• Claire Dunnett

Behind The Scenes

Ok so everything is now back in full swing here at Dunnknit Designs HQ and dare I mention it but everywhere I look on my usual social media sites there seems to be talk of 'Christmas!' Well I'm determined not to go there just yet, well not until at least October anyway. Promise!

For now though I'm busy making orders (a big thank you to you all for that) and I'm doing my best to finalise new designs for Autumn/ Winter which will be revealed and available on the website very soon. I can't resist a sneaky peek though! What do you think? We all love a Pom-Pom right?

However, there's something that's been playing on my mind recently. My sister has kept on at me from the very start that I'm always too shy and should put myself and my designs out there more.

Now this is the part of starting my own business that I knew I'd find the most difficult. Yes I'm an 'Arty Farty' through and through and although I have the confidence to do what I do and know that I have the skills and experience to do it, I've always been a 'maker', not a noisy 'seller' and this is where my learning curve has been at it's greatest. (surprised? I'm just being honest)

So, I thought at last it was time to spill the beans and let you in on my story of how it all began and give you a peep at a few behind the scenes pics! Now please don't switch off or go to sleep, I promise it's not that boring and you never know you might even end up seeing why I do just what I do and how I do it, that is if you're nosey like me anyway!

Here goes!

Life for me took a huge shift nearly 13 years ago! I was living with my husband and daughter in a leafy village in Hertfordshire having moved South from Cheshire a few years earlier. I was Deputy Head of a nearby school, my hubster had a fab job and my daughter was 3 and attending Nursery. I'd eventually persuaded the powers that be at school to allow me to work part time and life was rosy. Then, as a family we seemed to get a succession of huge smacks with the ill health 'Unlucky stick' as we now call it. I became ill and ended up having major surgery (3 times) but more importantly to me, my Mum had a stroke at 59 which sadly resulted in the onset of Vascular Dementia. Now to anyone who knows anything about Dementia it becomes a way of life that changes things forever. For us as a family we giggle and laugh and try to look on the bright side of life even though it's not always easy. But.. to cut a long and very sad story short, I eventually gave up teaching to work from home in July 2016 and Mum has now sadly passed away too! She made it to 72 though. However, It's not all doom and gloom. Life goes on and if we've learnt anything as a family it's that life is short and you should make the most of it while you can. So.... here we are almost a year later (November to be precise), Dunnknit Designs is established and thanks to you lovely lot, I'm keeping busy too!

So how did it all come about!

Well I know I've rattled on about the basis of how things began on the 'About' page on this website but keeping my Dad busy has played a major part too. You see he's part of the reason why I'm doing what I'm doing. He's the one who I milled my ideas over the kitchen table to week after week when he came over for dinner where his reply would always be, 'just draw it out and we'll see what we can do'. Well I did just that. I spent hour after hour filling a sketch book with designs and ideas which I eventually put to Dad. 'Leave it with me' he said.

Then to my huge surprise when Dad came for dinner the following week, this is what he brought with him. Yes he had managed to put together a giant set of knitting needles made from the most beautiful mahogany and fibre glass. They were long enough to make the gigantic blankets that I had dreamed of (2 meters) yet were light enough to handle, seeing as we knew that the wool alone would weigh a ton.

And so our journey began! I bought a batch of wool and each week we met to chat and plan. Dad would then bury himself in wood shavings in his workshop and I seemed to permanently be scribbling away in a sketch book. I kept trying out new designs and constantly asked what if I did this???? Do you think you could make that???? Would it be possible if????

Not only was Dad loving every minute of being in his workshop again making something new but it was to be a fundamental part of my new business, something which I know he relished being a part of. Plus it was giving him a focus so soon after us losing Mum. We were both busy, it wasn't costing the earth to do and the amount of care and attention that went into each design was staggering now that I've at last had a chance to stop, look back and reflect on what we did. What started off as chats around our kitchen table has literally ended up with me having the most beautiful set of giant knitting needles in all sizes, handmade crochet hooks in all sizes plus lots of gadgets and gizmos too!

Let alone all of the stunning buttons and toggles that Dad is still making for my scarf and cushion designs. They're simply amazing!

Not only that but many of my 'tools' come with a story too. For example one of my favourites is a double ended Ash crochet hook that started off it's life as the handle of my great grandad's favourite spade. I just love the fact that I'm making beautiful items out of merino wool with it today for other people to enjoy.

I know I am one lucky girl and just hope that I am making Mum and Dad proud. It's been a long hard road so far but I am loving every minute of my new adventure and I know that Dad is too! I am now the proud owner of the best 'Tool Kit' (as Dad calls it) in the world and I'm lucky to be working with a fantastic Mill who continue to allow me to buy un-spun Merino Wool from them in lots of different colours.

I have an ever extending catalogue of original designs and along with my new Merino Artworks am simply loving what I do.

So there you have it! Please forgive me if I often appear to be shy, it's because I am really. Yes I'm the quiet one out of the two daughters, hence my chatty sister is often the one making all of the noise at the shows that I pluck up the courage to go to. Look, I've even put the occasional picture of myself out on social media Now that's progress!

Now, we can't all be good at everything can we? Believe me it's one thing being a teacher for twenty odd years working with children, parents, staff and governors but it's a whole different story running your own business and being the face of it too! Selling my designs is one thing but selling myself and my story? Now that's a different story.

Well I'm going to get back to doing what I do best now and that's certainly not writing about myself and letting you take a glimpse at what goes on behind the scenes. I have some new designs that I'm working on for Autumn/ Winter which hopefully will be ready to share with you lovelies soon. They'll certainly keep you warm and cosy when the cold really sets in anyway. Plus there may be a few new Christmas designs too but all in good time hey!

So that's it for now and a big thank you once again for listening. I really appreciate your support. I hope you've learned yet a bit more about what Dunnknit Designs is about and where it all came from without being too bored!

Enjoy your weekend folks.

Claire x

ps. I'm often asked about the name 'Dunnknit Designs'. Well with a name like Claire Dunnett, it just had to be done!

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