HOW IT BEGAN:
I'd been spinning a load of multicoloured textured yarns simply for the fun of it, which was all very well but didn't bring in any money. (see Island Dreams for details of these).
I decided to send some skeins to a friend in town, who'd been forced into inactivity through having a leg in plaster for some weeks. I knew Stella Middleton was creative, and wondered whether she might like to play with some of my yarns and see what she could come up with.
Before long a package came back to me - five gorgeous hats!! I was over the moon. Stella had played with knitting and with crochet, and the results were just wonderful.
I then visited town for a week, setting aside time to visit Stella and discuss whether we might not have stumbled onto something which would be not only enjoyable, but bring in some cash... We decided to launch a joint venture, roping in other likeminded people gradually, ie not trying to run before we could walk. I said I would provide the yarns - just handspun to begin with, as I already had a good stock of this - but later I would hand-dye and paint some of our own millspun wool to make slightly cheaper items or combine with the handspun. (With the total number of hours in the handspun handcrafted hats, we weren't prepared to sell them for too little.)
We decided to start with hats, since these are fun to make and we wanted this to be a pleasurable activity rather than drudgery. It was felt that we shouldn't accept any advance orders, or let ourselves be pressured by this business in any way. Hats would be supplied to the retail outlet as and when they were available. I love to spin a variety of colours and textures, and Stella loves to experiment, therefore variety would be the keyword and spice up our lives, with every hat being different. Between us, and others like us, we felt we could offer people something really special.
A friend's daughter agreed to model for us, so I grabbed the chance to take pictures - Lynne is a natural, and very patient even when I managed to wipe a whole disk of pictures and had to re-take them... Dull rainy weather didn't help, with a tight schedule, but we did our best as you'll see from the illustrations.
Once the photos had been taken, I agreed with Stella that she would handle the business side of things and that as I had the necessary software etc - and now the necessary pictures - I'd devise some swing tags, order fabric labels, and also design a poster to display in a very nice up-market shop in Stanley. This shop had already agreed happily - as soon as they saw the samples - to stock Falkland Folk hats.
Then I came home, leaving Stella with more yarns to play with. During the week she had made two more hats...
WHERE WE ARE NOW...
Our hats have sold well for several years now. Although most sales are to tourists visiting off the many cruise ships that visit town, quite a few local people have bought our hats, which is encouraging. This is an interesting and productive business, and my head is buzzing with ideas. I know Stella's is too! My best friend Carol has become one of our most prolific hat makers, and also does all the admin work sending out yarns and pricing hats, maintaining a tidy display and topping it up - despite being busy with other things.
If you are visiting the Falklands, why not pop into the Capstan Gift Shop in Stanley, and choose a Falkland Folk hat, scarf or headband for yourself. One thing's for sure - you will find it hard to choose.
Demure, jaunty, laidback, cool, warm, zany, rustic...
There's a hat to suit everyone!
Meanwhile, back on the farm, the dyeing continues and the spinning wheel still turns...
updated 1st August 2006