is now helping me every Monday, she takes charge of the shop and leaves me in the back room banging away on the keyboard.

Thank you for reading on, we hope to welcome you in the store very soon.

Happy knitting from Fran and The Woolly Girls.
April 26, 2019 by Fran Stafford