• Claire Dunnett

From Start to Finish!

And we're half way through September? The school summer holidays almost seem like a distant memory now and it sure was busy! So much for "Oh well at least you won't get many orders over the summer, your stuff is seasonal isn't it". This comment has come at me a few times over the last few months and I can't pretend that I've not been on tenterhooks waiting to see what happened. After all Dunnknit Designs isn't even One until November.

Well I needn't have worried. July and August have been my busiest two months yet. I've even sent orders as far as USA and Australia. Yes there are Dunnknit Designs blankets and Budworth Beanies far and wide already. (How good does that sound? Honestly it's true)

So this week I have decided to write an informative blog where hopefully I will answer a few questions that I keep being asked and to solve some curiosities. I'd also like to say a big 'Thank you' to all of the lovely messages and feedback that I've had from customers who have received their orders. It really does mean a lot to me to know that all of the effort on my part is appreciated.

After all I'm a 'One girl band' who's just trying to make a living doing what I love and do best.

So here goes! I'll do my best to answer some of the most common questions that I get asked about how it all works behind the scenes at Dunnknit Designs.

Q1. How long does it take to get the Merino Wool?

Well from an order pinging through to me from the website, I may then have to order the Merino Wool from the Mill depending on the colour needed and this usually takes 5 working days to arrive. Although I'm gradually building up a big stock of wool, as a small business it's impossible to stock everything and just imagine how much space I'd need for all that wool, let alone all of the cushion inserts and my giant sets of knitting needles. Wow!

Q2. Do you have to prepare the Merino Wool?

That's a big fat 'Yes'. Once the wool is in my hands, I then have to prepare it. It comes vacuum packed and wound up tightly in a huge 'bump' from the Mill so I have to start by carefully unwinding the whole lot and let it 'breathe' for a few hours, (I guess just like a good bottle of red wine). This is when the wool is at it's most delicate so patience is needed here. Then unlike wine, I either wind the giant mountain of Merino into a centre pull bump or wind it onto my giant 'Wool Wizard' (again made by Dad) which is like a giant bobbin for those of you who haven't seen it.

Q3. Do you make your own designs?

Yes! Once it's knitting or crochet time I follow my own designs and patterns written in my own code that probably only I can understand. I guess this is the part that makes Dunnknit Designs original and unique as I'm sorry but I'm not a pattern writer so I don't think I'll ever be able to sell my design patterns even if I wanted to. (A question I often get asked)

Q4. How do you process the items?

So once an item is made up, then it's time for the messy bit. In order to make my chunky knits durable and long lasting I process the knitted items by part felting them. This part is a big secret that I'll never give away as it's taken me 'Yonkers ages' of experimenting to get it right but my family know only too well the mess I make in the studio and get in to. It's hilarious sometimes when I'm literally wrestling with a huge blanket but I guess I'm a real perfectionist and just want to make the best possible.

Q5. How long does it take?

So after almost a week of processing and drying time I then go over every single stitch, yes 'every single' stitch, stretching it, trimming off any fuzzy bits and basically tidying up the entire giant knit to look beautiful. Then finally I hand sew on my Dunnknit Designs tag and hand sew the tied off ends making them invisible. This tidying stage can take me up to two days sometimes on the larger items.

So there you have it, a finished item that from start to finish usually takes me approx 2-3 weeks to make.

Then comes the packaging and shipping.

Now I've always been obsessed with good presentation. From school projects as a young child to final Art exhibitions that I've done over the years, I'm very particular how things appear to the viewer and so it's important to me that things look neat and tidy. You only have to speak to anyone who knows me or any one of the hundreds of children that I've taught over the years and they'll say that to me, neat handwriting and presentation are important. Well I guess this 'bee in my bonnet' comes out in my packaging too.

For example I always buy decent boxes which crazily cost a fortune and I line them with a colour of tissue paper that co-ordinates with the Chunky Knit or Artwork which I seal with a Dunnknit Designs logo sticker. I always include a personal hand written postcard which I get from because they're the best quality, plus care instructions and a Dunnknit Designs flyer and business card. After all to me it's the little finishing touches that make the whole experience of purchasing a hand-crafted item special and I always live in hope that a satisfied customer will spread the word.

Then last but not least I wrap most of my Dunnknit Designs parcels in White polythene sheeting to waterproof them. I know I probably don't need to, but to me it's like sending a baby out in to the big wide world every time I say goodbye to the labour of love that I've worked on for the best part of a month sometimes. Is it any wonder I want it to be looked after on the way to it's new home.

That's another reason why I'll always use either Royal Mail for smaller items, DPD next day, one hour delivery for larger items and UPS tracked services for international delivery. Even the couriers laugh at me now when I ask them politely to look after my parcels.

So there you have it, from ' Start to Finish'.

All in all it's a lengthy time consuming process making a Merino Wool Giant Chunky Knit, but totally worth it and I'm absolutely delighted with the feedback that I've had so far so a big 'Thank You' for that.

Until next time and 'Thank you' for sticking with me.

Claire x

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