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Sorting out the sheep from the goats...

15.10.2011 | The Makepiece summer of extreme practicality


We landed in Hebden Bridge in the middle of the Hebden Bridge 'summer of love' but it was the end of a process of sorting out what we're trying to do, how, why and where in a very prosaic and practical way.

This year has see us take on a new studio. The back room of our little shop had just become so crammed with knitting machines, internet stock, yarn, interns and dogs (and that's without regular visits from baby Reuben) that something had to be done.

Practicality part one:

On one of the morning dog constitutionals I looked up and saw a big 'to let' sign on the first floor of a mill building just down the road from our shop. It was the perfect space - big windows and a roof terrace. Practical job number one was to install wiring and sinks. And then to move in!


Practicality part two:

With the shop no longer tied to our studio we could look at our set up again. Originally we'd intended to run a mainly wholesale business with our shop in Todmorden for afficionados. But the credit crunch put paid to that - with the exception of our wedding stockists we've found that boutiques have struggled. Some become very conservative, cutting back on orders and new lines and some have closed altogether so we've not been able to grow the business by supplying other retailers. So we started to look for a busier high street shop - and with Hebden Bridge within cycling distance it was the perfect place to go for increased footfall.

With a little help from our friends at the Heart Gallery and Radiance lighting (who kept their ears to the ground for upcoming vacancies) we lighted on 7 Market Street. With a bit more help from friends we sanded the floor, built a fitting room, decorated it, and had it open in just a couple of weeks.

Practicality part three:

Cycling to the sheep

 Whilst all this was going on we managed to miss the early haymaking season. And in August it rained. I read the forecast, decided there was an opening and the hay was mowed. The forecast was wrong. It rained. And rained. And stopped. Then it rained some more. The crop was completely ruined. This year I've had to buy in hay. So I've had to sell more of this years' lambs, cut down the flock numbers a little and generally make sure that numbers are right for the amount of hay that I have. We're braced for another hard winter - I can't believe there'll be three in a row but we have to be prepared for the worst.

In case you're wondering - cycling has become part of our extreme practicality. The commute between Todmorden and Hebden Bridge has been made practical by a nice 'cross bike - which will also make it's way up the steep hill to the sheep. Handy.