Wonderwool was amazing, as many of you know I took my first holiday this week to go. It was the best way to spend my birthday.  My lovely family joined me for 5 days in Wales to take in the sunshine and the sights, I could not have asked for better weather or better company, massive thank you to Mum, Dion and my Aunty Pam for letting me run around the show stopping at every stand, then going round again, over 6 hours of wool whoopee. The men escaped the stayed at home to eat cake.


The show is held at the Builth Wells Royal Welsh Showground in 3 buildings that resemble aircraft hangers. The event showcases a range of suppliers, designers, producers and artists from across the country; it’s a great chance to see new ranges from small hand dyers and new styles that are becoming popular. You can bump into some famous faces and meet inspirational people. For me the atmosphere is thrilling, with scrumptious yarns and innovative techniques in every aisle.


Meeting some of my suppliers was great, I can now put a face to the emails and phone calls, I said hello to the John Arbon team from Lynton their knit by numbers range was selling well at the show and is behind them in the photo below. I had a great chat with Jenny from Fyberspates, who has a new yarn out called cumulus, which is a blend of alpaca and silk, it’s fluffy and warm in great colours, hopefully I will get this on the shelves in a few months. I caught up with the guys at Rooster Yarn who have been a big hit in The Periwinkle since I got their Aran and DK in a few months ago, they have just launched a range of textured yarns on cones… I am tempted, but would you knit from a cone? – Let me know !!


I have made a new connection with Jenny Cook and have put in an order for some of her yummy yarns, she even let me take my first three colourways with me on the day, so pop in to have a look at her hand dyed DK wool, lace weight yarns should be in stock soon. I met a huge range of other potential suppliers including the lovely couple at yarn garden pictured below. So keep your eyes peeled for new stock in 2014


Alongside the stalls was The Giant Textile Books, a few pictures below, these are a project from Alison and Ann Murray who have been raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. The display has taken 9 months to sew together and was made with a range of textile crafts from contributions from across the UK, the books are all based on Myths and Mythology. More information about this and previous projects including a 30ft high knitted Christmas tree are on their website: www.all2knit.co.uk


The halls are pretty cold so everyone is able to wear their knitted garments even if it is sunny outside. Seeing everyone’s hand knits around the show is brilliant, you could spend a full day just people watching. Next year if I remember to take my memory card for my camera I might do a best dressed competition with my readers as judges. To top it off they hold a fashion show with garments from the stalls;


Thank you for reading my blog, as you can tell I had a brilliant time, as for the rest of the holiday you I would love to tell you if you get a chance to pop in for coffee, but special mention to No 46 wine bar and the Deli Tinto in Presteigne for outstanding service and great food and drinks. Ans another mention to The Stag Inn, we popped in here on my birthday for dinner, and the food was unbelievably good I have never eaten a meal like it, service was friendly and efficient, this is a must if you are in wales.













Debbie Bliss Summer Tweed Juliet

Well it’s been a very long time since my last blog ! – must do better.

With so much going on in the shop I sometimes forget to keep you all up to date. This post is going to be a quick review of the yarn currently on my needles:

This week I have started knitting this cute top by Debbie Bliss using her summer tweed “Juliet” 

52% cotton / 48% acrylic

50g ball, 120m / 131yds

3.25 mm needles 30C wash

I am someone who normally knits with aran or chunky yarns, I like quick results, warm luxurious yarns. So this cotton blend 3ply is out of my comfort zone, however I am really enjoying it. So far I am 2 days in one ball down, it is knitting up much quicker than I anticipated. The smooth cotton is lovely to work with in this sunshine, kind on the hands and the light weight makes it easy to carry around in my handbag. I would happily recommend this yarn to knitters of all levels, the Juliet pattern book that accompanies it has a range of cardigans, tops, shrugs and a skirt to inspire, with very simple easy to follow options through to complicated cable work for the more adventurous. The picture is of my progress so far ! – I will post the finished project on the website and on Facebook once I get it completed.



Craft Hobby and Stitch Show

craft and stitch show

Wow !! I have had an amazing 2 days,  The show is a massive event in the calendar for retailers, with companies big and small showcasing their new ranges, designs and concepts. There is a chance to meet designers, make contact with local reps and strike deals. This year many of the companies are still so large they are out of reach for small retailers, but its great to see their trends and ideas, scattered across the show were a handful of companies that I have agreed to work with and place orders this week! The next month is going to be so exciting with deliveries including books, cotton, bamboo, merino blends, accessories and tools.

Sunday lunchtime I journeyed up to the NEC with mum, luckily the trains ran up straight there with just a slight delay, we checked into the show a bit late but with enough time to have a quick browse. I wish I had taken photos so that you could see it, but I was too caught up with being there. I have met some lovely small producers including Toft who were showcasing their stunning crochet toy kits, and Rooster yarns who make smooth blended yarns.

We stayed over night and started again first thing Monday morning, I met up with a few existing suppliers : James C Brett and Artesano, its great to look at their new ranges, colour ways, and place orders. We also met with a range of publishers for books and magazines, so hopefully I will be able to offer them in the next month or two, quite a few magazines offered us samples so pop into the shop next week to have a browse – if you spot something you love it would be great to know, I can aim to tailor orders to what we interested in.

Even with having a focused plan of which suppliers to look at and find out more about I still managed to run out of time. We completely missed the chance to see the product demonstrations and workshops, with just a short glimpse of the fashion show at lunch time. – Next year I will go for 3 days and hopefully have time to see everything !  We arrived back in Devon at 10.30 last night, tired but very hyperactive, buzzing with ideas and wanting to knit. I have to admit though I was still pleased to be home, after 2 days in Birmingham crowds opening the shop this morning and saying hello to a few regulars reminded me of how lovely it is to be in Devon and how lucky we are that we live by the sea and enjoy life 🙂

A new year


Hello 2014 !


What a year already, great to see so many friendly faces and updates on your projects, I am starting a pin board of finished creations for inspiration so feel free to send my photos or pop in for your picture to be added to the wall. I would like to say a belated congratulations to Kara Stevens who picked up her Snowman before Christmas.

Winner of The Snowman

Winner of The Knitted Snowman


We are back to normal trading hours now with the coffee machine being fired up from 10 am Tuesday – Saturday. Don’t forget our late night club on Wednesdays 6 – 8 for those braving the extreme weather there will be  a range of cakes and drinks to purchase and time to get started on our latest projects.

More workshops and clubs have been confirmed so here’s a list of the first few, there are limited spaces so please do book early to avoid disappointment:


Tuesday 14th January is our first Crochet Blanket Along

2nd Tuesday of every month 2pm till 4pm

Lead by Amanda from The Natural Dye Studio; This club is not for beginners so you will need to know the following basic crochet stitches; Chain, slip stitch, double crochet, half treble crochet, treble crochet and double treble crochet. However if you can make a granny square you should be able to make any of Amanda’s designs with a bit of practise.

Amanda’s blankets are all made from The Natural Dye Studio 4 ply yarn, which you can buy from The Periwinkle, Amanda will bring along a selection of additional yarns for you to buy to use in your blanket. New members will be welcome to join at any time.



Beginners Knitting Workshop

Date: 10th Feb 14. Tutor: Tonia Sears Level: Beginner Cost: £25

In this month’s beginners workshop you will learn the skills needed to produce a small cushion cover, with an option to include a simple cable for the more adventurous. Skills covered are casting on, knit stitch, purl stitch and casting off. Tools and materials available to purchase on the day



Big Beautiful Cables

Date: 24th Feb 14. Tutor: Martin Storey Level: Intermediate Cost: £35

Martin Storey, a senior designer for Rowan, teaches the skills to produce a beautiful cabled cowl or scarf. Six patterns, instruction and yarn all included in the cost. Please bring along size 10mm needles and a cable needle, alternatively purchase them in store on the day


Here are a few of your finished projects:

Penny's projectsImage


Day One

The Periwinkle ChristmasWow ! what an amazing night. My first day of trading had me rushed off my feet with so many well wishers. I had unbelievable support from the local community, friends and family. It could not have been a better day. My shop is now open for business Tuesday – Saturday 10 – 5 with a late night club on Wednesdays until 8pm.The Periwinkle First Day

I must say a massive thank you to my sister who worked so hard to help create the window displays which look brilliant, and ran around yesterday serving, tidying up, selling and updating the social media. Without her I would have struggled to keep up.

Periwinkle cake

I am looking forward to this Sundays Christmas Fair in Fore Street, I will be opening up for the afternoon with mulled apple juice and mini mince pies for the shoppers. Do pop in to say hi, and enjoy the live music on Fore Street.


Less than a week to go until opening day on the 27th November.

Everything happens at once, I can not believe how quickly things pull together at this point. Everyday seems like a week with the amount that gets done. Even still I am nervous that it wont be perfect by 3.30 doors open next week. I hope you will all be able to see the shop and know it will continue to develop over the next few months.

The 27th is the turning on of the Ilfracombe High Street Christmas Lights. Myself and Lucy from The Cotton Tree next door both aim to be open in the evening for the event and the late night shopping. The excitement of having 2 new shops on Fore Street has been brilliant. We will be opening again on the Sunday for the Fore Street Christmas Market. So a very busy first week for us. I will be offering a few tasters from about 7.30 to keep those late night shoppers going. ( limited number only as I only have the morning to bake so first come first served).

Shop Front

The Periwinkle

My amazing sister has spent the last few days trying to come up with a theme for my window displays, with all the other things going on I somehow forgot that Christmas is so close and had not planned for it. Hurray for big sisters coming to the rescue, she is a wonderfully creative person so I have high hopes for her displays on short notice 🙂 She will be there on Wednesday so feel free to compliment her.

99% of my stock is now in and I am enjoying using my pricing gun, and organising some of the internal displays, I have 95% of the key utilities in just need to remember the details. This is probably going to be my last blog before the big day, as I am pretty shattered by the time I get home in the evenings. Also I should remind you that I have a website ; www.theperiwinkle.co.uk

Can’t wait to see you all there, do invite friends and family.


What a reaction ! The brilliant article in the North Devon Journal a few weeks back has had an amazing response, thank you to all the comments, messages and tweets, I will respond to everyone but have been in the shop almost everyday working to get it open.

I also had a great reaction at the Homemade Craft fair at St Annes in Barnstaple. Luckily my mum helped to man the stall whilst I ran back and forward with handymen and advisers. But she has told me of all the wonderful comments received and how excited everyone is.

I can not wait to open, I keep hoping things will pick up and I will be suddenly at the stage of dressing the windows but that is still a long way off. However I have had a great week for moving forward, I have running water ! a massive thank you to Andy and his team for slogging it out yesterday in the poring rain to connect the drain up and having to clamber past everyone else working in the shop. I also now have a coffee machine ! yes I know, there is still no floor but I now have the time to become practiced with this particular machine and train up all my family to help me out on busy day. 🙂 I have 90% finished the kitchen, all units are up and solid and just awaiting the finishing touches, hopefully to come this week.

So again there will be a bit of a delay between communications whilst I am in the shop, until I get internet in there 🙂 but I will reply when I get longer free to write. Oh and I should say thank you to Gill and Ali from Miles for spending a full day training us on the coffee machine, and for working around the plumbers, lack of facilities and the noisy dusty shop.


Almost Famous

North Devon Journal

My write up in this weeks Journal

A massive thank you to Francesca Taffs and Mike Southon for my article in today’s North Devon Journal. I cannot believe how brilliant it is. I have already had lots of messages from people who have seen it. Hopefully it will create the buzz about the business that I am aiming for.

I have had a great day today, I spent this morning with John Russell http://www.johnphoto.co.uk/ who has been wonderful enough to teach me the basics on my camera that I won with Florence Finds. Who knew how much lighting can change the texture of a product? He explained all the key elements to produce a simple but functional photo, I now need to practice with F Stops, ISOs and white balances to get the best option. See the photo below of me at John’s studio in South Molton. His commercial work is very impressive, I will be sure to get in contact with him again for promotional shots when I get to that stage.

John Russell

John and me at his studio

I got home at lunch time to find the “gift” my parents have bought me for my shop. I realise this is not something that most people get excited about but I have a brand new fully programmable till !! I am so chuffed, I was expecting to be making do with a heavy box and hand written receipts until I started having enough customers. But they believe I will have enough people in from day 1 to need a quick way of offering receipts and keeping accounts. I am so grateful that I am getting this on top of all the help they have given me. Thank  you!

Also I should mention that I got a key this week ….. woooo hoooo !!!! The builders are still in and working hard, but for those of you watching the shop the next few weeks should show bigger changes J

Finally I spent the afternoon with a mentor from South West mentors called John, who is helping me nail out some of the legal requirements and financials. So a big thank you to him for the hours he will have to spend over the next week working it out for me.

Maybe I should retitle this post as thank you ! I am sure there are lots more I need to say but might spread the rest out so that I don’t become to gushing. For all the brilliant people who have offered help, contacts and support thank you, I am a very lucky person!

Hello Sunshine

Can you believe how lucky we are to have this weather, I love that I have these few weeks to make the most of it, I have been fitting my work around bike rides and beach walks. I know I should be 100% focused on The Periwinkle but I just love that we have this scenery on the door step, so before I am committed to the set open hours I am enjoying being a bit naughty and making up for it by working late at night.

Paperwork has been a major factor in my life this week, between business plans, financial forecasts and contracts my brain is starting to freeze over. I think touch wood I am about 95% there with them all, so I can look at the more interesting stuff from now on like group and workshop planning. I have some brilliant names lined up to offer a huge range of crafting courses. Picking the project and the times is so fun, so hard to pick out just one or two from each person though.

I have had more deliveries this week, a few kitchen bits and pieces, functional but not exciting and yarn, exciting and functional. After much deliberation I have committed to a range of yarns that fit into the more affordable price bracket. Meeting with the sales representative in the local pub turned out to be an eye opener, not all cheaper yarns are low quality, in fact I love them, I have some super soft blends and great textures to complete your latest accessories project. I have now ditched my knitting projects in exchange for using one of them for me!  So for those of you looking into my offerings I will be having James C Brett and Designer Yarns on my shelves, assuming I haven’t used it all.

I need to say a big thank you to North Devon Plus who have been wonderful to me, advising me on finances, plans and processes. They have let me attend their enterprise clubs which is a great source of advice and support, this week we were lucky enough to have John from Johnphoto.co.uk along to explain the pros and cons of commercial photography and how to make the most of your products. So much information and advice he is a very knowledgeable man, fingers crossed I can apply it in my future photos !

More to come next week but for now that’s all folks

Crow Point

(Originally posted 17.10.13)


What a long gap! Sorry for the massive delay I am pretty busy as you can imagine it’s pretty hard now to think of all the things that have happened and all the brilliant people I have met.


Hoopla Yarns have delivered their spools of fabric yarn, I have 12 colours, all of which I have thought of projects for, the selection of patterns on Ravelry for this yarn is massive, sadly I have to wait until I have completed some of my existing work before starting another one. The postman has been pretty busy, loads of accessories and tools have been arriving on a daily basis, prompting me to look at more display props. I don’t think I have ever had so much post it’s quite exciting, particularly as the postie is becoming inventive with where he hides the packages whilst we are out, each day I now have a treasure hunt around the garden just in case there is a parcel hidden.

This last few weeks has found me meeting people and making contacts again, I spent a morning with Karen from Middle Campscott Farm, who’s yarn I am lucky enough to stock, one of the first UK producers to have organic yarns they have beautiful natural colours. I am also hoping to have some of product she has made in the shop. I spent a long coffee break chatting with Robin Bray who is skilled with a crochet hook, having taught herself she produces brilliant gifts for her friends including minecraft characters. I am hoping Robin will be able to help me out with beginner crochet skills in the shop. I have also met a whole list of other exciting people who will bring needle felting, spinning, yarn and fleece into the shop!


Westpoint stitch craft show in Exeter was amazing, I went along with family and friends on the Sunday and loved it, a day there was only just enough, we caught the tarka train up from Barnstaple and enjoyed the calm mode of travel, beautiful scenery and a chance to catch up on the latest news. The show was massive, a must for all crafty people, loads of new ideas and tools to test out, demonstrations and talks throughout the day. Next year when I am open I might just have to organise a coach trip there, to give me the excuse to go again.  I have made some great contacts and hopefully taken the first steps to organising some very exciting workshops. I also met a representative from the Hand Knitting Association who have national campaigns and events, I hope to be able to coordinate with them in future.

We had a fabulous afternoon with Fiona Bates sitting in her kitchen with lumps of clay and learning about the techniques and processes we could use to create items for the shop, they are due to be fired this weekend so looking forward to seeing the results. Some were pretty experimental so there are strong chances they will crack or break in the processes. But great fun to try out a new skill, and have coffee with friends.

In the Sears household since the last blog we have now nearly completed 2 kits for beginners, 6 hand stitched aprons for wearing in the shop, padded 2 chairs, fixed up blackboards, finished the workshop table, baked several amazing cakes including a few rainbow creations, and a sample scarf from Artesano yarns. Phew seems like quite a lot when its listed thank goodness that I have managed to delegate most of it to mum and dad! ha ha

Rainbow Cake

(Originally posted 02.10.13)