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Category: Q&A's

  1. Q&A With Crochet Hook Maker and Yarn Dyer - Nicola Hallman - Fleabubs & Lala

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    This week we are getting to know Nicola Hallman, owner of Fleabubs and Lala – maker of ergonomic crochet hooks and indie yarn dyer.

    Nicola launched Fleabubs and Lala in 2012 and since then has become a firm favourite in the crochet community with her beautiful hand-crafted hooks and colourful yarns.  In 2017 operations at Fleabubs HQ moved into the ‘Yarn Barn’ which as a busy Mum of 3 meant the family home could have a kitchen again! So as a Supermum and successful Business Owner how does Nicola find time to do it all? Let’s find out some more about this talented lady.  


    What first inspired you to pick up a crochet hook?

    I have always been arty, and crafty and had tried to knit a few times.  When my Daughter was born I was determined that I would be able to crochet her a cute hat.  I had a few people try to teach me (one of whom was our Jem) before embarking on a short beginners course.  Something clicked into place and that was that......I have been yielding a hook ever since!


    What was the first thing you made?

    The first proper item I made was an owl hat for my Son, which we still have was ok for a 1st attempt!


    What is the story behind the name Fleabubs and Lala? 

    OK, easy bit some friends I was nicknamed Nicolala, which became Lala over time, I think it coincided with my body morphing into that of a teletubby!  The ‘Fleabubs’ part is named after a stuffed toy I made for my Daughter, from her newborn sleepsuits and baby grows.   


    What are the benefits of an ergonomic crochet hook?

    An ergonomic hook will give you so much more comfort than a standard metal hook, especially if you are hooking for a longer period of time.  The traditional hooks I designed have a unique shape, with two indents for thumb and palm.  I also make other shape to suit.  My personal preference has a thumb indent and a rounded shaft.  I have also had customers photograph their own hold, and have made a hook specifically for them.  The handles are particularly good for anyone with arthritis, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia and other handle joint issues. The colourful ones are also easier to find when you pop them down somewhere and forget where! 


    Your colourful hooks often feature characters too – do you take custom orders?

    Absolutely!! As well as colour preferences I also make character hooks, with unicorns, cats, dogs and even Poldark and Harry Potter characters!  I am happy to try pretty much anything that can fit on a hook!


    What aspect of running your business do you most enjoy?

    Definitely the variety, no two days are the same.  It can be really difficult when you are doing everything, from admin and parcel wrapping to yarn painting and building an image of a character onto something the size of a finger tip, but I love every second, and feel really lucky to be doing something I have such a passion for.  

    The other aspect is the colour.....all the colour....I am a colour geek and really like to play with mixing, contrasting colours and tones, and all that good stuff!!


    What has been the most challenging aspect of running Fleabubs and Lala?

    Fitting everything in with family life, and home life.  I don’t wake up, get dressed and go to an office days can be really disjointed with school runs, unexpected poorly children, vet visits, and all the other random bits that come with family life.   I spend too many evening and weekends doing odd bits and pieces, when I could be spending time with my children, but I am trying to fix that


    As a busy Mum as well as a business owner what are the secrets of balancing your home and work life?

    I have no idea......I have been winging it for the past few years!!


    What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to start a handmade business?

    Be prepared to work really really hard, and be prepared for the colossal amount of time you spend on a admin and social media posting, in order for it to pay off.  You have to go all in for it to work.....and brush up on customer service skills!!


    What’s on your hook at the moment?

    Which one??!!!  I have many, many, many WIP bags on the go!!  I have a top I am making for me, one for Eliza, another I am designing to release as a pattern, along with a cardigan I am also designing.....there are at least two shawls, and some yoga socks.......and then I also have stuff on the needles!!


    What can we look forward to from Fleabubs and Lala in the future?

    Hopefully more collaborations *nudge*, lots more colour, fun hooks and some new patterns!

    Thanks Nicola!

    You can check out more of Nicola's gorgeous hooks and yarns by following the links below.

    Instagram: @fleabubsbylala
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  2. Q&A With Etsy Shop Owner - Deb Turner - Crafty Cat Knitty Bits

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    This week I am chatting to Deb, fibre crafter and owner of Etsy store Crafty Cat Knitty Bits.

    Deb launched her Etsy store in 2011 as a place to initially sell her stitch markers for knitting and crochet, but this has progressed into hand dyed yarns, copper shawl pins, hand spun yarns, spinning fibres and all the other yarn related items you never knew you needed!

    With over 8000 sales to date and with business going strong I wanted to ask Deb some more about her business and what it’s like to have an Etsy shop.

    What first got you interested in fibre crafts, where did you start?

    My mum taught me to knit when I was about 6 and as she knitted left handed I have no idea how she managed to teach me, lots and lots of patience I guess! I also blame Blue Peter for my love of all things crafty....empty washing up bottle and toilet rolls still hold lots of possibilities as far as I'm concerned!

    What is the story behind the name Crafty Cat Knitty Bits? 

    At the time I thought about the business I was a cat foster mum and to date we've had over 30 kittens stay with us and then go onto their new homes......cats were featuring a lot at the time! Crafty as I'm a well known serial crafting addict and the knitty bits 'bit' I felt could cover quite a lot of ground for my plans for the future.

    What made you choose Etsy as a platform for your shop?

    This all started with spotting a knitted vegan tea cosy for sale on Folksy which then led me to Etsy. What delight it was to discover these handmade havens in our man made world. But once I realised the worldwide potential for my business I opened an Etsy shop as well, alongside my Folksy one.

    What are the benefits of being an Etsy seller? 

    It's an easy way to start an online presence. The amazing SEO they offer, plus the ease of listing your items. The teams can also offer a lot of help and advice too.

    Do you take custom orders? 

    I do indeed, I am happy to make stitch markers for knitting or crochet and for any size needles. The largest I've made were for 20mm needles!

    What aspect of running your business do you most enjoy? 

    Making the products, whether that's stitch markers or a day spent dyeing yarns or spinning fibres, I'm happiest when making something bright and colourful. 

    What has been the most challenging aspect of running Crafty Cat Knitty Bits? 

    All of it! You need to be an accountant, marketer, packer, buyer, promoter, maker, photographer and tea girl...sometimes all in one day. It really hones your skill set running your own business!

    What advice would you give to someone looking to open an Etsy store? 

    Research your chosen field properly. Don't compare yourself to others, just do what you do as well as you can. Do your math regarding profit margins to make sure you're making money and I can't emphasise enough, how important good photography is.

    What’s your WIP at the moment? 

    I'm knitting  a shawl for my sister in my own hand spun yarn and I'm designing it as I go too...I hope it works out!

    What can we look forward to from Crafty Cat Knitty Bits in the future? 

    Yarn spinning is my latest skill and I've only dipped my toe into the fibre side so I think I'd like to explore spinning and all that entails a little more.

    Thanks Deb!

    You can check out more of Deb's gorgeous crafty knitty bits by following the links below.

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