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Walk with me

Fiona Brennan How to July box

I wanted to walk you through some of the journey our craft boxes go on from conception to your front door so you can see the thought and love that goes into them not just from us but from everyone involved. 

I've spoken before about how we put the boxes together, starting with a musical theme and then either spying some lovely wool or getting a pattern together, which in turn flows through into more research scouring Instagram, Etsy, Google and Twitter for people who make lovely things. 

It's a hard task. 

But once we've decided on what should go into the box we then have to bring it all together. This can come with its own tricky bits such as knowing how many we need of something, how long someone needs to make our order, dyeing time, drying time and the ever unknown and very problematic shipping. 

There aren't many folks out there who have not had a bad month with shipping. We've had months where despite everyone's best efforts to get stock in one place before the end of the month it has been a close call. One poor dyer (who we'll leave nameless) had two days waiting in for shipping companies to simply not show up when they said they would. It is this behind the scenes stuff that can have you tearing hair out. 

But then I get emails from you guys, who are completely unaware of the sweat and tears that have gone on the previous week, which just make it all worth while. Knowing you are out there getting excited by a box rocking up at the start of the month makes me feel so happy. 

So here is how the boxes get from conception to your doorstep... 

Waaay back in January we'd already set upon an accessory for the slower summer months. Beach Boys Surfin' USA seemed an ideal fit for July and a quick beach bag would be ready for most summer hols. I'm closest to the crochet bag so I'm going to walk you through that one.

Some time around March I started testing out how a shell stitch would look with the yarn and swatching for the size. It was an obvious link to create a shell stitch beach bag as I knew it needed to circulate air and allow sand to drop out. 

I then made notes as I went. I use an app on my phone as my make-time is often the evening and there's no motivation to go hunting out paper and pen. 

Once the pattern is finished and tested I make an estimate on yarn bases needed. This is the biggest risk as if there's not enough yarn in stock we are a bit scuppered come the first. Overstock gets listed on the shop or put to one side ready for a show. 

Around 2 or 3 months out I start searching for gifts that link into either the theme or what we are making. For some time I've been wanting to fit in blockers because they are so vital to most projects but definitely for lace. They have been a bit tricky to work into previous boxes due to weight and price but I finally found a way of working them into this one. I'd had some ear-marked for around 6 months but if we were looking at some jewellry or other hand made piece then we'd be arranging this around 3 months out. Again, we take an educated guess at the number and work to a final deadline for the maker with the end numbers. 

Then I get chatting to the ever- amazing Yarnistry. She throws out some ideas that fit in with the theme. 

When the pattern is ready, I list out all the things needed to make it, what we have in stock and what we need. Then get searching for lovely, colourful things that could work or compliment the box. 

Everything arrives around a week before posting. Checks are done to make sure there's enough tissue, boxes, tape, stickers. Patterns go off to the printers and last month I had the idea of putting the 'What's in the box' card onto the back of the pattern. Usually these were single-sided printed as I like to think the back can be used for notes. 

Anyone else make notes as they go? 

The hardest bit to figure out last month was bag handles. I knew these needed to be fabric and fit into a look of the seaside. At  one point these were almost yellow for the sun but it felt a bit too much. Days were spent scouring fabric shops, feeling fabric, taking the bag along and testing what worked and what did not. Finally a shiny ecru colour was settled on and I spent a good day ironing and cutting out the handles. 

Somehow I always forget how long it takes for yarn to dry so after testing the colourway in my head IRL I then get the pot out and dye like a crazy lady. The kitchen is taken over each night and the wonderful dehumidifier does the hard work of getting it ready. 

Yarn bands checked and ready to go.

Packing party! (Wine is essential)

Then I go annoy everyone in the post office queue behind me and all the finished boxes ship out first class because you deserve the best. 

A quick breather is taken and the folks lined up for the next month are contacted to check we are still on schedule and we repeat it all again. Phew! 

Waterloo Sunset since you are asking and guest box month from Unicorn Knit Designs and Knackered Pyscho

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