Month: October 2013

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 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 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)


I am a winner!!! wooo hooo. I am lucky enough to have won a competition by Florence Finds, I have won a shiney new website from Moonfruit and an amazing Panasonic Lumix camera.

Having had one issue after another with mr site I can’t wait to get my Moonfruit website up and running. I’ve had a lovely email chat with them sorting out the transfer, and it may take a while for me to migrate over, just so that I am happy with it, before this one disappears, Moonfruit have been a great site for me in the past and sounds like their new updates resolve all the worries I had previously.

My new camera has been in action already but practice is definitely required, Claire Ball and Emma Hughes are friends of mine from university and they now both teach photography at Falmouth Uni, I am hoping this mention might get them to spend a weekend helping me get the best out of it.

On the coffee front I had a brilliant day out with Miles, lots of pictures (taken with my new camera) below. The equipment is amazing, the coffee roasting machines are like something created by Wallace and Gromit, all shiny and complicated, specifically adapted to fit into the requirements of being housed in a grade 2 listed building. The process of roasting/ grinding and packing is so detailed with every element being checked, worked and supervised by an elite team of specialist.

The second leg of the day was in the tea factory, which is very big out at Minehead. I met with John, one of the senior management team who’s knowledge and enthusiasm on Tea is boundless. I got to experience their tea tasting process and how they look at choosing the exact combination of recipe to meet our requirements.  I am now slightly in awe of their team who have to make the choices and commit to providing consistent quality to customers even with a product that is essentially a natural product and has all the usually problems you would expect with seasonal changes. I was very glad to leave this hard work to the experts and just get to enjoy the end product.

I have enjoyed doing more painting, ordering and buying this week so, looking forward to the postman’s visits over the next week or two. I will FB or Tweet as it arrives. I have more to blog about but will save it for another day, I have a knitting project waiting for me to complete it tonight.





What happened to August?

The time is flying by, with things starting to become organised, after researching a few options  I have decided to go with the B&Q kitchen I looked at last blog, with a few minor changes, so will be ordering it on Saturday. I have started getting insurance quotes from local brokers and I have written my fire safety risk assessment and plan, not all aspects of opening a shop are exciting.

I have also confirmed my coffee machine with Miles Tea and Coffee. This is the largest investment for me so pretty scary, more expensive than the rest of my kitchen put together. I am booked in to visit them again next week to trial their range of teas and coffees and make choices! Definitely looking forward to that morning, hope to get a few pictures to put on here next week.

More stock has arrived from The Natural Dye Studio and Fyberspates, again stunning wool, very beautiful and impossible to resist, mum is already picking out her next projects from it. The attached photo is a couple of skeins from the previous Artesano delivery.

A friend of the family Eileen visited us this week and brought with her a massive range of sugar paste tools, books, magazines and pans. This is an interest of mine and one of the craft ranges I intend to offer in the shop for purchase. Now I have no excuse for not producing impressive displays other than lack of experience. I am so overwhelmed, I might not be able to live up to her generous gift, and I have no doubt it will take a few years until I live up to her skills, but she has promised to run a few classes in The Periwinkle when it opens, so hopefully it won’t take too long until you can spot my creations.

Finally I want to send my congratulations to Tom’s Cakes of Combe Martin, who has won Gold Awards with Taste of the West for his Blueberry Frangipane and his White Chocolate and Raspberry Bavarois. He also got Silver for his Caramelised Nuts. This is such an achievement for Tom who grew up in Ilfracombe and opened his bakery last year. I have worked with Tom for the last nine months and he is due to expand over the next 3 months. He has been a brilliant tutor and endlessly patient with me learning the craft, I hope to apply the skills he has taught me to produce the cakes in The Periwinkle, if I can live up to his Award Winning standards I will be over the moon.

New yarn

(Originally posted 03.09.13)

It’s Christmas


First delivery of yarn is here ! really beautiful selection from Artesano. So lovely and so many I want to just hold them but they are all in neat packaging to keep them safe until I open up. … or maybe I need a new jumper ?? so tempting !

I have also had my delivery of knitting needles and crochet hooks, all warm bamboo, so light to knit with, I have to admit I have selected my personal favourite tools, metal and other options will become available further down the line when I am slightly bigger.

This afternoon was spent I B&Q with a lovely chap called Andy, I now am fully clued up on what is required for a commercial kitchen ! just to bake cakes and brew drinks results in large requirements, he also mentioned it is one of his smallest kitchens to date. … eek  still pretty expensive but not too far over budget 🙂 what do you think of slate style worktops?

So to complete my Christmas theme, I had another delivery today from my Aunt and Uncle in Wales, a brilliant book of 55 Christmas Balls to knit. Hoping to produce enough before Christmas to decorate my shop window ! so many options to inspire and motivate…. maybe that is a great excuse to crack open a skein ???

Well if the success of a shop is measured on the support and generosity of friends and family then I am fairly sure I am one of the most successful and luck shop owners in the South West. x Thank you everyone.

(Originally posted 20.08.13)



Well I have had a busy few weeks with work, and my savings are becoming healthier. So to balance it out I have spent more ! Now that one job is completed I am refocused on the shop.

Some of my yarns have now been ordered and paid for which is so exciting, due to be delivered in the next few weeks which will help make sure I have enough shelving. I have also been choosing which patterns to get in. Both decisions are difficult as there is so much I want, but hopefully I will have a selection that will get your creative juices flowing.

I have also been ticking boxes with the council, I am now food registered, correct usage and health and hygiene advised so hopefully I am on track to get 5 star ratings. Thanks to Alan for meeting me on site and explaining the complications of hygiene requirements so I get it right before I install anything.

Also you may have noticed my Twitter post to say congratulations to my mum Jan Sears who has opened her first exhibition with Fiona Bates in St Annes Arts and Community Centre in Barnstaple. It looks amazing we are very proud of you.

Oh and a note – mr site have fixed my poll button issue, so please vote on your favourite yarn weight and help me chose which to buy in !

(Originally posted 15.08.13)


Well this has been a busy week, I have had so little time for working on the shop, but some how still spent quite a lot of savings! I now have a large chunk of the furniture I need, filling up dads garage and needing a bit of TLC. I also have on order a lot of the tools and accessories you may need to produce garments or knitted projects. I have bought a few fun props including a mini spinning wheel, which I love. And several coffees to check out the competition.

I have also had a chance to look round the shop again and the work has begun ! I am so excited, the shop looks bigger now that a few walls have been taken out. My landlord is brilliant helping me massively by ripping out existing DIY so that I can have a fresh canvas to work on. I just need to do a few more rain dances so that his builders can be diverted onto my shop from his other projects.

I have also had a lot of help from friends trying to find me bargains, and images and advise. so a quick thank you to them all including ND+ I will get round to implementing it all at some point before opening. I promise.

Have a great week everyone, I am working day and night most days this week so unlikely to get another post in until next weekend.

(Originally posted 04.08.13)

The Natural Dye Studio

 So, this is a bit delayed, but I have been very busy since trying to type this up on Thursday evening when mrsite timed out.

Well the Wednesday afternoon, I visited The Natural Dye Studio Ltd in Lynton. This is a family run business producing beautiful yarns in a stunning rainbow of colours. They have named the colours after local locations! A perfect gift to give a local friend a scarf you have knitted in a Woolacombe green dazzle DK or Lundy yellow lace.

I met Amanda and Daisy in their wonderful studio, set in an idyllic rural location amongst alpacas you can instantly see why both women love their work. Enthusiasm and energy for their products drew me into wanting every yarn available, I plan to stock a selection in my shop but choosing what I want and what fits into my budget seems an impossible task. Particularly when offered a Scheherazade 4 Ply skein with 65% silk and 35% Camel in a lovely Woody Bay pale green shade. This is the sort of yarn that makes you skip a beat, but might be out of my price range at £22.95. (Please let me know if you would like me to stock this I really want enough people to say yes please to give me an excuse)

Me and mum were able to watch Daisy dying skeins into blue and green shades, in large vats of natural dyes. I was unaware that some dyes need air to change colour, coming out of the vat the same as they went in then as if by magic they  fade into a completely different colour.  I would recommend seeing this for yourself. I have got a video which I will try to post soon once I have edited it a bit.  Until then I will load up a few pictures. ( The yellow skein turns into green)

Amanda is a very talented crochet designer and has a range of patterns to offer her customers and a couple of books that will inspire and explain how to crochet wonderful creations. She suggested to me to have a crochet afternoon in the shop once a month or so, which is a great idea, hopefully she might turn up now and again to trouble shoot for us! How lucky are we to have such brilliant local artists.

To finish off my day when I got home my dad surprised me with a skein winder! I have been hankering for one to be able to offer my customers, so many of my yarns will be in skein form, and I know how long it can take to turn it into balls, , I got to test it out with my Scheherazade, its brilliant this nifty technology halves the time. Thank you Dad! Can’t wait to see people using it in the shop

Daisy from the natural dye studioDaisy with yellow skeinMagic ! Colour changing yarns

(Originally posted 27.07.13)

Wow wee what a day I have had !

I am not sure where to start, I guess with this morning, I went for a coffee with Martin Storey; he is one of my knitting idols, always creating classic designs that will suit everyone. Martin was an inspiration to me when I started knitting, his patterns and easy explanations’ encouraged me to stretch my basic skills into complex designs.

Martin currently works as one of Rowans top designers, and he agreed to meet with me to provide some advice. I can’t tell you how excited I was, still am in fact. He was as lovely as I hoped, very encouraging and positive, offering me useful suggestions and explaining current trends and customer preferences. Having thought I had decided on all the yarn I needed his suggestions have sent me in a spin rethinking.

Best of all he has mentioned he might be willing to visit my shop when I open. That will be a nervous day for me!

Well, I am gushing a bit so I might stop there, my afternoon was equally exciting, and has pictures to go with it. But might save it for tomorrow as I need to spend more time tonight looking at yarn prices.


(Originally posted 24.07.13)