The Last Week

Beanies galore. We don't get to enjoy them for long.
Beanies galore. We don’t get to enjoy them for long.

This is more of a random post on doings over the last week, given they have been so varied.

The shop has seen a constant raid on hand knits since we opened, so I’ve been updating the spiral beanie stock (which also means working through patterns and sizings for the different yarns we have in the shop). Over half a dozen new beanies briefly went on display. Unfortunately this meant interrupting the Show knitting which is a Shetland lace sampler shawl.

Last Monday saw me on ABC Central West radio doing a shop interview on their Craft Corner. This was an unanticipated bonus and lots of fun.

Just starting to populate our new oak Wernike bookcase.
Just starting to populate our new

Over the weekend we added to our collectibles in the shop culminating with a trip to Sydney to collect our bounty from participating in online auctions from some of the major Sydney auction houses. We now have quite a selection of antiques and collectibles, including silver ornaments and lovely vintage jewellery.

Our new brochures and bookmarks reflect our shop well. Hopefully we can get a wide distribution.
Our new brochures and bookmarks reflect our shop well. Hopefully we can get a wide distribution.

We know we need to market the shop fairly broadly – including via traditional means to attract tourists. Our brochures and bookmarks (which make great pattern and chart trackers) arrived this week and we think they look great. Next step is to distribute them through central areas such as the local Tourist Information Centres, motels and B&Bs. Our first ad should also appear in the Discover Central NSW magazine next month.

Nothing flash but very fast and lots of fresh garden produce.
Nothing flash but very fast and lots of fresh garden produce.

The garden is growing rampantly – with warm, humid weather and plenty of rain, it’s moving faster than I can keep up with. I try to do and hour or two on shop days and much more on other days, but sometimes I barely make an impact and I’m not sure why I bother to mow the grass. It seems just as long three days later! Anyway, things are also growing in the veg garden, although looking at local Facebook posts, everyone seems inundated with veg. I made a slight dent with a zucchini slice and salad of lettuce, mixed cherry tomatoes and cucumber – all home grown.

But for now it’s a battle between garden, Show knitting and topping up the shop knitted items which are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Show knitting - struggling to get priority at the moment.
Show knitting – struggling to get priority at the moment.

Pretties for The Shop

Vintage crystal necklaces to sparkle up the shop.
Vintage crystal necklaces to sparkle up the shop.

One of our unanticipated successes in the shop so far has been our small range of antiques and collectibles – we started with a few favourite things from the auctions on a shelf and have now expanded into two small cabinets.

Jewellery which includes a vintage cocktail bracelet that would have looked in place on the Duchess of Windsor's wrist.
Jewellery which includes a vintage cocktail bracelet that would have looked in place on the Duchess of Windsor’s wrist.

This weekend we’ve been shopping online at one of the major auction houses in Sydney and come back with some lovely items – we’re often sad not to keep them ourselves and sometimes hope they’ll stay on the shelves with us for a while.

Probably my favourites this time around were the gorgeous crystal necklaces although some of the brooches are just beautiful, with such craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Gorgeous silver things including  coin purse and a beautiful Scottish agate brooch.
Gorgeous silver things including coin purse and a beautiful Scottish agate brooch.

This means that we have something for the non-knitting (hard to imagine) visitors to our shop.

An exquisite cameo brooch makes an appearance with other interesting accessories.
An exquisite cameo brooch makes an appearance with other interesting accessories.

Knitting… and lots more knitting!

Yep, just a cast on row. Getting the first pattern row right took hours and lots of tinking (knitter's speak for undoing).
Yep, just a cast on row. Getting the first pattern row right took hours and lots of tinking (knitter’s speak for undoing).

What with the shop and the impending Shows, it seems like the knitting needles are never out of G and my hands.

It’s great that people like to buy the hand knits, but they all take time to knit and at present we are focussing on our Show entries. To make best use of our efforts, we are endeavouring to use shop yarn and our own patterns (or at least patterns that are easily accessible to others), so the finished entries can then become shop displays or the basis for our classes – it’s called “leveraging”!

Looks a bit of a mess at present. Not sure how many knitters have a Chapel floor on which to block. Don't think it will help with judges scoring at the end, though!
Looks a bit of a mess at present. Not sure how many knitters have a Chapel floor on which to block. Don’t think it will help with judges scoring at the end, though!

So far I’ve managed a shawl in a very vibrant Zauberball Lace – different from my usual classic and subdued style and have just cast on the beginnings of a sampler lace shawl using Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Shetland Lace. I’m hoping this can be used in a future lace workshop for customers. But I’ll be knitting into the wee hours each night to have a fighting chance of getting this into the Rylstone/Kandos Show in late February.

I’m hoping to have a few items finished by the time Show season kicks off, with a few more entries completed shortly after for the later Shows. We’re also encouraging our customers to enter so others can see the possibilities with knitting and that the craft has evolved considerably from people’s previous expectations.

In the meantime, there’s still some shop knitting happening. The past week it was focussing on Noro and Zauberball Spiral Beanies – one of our best sellers.

Noro beanies - very popular. Now adding Zauberballs to the mix.
Noro beanies – very popular. Now adding Zauberballs to the mix.

2015 Plans

So now it’s time to set some targets for the next year. Given 2014 was nothing like planned – hadn’t planned on selling up and living here permanently, getting involved in the Museum, CWA not on the radar – let alone President, what shop? … Plans now just seem incongruous after years of managing Strategic and Operating Plans.

So why have some personal goals? OK, just a concept and let’s see how close we get.

  • Shop – I actually have a Business Plan and hope to pull this off. It’s important on a number of levels and I think achievable.
  • Convent – well, I should update the old toilets – and original kitchen and put in new kitchen, and update lighting, but they’re not high on priorities at present – although was a originally – how things change!
  • Garden – finish side colourbond fence bed, build bed in front of the sunroom.
  • Side block – well, good intentions here for the orchard/parkland block but at best may just clear it and manage a few plantings.
  • Knitting – at least winning something at one of the Shows I’m planning on entering.
  • Convent Chapel – fix lighting for workshops
  • Umm – do a psychic reading – not really my style but as I’m feeling so settled, it’s really tempting
  • Chopper ride – yes! Kids have bought tickets – so excited to go on a helicopter tour of the area
  • Go Fishing! Have had a licence for a wasted year. I love fishing and have rods. Can’t believe I’m not doing this regularly given I’m so close to Dunn’s Swamp. I don’t need to catch anything. It’s about dropping a line in the water and just chilling.
  • Keeping in touch with old friends and making some new ones – I now appreciate just how important this is. It’s easy to be isolated or isolate yourself, but friends – either local, old but visit, or even those you keep up with mainly online – are all so important and add a greater dimension and connection to your life.

I’m sure there’s lots more I’ll think of but these are fine for now. After all, life’s supposed to be enjoyed. John Lennon was so right when he said, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”.

 

Show Preparations

I love entering the local Agricultural Shows – I’ve only attempted the last few years and mainly with knitting. Whilst it’s a thrill to win a prize at one of the bigger shows like the Royal Easter Show, it’s more of a buzz to participate in the local ones.

I’ve had some reasonable successes with my knitting but have been an abject failure in other categories such as tomatoes, dahlias and roses, but am determined to persist with my efforts. And I’m way past the Showgirl section!

The knitting categories however are now the core focus for G and me, particularly now we have Convent & Chapel Wool Shop up and running. Somehow the stakes seem much higher this year. Anyway, we have our projects underway – using shop yarn, of course. To date I’ve focussed on lace shawls but will be spreading myself a little more this year, planning on also entering accessories – I’m thinking mitts, scarf and maybe a beanie – as well as possibly a baby garment.

The Shows start with a flurry in mid February, kicking off with Gulgong, followed by our own Kandos Rylstone Show, then Mudgee, Lithgow and Bathurst all jammed in closely. Other shows are a little more spaced with Sydney Royal Easter Show in late March. Not sure how many we will manage, but we will definitely be supporting our local shows.

At this stage the projects are under wraps – we’re keen that they will be surprises. no doubt you’ll hear about our results – good or otherwise.

Showing Off – Our New Shop

LR_Convent & Chapel Wool-2

We are so proud of our new shop, Convent & Chapel Wool Shop, and excited to boot. Everything is very new and we’re sure to make mistakes but it’s great to be learning so much and still having new experiences.

Our signature Convent and Chapel bamboo needles
Our signature Convent and Chapel bamboo needles

Now the shop is open, we’re starting to promote ourselves more widely both locally with the tourist market as well as through knitting circles, particularly given we have a good online shop as well.

The back room is appropriately called 'The Snug'. It also is home to a comfy green leather Chesterfield couch.
The back room is appropriately called ‘The Snug’. It also is home to a comfy green leather Chesterfield couch.

Part of organising marketing for the shop was getting some professional photos taken, rather than just us with our iPhones. The immensely talented local photographer, Karon Grant, has stepped in to help us and we are just over the moon with our photos which we think do our shop much more justice than our own handiwork.

LR_Convent & Chapel Wool-38I thought I’d share a few shots with you so for the non-locals you might get a better idea of how the business looks. We’re still adding some more shelving and furniture (not to mention stock) but are nearly there.

We love our Zauberball display.
We love our Zauberball display.
The Hedgehog Fibre Collection from Ireland is attracting much attention - we love the names like Pod and Shamrock.
The Hedgehog Fibre Collection from Ireland is attracting much attention – we love the names like Pod and Shamrock.

Our Railway Green Market Day

That's our bright yellow Convent & Chapel marquee  over there!
That’s our bright yellow Convent & Chapel marquee over there!
The town turned out to welcome the train. Some went on a quick trip to Clandulla whilst the visitors had their lunch
The town turned out to welcome the train. Some went on a quick trip to Clandulla whilst the visitors had their lunch

This is the first time we’ve done the Markets at Kandos. On Sunday the Heritage Train arrived from Sydney and the town turned on a great display. As the train rolled in, it seemed like the whole town (plus some) were there to cheer on and welcome the travellers.

W're very happy with our marquee and thinks it looks the part at the markets.
W’re very happy with our marquee and thinks it looks the part at the markets.

Once they had left the train they headed for their luncheon venues with the choices of visiting the market stalls at the Railway Green or boarding a local bus for a tour of the town and stop off at the Kandos Museum which was holding a special railway exhibition in honour of the train’s annual visit. It is years since public trains have regularly run to Kandos, so this special tourist train means a great deal to the town.

Our wares on display. There's non stop knitting to keep up the supply.
Our wares on display. There’s non stop knitting to keep up the supply.

We had a great time at our bright yellow marquee, chatting to other stall holders, locals and the train-trippers. It was a good opportunity to promote our new shop and show off a few of our wares. Whilst rains threatened (which are much wanted), they have still held off and it ended up being A Great Day Out for all. Now a bit tired and grubby, but happy with our day.

Up close and personal with the train - it pulled up right next to the markets at Kandos Railway Green
Up close and personal with the train – it pulled up right next to the markets at Kandos Railway Green

End of Week One for the Shop

So we’ve just had our first week of being open (we open Friday to Monday) and it was a great start! Locals seem to love having a yarn shop. We’ve had great feedback from tourists as well.

We haven’t started advertising yet, so that will be our next step as well as continuing to add items and keeping the shop well stocked with hand knits which will now reflect our yarn.

We’ve been inundated with requests for classes so that will also be high on the To Do list, but for the next few days it’s tending a garden that’s looking a little ragged and spending some time with the dogs who are wondering where I’ve been lately.

Our Big First Day at the Shop

The sign being erected made it seem very real
The sign being erected made it seem very real
The Zauberball display attracts attention
The Zauberball display attracts attention

Yesterday was our Grand Opening – not sure about opening a yarn store in Central West NSW in 40 degree heat, but it was still a great day.

We had locals and tourists through, made some sales and had a wonderful opening night with our new friends.

The library is building up - we have a broad range of reference books as Shop Copies and the For Sale selection is growing.
The library is building up – we have a broad range of reference books as Shop Copies and the For Sale selection is growing.

We think the shop looks great and seems to be getting good feedback. There’s still lots of stock we need and are seeking feedback from our customers. It’s tempting to take home many of the beautiful items but we are really pleased to offer some special treats and collectibles in the store.

Hedgehog Fibres from Ireland and Claudia's Handpainted Yarns from the US - hand dyed luxury fibres saturated in colour
Hedgehog Fibres from Ireland and Claudia’s Handpainted Yarns from the US – hand dyed luxury fibres saturated in colour

G’s daughter has been a great help in setting up our online store which we are sure will be a great supplement for business as well, so we won’t be dependent on foot traffic.

So now we’re open, the next stage is to start promoting ourselves, start some classes and drop in groups as well as add to the depth of stock in the shop.

Our new website – still in it’s infancy is

conventandchapelwool.com

It’s been a promising start and we are so excited about our future.

Golding Spindles - you won't see these in many shops.
Golding Spindles – you won’t see these in many shops.
Our C&C Signature needles
Our C&C Signature needles
Comfy retreats for the knitters
Comfy retreats for the knitters

The Shop

A great range of stunning Zauberballs
A great range of stunning Zauberballs

Plans for the new shop are moving at a cracking pace. Stock has either been delivered or is on its way – particularly for the international products. Some of the new arrivals are so stunning, I’m finding it hard to imagine how I can part with them. Probably not the best retail approach.

Noro, of course!
Noro, of course!

So far we have a good stock of Noro, Zauberball, Moseley Park and Kaalund. Books have arrived as have a selection of Knitpro needles. A few other lovelies such as some Golding spindles have also found their way here. This week a trip to Sydney helped with shelving as well as some surprises from the last David Barsby auction.

Very happy with our shop fittings
Very happy with our shop fittings

The shop is coming together well and is perfect for our needs – great location, lots of character, good size with two rooms to add interest, of course Yum Cha next door as well as outdoor seating for knitters in good weather. There’s still lots to do – phone/wireless connection, Merchant connections, signage, stationery … but it’s so exciting.

The needles are clicking madly in preparation for our Rylstone StreetFeast stall on 1 November, then it should be full steam ahead to open the shop sometime in November.

Our books will work well in the old dresser.
Our books will work well in the old dresser.