I Love Knitting actually – price savings

We have had some very quiet days this Autumn. Maybe it the climate …just not cold enough to knit. Maybe is the economy…..Boris and Brexit ? Maybe the down turn …….. maybe my age and family stuff …………..well as the days have gotten quiet again I have begun to consider if its something I am doing or not doing. I fhter is something I could to better.

A stage whispered comment from a customer to her friend  …(we’re a small shop and well I am here (it amazes me that people think shop assistants are invisible!), was the final ………..

“This shop is soooo expensive!”…… flabber my gast

When we set up RedApple I was aware that prices on the internet are lower than I could afford to offer. They buy in bulk and sell more in a day than I do in a week. I have tried over the years to keep to below a 25p difference per ball in the price we have to charge and the bottom RRP or the price charged by companies on their own website.

DSCF6205 New Riot Chunky is £3.70

It’s an advice on hand, touch and feel cost of a real live shop, with people to talk to and all that……. People love to look at the yarns and feel the quality before they buy… many people need to see the colours together before they buy. We offer lots of free advice on all sorts of stuff from where to get your fleece made into yarn to how to get to the kite feeding station (Ex- Post Office equals tourist information office in some people’s heads). And lots of how to knit and keep knitting tips, I’m a mine of knitting trivia.  Not enough????

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West Yorkshire Spinners AireValley DK is £4 a ball – 75p less than the internet

I know from the reps that its getting tough out there so yesterday I have  about the net with vengeance. And after a morning comparing and deep considerations I have decided that RedApple can’t compete with the internet offerings in terms of range or price for long. That small town Lampeter does not have to footfall it did and personality doesn’t pay the bills… but Red Apple is going to try to internet price match……

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From today (19/10/17) Red Apple will offer all yarns we stock from West Yorkshire Spinners, King Cole, Wendy and Stylecraft at the same price as that advertised by Loveknitting (ie price as at 17/10/17 ). This on line retailer was chosen as representative of these type of retailers and because it seems to enjoy its customers knitting projects.

There will be offers on the other yarns during the next few weeks look out of these on facebook (except local yarns sold on commission).  The exception is Stylecraft Special is our quality acrylic – this has come down to £2 its the lowest I can justify. The online retailers sell it for £1.85. They sell tonnes of it a week, they also charge you P&P (£3.25 and £2.95) for purchases less than £25 this mean you would have to buy 14 balls to get the free P&P. So ……….If you buy 5 balls and pay P&P you will get charged 65p/ball more that is £2.50/ball.

Most of our prices were similar and if the difference between our price and the on line price was 5p or less the offer is for us to donated the pennies to Hearing Dogs for Deaf People (for Vinnie), lets see how much we can raise for them. Rounding up make your change easier to handle.

These offers will continue while stocks last and may end on 31st December 2017.

Play School

The shop has tried to run classes, but we frequently find there are only one or two takers the time or the place don’t suit or just not enoughg people want to make what every…. Knitting is one of those skills you just have to practice, so short classes don’t seem to acheive much. Any item even a mitt will take most people a day or so to make. It is hard to get a group of knitters together who want to  learn the same thing  at the same time, in rural Wales anyway. Knit Night is popular and we get people coming to the beginners ‘how do I do this?’ sessions on Saturdays.

I have been asked about day time sessions in the shop but ….well we have too much wool for comfort, to run classes and be open. So I have come up with an idea I hope you like it. Play Days —— swatch for fun. You can try  techniques, new cast ons, cast off, play with different yarns, talk knitting with other yarn heads – Oh and there will be homemade biscuits too.

It will a day knitting in the shop –  play with different yarns, improve your knitting knowledge, have fun and all on Wednesday when the shop is closed (so you get the shop to yourselves). The days will be themed – Texture, Colour, Yarn, Making up.  All good knitting has a bit of structure.

The first one is on October 24th (book now places limited to 10). I picked texture for this as well there are lots to choose from, well it’s a good place to start.

The next will be 22nd November Edges and Making up it will include more unusual cast on and cast off s, some non-roll edges for cardis and sleek for those brave enough to cut knitting!!

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On January 25th we will do Colour a bit of stranding, some stripes, intarsia and some slip stitch

 

Exquisite and Beads

At this time of year I like to sort out some new patterns for kits exclusive to RedApple. I don’t have a theme but I like them to be easy to remember, enjoyable to work and introduce novel techniques. Many people want knitting projects to do in front of the telly with

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more or less no thinking required. Quite a lot want ‘it’ to grow quick too and opt for the big yarns – This is an idea for mind full knitting that grows quick (surprisingly) and produces a luxury gift? It sprang from  some mitts Annette (KnitNight) brought in Denmark where beaded knitting is big. Her’s were wrist warmers with tiny seed beads (if you look there are designs on the net in every conceivable pattern). We have just had a new colour in for the WYS Exquisite truffle and beads in steel grey. Play I must!!!

The beads are much bigger (size6/0) than the seed beads used for many of the designs which put beads on every row but as a test project they work. They are put in every 4th row. You can mindless knit between putting beads on and they mitts grow faster. There are 68st per row and provided you have points to you needles the work grows quick. (It does, it does, because you aren’t forever turning the work round to work back!!) I worked on long straight needles (size No14 ,2mm, bagging knitting again) but most people would manage on 2.25mm (13s).

I threaded the beads onto the yarn before starting and because the beads big placed them into the knitting between stitches rather than on a stitch. The disadvantage of stringing before working is that the yarn is weighted and in this case that did affect the tension! (a good thing if you are a baggy breeches), so the yarn has to stay on the table. It is possible to string them with a crochet hook too, one at a time. This might be better for such fine yarn. Anyway easy took me 2 days knitting to do one, with a fancy bind off so no sewing up and about 20g of yarn. You might get 3 pairs from a skein especially if your giftee has fine hands!!

Penlon and The Croft

Knitting addicts come in all sizes, I have to say I am one of the worst – I have a shop full of yarn, and most of my home is also a craft in progress zone. I at home, (on the rare days I’m not sorting out shop stuff) I sew – a new outfit for my son’s wedding including a clutch bag and a knitting bag with needle cases have been the last two projects completed.

But the shopping for materials has caused a new backlog of project potentials!! Stash exceeds known realistic limits for completion – maybe some time in 2100!

As for the knitting projects – I have promised to complete some things for me this year — other than hats and cowls. The shop limits the complexity of projects I can tackle there so more intense tricky things have to be done at home. Excuse number one to have at least 2 projects on the go at anyone time. Excuse number 2 is I get bored with big projects so they are interspersed with smaller bits and bobs. I did (until last weekend) have 5 projects on needles. A lace scarf for my sister, a cardigan from a mixed yarn for me, a FairIsle/colourwork waistcoat with steeks, the Penlon cushion cover ( a new pattern for Red Apple) and a fine laceweight stocking stitch cardigan (knitting on 2.75mm needles in one peice, which might be finished by 2020).

I have now finished the cushion (and it’s pattern just needs a printout), the cardigan and the scarf.So I didn’t feel tooo guilty when the WYSpinners new The Croft shetland yarn which came in last week. I sampled knit some for display and then I picked a simple cape pattern free from Berrico yarns I’m already adapting the sleeve finish prehaps to include some woolyknit BFL Amithyst that works really well with the colourway I choose Clousta.

What’s new?

I was recently asked what are the new trends for this season?? Well ….that depends on who you speak to.. follow or are informed by.

I wandered off to investigate and my findings are —- if fashion is your thing and we are all effected by the Industry whether we like it or not. The catwalks say Cables, Stripes, Colourwork and Oversize are ‘IN’. Wear your Cardigans with pride. And along with all those black, grey, beige and taupe (with new names to old colour pallets) staples there will be red (surprise!!) gold (glittery and not) and a nice 1940’s powder blue (I don’t do blue but it is quite nice).

I rummaged through the stock and found these representatives.

If the highstreet is your guide then this year’s colour is a green Stylecraft’s cypress or meadow or Cambrian Mountains new Gwynnon. This Autumn’s colours are quite washed out seaglass(pale pale teal), flame (orange red) and hazelnut (light natural brown) are likely to be in clothes shops. From the WYSpinners stables:DSCF6118

For Knitters who follow knitters there are some interesting new oversize designs from The Fibre Co who support independent designers work. The new Marie Wallin collection Shetland has my favourite (I have to make that design) an interesting shaped construction FairIsle jacket (but when will that happen?).

As for the manufacturers of yarn??? They have to anticipate up to 6 months in advance what you will all want to work with……..

Stylecraft have gone with colour combos and stripes (knit as you go or patterns for) new tweedy, stronger Batik colours and a powder blue for the Special DK range (in later next week).

Kingcole went for vintage cardigans and Luxury Merino.

Wendy (in next month) superchunky oversize jumpers. Hey who said fashion trends weren’t predictable!!!!!!

Everybody knows………….

……was something I over heard on my morning walk to work today. I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation but it occurred to me that, and ‘it’s common sense’, are things we say to re-enforce a statement of something that is true to us.

‘Everybody knows wool is itchy’ is something I hear regularly and ………. if the customer wasn’t always right I would challenge more often.  Wool has many iterations and variants, from the source breed of sheep to the quality of the fleece it produces, the processing it receives, to the type of spin all influence the final product. There are probably as many wool types in the shop as the surprising number of meanings for the word ‘wool’ in common use (not including wool meaning a ball of yarn to knit with!). I can’t stock the number of real varieties of wool yarn to knit with that there are however much I tried. I think the spinners of wool often surprise themselves with the yarn they produce. Each one has its own characteristics and practical use.

‘ oh Everybody knows wool is itchy’ – which wool? what you make? where you wear it?  the weather conditions and how much you wear. The items you are making and why you are making it and of course the wool you use…..

Last week we had a jolly jaunt to Huddersfield, well Slaithwaite (or Slawit if you’re Yorkshire!) actually. To visit the mill home of Spectrum Yarns AKA Stylecraft, for their first Retailers Event – a good time was had and I hope they put the event on again. (No photos sorry, camera malfunction!). It included a preview launching of new winter yarns —- (watch this space and we have some new yarns in the shop see above)….

It is always interesting to visit other businesses see how they work and what they tell you is important to them. We have stocked a lot of Stylecraft since we opened. It has a quality feel and is good value for money. The yarns have durability and feel good to work with and a growing reputation. The visit confirmed my suspicions the owner is very interested in yarn spinning and quality. They are also knitwear manufacturers and test their new yarn choices with the same rigour they apply to yarns for knitwear. It shows.

They knit samples and some poor lady in the height of summer, test wears samples of winter yarn garments. Then they are washed more than once and scored on aspects of this. Knitting experience – comfort – piling – sagging – holding together – dye run. If the yarn fails at any point, however nice it looks it is OUT. This means that yarns getting to the design stage are of a good quality and I imagine cost-effective the make. They yarns are tested when they come in to ensure the quality is maintained even down to a very low tolerance on dye variation.  Quality assurance built-in …. know we know why we like Stylecraft yarns.

I learnt that the UK has not produced Acrylic yarns since the 1980’s everything is spun over seas, in Stylecraft’s case in Italy or Turkey. They do still spin merino yarns for knitwear and the Yarn Stories range (hence it’s inclusion in RedApple – merino sheep are sun lovers and do not live in the UK so the wool isn’t UK but I let it in cause it is lovely and soft, spun to the same rigorous quality standards and in the UK (this can not be said of some other brands).

But I also heard the “everybody knows …..UK wool won’t make knitting yarns” ……..I can’t say I challenged this – I had a mouthful of sandwich at the time and I wasn’t sure if it was another retailer (in which case … their loss) or an employee. It is something I have heard before from yarn manufacturers, particularly those who spin for commercial knitwear manufacturing and is an unfair generalisation in my view. Their criteria for yarn production is large-scale, economical high quality, very fine yarn for fine machine-made knitwear. Wool produced in the UK does not spin very very fine, but for handknitting is over looked in this assessment. But anything said too often can stick, so I will say UK wool produces some fantastic handknit yarns and if you hear/read a comment like this check what ‘knitting’ they are referring too!!!!

There are yarns I wouldn’t use for a vest (I’m not sensitive to wool) –  a Shetland wool vest in the height of summer (or a centrally heated winter) would be a torture item. Big Brit feels like sandpaper in the balls. But it makes a great Rabbit and the lace shawl is drapey and soft.

 

Wool has heat balancing properties that nylon and acrylic don’t, making it easier to wear for very small babies, but most people wouldn’t buy ‘wool’ because it isn’t washable and new Mum’s need easy care products. Bo Peep from WYSpinners is an example of a modern ‘wool’  Soft UK merino from the Falklands (52% wool 48% nylon) washable at 40C. It is soft not itchy, bouncy and nice to knit with and I might even knit myself a vest from this sometime?!

 

‘Everybody should know’ that some wool is itchy to wear but: you need to choose the right wool for your purpose, understand that raw wool is 100% natural, it has breathability and bounce and spring that give knitting added wear comfort; wool does require a little more care when washing in some cases you can by super washable wool and wool does not need to be washed after every wear; if you buy British you are supporting manufacture and processing in the UK and UK’s farmers (if only in a small way); modern wool is chosen and processed to limit the itch factor; Allergic reactions to wool are very rare (sensitivity to lanolin is much more common and that mostly gets washed out) ; if you knit with wool – blocking or washing after knitting will soften the item further;

Everybody knows ‘wool is expensive’ and ‘farmers get nothing for it’……….Oh boy ..Oh boy…… wool as a raw material is a commodity traded on the ‘world markets’ and that particular gambling den has a major influence on the price paid to farmers for their wool. The price paid for raw fleece is governed by the quality of the wool and that is affected by the sheep, the breed, the livestock husbandry and the cleanliness of the fleeces. There is a glut of Merino wool (the highest quality ) on the ‘world market’ due to over production is some parts of the world but merino sheep do not live happily in the Uk climate.

And I also know farmers who won’t buy wool because it is too expensive!

Everyone should know – Wool requires around 8 or 9 different processes (washing and combing, dying and spinning each adding to the cost of production) before knitters (or crochetters) can use it. There are cheaper yarn products.  Manmade fibres were invented to be cheaper alternatives to natural products largely because they need less processing. Wool costs more to make therefore is more expensive. There are cheaper wool products and there are more expensive wool products available. There are cheaper manmade yarns and more expensive ones available. They are always cheaper for  a combination of several reasons:  the origin or quality of the wool; its age and how it has been treated affect the wool price but it is the costs of production, designing and marketing which really effect the value

Merino produces a fine high quality wool. But “Merino isn’t wool” and I quote a customer!! it is. There is a glut of merino wool on the world markets economics says merino wool items should be cheaper as a result but the brand image would be damaged it would not be a premium product – the retail price of ready-made items made of merino wool stays high.

There are expensive branded items that do not deliver higher quality wool because they spend on marketing and branding.  There is really cheap yarn made to a low price which rarely lives long enough to have a second wash. Yarn products that look good and fail to deliver are common.

As a knitter (or crochet maker) your time is the most expensive element of what you are doing. What are you doing this for? I assume that you are making for pleasure (if you want cheap garments …… the fast fashion industry produces them in high volumes at low-cost) – so enjoy the yarn you work with.  always use the best quality yarn you can afford and knowing what you want to make will help.  A hand knitted jumper can take 70 hours of work to complete; which at minimum wage is more than £350. The 500g yarn is not the biggest cost input even at £6, £8 or  £12.50 per 100g (£30, £40, £62.50). What you want is for it to be worth that time investment don’t you??

Red Apple doesn’t stock cheap yarns we stock good quality yarns you can trust. When that also means we can put something back into our community however small we buy UK produced products.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

……..public aclaim

 

 

Vote For Us v2

 

You may or may not know we have been nominated for the above awards. Head for the Lets Knit website and cast your vote for various knitting products (and the best independent retailer in Wales). Casting the vote entitles you to a chance at winning prizes and us a chance to head to London for the award ceremony. (I promise to blog the whole ‘yokel in the big smoke’ experience).

We do stock a number of product winners from previous years like Stylecraft’s Special and West Yorkshire Spinners and we have done since we opened. So we like to think we keep good company anyway. It can’t hurt to do a little advertising can it?