Festiwool at the Festival

Festiwool will, once again, be taking part in the HitchinFestival.

This year's theme is The Tea Party. There will be sweet confections on view that are too good to eat, and creative contributions from Woolly Chic, Louise Shotton, ChrissCrossCraft, and members of Hitchin Stitchin' and Ival Knits.

Come and see the fantastical creations from the imaginations of  pupils from Hitchin Girls' School and Biggleswade Academy. The fun begins on 31st June and continues throughout the month of July. 

Want to join the Vicar of St Mary's and his wife for a spot of knitting at the Tea Party? Watch this space for confirmation of dates.

Spotlight on

The Studio at Number 30

Kaye McGown

The love of sewing and all things handmade is something that Kaye had from a very early age. Even as a small child her favourite toy was her Mum's old button tin! She grew up in a very creative family. With her three sisters she would spend many happy hours making clothes for their dolls, creating costumes and putting on shows for their parents. Her Grandmother was a seamstress and a milliner and at the age of 5 she taught Kaye how to use a sewing machine, a simple hand-powered Singer, which she still uses today and features in her logo.

Kaye's love of dressmaking grew and she made clothes for herself, wedding dresses for friends and a christening gown for her godson. Years later, having trained as a lecturer, travelled the world and had two children of her own, she is still happiest when she is making or crafting something.

Kaye will be presenting  workshop at Festiwool for the second year running. This year, she invites you to Make an Orla Keily Washbag.

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Crafting as a business

British Fibre Art Magazine's Rainy Williamson will be talking about setting up a business at Festiwool this year. Why not book a ticket and get some insider tips.

In the meantime, here is some excellent advice from

© BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour

Knitting and embroidery are crafts that have traditionally been done at home by women for centuries, but are still hugely popular today. Hannah Hill and Louise Walker are two young women who have taken these disciplines and applied a modern twist of their own.

if you want to sell your crafts - how is the best way to go about it? Amy Phipps gives some top tips.


Know your own worth

“If you want it to be a money-making full-time business, you have to break it down into what you want to earn a year - and then work backwards,” says Amy Phipps, who runs Women Who Create UK and craft business Super+Super.

Be prepared to spend most of your time NOT doing the one thing that you love

Think you’re going to be sewing / spinning / weaving all day to your heart’s content? Think again!

“I love knitting and I love making,” says Louise Walker, who launched a business selling Taxidermy-inspired knitting kits, Sincerely Louise. “But during my daytime at the office I have to do everything else; social media, the post, every little thing that makes up that business. There's very little time left to do that thing that you loved in the beginning.”

You should also expect that workload to change with the seasons too.

“Nearer Christmas you're making stuff constantly and sorting out posting and packing,” says Amy. “But at the start of the year it's probably more planning and admin, bookkeeping - so you have to be able to be a jack of all trades.”


Get yourself on social media (and be authentic)

“A lot of us work on our own at home, but you have to stay connected,” says Amy, who believes social media is key for finding your tribe, flogging your wares and letting customers see behind the scenes.

“Being on Instagram and really making use of social media is so important for selling, and building those relationships. I think people want to see the real person behind the business, as that’s what you don’t get from mass-produced products. 

Louise even used social to help her win Etsy’s £10,000 People’s Choice Award.

“I thought, ‘if I win this it will just change my life’,” she says. “So I spent two weeks canvassing for votes, getting in contact with followers, doing posts – I even made a video, knitting a kit from start to finish and it got thousands of views.” Et voila.

 

But don’t forget to make yourself part of a REAL LIFE community too

There’s no substitute for getting out there, so google local groups or use the online marketplace Etsy to connect with people in your area – and then leave the house.

“In Brighton I had a huge community from running a studio,” says Amy. “Fantastic people would come to workshops, and I go to as many things as I can.”

Markets – such as the Independent Ceramics Market, Crafty Fox or BUST Craftacular - are also a top place for networking,

“Google the kind of markets that are in your area and just go and buy something,” says Tallie Maughan, who runs ceramics studio Turning Earth.

“Just by going and buying or selling work you're joining the community, you're going to be surrounded by other artists and that's when you're going to answer questions like how much should this be sold for?.”


Get skilled up and get organised

Draw on all the free resources that you can, from the Design Trust to the government’s Start Up Loan scheme, which offers free training from business advisors.

“They did the business forecasting for me, and with me,” says Talle, “so I learned how to do spreadsheets, which are still the foundation for my business, and that was free.”

Amy adds: “Keep all your receipts really well organised and your finances in order from the very beginning.

“I would honestly cry over piles of receipts, that was the biggest stress for me. I've started using a cloud accounting assistant and that's amazing, and I’ve got an app so I can scan my receipts and it imports all of my transactions.”


Get yourself a ‘business bestie’

“Having that physical group to go to is fantastic, but maybe find one person who you trust who can be your ‘business bestie’,” is Amy’s genius advice.

“Meet up once a month just for a check in, and they can hold you accountable for the goals and steps you said you were going to do last month.

“That's so important. My cat's not going to tell me to do my accounts. I have somebody that I go to for a coffee and they say, ‘right, how are you getting on with this?’.

“No one can really be accountable to their own deadlines,” adds Tallie.


Say goodbye to the 9-5

When it comes to running your own craft business, it’s NOT a job, it’s a lifestyle.

“Be prepared to be super driven. It's not like a 9 to 5 that you can just switch on and off when you want, it's really all consuming,” says Amy.

“But you do it because you love it and you’re passionate about it,” adds Louise.

“I wouldn’t work this hard for anyone else – and any other maker, artist, crafter would say the same thing. But you’re doing it for you, and you’re on your own terms.”

Spotlight on

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Author of best selling knitting pattern books including 'Knitted Meerkats' and 'Knitted Cats and Kittens, Sue also ran The Knitting Hut, a small but beautiful yarn store in Buckinghamshire, for eleven years.

Sue teaches knitting and crochet workshops, and loves sharing her skills with others. She always has countless knitting projects on the go. She will be running a knitted toy workshop at this year's Festiwool event. 

Spotlight on Knit Knacks

Monica Russel

is primarily a freelance designer for magazines, books and yarn companies. She sells knitting patterns, books, yarns made from natural fibres, knitting kits and single patterns through her website Knit Knacks

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Monica runs knitting workshops in East Sussex,  The Knitting and Stitching shows at Alexandra Palace, Harrogate and Olympia and at  Knitting shops and venues across the UK.

If you love knitting and want to face new challenges, why not learn how to create Fair Isle patterns at Monca's Fair Isle workshop at this year's Festiwool.

Spotlight on

Spinspired

Anna is one half of the husband and wife team that is Spinspired.  Spinspired produces a wide range of fibre related materials and equipment, from hand washed and carded fleece, hand dyed/spun yarns and threads, exclusive knitting patterns/kits, garments and accessories, to hand crafted tapestry looms, peg looms, blending boards and drop spindles. Spinspired also offers workshops and demonstrations for individuals and groups to learn a wide variety of fibre and textile based skills and crafts.

Anna has been designing and creating textiles since her early teens. Her main influences are from nature, and she is passionate about using natural fibres and fabrics in my designs. She particularly enjoys bringing together the wide variety of skills and techniques she have developed over years of experimentation and practical application.

There are two workshops on offer at this year's Festiwool, Beginning Weaving, and Drop Spindle Spinning.

Spotlight on Beaker Button

Jen has been crafting since she was tiny, inspired by her Gran to knit, crochet, embroider, sew and make buttons. She's spent the last 35 years with something woolly in her hands.

Jen set Beaker Button up in 2011, after years of dreaming of owning a yarn shop. This gave her the time and resources to really explore Dorset buttons and what you can do with them.

Jen has written four button books, and several smaller instruction booklets to get people addicted to making buttons.  She teaches classes all over the country in various forms of button making. They are without a doubt the crafting love of her life.

Jen is currently planning the next Dorset button craft book, and developing a new range of kits with art buttons, like her my tree of life hanging button.

Why not take a class with Jen at this Year's Festiwool event, and pay a reduced entry fee.

Spotlight on the Bloggers

Meet the face behind Cherry Heart

Sandra Paul

is the craft blogger, podcaster and pattern designer behind Cherry Heart, who loves to crochet, knit and sew. She lives in a small village in Bedfordshire with her husband, daughter, a couple of pets and an ever expanding stash of yarn and fabric.

Re-discovering knitting as an adult by dusting off some rusty childhood skills one Christmas Day, it was only a matter of weeks before she knew that she needed to learn crochet too.  One how to book, and a stressful evening of fumbled fingers later, a slightly crooked granny square and a brand new obsession had been born.

These days there’s always something on the hook or the needles and Sandra’s blog has expanded from simply being a place to share her crafty adventures into a home for all kinds of handy tutorials and beautiful patterns.

Sandra will be taking part in the mingle and chat taking place in The Green Room at this year's Festiwool. As an enthusiastic VLogger, there may well be a podcast of the event on her Blog.

Spotlight on the Spotted Sheep

The Spotted Sheep

 

Jacqui is the owner of The Spotted Sheep. She is an avid knitter, whowanted to create a wool shop that she would want to shop in; a shop brimming over with beautiful wools and yarns for every project, great and small.

Jaqui will be running a crochet workshop on 11/11/2017 at Festiwool


The Spotted Sheep is situated in the prettiest part of Leighton Buzzard, and from the outside looks like The Old Curiosity Shop, quaint and lovely. The shop is staffed by Jacqui, Sheila and Vi, three passionate yarnies. They opened the shop in October 2015, with the aim of providing a fun, homely place that makes you feel as if you're popping into a friends house, sitting at the kitchen table, and chatting.  

The Staff wanted to provide a myriad of choices and brands, with the aim that there would wools and yarns for all pockets and projects. That's why you find such a broad range, from the ever popular Stylecraft Special dk; Yak, cottons, merino, and mulberry silk yarns by Katia; Juniper Moon Farm; WYS; Fyberspates; Sublime and many many more.

The Spotted Sheep stocks a wide range of needles and notions, you know some of the things you can only get in specialist shops! The Spotted Sheep is super proud to be the first stockists of Yarntelier, a Yorkshire Cashmere created by Louisa Harding.

There are events at the shop, including visits by Louisa and Erika Knight, Yarn Shop Day, special offer days, workshops and Prosecco and Cupcake private open-evenings for knitting & crochet groups.

You'll always find a warm welcome at the shop, which prides itself on not selling anyone anything. Staff will happily show you choices and options for you to decide, they want happy customers and the sort of shop that they like to shop in.