We thought it would be nice to let you into our thought process for how we put all our boxes together. And there is a process involved. There hasn't always been but the process we have now has grown with us. We've refined ideas and ways of working to make sure that we bring you the best of the British yarn out there.
Pattern or yarn?
Which comes first, the pattern or the yarn? Well this was a question we asked ourselves at the start quite a lot. I would have a HUGE list of yarns that I loved and thought other folks would love too. Then I'd get stuck down the Ravelry rabbit hole looking for patterns to match both the yarn and the season and end up with patterns lined up with no yarn in mind.
And then something magical happened. I had an idea in my head that just would not go away. I wanted to make these mittens. They are my design and the picture of them popped into my head around September. At that point we were fully booked up until the end of the year and it was by chance that they were set to be released in January.
It set in motion a whole new way of working for us that made SO MUCH SENSE: musical themes.
So now we start with a theme.
How do you pick the theme?
A few weeks ago, Gina and I sat down and came up with 12 themes for the upcoming year. It was fun, wine-fuelled and also hard work. We picked bands we loved, music that meant things to us (and we hoped to you too), lyrics that reflected the seasons or things which happen in a particular month. It gives our boxes focus, it helps designers create and it means everything you get in your box links together with meaning.
And then I did this:
"Hey Gina, remember how we came up with those 12 themes and contacted loads of people?"
"Yes, Fiona, I remember it well"
"Well I want to change it. I heard a song on the radio the other day and I absolutely need to do a Psychedelic Furs theme."
"I know we put loads of work into it but yeah, can we just go change it all for my whim?"
And so our carefully laid out plan was thrown into chaos because I heard a song on the radio which took me back 10 years to when I played Psychedelic Furs on repeat for about three months. Oh and I'd read a Vogue post about fuschia recently.
Now we don't expect everyone to have the same tastes in music as us and definitely not the stuff I like (yup you can list Scandi black metal, drone, and a lot of noise in there) but these themes are just the starting point.
Take this month for instance, we're more cynical about the big V-Day than most but we get that people love it. We had to do something heart-themed but putting in some Blondie references was essential so that it was still honest to us. I'd had the idea to do some framed crochet for a long, long time. Way before Sonic Knits existed in fact. So that was crochet pattern sorted but not knitting.
It was then that I remembered a conversation I'd had with club-member and super-blogger Beth Michon about her heart mitts. And it came together. Like magic.
The theme is only the starting point.
Then the yarn?
Yes, then the yarn. Or the pattern. Take Bowie month, the yarn was a no-brainer. It HAD to be Wool Kitchen. It is her thing. Or one of many of her things. For February I knew I needed a chunky hand-dye and that I'd been talking recently to someone who dyed thicker than DK. We chatted about the theme, the pattern and she gave me some great ideas.
Same with Sheila at Dye Ninja. Her advice about her yarn was invaluable. When in doubt ask the person making the stuff what they think.
Well by this point we have the main show all sorted. Generally it has come together by serendipity and I am just looking foward to the interviews. I'll be on Instagram checking out what folks are making and doing, I'll be on Etsy having a potter because suddenly I have the urge to get the most perfect milk jug ever created even though I really could just pour the milk from the carton.
So I research, I talk to folks and see what they can make that will work within the theme. I check out what the pattern asks for in notions and try to get something nice and interesting. We have a back up stash for when things don't go to plan but we do try hunt out the nice bits.
The extras aren't just things that we throw in at the end but are carefully thought through as part of the process.
And that's it?
No way! We then sit and work out what everything in the box would cost if you bought it alone. We work out the ratio of yarn and pattern to bonus bits. We order the needles in (and are still searching for the needle idea that exists in my head) and we put it all together.
We sprinkle on some love, a touch of fairy dust to stop the postie doing something daft like sending it to our return address (has happened) and we release them into the world.
But it doesn't end there
We are always testing out new ideas, new kits, and new ways we can bring you great British yarn in an interesting and thoughtful way. There are far more discussions about packaging and development plans that I ever thought would be happening. And a whole load of fist-shaking at the grim, grey light of the Derbyshire dales when I set aside a photography day.
But that, in a nutshell, is how we gather the beautiful things for our subscription kits.
Want to check out next month's theme? It is Back in Black. Our crochet kits are specially designed this month by Becky from Oh For Hook's Sake.
You can get the crochet kit here.
You can get the knitting kit here.